2-28 Peace Memorial Park
3 Ketagalan Boulevard, Taipei, Taiwan
2-28 Peace Memorial Park Taipei Reviews
2-28 park and the massacre of 20,000 civilians Feb 06, 2017
in the center of Taipei you will find the 2-28 Peace Memorial Park which was established in 1908 and was the first European style park in Taipei. Today it contains the 2-28 monument, the 2-28 museum, the National Taiwan Museum, ponds, gardens and much more. It is quite easy to spend a half day there. Under the Japanese it was known as Taihoku Park (Taipei Park ) and then Taipei New Park under the Koumintang, but its present name is a result of the 1947 massacre that occurred there. This incident involved an uprising when the locals protested against the post war government set in place by Chiang Kai Shek where tens of thousands of people died.
After the Japanese left Taiwan in 1945 the government expanded the monopoly system that began under the Japanese. Due to graft and mismanagement a thriving black market developed in the country including tobacco. On 27 Feb 1947 agents from the Tobacco Monopoly Bureau took possession of tobacco and money from an old lady, and beat her into unconsciousness, resulting in an angry crowd forming who attacked the officers. The officers shot into the crowd and killed one bystander. Next day huge crowds demonstrated outside the Monopoly Bureau, attacking workers and setting fire to the offices. The security forces responded killing several of the protesters, and demonstrations quickly spread throughout Taiwan. Eventually order was restored and on 2nd March the Taiwanese met the Settlement Committee with a list of 32 demands, but Commander Chen Yi stalled and secretly requested more troops from Chiang Kai Shek. The troops arrived on March 8th and began a 3 day massacre of civilians. During the next few weeks protest leaders, intellectuals, high school students were rounded up and executed. Around 20,000 people were killed and Taiwan lost most of its native elite. Not much was mentioned about the incident until martial law was lifted in 1987 and President Lee Teng-Hui gave a speech offering an apology to the victims and their families. Three years later he declared 28th February a public holiday and created a memorial foundation to compensate the families. This is when the park was renamed as the 2-28 Peace Memorial Park.
Here are some other attractions in the park.
A LITTLE TRAIN HISTORY
I did not expect to see two steam locomotives in the 2-28 Peace Memorial Park but they were there in the NW corner.
PHOTO 1 is Teng Yung, the first steam locomotive in Taiwan railway history which was manufactured by Hohenzollern in Germany in 1887. The steam locomotive was purchased when Governor Lui Ming-Chuang was building the railway from Taipei to Keelung. The engine ran from 1888 to 1924 and has been displayed in the park since then (as far as i know). Teng-Yung was not equipped with coal banks as it was originally intended for railway construction so speed and traction were limited. In 1905 the shape of the funnel was changed to a diamond shape as too many sparks were flying out of the original funnel. This increased its performance.
PHOTO 2 is Steam Locomotive number 9, and i don't know why it was not given a name like his the other one. It was the oldest locomotive in the history of Taiwan and was manufactured in 1871 by Avonside in England. It was one of ten early locomotives in Japan and ran between Tokyo and Yokohama between 1872 and 1895. It was the train that served the Emperor of Japan but after nearly 30 years of service it was transferred to Taiwan and joines the other 8 locomotives on the railway and became known as Steam locomotive number 9. It retired in 1925 and has stood next to Teng Yung in the corner of the park since then.
NATIONAL TAIWAN MUSEUM
The National Taiwan Museum is located inside the north wall of 2-28 Peace Memorial Park but i was a little disappointed as i paid my 80 NT$ and was not told that the rooms were under renovation. As a result i was able to see only a quarter of the area. What i did see was not so interesting as they only had some displays from pre-history and natural history, but i am told that different exhibitions take place here when the museum is running normally.
The museum was established in 1908 and was Taiwan's first public museum, but it was not transferred to the park until 1915.
At the north end of the park, very near the National Museum stands a statue of Confucius. The statue is now a grey color bur at one time it must have been red as i have seen photos from years gone by. No need to explain who Confucius was as everyone should no this. Each side of the statue stands a lion who is guarding the famous man.
CUI HENG CHAMBER AND THE 4 PAVILIONS
One of the most attractive parts of the park is the pond with Cui Heng Chamber in the middle with four pavilions on the corners. All five were constructed in obvious classical Chinese style to try and show the Taiwan Chinese heritage. A bridge stretches over the pond to the main pagoda while each of the four surrounding pavilions are dedicated to a Taiwanese national hero. If you cross the bridge and peer into the pagoda it is disappointing to see some old scaffolding and some piles of junk. In fact if you take a close look the building is not very well maintained.
THE DRAGON POND
I have no idea why this is called the Dragon pond unless there are some sculptures on the small island in the center, but i did not spot any. What is interesting are the stone sculptured animals that are to be seen around the perimeter which include a penguin and other birds. I am quite sure that penguins cannot be found in Taiwan but i was unsure about the other birds
THE 2-28 MASSACRE MONUMENT
The 228 Memorial is a very attractive sculpture that is located in the center of the park and was unveiled on 28th February 1997 to commemorate the 228 massacre. The memorial consists of a steeple in the center, surrounded by 3 tilted cubes. What every visitor should read is the inscription on it but unfortunately it is only in Chinese. Translated to English it makes excellent reading as it explains all about the 2-28 incident. (thanks to the Taiwan documents project for the translation).
