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Remembered as the ?Goddess of Nanking?, Minnie Vautrin. When the Japanese army invaded Nanjing in December 1937, she and the other foreigners in the city, worked to protect the civilians in the Nanking Safety Zone. Ginling Girls College became a haven of refuge, at times harbouring up to 10,000 women in a college designed to support between 200 and 300.

I Will never Forget!

The Rape of Nanjing

Warning: This story includes memories of extreme acts of violence and trauma.

Between an estimated 20 to 30 thousand women were raped by the Japanese soldiers during the six weeks of the Nanjing/Nanking Massacre, most were brutally killed afterwards. The Japanese soldiers even raped girls less than ten years old, women over seventy years? old, pregnant women, and nuns. Rampant raping took place in the streets or at religious worshiping places during the day. Many women were gang raped. Some Japanese even forced fathers to rape their daughters, sons to rape their mothers, etc. Those who resisted were killed immediately.

The Japanese organized burning of buildings in the city. After they had set fire to buildings using either gasoline or some other inflammable chemicals, they hid, waited for, and killed people who came to extinguish the fire. Numerous people were killed by fire. Nanjing, once a beautiful historical city, was burned to ashes by the Japanese.

The Nanking Massacre was an episode of mass murder and mass rape committed by Japanese troops against the residents of Nanjing (Nanking), then the capital of the Republic of China, during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The massacre is also known as the Rape of Nanking or, using Pinyin Romanisation, the Nanjing Massacre or Rape of Nanjing.

Following a bloody victory in Shanghai during the Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese turned their attention towards Nanking. Fearful of losing them in battle, Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Shek ordered the removal of nearly all official Chinese troops from the city, leaving it defended by untrained auxiliary troops. Chiang also ordered the city held at any cost, and forbade the official evacuation of its citizens. Many ignored this order and fled, but the rest were left to the mercy of the approaching enemy.

In the days and months leading up to the occupation of Nanjing, foreign nationals living in the capital city played a key role in resisting the Japanese assault. In many places in China foreigners were bystanders to the conflict, but in Nanjing something very different occurred. In China?s capital city a small group of Westerners chose to remain while others stood by or fled the city. This small group formed the Nanjing safety Zone Committee and provided immediate refuge for those Chinese remaining in the city. While these foreigners were not trained diplomats but missionaries and businessmen, their voices, abundant letters, and diaries documented the atrocities and served as firsthand accounts to the violence engulfing the city. They regularly appealed to the Japanese embassy, wrote to friends, family, and international organizations all in a desperate effort to spread awareness in order to stop the horror raging through Nanjing.

Overall, most Americans had only a passing knowledge or little interest in Asia. Political leaders in both America and Britain remained overwhelmingly focused on the situation in Europe where Adolf Hitler was rapidly re-arming Germany while at the same time expanding the borders of the Nazi Reich through devious political manoeuvres.

Minnie Vautrin (front 3rd from the LHS) was a formidable, dependable, energetic woman who helped Ginling College succeed at a time when the education of women was a fairly new concept and possibility. She had a year?s worth of language learning and a few more years of experience teaching, including math, Bible, and gymnastics.

The extraordinary group of about 20 Americans and Europeans remaining in the city, composed of missionaries, doctors and businessmen, took it upon themselves to establish an International Safety Zone. Using Red Cross flags, they brazenly declared a 2.5 square- mile area in the middle of the city off limits to the Japanese. On numerous occasions, they also risked their lives by personally intervening to prevent the execution of Chinese men or the rape of women and young girls. Those who chose to remain served both as witnesses to history and as emblems of courage. Minnie Vautrin, (Wilhelmina “Minnie” Vautrin) one of only two foreign women who remained in Nanjing, was one such individual. She was a woman of courage and conviction. As a key member of the International Committee for the Red Cross, Vautrin directed the efforts to specifically protect women and girls from the Japanese soldiers

In the throes?of mayhem and danger, when seventy-five percent of the city?s population abandoned the city, Minnie provided for her refugees in every way possible and was a source of strength and comfort to those who came to her for safety.

Minnie Vautrin was born on?September 27, 1886, to a blacksmith’s family in the tiny village of Secor, Illinois.

Her mother died in childbirth when she was seven and Minnie spent three years in foster care before she was returned to her father. This inauspicious beginning did not herald the accomplishments she would?become known for.

From early on, she dreamt of becoming a teacher and seeing the outside world. However, her family could not afford her schooling. She realized that if she wanted to be educated, she must make her own way. And she did.

