(1945) Peace and War

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End of War in Kiaohsien

When peace was declared between China and Japan many armed Japanese soldiers were still in the city. They were sent to military barracks outside the city walls where they were disarmed.[Were they disarmed or simply sent to the barracks? Later they were armed and send to drive away the Communists.

One day an American plane flew over the Rinell compound. The [pilot seeing the Swedish flag on the roof one of the buildings made another pass over the mission tipping the wings of his plane in recognition. The children were playing in the compound when they heard the thunder of the low plane. He came from the north over the church and Egron's house and then flew over the "mountain" in the garden. The kids ran up to the second floor of the house and out on to the balcony. The pilot made a second pass over the compound, tipping his wings and as he passed the balcony he gave a salute and waved to the children. He was so low that Dollan could see his brown leather jacket. The kids screamed and jumped up and down. He was letting them know that the war was over.

Even before their surrender though the missionaries and the citizens of the city knew very well that Communist troops were behind the Japanese lines waiting for the war to end so they could take over.

The soldiers who then came to take over the city were those who had been forced to leave their posts for the Communists. Now these soldiers thought that they had found a secure sanctuary beside a railway station outside the city walls.2

Dollan in Tsingtao

The day after the marines and sailors arrived in Tsingao, Dollan took the train into the city from Kiaoshien. From the Tsingtao train station she went to a German hotel which the family sometimes stayed in. It was reasonably priced and they got a discount on top of that, and they could eat at the hotel, which was reasonably priced too. When the Rinell family went together, Dollon translated the German into Swedish, regarding menu items, and what her mom or dad wished to order.

This time alone, Dollan thinks it was a Friday she arrived in Tsingtao. Satuday she went into the city. It amazed her to see all the Americans after nine years of war. For once after so long a time she felt safe. She was also amazed that, in a way, they were all there for her and her family, the other internationals and the Chinese. It was good feeling.

On Sunday morning she went to the German Lutheran church, Christ Church, up on the hill. The church was overflowing with marines and sailors. All the pews were full, so many stood during the service. The church was so full that many also stood outside.

Weihsien Internment Camp

When the peace had been signed and the Japanese surrendered American planes flew over the internment camp in Weihsien. They first pushed bags of sand [Doris thought it may have been boxes of food - verify] attached to parachutes out of the planes over the fields outside the camp. From a distance the the slowly descending bags of sand would look like paratroopers, and would be fired upon if there were any hostile forces in the immediate area. There was no reaction. Then soldiers parachuted. [Doris believes these were army not marines because of the uniforms they were wearing]. Landing near a graveyard the paratroopers hid behind graves, guns ready in case they should come under fire. No one challenged them. They continued on to the internment camp and took it over.

Egron and Oscar came afterwards. 3 They took a train to Weihsien station. From the stations its a long walk to the internment camp. The roads were asphalt for a bit and then dirt. Fields spread widely in every direction. Weihsien too was spread out with not too much is going on outside of the houses. Most of the buildings were of clay and whitewashed, lining the streets like dirt matchboxes, all looking more or less the same. The windows were high up the walls toward the streets and closely barred to keep unfriendly creatures including rats from dropping from the eaves and into the windows. The road continued over fields and pass a graveyard with grave mounds like so many hills on a gentle landscape, and gradually bore to the right. The walled town was built around a courtyard. To the left was the hospital.4 Before the war student nurses would have been seen running around with their blue pinafores and white aprons and caps. The white apron fastened on the shoulder with Chinese buttons. All being very properly dressed looking like "China dolls", but very much alive.5

The Japanese guard stood outside the gate, guarding the compound in name only because having been defeated he had no real authority. [I would think the Japanese guard was present before the paratroopers arrived, in which case Oscar and Egron would have visited the camp before.] The guard asked them what they wanted.6 They replied they wanted to see the Reinbrecht family.7 Someone was sent to call them; they came to the gate and said it was all right to let Egron and Oscar through.

They found the Reinbrecht family. Egron and Oscar were among the very few who came out to the camp to visit. "It was wonderful to see them! Amazing." Georgie Reinbrecht later wrote." "We posed pictures for them of our daily life and how we had lived and what we had done. Like carring our nite pots to empty in the few toilets. At first when we did this, people tried to hide them, but soon everyone had to do it and you would stand holding it in front of you and talk if you met on the way. [They] took pictures of everything. Yes , we saw them take pictures and everyone thought it wonderful that we were being documented."71

Oscar and Egron may have been only two of the very few visitors that visited Weihsien. Georgie did not remember any more, but they were at least the only ones she knew.

You would think that Egron and Oscar would have brought food and other items with them to give away. But they had not. Outside the camp, they were not whole lot better off than those within the camp when it came to food. The war often made food difficult to obtain, and often what was available was taken by the combatans. [Len, verify].

After their visit Egron and Oscar returned home to Kiaohsien.

See also:

Forgiven but not forgotten

Oscar and Dollan Visit Camp

Oscar went back to the internment camp a third time taking Dollan along, and stayed for two nights.8 Dollan remembers it was a long train ride from Kiaohsien to Weihsien, possibly six to eight hours. They arrived in the town of Weihsien late. Fields were still to be crossed bewteen the town and the camp. They were fearful of crossing the fields at night. Perhaps Japanese were still around who would shoot them. Therefore, they knocked on the big gate of the walled Catholic mission. A Chinese monk dressed in brown garb came, opened the "peep-hole" of the gate and asked what they wanted. Oscar asked if there was room for them for the night, that he was a Swedish missionary did not want to continue any further that night for fear of their own safety and they were tired. A priest who was caucasian and possibly from a neutral country because he was not in the internment camp, was summoned. Oscar explained again who they were and requested a place to stay. The monk was happy to put them up.

They entered through the big gate, and crossed a big courtyard. Dollan heard a cow mooing in the distance. After waiting a bit they were led to a forsaken looking building off to the left of the courtyard. They entered through tall bamboo doors into a large rectangular room about twelve feet by twenty-five feet. The floor was made of gray bricks in a zigzag pattern. Two big bamboo beds with mosquito nets with navy blue covers were ready for them, one along the long wall and one bed along the short wall of the room.The walls were barren themselves were barren.

