The general that was put under house arrest for 33 years 被軟禁33年的將軍
This weekend I visited a local museum in Taichung that is only open every other Sundays ~ Gen Sun Li-jen Memorial Hall. This was the home of a Taiwanese general who was put under house arrest for 33 years.
這個週末我到台中市參觀一家只在每個月隔週日才開放的紀念館 ~ 孫立人將軍紀念館。這是孫立人將軍被軟禁33年的地方。
Sun was born in 1900 in China, and studied at Purdue University in the United States. After Purdue, he enrolled himself at the Virginia Military Institute in US for military training in help strengthen his nation in world the modern. After fighting many battles such as the Second Sino-Japanese War, and the Chinese Civil War, Sun rose to become the Commander in Chief of the Republic of China Army in Taiwan in 1950.
孫將軍在1900年出生於中國，之後到美國普渡大學念書。 畢業後他到維吉尼亞軍校接受軍事訓練，目的是為了回國可以投身軍隊，加強國家的軍事勢力。 孫在多項戰爭中，如國共內戰及中緬印作戰都有彪炳的成績，在1950年更當上國民黨陸軍總司令。
Due to his US training, his bravery in the battlefield, and his authority and leadership within the army, Sun was well respect by the US. This caused some unease for the President of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-shek, especially when he heard rumours that the US wanted to help Sun into power to displace him. Chiang gradually removed military powers from Sun giving him ceremonial roles instead. In 1955 Sun was placed under house arrest on the grounds of plotting to overthrow Chiang and allowing one of his subordinate to conspire with the Communist. He was never formally charged with any crime.
The house where Sun lived as a virtual prisoner all those years is in the center of Taichung City. It is a Japanese style house dating back to the days when Taiwan was ruled by the Japanese.
This is a guided tour where we were given a brief introduction into Sun’s life, and the conditions when he was under house arrest. Apparently, Sun was allowed to go out locally but was always surrounded by many agents to stop him from coming into contact with anyone. Other than that, he needed special permission to leave Taichung which was very rarely granted. When his eldest child graduated from university, he was forbidden to attend his graduation ceremony. A few years later, he was allowed to go to his younger child’s graduation ceremony on the condition that he didn’t speak to anyone, didn’t identity himself (even as a proud parent) and had to sit right at the back of the hall away from everyone else.
Anyway, I’ve digressed. Back to the house tour. The house itself is about 300sqm, with a 2000sqm garden, not the most spacious house to be placed under house arrest. (In fact, is there ever any ideal place to be placed under house arrest?) Here’s part of the garden, where Sun and his wife spent a lot of their time gardening.
As we come through the front door, there is a long corridor on the left.
The living room is on the right hand side of the corridor, and is situated in the centre of the house. Everything inside is frozen in time.
I couldn’t help but noticing the Hello Kitty figurine on top of the piano, it looked a bit out of place in this living room. Sun has four children, so maybe this belonged to his daughter as they lived together during those years. Officially, his wife and children were not under house arrest.
At one end of the house is the bathroom, and two quite small bedrooms.
This was probably Sun’s bedroom. The grey suit was from his days at the Virginia Military Institute, and his other serving uniforms still hangs inside the wardrobe.
There are some other artefacts on display in the room such has photos taken while he was in the army, and later on in his life. This revolver was a gift from Eisenhower.
As we go around the other side of the living room we head towards a praying room. Mrs Sun was a devout Buddhist and spent a lot of time here.
Finally, this is Sun’s study. This house is quite unique in that it has a real fireplace, a feature that is not common in Taiwan. In the Japanese colonial days, many Japanese went abroad to study in England. Upon their return, they liked to incorporate English features into the buildings, this is a prime example.
One of Sun’s finest battle was fought in Burma in 1942. Here he helped to relieve 7000 British troops who had been trapped by the Japanese army for quite some time. He was awarded a CBE in 1943 by King George VI from the UK for this. At Burma, Sun grew quite fond of some Burmese elephants used by the Japanese troops during the war, and in 1947 he transported two of them to Taiwan. Sadly, one of them died very soon upon arrival. Knowing how fond Sun was of the elephant, people arranged for the elephant feet to be made into stools as a gift for him. It is said that while Sun was under house arrest, he enjoyed sitting at his desk in his study in the company of the stools, as if the elephant was still with him.
I don’t know about you, but although the stools are stuffed with wood inside, it still didn’t go down too well with me. It just felt a bit weird.
In 1988, 33 years after Sun was placed under house arrest, he was finally released by the government. Two years later, he passed away at home in Taichung. Our tour guide said Sun’s health deteriorated after his release, and believes that was because he had nothing more to fight for, and thus lost the will to live. Sun’s funeral was held in full military honours and was attended by the Minister of National Defence and many top generals.
在1988年孫被軟禁33三年後，他終於被釋放。 兩年後他在台中家裡中逝世，結束 89年一生。導覽員說孫被釋放後身體每日下況，好像生命中再沒有事情要爭取，沒有生活下去的意志。 孫立人的喪禮當年由總統府主祭，參謀長，三軍總司令和多位高級軍官有出席。
The Hall is open every other Sunday and is free to visit. They recommend you to book online in advance, you can do it here. However if they’re not too busy, you can just turn up on the day to join the tour which starts every hour on the dot.