April 26th, 2013
On this date in 1928, Chinese journalist and social activist Shao Piaoping was shot at Beijing’s Tianqiao execution — fulfillment of his lifelong motto, “To die as a journalist.”
The intrepid Shao blazed a trail for in his native country, bucking a prejudice that mere journalism was a bit on the declasse side.
He co-founded and edited Hanmin Daily in 1911, just in time to get his support for the Xinhai Revolution into newsprint.
But Shao was no propagandist, and, post-revolution, was repeatedly arrested for his scathing critiques of Yuan Shikai and the various other illiberal strongmen taking roost. He had to duck out to Japan twice during the 1910s; there, he kept cranking copy, now as a foreign correspondent for Shanghai’s top newspapers. As the decade unfolded, he also became a theoretician of journalism without abating his prodigious ongoing output.
“I saw my role as that of helpful critic and believed it wrong to praise petty people simply to avoid trouble,” this pdf biography quotes Shao saying of himself. “I was determined not to dispense with my responsibility.”
By the late 1910s, he was publishing his own capital-city newspaper, Jingbao (literally “The Capital”) and developing his academic thought as a teacher at Peking University. He was perhaps China’s premier journalist, and he still had to slip into exile in Japan in 1919 after openly supporting the May Fourth student movement.
Shao left an impressive mark on his students, perhaps none more so than a penniless young leftist working in the university library, Mao Zedong.
Mao, then still an obscurity to most of the outside world, remembered Shao fondly to journalist Edgar Snow. In contrast to many other Peking University scholars who gave the provincial twentysomething short shrift, Shao “helped me very much. He was a lecturer in the Journalism Society, a liberal, and a man of fervent idealism and fine character.” Word is that Shao even loaned Mao money.
Shao’s acid pen and unabashed sympathy for agitators led to his arrest in 1926 by the warlord Zhang Zuolin — whose wrath Shao incited by denouncing bitterly a horrific March 18 massacre of students.
But the martyr journalist’s heroic career — not to mention his accidental link with the future Great Helmsman — insured his elevation into the pantheon, even though Shao’s underground membership in the Communist party was not known for decades after his death. Mao personally declared him a hero of the revolution, and intervened to see that his widow and children were cared. China has any number of public monuments in Shao’s honor.
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Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Activists,Capital Punishment,China,Death Penalty,Execution,Famous,History,Intellectuals,Power,Shot
Tags: 1920s, 1926, april 26, beijing, journalism, journalists, mao zedong, shao piaoping
December 23rd, 2012
(Thanks to Meaghan Good of the Charley Project for the guest post. -ed.)
At 7:00 a.m. on this date in 1926, alcoholic and all-around loser Petrus Hauptfleisch was hanged in South Africa for the murder of his elderly mother nearly two years earlier. The case is detailed in Rob Marsh’s book Famous South African Crimes, available to read for free here.
Hauptfleisch had lived with his mother well into adulthood. When World War I started, he joined the army and served in Europe for four years.
After his return to South Africa in 1919, he demonstrated signs of having grown up a bit: he got a job as a butcher, married and had a young child. He and his wife fought constantly, however. He had a violent temper and drank heavily, to the extent that eventually none of the local businesses would sell him liquor anymore.
Finally his wife left him and he moved back in with Mom, but he was abusive to her as well and over Christmas 1924 she had him arrested after he threatened to kill her.
But once he sobered up and was released from custody, Mom let him move back in. Perhaps she felt she had to, since Petrus was haupt-fleisch und blut. Whatever her reason, the sins of the son were soon visited upon the mother.
Hauptfleisch claimed his mother accidentally set the kitchen on fire on January 13, 1925 and burned to death. The autopsy, however, didn’t support his story: all indications were that Mrs. Hauptfleisch had been suffocated or strangled to death and then burned afterward. There was no sign of soot or ashes in her bronchial tube or lungs, strong evidence that she hadn’t been breathing when the fire started, and there were other indications of asphyxiation. The postmortem lividity indicated she’d been lying flat on her back at the time of death, not face-down as Hauptfleisch said he’d found her.
Authorities believed Hauptfleisch was driven to homicide partly because of greed (he was the sole heir to his mother’s £600 estate) and partly out of personal rancor over that whole arrest thing.
After he was convicted and the sentence of death was passed upon him, Hauptfleisch issued a statement acknowledging that he had not been a good son, but protesting his innocence of this “most dastardly” crime. He would maintain his innocence until he died.
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Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Guest Writers,Hanged,History,Murder,Other Voices,South Africa
Tags: 1920s, 1926, december 23, family, names, parricide, petrus hauptfleisch