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George Hogg, an Archetypal Hero
    2008-04-11 15:07:16     CRIENGLISH.com

George Hogg[photo source: ent.sina.com.cn]

The Children of Huangshi, also known as Huangshi de Haizi in Chinese, premiered in China early this month. The film mainly revolves around the life story of 23-year-old English reporter George Hogg who came to China in the late 1930s during the Japanese invasion of China. Hogg nurtured about 60 orphans and later died in China at an early age of 30 after catching tetanus. Many people said they are deeply touched by Hogg' story after watching the movie. In today's program, we will take a close look at the real life of this heroic archetype, George Hogg. Here's our reporter Zhong Qiu.

"Hogg is a really loving father to me. Look at the last photo he had taken in 1945 when he held me in his arms. You can see deep paternal love on his face. Nothing could ever be greater than to give parental love to an orphan."

That is Nie Guangpei, one of the orphans looked after by Hogg, extends heartfelt thanks even when speaking these words today at an age of 69.

Hogg was born into a wealthy family in England. After finishing his college education at Oxford University, Hogg started his tour of the world. He came to war-haunted China in 1938. Hogg arrived in Shanghai right after the Japanese massacre of some 300,000 Chinese people in the nearby city of Nanjing. This drove him to work as an AP correspondent in Shanghai. Hogg was soon expelled by the Japanese, but he came back to China again via Korea.

In 1942, Hogg became a school headmaster in the small town in China's northwest Shaanxi Province, where he seemed to find his real home.

His students were mainly orphaned children. Some from local poor peasant families, and others were driven west from coastal cities by Japanese troops.

Nie Guangpei and his three elder brothers were among Hogg's students. As a three-year-old, Nie Guangpei could hardly remember the details of the war time, but he said he did not have many terrible memories thanks to Hogg's care and protection.

"He liked me very much. Maybe it is because I was the youngest child there. He always put me on his lap and read stories to me."

Hogg spent day and night with his students, who he felt were more like his children. He taught them English, literature, sports and technical skills.

As a head master, Hogg also built classrooms and dormitories, and he even set up factories to make money for the school's expenses.

However, their happiness in Shaanxi soon ended when the Japanese troops advanced westward. Hogg decided to escort the children hundreds of miles away to the safer place of Shandan in Gansu Province in northwestern China.

Nie Guangpei said it was a real trial for Hogg and his children to travel over 700 miles during the winter month of January.

"The older children had to overcome more difficulties than I did. Just imagine crossing mountains and deserts in such bad weather. Some of our carts toppled into valleys, and there was also the potential threat of bandits and the Japanese. You know, it is not very easy to cover that distance even by today's standards."

After Hogg and his students arrived at Shandan, they settled down in a ruined temple. After rebuilding the school and reopening their factories, everything seemed to be getting better. However, Hogg got tetanus after injuring his foot while playing basketball with his students. As a result of not receiving immediate medical treatment, Hogg soon died at the early age of 30.

His children, some of whom are still alive today, said that they have always held a deep love and respect for Hogg.
What's more, Nie Guangpei said Hogg himself had personally developed during his short life in China.

"Hogg changed from a foreign visitor who knew little about China, to someone who developed a deep love and responsibility for this country. They all say there isn't a perfect man in this world, but Hogg was."

Hogg was buried in Shandan, and the Chinese government erected a statue for him in the 1980s to honour his contribution to China.

Hogg's story was unknown to many before it became a screenplay.Upon knowing of his existence, he now rightly deserves our respect for his devotion to China and his pursuit of justice.

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