During the time that Mao was enforcing the Great Leap Forward in 1958, in an effort to catch up with the economy of the Western world, he was responsible for overseeing "one of the worst catastrophes the world has ever known".
Chinese rural history from 1958 to 1962, shows that a famine, systematic torture, brutality, starvation killed at least 45 million Chinese peasants & compares to the Second World War in its magnitude. The worldwide death toll of the Second World War was 55 million.
This devastating period of history – mostly hidden, "ranks alongside the gulags and the Holocaust as one of the three greatest events of the 20th century.... It was like the Cambodian communist dictator Pol Pot's genocide multiplied 20 times over," he said.
Between 1958 and 1962, a war raged between the peasants and the state; it was a period when a third of all homes in China were destroyed to produce fertiliser and when the nation descended into famine and starvation, Mr Dikötter said.
There was a "staggering degree of violence" that was carefully catalogued in Public Security Bureau reports featured among the provincial archives he studied. He found that members of the rural farming communities were seen by the Party merely as "digits", or a faceless workforce
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