On December 1, 1886, Zhu De (朱德) was born in Yilong County, a hilly and isolated section of northern Sichuan Province. When he was 6 years old, he and his two brothers were sent to private school for education.
From 1911 to 1917, he fought under Brigader Cai E and participated in the attacks against the Qing Dynasty, the campaign to unseat Yuan Shikai and the Constitution Protection Movement. During this period, he moved up the ranks to become a brigade commander. He married Chen Wuzhen, a graduate from Nanxi Normal University, and had a rich life. However, he finally realized that he was only a tool used by warlords to struggle for power and wealth, which led him to find new way to save his country and people.
In July of 1922, after overcoming many obstacles, Zhu De arrived in Beijing. He met with Chen Duxiu, leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC), to whom he sincerely expressed his desire to join the CPC. However, Chen rejected him due to his former warlord ties. Nevertheless, Zhu De continued in his mission. He went to Germany, the birthplace of Marxism, in search of truth. He later traveled to Paris, where he met Zhou Enlai. Zhou was moved by Zhu De's unusual experiences and his spirit of pursing truth, and helped him to join the CPC.
On August 1, 1927, Zhu De took part in the Nanchang Uprising as vice commander of the 9th troop. The army was encircled and suppressed by enemies, suffering great losses. However, Zhu De's bravery and determination led the army to join forces with Mao Zedong's troops. From then on, Mao and Zhu became so closely connected that they were known to the local farmers as "Zhu Mao."
During this turbulent time, Zhu's family fell apart. In Henan, he married Wu Ruolan, a female soldier. In February of 1929, Wu was captured by enemy forces and died. Despite the loss of his love, Zhu continued to lead the Red Army and broaden the revolutionary base areas. Later that year, he married Kang Keqing, with whom he spent the rest of his life.
From 1930 to 1933, Mao Zedong and Zhu De successfully led the Red Army against the Kuomintang during the four encirclement campaigns; however, they were not able to do the same during the Fifth Counter Encirclement Campaign because of Li De's mistake, and reluctantly began the Long March.
In the Long March, under the leadership of Mao Zedong, Zhu De and Zhou Enlai, about 30,000 troops in the Red Army fought against millions of Kuomintang troops. In the end, the Red Army was finally able to achieve victory.
During the War of Resistance against Japan, Zhu De oversaw the Eighth Route Army to fight against Japanese invaders, of which he won time after time.
During the Chinese Civil War, Zhu De was more than 60 years old. Despite his old age and fatigue, he still conducted lots of campaigns.
On October 1, 1949, the People's Republic of China was founded. Zhu Du took the role of commander and reviewed the parade of various PLA forces. Zhu became a marshal in 1955, but because of his outspokenness in the Cultural Revolution, Lin Biao and Jiang Qing tried to sling mud at him and referred to him as "old warlord" and "bad commander."
On January 8, 1976, Premier Zhou Enlai died. Upon hearing this news, Zhu De was very sorrowful and lay sick in bed for a long time. At death's door, he told wife Kang Keqing to hand a deposit of 20,000 yuan over to the Party for Party dues. Ever since Zhu had become a marshal in 1955, he had never taken his rightful salary, nor did he want to waste anything belonging to the people.
At 3:01 pm, on July 6, 1976, Marshal Zhu De died. He was 90 years old.