There is so much history to the Shaolin Monks, the monastery and Buddhism.
The last hundred years of Chinese history have been very turbulent, and the Shaolin Temple has been part of this. Over the course of history, the Shaolin Temple generally enjoyed great favor with the Chinese emperors, but was also destroyed many times by various warlords. One such instance was in 1928, when warlord Shi Yousan attacked the temple. It burned for 45 days, and many of the buildings, books, and records were destroyed.
When the People’s Republic of China was established, all religion was outlawed. All training at Shaolin was of course prohibited. During the cultural revolution, the red guard destroyed even more of the buildings, statues, and other relics at the temple. During this time period, six monks stayed to protect temple and suffered the red guard’s abuses. They were former abbot Shi Xingzheng, Shi Wanheng, Shi Suxi, Shu Suyun, Shi Dechan, and Shi Miaoxing.
Following the release of Jet Li’s Shaolin Temple in 1981 and the worldwide popularity of kung fu that followed, the Chinese government restored and rebuilt many of the old buildings at the temple. However, the temple is not currently a place of study or training, but a destination for tourists. Many large kung fu schools with thousands of students teach modern wushu in towns and cities near the temple.
Excerpt from this page which is essential for Shaolin history.
The picture is from the site and is a mural on the wall of the Shaolin Monastery. This is also a good read.