In 1912, Vautrin joined the Foreign Christian Missionary Society after graduating from the University of Illinois-Urbana. The Society sent her to Hofei, China. In Hofei, she saw that poverty was prevalent and most of the Chinese women were illiterate. She was determined to devote her life to helping the poor and promoting women’s education. After months of effort, she established a girls’ middle school there. For recruiting students, she tactfully rectified the parents’ old belief that it was a total waste to educate their daughters. Later, in 1919, after receiving a Master’s degree from Columbia University during her furlough back to America, Vautrin became the acting president of Ginling College in Nanking. At Ginling, she strived to promote women’s education and help the poor. She led her students to establish a free clinic and elementary school for poor neighbours. On weekends?she often visited the poor and helped them solve their problems. They affectionately called her their Miss Hua (from her Chinese name-Hua Chuan).

While Minnie was immersed in the education and advancement of Chinese women, the Japanese Imperial Army had been devising a strategy to take over China, whose wealth and economic resources, like food and labour, they wanted for themselves. The residents of Nanking had been dreading the sacking of Shanghai because it meant they would be next. In December, 1937 the Japanese invaded the city in what has become known as ?The Rape of Nanking.?

Photograph of George Fitch, an American Protestant Missionary in China when the Imperial Japanese Army invaded Nanjing in December of 1937. George Fitch was the administrative director of the Nanjing Safety Zone Committee responsible for trying to create an area of protection from the marauding army. George Fitch and other members of the Nanjing Safety Zone kept diaries that document the extent of the atrocities committed by the Japanese army at the time.

Males above army recruitment age were taken immediately.?Iris Chang explained what happened, “The Japanese would take any men they found as prisoners, neglect to give them water or food for days, but promise them food and work. After days of such treatment, the Japanese would bind the wrists of their victims securely with wire or rope and herd them out to some isolated area. The men, too tired or dehydrated to rebel, went out eagerly, thinking they would be fed. By the time they saw the machine guns, or the bloodied swords and bayonets wielded by waiting soldiers, or the massive graves, heaped and reeking with the bodies of the men who had preceded them, it was already too late to escape.”

In July of 1937, Japan launched a full-scale war against China. Four months later, the Japanese army marched towards Nanking. Most people left the city. Only the poor could not afford to leave. Vautrin repeatedly defied the American Embassy’s order to evacuate because she had decided to remain in Nanking to help the poor. Meanwhile, a group of Western gentlemen established a safety zone with some twenty camps to protect refugees in Nanking. Vautrin turned Ginling into a special camp for women and children.?She protected the campus with American flags and proclamations, issued by the American Embassy, to show the Japanese soldiers that Ginling was an American institute and deter them from entering the college.

However, on December 13, Nanking fell. The Japanese soldiers immediately went on a rampage of committing despicable crimes. They savagely gang-raped women and tortured victims to death.

Thousands of women poured into Ginling and the campus was soon overcrowded with refugees. Vautrin had to stand at the college’s front gate to urge the older women to return home and leave room for Ginling to protect the younger ones. But, most of them refused to leave. They kneeled on the ground, tearfully begging to be admitted into the campus. Seeing the sad scene, Vautrin let all of them in. At the zenith of the Japanese atrocity, the small women’s college was crowded with over 10,000 women and children.

Minnie Vautrin’s writings provide a detailed account of the situation in Nanking under Japanese occupation. In the last entry of her diary, April 14, 1940, Minnie Vautrin wrote:

“I’m about at the end of my energy. Can no longer forge ahead and make plans for the work, for on every hand there seems to be obstacles of some kind. I wish I could go on furlough at once, but who will do the thinking for the Exp. Course??

Two weeks later, she suffered a nervous breakdown and returned to the United States. A year to the day after she left Nanking, Vautrin ended her own life.

The most terrifying part about all of this is the coolness of the soldiers during the massacre. While some were sickened, many enjoyed the murders.

The selections chosen from Vautrin?s diary chronicle her days and weeks preceding the siege of Nanjing on December 13, 1937. They illuminate her internal struggles during these extreme circumstances and the many dilemmas she faced to survive while upholding her commitment to the work of the Nanjing Safety Zone Committee.

On December 13, 1937, the Japanese army conquered Nanking, and for the next several weeks murdered, looted and raped with abandon. Vautrin bravely turned Ginling into a safety zone. Originally, she wanted to shelter only young and unwed women, but the raping was so severe – some women were violated with beer glasses and worse – that Vautrin’s compassion moved her to accept all women.

Japanese soldiers tore down the US flags that Vautrin flew in the safety zone and raped women on the premises. Irate soldiers sometimes slapped Vautrin, thrust their bayonets, or waved pistols at her. But she refused to surrender. Unwittingly proving that war can be as absurd as it is violent, a Japanese photographer taking propaganda pictures asked the women, some of whom were likely already victims, to look happy.
With many women too afraid to leave Vautrin’s side, she displayed immense creativity by organizing homecraft and small trade workshops, theology lessons, an Easter show and a ten-week curriculum spanning nine subjects. She also negotiated the release of Chinese prisoners of war slated for execution. Though her salary had been cut, she bought quilts for the exposed and tired.

