At the end of World War II in 1945, the government of the Republic of China assigned Chen Yi, who knew little about Taiwan, as the island’s governor-general. Chen brought into Taiwan the Chinese style of hegemony and “rule by man” which resulted in odious policies and discrimination against the local people, not to mention poor ethical behavior by the officials in his administration, a worsening economy, inflation, and surging unemployment. All of these stoked the general public’s discontent with the government.
On Feb. 27, 1947, government agents ignited the public’s anger when they accidentally shot and killed an innocent passerby while beating a female vendor who was peddling unlicensed cigarettes. Many people took to the streets the next day, demanding that the government hand over the agents who were responsible for the shooting and beating. The protesters were shot by law enforcement officials, and casualties were reported. The massacre triggered an island wide revolt. In order to end the dispute, local leaders formed a settlement committee and called for reform. Chen Yi, who deemed these leaders to be a bunch of bandits and mobsters, called in troops from mainland China to put down the revolt. This move took a heavy toll on the local people’s lives and property in the ensuing months and came to be known as the 228 Massacre. The government’s follow-up purge operation in the rural areas, and its employment of a “white terror” policy to strengthen the late President Chiang Kai-shek’s authoritarian regime undermined social harmony and impeded the country’s movement toward democracy. This is the history of the 228 Massacre. (Resource: Memorial Foundation of 228)
This graceful memorial to the victims of the 2-28 Incident was opened in 2011. Housed in a beautiful Japanese building dating back to 1931, the permanent exhibition charts the tragic events of February 1947 and also includes a permanent exhibition calling for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Committee to find those guilty. There is only occasional English-language signage, but multilingual audio guides are available.
The building is also lovely to just walk around, especially the sweeping staircase in the central lobby. It was formerly used as a school dormitory, the Taiwan Provincial Assembly offices and the American Institute in Taiwan Cultural Center.
National 2-28 Memorial Museum
[228國家紀念館/228 Guójiā jìniànguǎn]
-Located in: Northern Taiwan
-Features: Historical Site
-Highly recommend to: History Buffs, Families
-Opening Hours: 10:00-17:00 (Closed on Mondays, Chinese New Year’s Eve, Chinese New Year’s Day)
-Address: No.54, Nanhai Rd., Zhongzheng Dist., Taipei City, Taiwan