During the early stages of the War of Resistance Against Japan (1937-1945), organizations such as the ymca (Young Men’s Christian Association) were vital to the local and regional humanitarian relief effort in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province. While the city endured intense bombing from Japanese planes, ymca volunteers cared for the wounded and dug victims out of rubble. The work of Sophia Zhu Tierong 朱铁荣 (1915-2009) and her husband, Zhang Yifan 张以藩 (1906-1957), were integral to the ymca’s leadership and organization. Prior to Changsha’s Fire of 1938, the ymca also organized an evacuation of refugees from the outskirts of the city to West Hunan. This paper argues that, in the wake of the Nationalist government’s preoccupation with the larger war effort, non-state agencies such as the ymca were critical to the humanitarian relief effort in both the city and region.
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