They were brought some tea of which they had plenty with the result that before going to sleep both Oscar and Dollan had to urinate. There was no bathroom. The only thing convenient was to use the spittoons in the room. Oscar stood in the corner so Dollan would not see him, and tried to hit his spittoon, while Dollan hovered over her spittoon and tried to hit her spittoon.

They then went to bed. Oscar dropped off to sleep immediately, but Dollan could not. She sat straight up in her bed, eyes wide open. The room was too big and scary. Soon six to eight big black rats scampered quickly, but quietly, across the floor. Dollan yelled out, 'Papa!' He heard nothing and continued sleeping. Dollan was too afraid to get out of bed to waken him, but petrified that the rats would climb up the bamboo legs of the bed. The entire night she sat with her knees curled up under her, and dared not shut her eyes.

The next morning Oscar woke fresh and rested.

They dressed and continued on to the camp. Dollan recognized many faces though she hadn't seen them for some years. Dr. Connolly, the Mr. and Mrs. Reinbrecht, the latter of who was Gerda's best friend, including their children, Sunny [Chuck?], Janet and Georgie, and Miss Rolphs. The whole compound was bustling with movement, both from those who had been interned so long and by paratroopers. For Dollan it was a joy to see American faces, not to mention the Hershey chocolate bars and other good American munchies that were generously given her.

The troops had been at the camp long enough for some of the women to have made parachute silk skirts, which they were now wearing. Several of the young women were dating the soldiers. From internment to romance in a matter of a few days. Life can change so quickly sometimes.

The internees were housed in the old classrooms which had been made into "homes"during the long war years. All those who had cooking experience were cooks. Dr. Frank Connolly was one of the cooks. 9

In the morning they had a "potty brigade" which emptied the internees "night soil" in a "woa-loa" which was essentially a hole in the ground.

[Ask Doris for more info on her experience in the camp].

Oscar and Dollan made the long trip back to Tsingtao. But that was not the last time that Oscar would see some of the internees. Later Oscar met the train coming from Weihsien to Tsingtao with the former prisoners.10 Oscar was talking to the station master when an American officer saw Oscar, approached Oscar and challenged him.

"Who are you?" the officer demanded.

"Swedish Baptist Mission," Oscar replied. "We've just been to Weihsien and we are allowed to meet the people who are coming from the camp."

The officer allowed them to talk with the internees.

In Tsingtao the internees of Weihsien were put up in the Edgewater Mansion hotel [which still stands in 2007, apprently] until they could be put aboard ship[s] for return to their home country[s?].

Peace and More War

Peace had been declared. World War II was over. Chinese and missionaries alike believed that now all would be fine. "Everything would be changed as through waving a magic wand," Gerda writes.14

The defeated Japanese troops were ordered to barracks outside of town. To the barracks they marched still carrying their weapons [or were they disarmed as said at the beginning of the chapter?]. Few Nationalist Chinese troops, and no Americans were around to take them prisoner or disarm them. Other Japanese troops eventually joined the first , having come from other areas toward Kiaohsien, and then around the city to the barracks [were the barracks by the railroad station?]. Eventually, they would take the train to the city port city of Tsingtao to be shipped back to Japan.26

On Saturday, August 18, a letter was thrown over the city wall by the Communists. It said that unless the townspeople opened the city gates willingly to their forces, the city would be attacked during the night.15

Even with this threat the missionaries were looking toward peace. "But we put this [threat] aside with optimism. We were going to celebrate peace," Gerda writes.

The first Sunday after peace was declared was August 19. The missionaries and members of the church planned thanksgiving services in Kiaohsien, in which they would thank God for the peace that had finally come. Egron, Gerda, Hedvig and Esther Wahlin86 were the only missionaries at the mission station at the time. The others were at the coast for a period of rest. Egron was asked to lead the service, He gave much time and energy to preparation. This was to be no ordinary church service. Peace had finally come to the land after so much time and so much suffering. He was preparing for a proper sermon for this important event.

That Saturday night the missionaries went to bed with their thoughts only on the thanksgiving service the next day. They did not want to believe, refused to believe, the rumors of the communist troops coming into the city. No one wanted to hear more about war. Peace had come and it would remain.

They were in bed and not yet asleep when they heard the clatter of bullets and the explosions of hand grenades. The communists were attacking the city from the southwest where Hedvig and Esther Wahlin had their home.16 Hedvig and Esther were terrified. The Communists fired their rifles and machine guns throughout the night. Bullets made holes in mission walls. Word came that the Communists had destroyed the train station and the tracks. They also severed the telegraph and telephone lines. All contact with the outside world was now cut off.

About 2:00 in the morning the communist soldiers broke through the outside city wall and marched into the western and southern parts of the city spreading noise and confusion. Not all were in uniform. Many of the soldiers were in civilian clothes. Not long before they were fighting as guerillas against the Japanese. The Nationalist soldiers who had been defending the outer city walls retreated to the ancient inner city where the walls were higher and stronger.

The Communists went first to the home of the leader of the military. With a hand gun in each hand one of the leader's wives met the soldiers. She immediately killed two of the soldiers. In turn she and one of hers sons were shot dead. The remaining soldiers looted the home, set it on fire, and continued through the city killing and plundering.

In the early morning hours Gerda heard troops walking past the mission station. Led by local Chinese familiar with the city, she heard the guides explain what property belonged to the mission and what did not. It was not always easy to tell what belonged to whom. Walls surrounded all the residences of the city with only the tops of trees showing above the solid walls and gates of the compounds. The walls of the mission were taller and better than most, but everyone had a wall.

Shooting continued. The sound of the discharge of the rifles and the sound of bullets echoed loudly between the tight rows of houses and narrow streets of the city. The people hid in the darkness of their homes.

