Zhang Jun, a former comrade of communist superhero Lei Feng, died on Tuesday in Shenyang, while giving a speech about the Mao Zedong approved People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldier.
Zhang was speaking to an audience of military personnel on ‘Learn from Lei Feng Day’ when he suffered a heart attack, he was 82 years old.
Zhang joined the PLA in 1946, in 1960 he met Lei Feng, and took the majority of the photos of the future communist icon. The authenticity of Zhang’s photographs has been challenged, they were used in the posthumous propaganda campaign which sanctified Lei Feng as the ideal communist, selflessly devoted to the Party and Mao Zedong. Critics argue that they are of surprisingly high quality considering at the time they were allegedly taken, Lei Feng was an obscure and unknown soldier. The actions depicted within Zhang’s photographs are so mundane that it seems unlikely a photographer would train his camera on them unless the subject were already famous.