Vautrin soon discovered that the American flags and proclamations posted around Ginling could not prevent the Japanese soldiers from barging into the campus and only the presence of a foreigner would deter them from committing crimes. She spent her day and night rushing to wherever the soldiers intruded on the campus to keep them out.?Some of them became so angry that they slapped her face. They threatened her with their bloodstained bayonets. One night, they demanded that she leave the campus. She replied, “This is my home. I cannot leave”. ?Even as the Japanese army brought destruction and devastation to Nanking, she kept the gates open, welcoming the wounded, the ransacked, the destitute, and the desolate. Soon the walls and grounds of the college were overcrowded with people. But she never closed the gates. And she never left them unguarded. She would leap up from her meals or out of her bed when she was told of possible infiltration.

In addition, Vautrin cared for the refugees’ well-being. For instance, she made arrangements to serve them rice-porridge, teach them to sing hymns to lift their spirit and she even tried to locate their missing husbands and sons, who were their families’ sole breadwinners. She taught destitute widows the skills required to make a meagre living and provided the best education her limited sources would allow to the children in desecrated Nanking.

When soldiers tried to abduct refugees under her care, she bravely stood in between them. And when the Japanese finally completed their hellish masterpiece with over three hundred thousand people butchered, Minnie started the hard work of caring for the city?s wounded. Minnie Vautrin is credited with saving up to ten thousand Chinese women and children at the risk of her own life. She saw her responsibility to those around her, and answered that call unswervingly. Her actions during one of the century?s greatest crimes should be an inspiration to all of us who desire to make a difference in the lives of those who suffer around us.

The grateful refugees called her “Goddess of Mercy”.

Nevertheless, the terrible strain of dealing with Japanese soldiers exhausted her physically and mentally. Shortages of basic necessities and nutritious food in the impoverished Nanking were also detrimental to her health. In May 1940, she suffered a nervous breakdown and had to return to America for medical treatment. At the time, mental illness was regarded as a stigma in the society. Her colleagues kept a tight lip on what happened to her. Only very few knew her whereabouts.

“Goddess of Mercy!” During the Rape of Nanking the Chinese women under Minnie Vautrin?s protection gratefully addressed her this way.

Excerpts from the Original Text of Vautrin?s Diary:

Tuesday, Dec. 14 [the second day after the fall of Nanking]: ?Those of us who believe war is a national crime and a sin against the creative spirit at the heart of the Universe, could give our strength toward rehabilitation of innocent suffers, those whose homes are burned and looted or who are injured by bombs and artillery.? ?Let?s hope tonight will be peaceful.?

Wednesday, Dec.15: ?From 8:30 this morning until 6 this evening, except for the noon meal, I have stood at the front gate while the refugees poured in. There is terror in the face of many of the women?last night was a terrible night in the city and many young women were taken from their homes by the Japanese soldiers. Mr. Sane came over this morning and told us about the conditions in the Hausimen section, and from that time on we have allowed women and children to come in freely; but always imploring the older women to stay home, if possible, in order to leave a place for younger ones. Many begged for just a place to sit out on the lawn.?

Thursday, Dec. 16: ?There probably is no crime that has not been committed in this city today. Thirty girls were taken from language school last night, and today I have heard scores of heartbreaking stories of girls who were taken from their homes last night?one of girls was but 12 years old. . . . Tonight, a truck passed, in which there were 8 to 10 girls, and as it passed they called out ?Gin Ming??save our lives….? “. . . If only the thoughtful people in Japan could know what is happening in Nanking. Oh, God, control the cruel beastliness of the soldiers in Nanking tonight, comfort the heartbroken mothers and fathers whose innocent sons have been shot today, and guard the young women and girls through the long agonizing hours of this night. Speed the day when wars shall be no more. . ..?

Friday, Dec. 17: ?A stream of weary wild-eyed women were coming in. Said their night had been one of horror; that again and again their homes had been visited by soldiers. (Twelve-year-old girls up to sixty-year-old women raped. Husband ?forced to leave bedroom and pregnant wife at point of bayonet. If only the thoughtful people of Japan knew the facts of these days of horror.)?

Saturday, Dec. 19: ?Again this morning wild-eyed women and girls came streaming in at the gate?the night had been one of horror. Many keeled and implored to be taken in?and we let them in but we do not know where they will sleep tonight. “Later the morning was spent going from one end of the campus to the other trying to get one group of soldiers after another out. . . .and then was frantically called to the old faculty house where I was told two soldiers had gone upstairs. There, in room 538, I found one standing at the door, and one inside already raping a poor girl. . . .”