With the first light of dawn Gerda 17 made a call by local telephone with the missionaries in the [southwest?] western part of the town called Sikuan. The signal for Sikuan on the private line was one long ring. They answered the phone. They [who were they? Hedvig and Esther?] were fine, and thankful that no one was hurt.

No one dared go out onto the streets. They kept the doors bolted in fearful anticipation of what might happen if soldiers got pass the walls of the mission. Though the church service, which Egron had prepared so diligently for, was of course canceled, a few people who lived next door to the church met together for prayer behind its thick walls.

In Gerda and Egron's home the telephone rang. Gerda answered.

"Hello?" Gerda said.

A male voice asked, "You-mo-yo yin shua chong-gua-hua?"18 or "Is there anyone there who could speak Chinese?"

Gerda said nothing and hung up. She then told Egron that the Communists evidently had tapped into their telephone line, and told him what the man on the phone had said. At the same time a Chinese man came running into the mission compound saying that the Communists had broken into Nankuan in the northern part of the city and were plundering it. Luckily no one was home when they had forced their way in. Egron, however, wouldn't stand for mission property being plundered. He left immediately to stop it.

As soon as Egron walked out of the gate the telephone rang again. Gerda then realized that the man on the telephone had not tapped into the line, but was actually on the phone at Nankuan. This time she did not hang up. She thought if she could keep the caller on the phone until Egron made the twenty-five minute walk to Nankuan, then perhaps the house would not be looted.

"Chia-she shee?" "Who is speaking?" she asked.

"Wa she e-gea Biong. Nee she she?" "I am a soldier in the Communist army. Who are you?"

She answered his question. And told him that the phone was only a local phone. He would not be able to call out of the area or out of the city. She wanted to allay his suspicions that these foreigners had contact with the "outside" world. Such contact was forbidden and one could get into deep trouble for doing so.

While Gerda was speaking with the Communist soldier, Egron was making his way through the narrow streets of the town. Soldiers standing guard at intervals along the streets slowed him down by asking many questions.

Walking quickly the the right of the Camel Bridge, up the street toward the mud walls of Nanguan and through the large gate, Egron arrived at the mission house and was stopped by a guard.19

"Where are you going?" the guard asked.

"To the mission's house!" Egron responded. At that moment Egron saw a ladder being carried out from the house by a Communist soldier. Egron expressed his surprise.

"That ladder belongs to the mission! Why are you taking it?" he said to the guard.

"We need it for the war. The inner city will be attacked in the afternoon. We need ladders to get over the high walls," the guard said.

Entering the yard Egron quickly went up to the house and looked through the windows. The soldiers had taken anything in the house laying loose.

Though not really surprised that there were soldiers in the mission's house Egron called out to the guards, "There are soldiers in the house! What is the meaning of this?"

Sheepishly the guard followed after Egron into the yard of the mission house, knowing full well what was really going on.

A young soldier came running out of the house, a bundle under his arm.

"Stop! What are you doing with our things?" yelled Egron.

The soldier had found the pantry. He had taken some jars and bottles of vinegar, vanilla, tea and coffee among other foods. He did not have any idea what some of these things were. He had taken them thinking they were medicine and he was reluctant to give them up. Egron argued that things he had in his arms were not medicine, but rather foods that foreigners eat. After a few moments thinking about it, the soldier gave everything back. If this was food for foreigners, he had no use for it.

Egron entered the house. Five young soldiers of about eighteen or nineteen years old were taking whatever they could find. Looking toward the door they were surprised to see a foreigner enter the house, especially since they were in the process of looting a house that evidently belonged to the foreigner. Whether they were surprised and embarrassed to have been caught stealing or because they were caught exhibiting such bad manners in doing so was difficult to say.

Egron expressed real surprise over what was happening. "You Communists always talk about order and discipline in your army and among your soldiers. How do you explain this?"

Three of the soldiers continued with their stealing. Two of them stopped to cross-examine the intruder. Their eyes betrayed hatred as they asked Egron what his nationality was, why he was in China, when he arrived and other questions.

"What nationality are you," they demanded.


The soldiers were not very well educated. They knew of four countries China, Russia, Japan and America. They asked what Sweden was and where was it located. Egron explained and they continued asking questions.

"When did you arrive in China?"

"I have lived here much longer than you! I was born here!" Egron responded.

His answer apparently softened their hatred and they calmed down a bit.

"What are doing in China?"

"I am a missionary."

This answer angered them again. They asked more further questions of this white missionary educator [and head of the Chinese school?]

"Why should you missionaries come to our land with your teachings? Why do you keep the Chinese uneducated? Why should you foreigners interfere with what we Chinese think and do? China needs to be free of you intruders!"

Egron answered as best he could. They asked a few other questions. Then one of the soldiers suggested that they stop plundering the house and leave. They all agreed. They picked up the rest of what they had collected and headed out the door.

Relieved and feeling not a little lucky, Egron also collected a few things from the house, wrapped them into a bundle, slung the bundle over his shoulder, passed through the very large gate and under its gray tiled roof,20 closing it after him,21 and returned home where he told Gerda of his experiences. Later that day they both walked back to Nankuan to see exactly what had been stolen or destroyed.

The soldiers were back, but this time with a Communist Chinese officer. The officer greeted them with, "From this day till eternity Kiaohsien will be under the Communist regime!"

Egron and Gerda didn't say anything in response to this, but were both thinking and hoping that eternity would not be too long. The officer was friendly and seemed educated unlike his soldiers. He gave Egron and Gerda a brief history of the Communist Chinese army's wars and victories. Egron, not wanting to miss an opportunity, told the officer about the soldiers' behavior in the house. Taking much pride in his army, and perhaps embarrassed by his soldiers actions, he told Egron that stealing is not tolerated in the People's Liberation Army22 and that, naturally, the soldiers would be killed by evening.

Egron and Gerda said that they just hoped that the stolen goods would be returned, and the punishment would not be too harsh. The officer ordered the stolen items to be returned. All but one of the soldiers meekly and fearfully came forward and returned what he had taken. The one soldier who did not come forward was the one who had stolen the most. The officer then informed the soldiers that before the sun set they would be dead. Actually, it was very doubtful that the officer meant what he said because before the sun had set, many more homes had been plundered.

