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Archives Related to the February 28 Incident and the White Terror

2017 marked the 70th anniversary of the February 28 Incident and 30 years since the martial law was lifted. Although the February 28 Incident and the White Terror are not forbidden topics in Taiwan society, many relevant archives are yet to be acquired and disclosed. Since its establishment, the Institute of Taiwan History has striven to collect folk papers, such as the following records related to the February 28 Incident and the White Terror: Historical Materials Related to the February 28 Incident and White Terror, Yang Zhao-jia Collection, Chen Cheng-po Paintings and Papers, Yeh Sheng-ji Papers, Chen Wen-xing Papers, Chen Zhong-tong Papers, The Diary of Lin Xian-tang, and The Diary of Wu Xin-rong.

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Archives Related to the February 28 Incident and the White Terror
Archives Related to the February 28 Incident and the White Terror

Author: Minro Hsieh |Staff member at the Archives of the Institute of Taiwan History
Photo: Archives of the Institute of Taiwan History
Translated by Chen Han-shu

70 years ago, a historic event occurred, marked by fear, blood, tears, and the sound of gunshots in Taiwan. On February 27, 1947, a burst of gunfire in Taipei’s Circle District provoked people’s outrage toward the new government, the Taiwan Provincial Administrative Executive Office. On the next day, anti-government movements occurred in many areas of the island, which led to violent conflicts between police and people. Representatives and leaders in different areas organized mediation committees to negotiate with Commander Chen Yi. They made an appeal for political reform and wanted to collaborate with the government to handle the unstable situation. However, Chen Yi secretly requested that the Nanjing government send troops to suppress the protesters. In the afternoon of March 8, the troops arrived at the Keelung Port and started a brutal suppression campaign from north to south Taiwan. The police and soldiers perpetrated a massacre under the guise of inspecting households. They confiscated weapons and arrested and killed elites and regular people. This slaughter filled the island with absolute horror. Furthermore, before the incident broke out, the Secrets Bureau had already established several divisions in Taiwan. After the incident broke out, the Bureau immediately penetrated, carried out surveillance on, and alienated the mediation committees, exercising influences on local organizations. On May 15, 1947, the first Chairperson of the Taiwan Provincial Government, Wei Tao-ming, arrived in Taiwan and ceased the massacre. However, surveillance and arrests continued in Taiwan under martial law, which was issued by the Kuomintang government in 1949, the year they retreated to Taiwan from China. This period of suppression is known as the “White Terror.” Since its establishment, the Institute of Taiwan History has striven to collect folk papers, including records related to the February 28 Incident and the White Terror. These records are categorized as follows:


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