Wednesday, December 22: ?My strength has suddenly come to an end and I feel utterly exhausted from the terrific strain and sadness of these days.?

Sunday, December 26: ?This afternoon again being at the end of my strength, I rested.?

As a direct result of her altruism, countless thousands of women escaped rape. Unfortunately, Vautrin’s mental health was a casualty. She left China in 1939 to see doctors at home. They said that her wartime experiences had unnerved her. She blamed herself, however, and added that she was a burden and a failure. The woman who had fended off the real threat posed by the Japanese army failed to defeat her own illusions.

A year later, on May 14, 1941, while alone in a friend’s apartment in Indianapolis, she ended her own life. She was only 55 years old. She left a note saying that her life was a “failure.?

Survivors of the 1937 Nanjing massacre pose for a photo during a ceremony in Nanjing on July 6, 2013.

Survivor testimonies?firsthand accounts from individuals who lived through war and atrocities?supplement what we learn from historians and other secondary sources. Their voices offer perspectives on difficult and often unimaginable situations people experienced during war and collective violence. We must remember that testimonies given decades later are voluntarily given and are based on individual experiences and personal memories. They are also self-edited and must be understood and listened to with these factors in mind.

Another member of the Nanjing Safety Zone Committee, George Ashmore Fitch (1883?1979), was born in Soochow (Suzhou), China, and was the son of Presbyterian missionaries. He graduated from the College of Wooster in Ohio and obtained a bachelor of divinity at Union Theological seminary in New York. In 1909 he was ordained by the Presbyterian Church and returned to China to work with the Young Men?s Christian organization (YMCA) in Shanghai.

By 1937 Fitch was head of the YMCA in Nanjing when the city was invaded. He promptly joined efforts to form and maintain the Safety Zone Committee, soon serving as its director. When the Chinese government fled the city, Fitch also served as acting mayor of the city until the Japanese occupational forces installed their administration.

During the first several months after Nanjing was occupied, Fitch took and collected still and moving pictures depicting the Japanese atrocities. In February 1938 Fitch smuggled these images back to the United States in the lining of his overcoat and travelled throughout the country giving lectures and showing his collection of films and other evidence of the Japanese atrocities.

In the following letter home, Fitch describes what struck him as a ?hell on earth? with ?no parallel in modern history,? urgently depicting conditions that he knew few people could testify to and he feared few would even hear of. His account was not written retrospectively but as the events unfolded in front of his eyes. Fitch also sent the letter to Wellington Koo (Koo Wei-jun), the Chinese representative to the League of Nations, and to Australian reporter Harold J. Timperly of the Manchester guardian.

An excerpt from George Fitch?s letter:

Nanking, X?mas Eve, 1937.

?What I am about to relate is anything but a pleasant story; in fact, it is so very unpleasant that I cannot recommend anyone without a strong stomach to read it. For it is a story of such crime and horror as to be almost unbelievable, the story of the depredations of a horde of degraded criminals of incredible bestiality, who have been and now are, working their will, unrestrained, on a peaceful, kindly, law-abiding people. Yet it is a story which I feel must be told, even if it is seen by only a few. I cannot rest until I have told it, and perhaps fortunately I am one of a very few who are in a position to tell it. It is not complete?only a small part of the whole; and God alone knows when it will be finished. I pray it may be soon?but I am afraid it is going to go on for many months to come, not just here but in other parts of China. I believe it has no parallel in modern history.

It is now X?mas eve. I shall start with say December 10th. In these two short weeks we here in Nanking have been through a siege; the Chinese army has left, defeated, and the Japanese have come in. On that day Nanking was still the beautiful city we were so proud of, with law and order still prevailing; today it is a city laid waste, ravage, completely looted, much of it burned. Complete anarchy has reigned for ten days?it has been a hell on earth.? Not that my life has been in serious danger at any time; though turning lust-mad, sometimes drunken soldiers out of houses where they were raping the women is not, perhaps, altogether a safe occupation; nor does one feel too sure of himself when he finds a bayonet at his chest or a revolver at his head and knows the Japanese Army is anything but pleased at our being here after having advised all foreigners to get out. They wanted no observers. But to have to stand by while even the very poor are having their last possession taken from them?their last coin, their last bit of bedding (and it is freezing weather), the poor rickshaw man his rickshaw; while thousands of disarmed soldiers who had sought sanctuary with you together with many hundreds of innocent civilians are taken out before your eyes to be shot or used ?for bayonet practice and you have to listen to the sound of the guns that are killing them; while a thousand women kneel before you crying hysterically begging you to save them from the beasts who are preying on them; to stand by and do nothing while your flag is taken down and insulted, not once but a dozen times, and your own home is being looted; and then to watch the city you have come to love and the institution to which you had planned to devote your best years deliberately and systematically burned by fire?this is a hell I had never before envisaged.