Besides plundering homes of anything of value, the soldiers also took the grain stored in the homes of wealthy people. Upon finding the grain they would look for something to carry it in and then would take as much as they could. Dollan's girl friend Chi-ching's home in the inner city was also plundered of food and furniture.23 Chi-ching and her family eventually moved to Tsingtao. For soldiers like these, frequently on the move and living off the land, taking food wherever they could find it was important for survival.

That afternoon fighting broke out once again.

This time the battle was for the inner city. The soldiers inside the city shot down from the height of the city wall. Initially they had a clear advantage. After a few hours though they were defeated, no doubt with some help from the mission's ladder. After the entire city was taken, the Communists attacked all the public buildings including the telegraph station, police station, the "Yamen", and the city schools. The "Yamen" which was the Mandarin's residence as well as where he had his offices, was totally cleaned out. Ancient pieces of furniture, historical relics, were chopped up to be used as fire wood. A mobile army has no use for the niceties of civilization.

The army continued to plunder the city. A civilian mob who were either in sympathy with the Communists or more likely, unscrupulous people of the city taken advantage of the lawlessness and mayhem took what they desired from the homes of their fellow townsmen.

Gerda watching this ravaging of the city thought of the expression, "There is no more to take, said the thief as he took the door" for this is indeed what they took. Everything, even window frames, doors, floorboards, anything made of wood was ripped out and carted away.

Anybody who had been employed by the Japanese no matter how innocent their involvement was a considered criminal. The Mandarin, the judge, the military leaders and others were taken prisoner. On the other hand, all prisoners who would have included many criminals were set free. "Now our 'hopelessly backward' city was going to experience new times!," Gerda writes.24 Businessmen tried to keep their shops closed and hide from the Communists, but the soldiers forced them to open the shops and sell their goods for Communist money according to their own exchange rate. Public notices were pasted on walls and poles throughout the city. One notice announced a new Mandarin for the city. The new Mandarin, a puppet for the Communists, and possibly not appreciating his new role, stayed outside of the city walls.

Soldiers visited the mission stations. The Chinese staff spoke to them because all knew that the Communists were strongly anti-Western. At the American Lutheran Mission (Janet's home), the Communists ripped out the home's wooden stairs. There was now no easy way to get from the first floor to the second floor of the home.

By night fall many lives had been lost, not only those of soldiers on both sides, but also civilians. "A strange depression hovered over the city," Gerda noted. The missionaries felt that through all the chaos and confusion they survived safe and secure under God's protection. And so it seemed. Amazingly, none of the Chinese Christians or the missionaries had been killed or wounded. The city schools had been plundered, but the mission schools did not even loose a desk.

After the taking of the town with accompanying killings and plundering relative peace returned. For the next several days the mission was allowed to keep their schools open though they attracted the notice of the new authorities. The Communists announced that all the teachers of the town were to attend meetings. The teachers would have to "change their points of view," they said, so that they could be used in the new regime and society the Communists were creating. The Communists were especially concerned that the teachers of the mission attend these meetings.

All the Christian teachers were worried about this meeting, so they got together and prayed about it. They prayed intensely, seeking God's help, and after some time of prayer felt their prayers would be answered."We were soon to experience a wonderful answer to prayer," Gerda writes. 25 The same day and less than a week since the Communists had taken Kiaohsien, the Nationalist Chinese in Chungking ordered the Japanese troops to drive out the Communists, and bring order to the town. There was no lack of irony here. The Nationalists Chinese were ordering their former enemy to fight fellow Chinese. The Japanese too were in an awkward situation. They had surrendered and now were supposed to be at peace with China, but now they were asked to continue fighting against Chinese who were Communists. In some ways it was a clever strategy of the Nationalists. They had few troops in the north to fight the Communists. The Japanese on the other hand were in the immediate area, and still armed [or could be armed]. Further, during the war many Chinese, including Communist Chinese, had been tortured or killed by the Japanese army. The Chinese had no little fear of the Japanese.

The following morning the Japanese soldiers marched from their barracks to the city walls pulling along with them one of their large cannon. They fired two shells at the the north gate of Kiaohsien. The Communists left through the south gate, and no one was left to put up any resistance. The north city gate was opened to the Japanese, and the Japanese troops marched in. "The first Communist visit was not a long one," Gerda writes. "It lasted only six days. But we were happy when these guests turned their backs on us."27

The Communist were not gone for good. During the next several years they would take Kiaohsien six or seven times even during the time when the American army controlled the nearby port city of Tsingtao.

The re-education meeting with the teachers had been scheduled for 2:00 that afternoon. By that hour, however, there were no Communist troops left to hold the meeting. The Chinese teachers thanked God for answering their prayers.

Now that the Japanese army was in control of Kiaohsien along with the few Nationalist soldiers who were able to return. The Japanese hired Nationalist soldiers to help maintain peace. However, this was not easy with the coming of Japanese and Nationalists many Chinese returned to the town and mixed among them were guerrilla elements and them bandits, all adding to the general confusion. The bandits marched into Chinese homes demanding fuel, food and lodging. While being put up by their hosts, the bandits stole from them. It was these "soldiers" along with Chinese army and Japanese army soldiers who were to maintain order in the city, and defend the population against the infiltration of the Communists.

Though the Communists no longer controlled Kiaohsien they did control much of the countryside. They now set their energies to destroying the railroad in northern China including the rails to and from Kiaohsien. The Communists knew that the Nationalist troops under the command of Chiang Kia-shek were ready to move southward against them [or northwards?]. Destroying the railroads would slow the Nationalists' advance. Again Gerda writes:

"We were happy that the Japanese war was over, that the Communists had been driven out, but we were distraught about the new soldiers' rampages. All communication with the outside world was broken, and we understood that it would take a long time before the Nationalist army could make their way to our city.

