Women’s February 28

In the February 28 political massacre, many men sacrificed their lives. Thus the stories and history have been focused on these men. However , how did the wives of those who died live their lives? These survivors not only lost their beloved ones and endured the subsequent sufferings but also had to continue the struggle for survival under a repressive regime and a patriachial society. Their courage and experiences should also be studied and known. Their stories collectively constitute another tragic page of the Taiwan history. Ms. Hsiu-Hua Shen has devoted herself to the research into this aspect. The following is an abstract of her presentation at the February 28 Memorial Conference in San Diego, sponsored by the WUFI-US held during February 20-23, 1997.

Women's February 28 Political Massacre--Political Widows' Oral History

by Hsiu-Hua Shen

In the past few years, in an attempt to reconstruct the history of the February 28 1947 Incident from the memory, the vast majority of the oral history and research in the Incident seem to involve only men. Those who sacrificed their lives in this massacre were almost all men. Under such circumstances, the reconstruction of the history and discussion concerning the event would seem basically centered around men's experience and memory. However, women who lost their men were faced with the reality of survival. In this paper, an attempt was made to reveal how the incident affected the lives of these women, through the interviews of twenty some political widows whose husbands were massacred in that Incident.

Basically, this paper attempts to deal with the following issues:

1. Why those who lost their lives in the February 28 Incident were nearly all men, causing so many women to become political widows? Are the different fates between men and women in this historical incident an accidental consequence or the result of social and political conditioning?

2. How did those women who were impacted directly handle their financial, political, and emotional affairs under the shadow of the incident, coupled with a patriachial society? 3. How do these political widows interpret the incident and their lives through their own experiences and particularly from their viewpoint as women?

Finally, what are the special meanings in reconstructing and reinterpreting the history of February 28 Incident through the lens/viewpoints of women?

This paper suggests that the completion of the collecting and recording of the experiences of these political widows is an accomplishment of collective action. In addition, the presence of such voice represents the desire of women to have the right to express and interpret their own experiences as well as to leave their marks in the stage of history.

The February 28 Holocaust