We keep asking ourselves ?How long can this last?? Day by day we are assured by the officials that things will be better soon, that ?we will do our best??but each day has been worse than the day before. And now we are told that a new division of 20,000 is arriving. Will they have to have their toll of flesh and loot, of murder and rape? There will be little left to rob, for the city has well nigh been stripped clean. For the past week the soldiers have been busy loading their trucks with what they wanted from the stores and then setting fire to the buildings. And then there is the harrowing realization that we have only enough rice and flour for the 200,000 refugees for another three weeks and coal for ten days. Do you wonder that one awakes in the night in a cold sweat of fear, and sleep for the rest of the night is gone? Even if we had food enough for three months, how are they going to be fed after that? And with their homes long ago burned, where are they going to live? They cannot much longer continue in their present terribly crowded conditions; disease and pestilence must soon follow if they do.

Every day we call at the Japanese Embassy and present our pro- tests, our appeals, our lists of authenticated reports of violence and crime. We are met with suave Japanese courtesy, but actually the officials there are powerless. The victorious army must have its rewards?and those rewards are to plunder, murder, rape, at will, to commit acts of unbelievable brutality and savagery on the very people whom they have come to protect and befriend, as they so loudly proclaimed to the world. In all modern history surely there is no page that will stand so black as that of the rape of Nanking.?

George Fitch continued to advocate on behalf of aid to China throughout the span of World War II. His images, diaries, and letters later proved instrumental in an affidavit he filed during the Nanjing portion of the international Military Tribunal for the Far East where he also personally testified. Fluent in Chinese, Fitch did not leave China after the war but remained in the country working for relief organizations until the Communists took over in 1949. He then lived in Taiwan for many years and returned to live in the United States in the early 1960s. He died at the age of 95 in Pomona, California.

Japanese troops rounding up Chinese, Nanjing, China, 16 Dec 1937.

Three testimonies from survivors of the Nanjing Atrocities are included below. They are only three of many and each has been translated from Mandarin Chinese.

Testimony of Wen Sunshi

My name is Wen Sunshi, this year I turn 82 years old. My house was originally in the Xiaguan district of Nanjing. I was married in 1936 of the Chinese lunar calendar. My husband?s original surname was Guo, but because my family had arranged the marriage, he changed his name to Wen?my surname.

When the Japanese entered the city on the December of 1937, many retreating Chinese Nationalist troops attempted to cross? the river to escape, with some even coming to my house to board. When the sky was getting dark, my entire family took refuge at the nearby [Hutchinson International].

En route, we saw Japanese warships rake down crossing Chinese troops with indiscriminate machine gun fire.

The refugees at the [Hutchinson International] were many. One day, six or seven Japanese troops arrived, all of them armed with guns, knives hanging by their waists. They took six or seven maidens from the crowd of refugees. I was among those taken. There was also a maiden I recognized, her name was Little Qiaozi. One Japanese soldier forced me into an empty room. I can remember him being chubby, with a beard. Once we were both in the room, he used a knife to force me to take off my pants?I would be killed if I didn?t. I was thus raped in this manner.

After the rape, the Japanese soldier turned to me and said ?opened path, opened path? and I was released. In order to avoid the Japanese soldiers coming again to hurt us, that night, the manager of the [Hutchinson International] ferried us?about eighteen maidens?to the cellar of the Egg Beating room. Those among us also included several maidens who had escaped from the Suzhou prefecture of Jiangsu. I hid in that cellar for several months, with the owners secretly sending me food. Only after the situation was deemed ?peaceful? did I return to live with my mother and father. I had lived in the [Hutchinson International] for more than a year before I had returned home.

My husband knows that I was raped by a Japanese soldier, but empathizes with me. He passed away a couple of years ago. In my home, I can?t bear to tell my sons and daughters, and I?m worried that other people will find out and look down upon me.

At that time, my cousin was only eighteen-years-old. He was taken away by the Japanese troops and never returned. I personally watched as the Japanese troops massacred many people. We had a neighbor, elderly Ms. Zhen, who was about eighty-years-old. She thought that because she was old, she could remain at home and be fine. In actuality, she was brutally murdered by the Japanese, with her stomach slashed open. There was also a tea specialist, who couldn?t bear leaving his home. He was also murdered by the Japanese.