There was not a feeling of peace when our mission schools began their fall semester. It was not easy to have the responsibility of more than a thousand students during this time of uncertainty, but we opened our schools asking for God's guidance and protection over us. It was inspirational to hear the prayers for China prayed in our schools [by the students] and our church. China's president, Chiang Kao Shek [who was a Christian himself], held inspirational radio talks where he asked his people to try to forget the old injustices and instead try to practice Christ's teaching, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Even though we were isolated from the outside world, rumors traveled quickly through the "bamboo telegraph." Rumors told us the Chungking's eighth army was on its way to us . . . We saw a ray of hope and we looked forward with anticipation. This army had fought in Burma and had a reputation of having good discipline and a humane way of treating the civilian population.

With the advance of the Chinese Nationalist army, the missionaries hoped for an end to civil war and hostilities.

Dating Ulf

At about sixteen and a half years of age Dollan went out with Nordström's son, Ulf, son of the Swedish Postmaster General family who lived two houses away on their street at Iltis Huk. Ulf was a tall Swede, with blondish curly hair, a delightful young man of twenty or twenty-one, full of humor and fun.7 Dollan and Ulf dated about once a week give or take, going together to the beach, picnics or playing tennis.

Ulf was an excellent cartoonist who could draw anything. Dollan would get occasional headaches. She looked at Ulf pointing to her head and say, "I've got a headache, Ulf." He would answer, "Where else would you have a headache?"

National Day

October 10th, known as 'Double 10 Day', was China's National Day, the equivalent of America's 4th of July. The Chinese had not been able to celebrate this day as a free nation for eight years. Now they made up for lost time. Feasting and celebrations went on throughout the city. School children took part in public demonstrations. The people were no longer afraid to show their nationalism, so the streets were crowded with people. Smells of food filled the air. Fire crackers exploded like the sound of rifles and machine guns of an invading army, and no doubt made many people nervous. A large meeting was planned by the Chinese, and people from all walks of life and nations were invited to participate. Egron and Oscar represented the Swedish mission. Egron, being the older brother, was among those who gave a speech on this important and joyous national occasion. In his speech Egron congratulated China for its victory in overcoming the Japanese occupiers and expressed his hope that the new China would be built on a moral and just foundation.


American Sailors in
Tsingtao, China, 1945

The day after the October 10 celebrations, American marines and sailors landed in Tsingtao. In a matter of a few days 22,000 marines had disembarked. Together with the Chinese they were to disarm the Japanese troops and try to fill the power vacuum left by the vacating Japanese forces.28

Quite unexpectedly Sten Lindberg showed up on a large beautiful brown horse, looking very impressive.29 The soldiers too were impressed and opened the gates immediately for him. Having returned to China after being forced to leave because of his [newly acquired?] American citizenship, and not being able to visit his parents in Chucheng because of it being occupied by the Communists, Sten visited his friends in Kiaohsien and Kaomi.30 His presence was like a fresh breeze from the heart of China. Sten was one of the twenty missionaries that the Chinese president [Chiang Kai-shek?] had asked to serve as interpreters and instructors in the Liaison Group of Foreign Affairs Bureau National Military Council for the Chinese nationalist army. His uniform was that of a Chinese army officer, with China's national emblem on the hat. Sten sat straight up in the saddle, a big smile on his face. Dollan, [Johnny?] Oscar and Egron wanted to burst out laughing. Here was Sten riding in looking so grand. The guards at the gate responding with such ????. And Sten being just a local missionary kid who had grown up on the mission field. After Sten was some distance from the city gate, they all, including Sten broke into laughter. Some of the detail of Sten riding into Kiaohsien provided by Dollan Rinell.

Later Sten at the school Sen spoke to the students. They were very impressed with him. He was well respected and the students gave him the "thumbs up" of approval. Sten also preached that Sunday morning in church. Sten's visit was not only uplifting. He was the mission's first contact with the Chungking Nationalist regime.

See Sten Lindberg

Formal Surrender of Japanese Forces in Shantung

After landing in Tsingtao the American forces organized a formal surrender ceremony to be held on Monday, October 15 at the race track with representatives of the Japanese and American armed forces. Oscar was determined that he and Hellen were going to attend the surrender, but no one got into the ceremony without an official reason for being there and not without tickets. Dollan had a possible connection, the Swedish-American Pfc. marine Bud Holmquist. She asked him, and he somehow managed to get Dollan two tickets to the event.11 Bud, himself, did not want to go. He did not feel like marching, so managed to pull duty in the marine corps library.12 Hellen was not terribly excited about going to this event either, so Oscar asked his daughter to go with him instead. (Mom, how did you get to the race track? Train? car? walking?)

The race track was located in (just outside?) Tsingtao just off the road to Iltis Huk. Dollan and the family had been to this stadium before to watch the horse races. They never bet any money which would have been sinful. Besides, they did not have much money to bet with anyway. The racetrack was large, perhaps taking up two city blocks and made of cement. The spectators walked under arched doorways to the cement bleachers. Under the bleachers were rooms where many Chinese were held prisoner during the war with little food and water. Many died. One end of the stadium was open with only a fence to keep the curious out (how about the other end mom?). Pass that fence was the road to the zoo. During the proper season cherry blossoms bloomed on the trees lining the road.

The Reinbrecht family [who had been earlier release from Weihsien internment camp?] were able to get hold of some movie film for Oscar. Oscar was allowed to wander about and shoot film footage of whatever he wanted before the beginning of the ceremony. When the ceremony started, however, Oscar was required to be with the other photographers in the press box located toward the far end of the stadium away from the road to the zoo.

The day was sunny, excitement filled the air, the stadium was jam-packed with American military personnel, Chinese citizens, and foreigners. Thousands of people were in attendance. A raised platform stood in the middle of the oval of the race track. Toward the center side stood General Eisenhower, a Chinese officer, Dr Luan, who was father of a friend of the Rinell family, and the Japanese officers. Music was played and a speech given. Oscar and Dollan could not hear what was going on. When the time came high-ranking Japanese officers came forward and surrendered their samurai swords. [Previous not necessarily in the correct order].

