The story of the worst famine in history - 'The Great Chinese Famine'

Monday 25th September 2017 | Grace

In the UK, the late 1950’s and early 1960’s were known for a time when the economy was on the rise after the war, rock ‘n’ roll music was breaking boundaries and the first generation of teenagers was being created.

On the other side of the world in China, however, things were taking a much darker turn as millions of people faced starvation.

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Although partly due to natural disasters such as drought so the farmers could no longer grow enough crops for people to eat, the other reason that so many people died is a much more sinister one.

In 1959, China announced that the political movement, 'A Great Leap Forward', would mean that workers would drop everything in order to produce steel to make money for a metal industry very successful at the time. People were forced to eat together in housing and grain was taken away by the government to sell overseas. The citizens believed that there was no food and so slowly but surely began to starve to death.

Due to the levels of hunger, those in power began to treat peasants in horrendous ways as those who tried to escape the houses were sent to labour camps. People began to write letters begging for help and there were reports of people being tortured, urinated on and even stories of those who stole food being made to eat human waste.

Others were beaten to death and the starvation became so bad, that families turned to eating each other and parts of their own bodies.

From the years 1958-1962, 36 million people died from starvation whilst a further 40 million people ‘failed to be born’. All whilst those in charge drank expensive alcohol and ate lavish food.

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One of the worst points about this is that there is still a huge portrait of leader at the time, Chairman Mao, that hangs over the gates of Beijing’s forbidden city in what is meant to be a reminder of the great leadership he bestowed upon China. It is, however, for many others, a remembrance of what is now thought to be the biggest famine in human history.