Testimony of Chen Jiashou

My name is Chen Jiashou. I was born on September 16, 1918. When the Imperial Japanese Army invaded Nanjing in 1937, I was living in a small Nanjing district with my Uncle, Mother and Father, my two brothers and my sister. At that time, I was only 19 years old. I was an apprentice. After the Japanese invasion, I, along with several other people, collectively escaped to a refugee camp by Shanghai Road. At that time, since the refugee camp had run out of food, I ventured out to replenish the supply. But because of some casual remarks I made while lining up, I was taken by some nearby Japanese soldiers and brought to a pond adjacent to Shanghai Road. Having not stood there for more than two minutes, I watched as a group of armed Japanese soldiers hustled several lines of about two hundred Chinese troops toward the edge of the pond, surrounding them with weapons to prevent them from escaping.

At that time, I was also ordered to stand among the front line of Chinese soldiers. I was only 19 years old, and terribly frightened.

Thus, the instant the Japanese soldiers opened fire on us all, I immediately fell toward the ground, faking my death. Struck by the flying bullets, my Chinese comrades all piled up on my body. Right up till it got dark and the Japanese soldiers had all left, I lay under the dead bodies, not daring to move. Only then did I climb out from under the pile of bodies. It was thus how I became a fortunate survivor of the Nanjing massacre.

I was captured again by the Japanese near Sanhe Village, and sent to work at a Japanese-occupied silk factory near nowadays? Nanjing medicine factory. It was at this time that I witnessed more Japanese atrocities first-hand. One time, after I finished transporting ten barrels of gasoline to the Japanese military depot near the train station, Japanese soldiers brought me to a basement. Aside from large wooden boxes, the basement also contained a bed. The two Japanese soldiers ripped off the bedsheet covers and indiscriminately opened fire upon it. On the bed lay four women, all dead.

Another time, as I came back from transporting provisions, I walked near the main hall of the Nanjing medicine factory. I saw a few hundred ordinary citizens collapsed on the road. Driving a truck, the Japanese troops evidently saw them as well, but simply paid no attention and pretended not to see them. They drove directly over the people, transforming the place into a bloodbath.

I will never forget a memory like this:

One day after work, I walked to the entrance of Changshan Park. A man surnamed Tse heard the sound of a Japanese truck, so stuck his head out to take a look. Coincidentally, he caught the eyes of the Japanese troops, who immediately disembarked and tied Old Tse up, forcing him to kneel on the ground. One of them took out a bayonet, and violently hacked at Old Tse?s head. Unfortunately, though the back of Old Tse?s neck was sliced through, his head hung on by the remaining front part of his neck?he was still breathing? and alive, collapsed on the floor. Seeing this, the Japanese soldiers then raised their leather boots, mercilessly kicking him around the Changshan Park?s grounds. It was only then, with his head severed and his body trashed, that Old Tse passed away.

I will never forget the violence, the atrocities and the aggression that the Imperial Japanese soldiers enacted during the Nanjing Massacre.

Bodies of Chinese massacred by Japanese troops along a river in Nanjing.

Testimony of Mr. Chen Deshou. Interviewed by Yanming Lu.?Chen😕My last name is Chen, spelled with the ?ear? and ?east?, De is the ?de? from virtue, and Shou is the ?shou? from longevity. My name is Chen De Shou.

Lu:?What year were you born?


Lu:?You were born here in Nanjing?

Chen😕Yes, in Nanjing.

Lu:?What type of work did your parents do?

Chen😕My mother was a housewife, my father was in clothing, he owned a clothing store.

Lu:?What did your grandparents do?

Chen😕My grandfather was a tailor, he also made clothes.

Chen😕My grandmother too.

Lu:?So your family ran a tailoring shop?

Chen😕No, a clothing shop, a clothing store.

Lu:?Do you remember what it was like in your family store at the time?


Lu:?Can you talk a little about it?

Chen😕Life in our household was a full one. There was my paternal grandfather, my paternal grandmother, my parents and a younger brother. My mother was pregnant. My father?s sister also lived with us, and she had two kids who came to live with us. Life was very hard. In 1937, at that time, Japan, the Japanese troops . . . they were setting off bombs, throwing bombs, see at that time, they wanted to . . . to . . . hiding from the planes. Around December of 1937, there were so many people, they fled to escape the troubles. Why didn?t our family go? Because our family was in the clothing ordering business, and my father got a contract to make uniforms for the soldiers, uniforms that were for the local army. This money though, was stuck, so there was no cash, and without the money, you couldn?t escape, right? So we didn?t leave, we lived in this house. Where was our house? It was near Nanjing?s Sanshan Rd, in what is now the street just behind the Gan Family Courtyard. My house was #4. . . .