Later Oscar handed the film over to the Reinbrecht who knew an American marine lieutenant who agreed [or volunteered?] bring the film back to the States, have developed, return the film. Neither the film nor the American officer were ever seen or heard of again.13

8th Army Arrives in Kiaohsien

The Chinese 8th Army finally arrived. Their progress was slowed, of course, by the destruction of the railway by the Communists. They instead came by sea, first to the coastal city of Tsingtao and then by foot to Kiaohsien. The townspeople were ecstatic. Official representatives of the city met the troops first outside the town walls. As the troops entered the town through the north and east city gates they were met by thousands of people waving flags and applauding, so many in fact that the soldiers had a difficult time moving through the crowds. The happiness was contagious. The people were overjoyed. It had been years since they had seen their own Nationalist troops. The troops looked impressive too, looking sharp in their uniforms, and well equipped with American weapons, jeeps and tanks. The soldiers reputation matched their looks. They were well disciplined, did not demand food or lodging, and paid for what they needed. There were even some Christians among the soldiers and officers. A few of the officers later spoke in the church, and visited with the missionaries in their homes and attended services.

Unfortunately, the 8th army had to continue westward and soon left Kiaohsien.

Relative peace had brought many changes for the missionaries as Gerda writes:

These weeks were filled with many new experiences for us as missionaries. We had lived isolated for so long and had had no contact with the outside world. From the American Marines we received newspapers and magazines, and began to have some contact with life outside our small area. They also helped us receive and send mail - it was as if we were experiencing a new day. We were able to share our experiences of the war with them - and they told us about what they had experienced. We had lived on Japanese propaganda and were anxious to hear the other side of the story.

As the months and weeks went on American missionaries began returning to China. Since passenger ships were not yet available some were able to journey on military ships.

Though the city was free of Communist troops, it was not free of Communist soldiers. It was not easy to tell who they were, but they were there. They were dressed in civilian clothes, living and working in the town, and sometimes worked in the fields outside the town walls. They would enter the town at will as vegetable peddlers or other representing other innocuous occupations.

Communists in the Countryside 31

Kiaohsien was spared from Communist Chinese occupation, but it was not the same for the villages in the countryside which the Communists took over one by one. When the Communists gained control of a village they would find out who had worked for the Japanese in any capacity during the war years. These people were then punished. They then turned on the people who had property.

It was said of China that the rich were very wealthy and the poor were extremely poor. For hundreds of years the land had been owned by landlords some of whom owned vast amounts of land and leased parcels out to tenant farmers. The landlords were sometimes unfair and oppressive, and over the centuries peasant revolts would sometime arise, but nothing ever really changed. When the Communists came promising to really change all this, the people naturally responded with enthusiasm. The Communists promised to distribute the land and wealth evenly among the people. The way they went about this though often meant that the rich or the not so rich became poor and the poor became even poorer. The people also often lost their freedom in the process.

At first the Communists would say to the landowners, "You have nothing to fear. None in your family has worked for the Japanese and none of you have anything to do with Chiang Kia-shek's government." Later they would go to the landowners servants or their tenant farmers and question them about their landlord. If they had anything against them, they could complain. If the landlord had been a good landlord and the servants and tenant farmers had nothing against their landlord the Communists would ask, "But isn't your pay much too low?" or "Don't you pay too much rent on your land?" If they could convince the people to agree with these accusations, the landlords would be brought to the next meeting.

Sometimes the Communists would tell them what to say whether it was true or not. They may say to them, "When we ask you if you have any complaints about your landlord, you will blame him for some injustice. When we ask you if you are satisfied with receiving 500 kilo of grain as compensation, you will answer that you want at least ten times that amount. He will not be able to give you that much. Therefore we will have to take his land and give you part of it."

Stories began circulating. In one village a neighbor was called in concerning another neighbor and asked if he had any complaints about him.

"No, I don't," replied the neighbor.

"Can't you think of anything?" the soldier questioned.

"Well, several years ago he killed one of my hens. But that was such a long time ago. It doesn't matter anymore."

"Oh, but let us count. A hen lays a number of eggs a year. Of those eggs other hens hatch, who would in turn lay eggs." The soldier added up how many chickens this represented over the years and presented the bill to this man's neighbor.

Resigned to the outcome of this "trial" the man said, "I cannot pay this amount. You may take my land as payment."

This man owned eighty acres. He had to give forty acres to his neighbor.

The Communists were methodical. They would divide the people into age groups and each group given tasks to work on in the village or surrounding land. They held daily meetings with each of the groups. Attendance was compulsory. The meetings were for various purposes. Often the meetings were to "educate" the people in communist doctrine. When time came to divide property the meetings were called "property division meetings."

They divided up the wealth of the property owners. The land was divided and given to those people who owned no land. Homes of the "rich" were plundered. In some case even the woodwork was stripped from the houses leaving only mud walls standing. With nothing left the rich were forced to go to the Communists for help for food or shelter. This made the once wealthy people dependent upon the Communists. If the Communists fed them, they would be putty in their hands.

Former landowners and others not favored by the communist forces left for the cities of Kiaohsien, Kaomi, Tsimo and Tsingtao. They came in great numbers. People who a short time before felt secure, safe and comfortable in their home on their land were now without home or land, and nearly if not completely, penniless. They were frightened, sorrowful and despairing and in great need. The old people especially found it difficult. Land and possessions that may have been in their families for generations were gone. Gerda writes:

The Chinese people are both very materialistic and conservative. For hundreds, perhaps even thousands of years they have considered land, house and money as measures of worth. If one owned land, one was secure. 'The good earth' was almost idolized, and most people strove to buy land. Even the Christians were concerned by these things. This was particularly true when marriage plans were made, because it was very important to know how much land and houses each partner would bring to the marriage. Now all these values were being taken away from them. They never thought that the land would be stolen from them. They never thought that they could become so poor when they were so rich.32

Many came to cities hoping to find a room to rent in overcrowded conditions. Others hoped that sometimes distant relatives would take them in.