In 1945, when the news of Japanese defeat and surrender reached Taiwan, the Taiwanese people were overjoyed that the unfair and unjust colonial rule had come to an end. But soon the Taiwanese people were surprised to find that Chen Yi, the newly appointed Governor of Taiwan had no understanding of Taiwan and its people. He instituted unfair policies that discriminated against the Taiwanese people. To make matters worse, Chen and his officials were undisciplined and corrupt. As a result, production and consumption lost balance, and unemployment and inflation skyrocketed. The people's resentment was mounting and fast reaching a boiling point.
On 27 February 1947, while investigating sales of illicit tobacco on Yen-Ping North Road, Taipei, officials of the Taiwan Tobacco and Wine Monopoly Bureau beat up and injured a female vendor. Then they opened fire, killing an innocent bystander. The public was outraged. The next day, citizens of Taipei took to the streets and demonstrated. They marched to the Governor's Office and appealed for the immediate punishment of the murderers. In response, shots were fired at the demonstrators and several were killed or wounded. This triggered a furious island-wide protest and struggle against the regime. In order to resolve the disputes and to calm the people's growing anger, leaders from communities around the island began setting up committees to mediate between the protesters and the government. At the same time, they demanded immediate political reform.
Chen Yi was insensitive and responded with highhandedness and treachery. On the one hand he negotiated with the committees and, on the other, he treated the leaders as if they were thugs and traitors and asked Nanking for troops. Upon receiving Chen's report, the Chairman of the National Government in Nanking, Chiang Kai-shek, immediately ordered the dispatch of troops. On 8 March 1947, the 21st Division under the command of General Liu Yu-ching landed in Keelung. On 10 March, martial law was declared in the whole of Taiwan. Ke Yuan-fen, the chief of staff of the Taiwan Garrison Command; Shih Hong-hsi, the commander of Keelung District; Peng Meng-chi, the commander of Kaoshiung District; Chang Mu-tai, the commander of a military police regiment; and others started brutal "cleansing of the countryside." During the subsequent crackdowns and purges, many innocent people were implicated. Within a few months, the number of deaths, injured and missing persons reached tens of thousands. Keelung, Taipei, Chiayi, and Kaohsiung suffered the highest casualties. This incident has become known as the 228 Massacre.
Since then, the Taiwanese people were under prolonged martial law for nearly half a century. Both those in the government and the general public were forcibly silenced; no one dared touch upon this taboo subject - the 228 Massacre. However, the grievances and resentment against this atrocity continued to rankle and it was felt necessary to confront this problem openly before healing could take place. Mistrust between Taiwanese and mainlanders, and the argument on whether Taiwan should declare independence or be united with China, have become hot issues with potentially worrisome implications. After the lifting of the Martial Law in 1987, people in all walks of life feel that there would be no hope for peace and harmony unless the deep-rooted malaise was properly addressed. Accordingly, investigation and research into the 228 Massacre were started; the Head of State issued a public apology; the victims and their families were compensated; and a monument was erected. However, the task of healing a serious trauma in a society must depend on the whole-hearted collaborative effort by all its people. We have, therefore, inscribed these words on this memorial plaque in the hope of consoling the spirits of the victims and comforting their grieving families. It is also hoped that these words will serve as a warning and a lesson to all Taiwanese compatriots. Henceforward, we must be one, no matter which communal group we belong; we must help each other with compassion and treat each other with sincerity; we must dissolve hatred and resentment, and bring about long lasting peace. May Heaven bless Taiwan and keep it evergreen.
Erected and Inscribed by the
Trustees of the 228 Memorial Foundation
28 February 1997
THE PEACE BELL
At the south end of the park there is a peace bell and tower. The tower consists of four posts with a circular sculpture at the top and a red cross underneath which is attached to the four posts. The Peace Bell is another memorial and is supposed to symbolise peace after on e of the world's worst atrocities.
THE 2-28 MEMORIAL MUSEUM
The 228 Memorial museum is at the south end of the park and if i remember correctly it was either free to enter or NT$80. It was very interesting as it told the story of the events of that day in February and the immediate weeks after. There were important documents of the time on the floor covered by glass. The documents included titles to property, tax documents etc. There were many newspaper reports and photographs of that horrific time, and a documentary film. The sculpture in the 4th photo was made by Shi Tseng Hsiang, whose grandmother was alive at the time of the 228 incident. Read what he wrote on photo 5. It was a sobering experience wandering through the museum. Some of the items and papers on display had descriptions in English.
THE STONE FOOTPATH
Leading towards the 228 Peace Bell there is a stone footpath which is supposed to be beneficial if you walk along it while barefooted. It is maybe 30 m long with lots of black stones which massage your feet. St the beginning of the path is a board which shows which part of your foot corresponds with different parts of your body, just the same as reflexology
REMEMBER THOSE THAT PERISHED
Outside the 228 Memorial Museum there is a wall with many photographs of those who perished during the 228 massacre. Next to it stands a wall with thousands of strips cloth or paper attached to it, which i can only assume are prayers for those who lost their lives (or possibly the names) There was no explanation in English much to my frustration.
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