Life was pretty happy and full. Now on December 13, there came change that turned our world upside down. At that time, at the end of the alley, at the end of the alley we lived in, it was called TianQing St. The Japs started a fire, they started a fire at the end of the alley, and the blaze was fierce. My father, being a warm hearted man, he went out to put out the fire. And he never came back. From the moment he left that day, he never came back, he was gone. So only my grandparents, my mother, my aunt, the young and the old, were left at home. On the morning of that day, a?Japanese devil took a bayonet, a rifle, and with the bayonet he came in. When he came in, we thought everything was as usual, my grandfather even brought out candies for him, telling him to eat, and treating him as a guest. He said he didn?t want that, he said one sentence: ?I want a woman.? My mother was pregnant, with a big belly, so he didn?t want her. He dragged my aunt, and at the time she was nursing my little girl cousin. The house we lived in had 3 rooms, each behind the other; we were in the third, in the third room. He took my aunt, and dragged her from the third room to the second room, he was going to humiliate her, he was about to rape her.

My aunt was an educated woman, she would rather die than submit, so she struggled, she struggled with that Japanese devil. Then the devil picked up a knife, and stabbed my aunt, piercing her 6 times, in her thigh as well, she was bleeding there as well as from her chest. At the time when he dragged her to the front, my grandmother, and I was an obedient little boy, she brought me forward, so I witnessed my aunt?s death with my own eyes. I was 6 at the time, only 6, but I was old enough to remember things. My aunt handed my little cousin over to my grandmother, and said, ?Mother, my heart aches, please give me some sweetened water.?

So my aunt, my grandmother, my grandmother carried my little cousin to the back, and poured a bowl of sweetened water, from the third room to the second and back to the front. When she got there, my aunt had already stopped breathing, she didn?t get to taste the bowl of sweetened water her mother brought. So, just like that, my aunt died. And then that very night, my mother, she gave birth to her child, at that time she gave birth. Giving birth at that time, when there was no one there to help, was extremely difficult. So we stayed at home.

At this time, we kept my aunt?s body in the second room, within that room?s entry we put down a door, and her on it, she lay there close to 3 days, we had no other choice, grandfather was old, around 70, and he was an old man. We had no one in the house who could work; we couldn?t get a coffin, right. The child my mother bore didn?t have anything to eat, in a few days our household food ran out. The Japanese devils, were really hateful to the extreme, see, he could kill without batting an eyelid. He could rape and kill without batting an eyelid. And then, on the third day, a Japanese soldier arrived?this was a soldier, not a Japanese devil. He had a short gun on him, a short gun. And then he also spoke Chinese, he could understand my grandfather, and he could talk so my grandfather understood. He said that back in Japan he was a shop keeper, not a soldier, he was conscripted, he didn?t have a choice, he was conscripted here, and from the looks of him he wasn?t a soldier, he was a petty official. He took my grandfather out to the streets, found a couple of youths, and then found a? few able bodies and went with them to a coffin shop and brought back a coffin to our second room, that is the room before ours, and put my aunt in the coffin. We couldn?t bury her, so we had to put her on the ground open to the sky, like that. And then he took my grandfather, and went out, to a rice shop and a soy sauce shop and found some food, then put it in a bag and carried it back to us, and so we survived this hardest of hard times, see.

Now the Japanese devils, they wouldn?t let a single woman off the hook, right. After my mother gave birth, she put the bloodied paper on the floor. When they came they?d want to see it, and after they saw it, they knew she?d had a baby, they didn?t want her and they?d leave. This harassment went on everyday; there was nothing we could do.

December 13, 1937, about 30 Japanese soldiers murdered all but two of 11 Chinese in the house at No. 5 Xinlukou. A woman and her two teenaged daughters were raped, and Japanese soldiers rammed a bottle and a cane into her vagina. An eight-year-old girl was stabbed, but she and her younger sister survived. They were found alive two weeks after the killings by the elderly woman shown in the photo. Bodies of the victims can also be seen in the photo.

Many families were murdered. The soldiers would sometimes gather families and children, line them against a wall, and machine gun them down. In a more horrific manner, they were seen entering homes, raping and beheading the women, and finally beheading the men in the family. I can’t imagine how scared these people must have been.

In late January 1938, the Japanese army forced all refugees in the Safety Zone to return home, immediately claiming to have “restored order.? After the establishment of the weixin zhengfu (the collaborating government) in 1938, order was gradually restored in Nanking and atrocities by Japanese troops lessened considerably. On 18 February 1938, the Nanking Safety Zone International Committee was forcibly renamed “Nanking International Rescue Committee”, and the Safety Zone effectively ceased to function. The last refugee camps were closed in May 1938.