Two of the Chinese teachers of the mission approached Gerda saying, "We have a new mission field."

"What do you mean?" Gerda asked.

"We've been out meeting many of the refugees. Many of them are completely destitute. Before they never believed in any other values than land and possession. Now they've lost everything, and we have tried to talk to them about the true God and Jesus Christ, who is our refuge and who is the same yesterday, today and forever." And so they spoke to the refugees regarding their source of hope and security in Jesus.

On Thursday, November 1 the 12th Division of the Nationalist Army engaged in combat with a reported 5000 communist troops of the Fifth Communist Division under the command of Wu Keh Hwa about thirty miles northwest of Tsingtao. The battle lasted seven hours before the communists were routed. The Nationalists reported that fifty-three communists had been killed, four hundred wounded and eight taken prisoner. [Check these figures if possible. Number of killed vs wounded seems unlikely]. The Nationalists also made off with thirty-two rifles and 6000 market catties of foodstuffs.33

US Marines

On Saturday, November 3 the Red Cross Service Club for enlisted men was dedicated in Tsingtao by Major General Shepherd, commander of the Sixth Marine Division. More than 5000 Marines and sailors flocked to the the club at 1 Chun Shan Road for the opening. About thirty Tsingtao girls were also brought in to dance and talk to the service men. The division orchestra played. Opening hours of the club were 10AM to 10PM daily.34

The Shantung provincial government announced at this time also that the death penalty would be given to anyone found destroying railway tracks or railway beds.35 This was in response no doubt to the communist's actions of disrupting railway travel as a means to stop Nationalist troops from moving to the north. Of course this was not the first time the communists had sabotage the railways. The US marines were helping to police the Tientsin-Shanhaikwan railway.36


Dollan had heard that the boy Ulf that she had begun dating the previous year had pneumonia.37 In 1945 it was getting much worse.38 The hospital received a phone call from the American Red Cross saying to get a bed ready. Ulf was very ill at the American Navy field hospital in Tsingtao and needed to be transferred to the hospital as soon as possible.

Dollan and a Chinese nurse's aid got the room on the second floor, the room next to the last room, the one with the double doors all ready with isolation technique because of the seriousness of the illness. The bed was made and the sheets pulled down.39 They waited for the American ambulance to come. The phone rang again. Ulf was not coming. He had died at the American Field Hospital. Dollan was shocked, feeling stunned and numb. She cried, but continued working. With difficulty she put herself back together again and "cheered " as best she could for the patients that needed her in the hospital. [Dollan never knew the official diagnosis though she thought Ulf may have had tuberculosis also.].

Later a memorial service was held with one of the Chaplains leading the ceremony. Oscar attended and read from the Bible in English. Dollan couldn't get off work.40

Conditions During the War Years41

During the war years the Swedish mission was blessed by the fact that they were from a neutral country. American and British missionaries had been interned in camps and mission property taken away. Much of their work could not go on. In the Rinell's part of Shantung province, there mission was the only Protestant mission that could continue operations. The mission properties were never occupied by soldiers, and mission houses were not destroyed. No one had to leave the mission field because of the war. Travel was restricted into the countryside, but they had freedom to carry on their work in the cities.

The trust and good will of the Chinese people grew for the Swedish Christians. An article appeared 42 in the Kiaohsien paper saying the the "Kiaohsien Swedes" were truly China's friends. The article expressed thanks for what the Kiaohsien Swedes did for the people when the war with Japan broke out. It was at that time the mission opened the school buildings to more than a thousand young women who needed shelter.

During the war years the schools blossomed, so much so that in all the mission stations, the school buildings were too small for the number of students who wanted to study. During the eight years of war with Japan thousands of students went through the mission's schools with enrollment increasing yearly. The Japanese had opened schools during this time also, but the people chose the mission schools. Just in one mission station more than a thousand students had studied during these war years. The Christian influence that the schools had over all these many students between the ages of six and twenty-five was immeasurable.

The Chinese teachers were to be especially commended for their work during these years. They could have accepted better pay elsewhere, but their Christian principles and the love of their work among the young people kept them at the mission schools where they had a big influence in many lives.

Besides studying under Christian teachers the students also were also took part in Bible studies, prayer meetings and regular church services. Gerda writes, "Often I sat in church looking at the sea of young faces, wondering if the preacher was aware of the rich opportunity he had! Perhaps there are not so many ministers who have the privilege of speaking to several hundred young people every Sunday."43

[Following text supplied by Lally.It seems that General Marshall and his co-workers spent much time negotiating peace and in the mean time the entire countryside of China was taken over by Communist troops. After that it was only a case of gaining access to the big cities. (Most of this is reported from a Jiaozhou-perspective for the period August 18 1945 – August 19 1946 in a small book by Gerda Rinell, Ljuset lyser i mörkret, Baptistsamfundets förlag, Stockholm 1947. I believe Margie has translated this into English!)]

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1. We have the photo through Dr. Luan's father.

2. Not sure who these troops were whether they were Japanese, Nationalists or a local militia.

3. How long after the liberation of the camp did you and Egron go visit the camp?

4. If one was to enter through its doors of the two-storied building one would see a wide wooden walnut staircase rising to the second floor to the left as one entered.

5. Sometime after Weihsien had been taken over by the Japanese, some angry soldiers pushed the metal and wood X-ray machine down the stairs as the nurses looked on in horror.

6. The guards stood outside of the gate during the day, and inside at night.

7. They came actually to see all the missionaries, businessmen and nurses they knew. Dollan' small Chinese antique vases were given to her by Mae Rolphs as they left Tsingtao. When Dollan remarried she and her husband Bill Brown moved to the Chicago area. Dollan shipped all her household goods thru Allied Van Lines. During shipping all these antique vases were stolen.


9. Was this during the internment or after liberation.

10. Oscar, was this to meet the Reinbrechts or others?

11. That Dollan got tickets from Bud was a bit uncertain. Dollan can't quite remember if she got tickets from Bud or not.