It is believed that between 20,000 to 80,000 women and girls were savagely raped by the Japanese army. There is no official death toll for the people of Nanking, but it is estimated that between 200,000 to 300,000 citizens were massacred. Bodies covered the streets for months as their city burned. General?Matsui and his lieutenant Tani Hisao, were tried and convicted for war crimes by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East and were executed in December of 1948.

The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II is a bestselling 1997 non-fiction book written by Iris Chang about the 1937?1938 Nanking Massacre, the massacre and atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army after it captured Nanjing, then capital of China, during the Second Sino-Japanese War. It describes the events leading up to the Nanking Massacre and the atrocities that were committed. The book presents the view that the Japanese government has not done enough to redress the atrocities. It is one of the first major English-language books to introduce the Nanking Massacre to Western and Eastern readers alike, and has been translated into several languages.

When Iris Chang was a child, she was told by her parents, who had escaped with their families from China to Taiwan and then to the United States after World War II, that during the Nanking Massacre, the Japanese “sliced babies not just in half but in thirds and fourths.” In the introduction of The Rape of Nanking, she wrote that throughout her childhood, the Nanking Massacre “remained buried in the back of [her] mind as a metaphor for unspeakable evil.” When she searched the local public libraries in her school and found nothing, she wondered why no one had written a book about it.

The subject of the Nanking Massacre entered Chang’s life again almost two decades later when she learned of producers who had completed documentary films about it. One of the producers was Shao Tzuping, who helped produce Magee’s Testament, a film that contains footage of the Nanking Massacre itself, shot by the missionary John Magee. The other producer was Nancy Tong, who, together with Christine Choy, produced and co-directed In The Name of the Emperor, a film containing a series of interviews with Chinese, American, and Japanese citizens. Chang began talking to Shao and Tong, and soon she was connected to a network of activists who felt the need to document and publicize the Nanking Massacre.

Skeletons of the massacre’s victims.

In December 1994, she attended a conference on the Nanking Massacre, held in Cupertino, California, and what she saw and heard at the conference motivated her to write The Rape of Nanking. As she wrote in the introduction to the book, while she was at the conference, she was “suddenly in a panic that this terrifying disrespect for death and dying, this reversion in human social evolution, would be reduced to a footnote of history, treated like a harmless glitch in a computer program that might or might not again cause a problem, unless someone forced the world to remember it.”

This is the Nanjing Massacre Memorial as it stands today.The Japanese were forced out of China after their defeat in WWII. Strained Sino-Japanese relations are still felt today.

Chang spent two years on research for the book. She found source materials in the US, including diaries, films, and photographs of missionaries, journalists, and military officers who were in Nanjing at the time of the massacre. Additionally, she travelled to Nanjing to interview survivors of the Nanking Massacre and to read Chinese accounts and confessions by Japanese army veterans. Chang did not, however, conduct research in Japan, and this left her vulnerable to criticisms on how she portrayed modern Japan in the context of how it deals with its World War II past.

Chang’s research led her to make what one San Francisco Chronicle article called “significant discoveries” on the subject of the Nanking Massacre, in the forms of the diaries of two Westerners who were in Nanjing leading efforts to save lives during the Japanese invasion.

One diary was that of John Rabe, a German Nazi Party member who was the leader of the Nanking Safety Zone, a demilitarized zone in Nanjing that Rabe and other Westerners set up to protect Chinese civilians. The other diary belonged to Minnie Vautrin, the American missionary who saved the lives of about 10,000 women and children when she provided them with shelter in Ginling College.

The diaries documented the events of the Nanking Massacre from the perspectives of their writers, and provided detailed accounts of atrocities that they saw, as well as information surrounding the circumstances of the Nanking Safety Zone. Chang dubbed Rabe the “Oskar Schindler of Nanking” and Vautrin the “Anne Frank of Nanking”.

Rabe’s diary is over 800 pages, and contains one of the most detailed accounts of the Nanking Massacre. Translated into English, it was published in 1998 by Random House as The Good Man of Nanking: The Diaries of John Rabe. Vautrin’s diary recounts her personal experience and feelings on the Nanking Massacre; in it, an entry reads, “There probably is no crime that has not been committed in this city today.” It was used as source material by Hua-ling Hu for a biography of Vautrin and her role during the Nanking Massacre, entitled American Goddess at the Rape of Nanking: The Courage of Minnie Vautrin

After the war, Vautrin was posthumously awarded the Emblem of the Blue Jade by the Chinese government for her sacrifices during the Nanjing Massacre. Her work saving the lives of Chinese civilians during the massacre is recounted in the biographical book, American Goddess at the Rape of Nanking, written by historian Hua-ling Hu.

Terror in Minnie Vautrin?s Nanjing: Diaries and Correspondence, 1937-38?by?Minnie Vautrin?

American Goddess at the Rape of Nanking: The Courage of Minnie Vautrin?