12. Luan's father accepted the sword at the surrender. Luans probably have photo. Oscar had given it to him.

13. In contact with Janet, Georgie, and Chuck Reinbrecht. LJH. 2008

14. Rinell, Gerda. The Light Shines in the Darkness, page 14 in Marie Rinell's compilation and translation.

15. Order of Gerda's following paragraphs have been changed slightly, and new paragraphs created out longer sections of text.

16. Hedvig's house was "see-guan", but Ester may have lived their for a time also. Perhaps they did toward the end of the war. Perhaps Lally or Johnny would know.

17. and those with her

18. Mom, is this the correct spelling?

19. Mom, could you describe in detail the walk between the two locations that Egron would have seen as he walked - if he had cared to notice the sights in the first place at this time.

20. Mom, what color were the tiles?

21. Closing the gate is an assumption on my part - Len. Dollan says he probably would have closed it so that the house would not be looted any further.

22. Len, verify this name of the army.

23. Dollan did not see the house after it was plundered.

24. Give citation here.

25. Len, give citation.

26. This sentence is an assumption on my part - Len. Dollan says that they were taken to Japan as POWs. The soldiers with their families were loaded on LSTs (Navy transport ships) and taken back to Japan. Dollan dated one of the officers on one of these ships, a man named Ollie Erickson from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Invited on board she was treated to movies.

27. Rinell, Gerda. The Light Shines in the Darkness, page ???.

28. Lally can describe U.S. Marines coming into Tsingtao. She was on the main drag at the time.

29. Very good natured, Sten often seemed to have such a hard time squelching a laugh. The laugh would be suppressed within him and only betray itself with the goofy grin Sten would have on his face. He was a "clown" in a good sense, and a lot of fun.

30. According to Dollan the American mission had been stripped of all wood interior including stairs.

31. Information taken from Gerda Rinell, The light shines in the darkness, page 26.

32. Gerda Rinell, The light shines in the darkness, page 28.

33. "Fighting reported 30 Miles Outside City of Tsingtao," People's Herald. November 4, 1945, p1.

34. "Five Thousand Marines at Red Cross Opening," People's Herald. November 4, 1945, p1.

35. "Death Penalty For R.R. Damage," People's Herald. November 4, 1945, p1.

36. "Marines Cooperating to Police Chinese Railway," People's Herald. November 4, 1945, p1.

37. Mom, had you known for a long time that Ulf and TB or did you hear of it for the first time in 1945?

38. Mom, did he com to the hospital in 1944 or 1945. When you dated him was that in July - August of 1944?

39. Isolation technique consisted of mask, gowns, washing hands in chemicals (lysol possibly) before and after working with the patient.

40. Ulf's father swam with Oscar from Iltis Huk to Strand beach at one time. They often played tennis.

41. This information from The Light Shines in the Darkness by Gerda Rinell, pages 46-47.

42. Len, try to locate this article if possible.

43. Rinell, Gerda. The Light Shines in the Darkness, page 47.

  • Read This
  • Acknowledgements
  • Background
  • Forward
  • (1866-88) Beginnings
  • (1888-90) Bethel Seminary
  • (1891) Johan & Hedvig Engaged
  • (1892) God's Prophet
  • (1893) Out to this Far Off Land
  • (1894) Sailing to China
  • (1895) Escape to Chefoo
  • (1896) A New Home
  • (1897) Germans Take Tsingtao and Kiaochow
  • (1898) Margaret Born
  • (1899) Twins Born in Sweden
  • (1900) Boxer Rebellion
  • (1901) Oscar's Childhood
  • (1902) Oscar to Boarding School
  • (1903) Girl's School Begins
  • (1904) Lindberg Children off to Boarding School
  • (1905) First Baptism Chucheng
  • (1906) Furlough in Sweden
  • (1907) Edith to Boarding School
  • (1908) Another Missionary
  • (1909) Church in Wangtai
  • (1910) First Clinic in Kiaochow
  • (1911) Egron Travels to Sweden
  • (1912) Oscar Leaves Boarding School
  • (1913) Church Consecrated in Kiaochow
  • (1914) Oscar Attends Seminary
  • (1915) Journey Overland
  • (1916) Girls School in Chucheng
  • (1917) Edith Graduates
  • (1918) Conscientious Objector
  • (1919) Sisters to America
  • (1920) Oscar Meets Hellen
  • (1921) Oscar & Hellen Engaged
  • (1922) Hellen Graduates
  • (1923) Oscar & Hellen Marry
  • (1924) Hunting Rabbits
  • (1925) A Son is Born
  • (1926) Meeting of Dr. Sun Yat-sen?
  • (1927) Margaret & Roy Jewett Married
  • (1928) Fighting in Kiaochow
  • (1929) Peace Again in Kiaochow
  • (1930) Fighting Near Kiaochow
  • (1931) Oscar Leaves Göteborg University
  • (1932) Poppies and War in Shantung
  • (1933) First Chinese Pastor Steps Down
  • (1934) Sports, Severed Heads & a Mission Conference
  • (1935) Successful Mission Schools
  • (1936) Sacred Aspen
  • (1937) Travels to America and Sweden
  • (1938) Japanese Take Tsingtao
  • (1939) Sharks Attack Officer
  • (1940) New Pastors for Chinese Churches
  • (1941) Passing of Johan Alfred
  • (1942) Blomdahl Shot
  • (1943) Piano Lessons
  • (1944) Lally & Dollan Baptized
  • (1945) Peace & War
  • (1946) Liberation
  • (1947) Communists Attack Kiaohsien
  • (1948) Dollan Emigrates to America
  • (1949) Hedvig Leaves China
  • (1950) Hellen Leaves China
  • (1951) Last One Out
  • (1952) Sweden Again
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Named Persons
  • Place Names
  • Organizations
  • Addresses
  • Audio & Visual Recordings
  • International Cemetery
  • Passenger Lists

  • Foreign Devils: A Swedish Family in China 1894 to 1951
    © 2012-14 Lennart Holmquist
    Lorum • Ipsum• Dolor • Sic Amet • Consectetur
    Updated: 11-May-2020