Nanjing Massacre

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Japanese soldiers bury Chinese civilians alive

The Nanjing Massacre or the Rape of Nanjing (formerly romanized as Nanking) was the mass murder of Chinese civilians in Nanjing, the capital of the Republic of China, immediately after the Battle of Nanjing in the Second Sino-Japanese War, by the Imperial Japanese Army. Beginning on December 13, 1937, the massacre lasted for six weeks. The perpetrators also committed other atrocities such as mass rape, looting and arson. This is the most recent mass-scale war crime in Nanjing since the 1864 Battle of Nanjing.


  • Beneath the plane of political memory, the history of the war, of which the Nanjing Massacre is one small part, raises other questions that are pertinent to the present day. There is the issue of why the Japanese army behaved with such apparent barbarism in seizing places like Nanjing and thereafter defending its occupation against Nationalist and Communist insurgencies.
  • How many thousands were mowed down by guns or bayoneted we shall probably never know. For in many cases oil was thrown over their bodies and then they were burned. Charred bodies tell the tales of some of these tragedies. The events of the following ten days are growing dim. But there are certain of them that lifetime will not erase from my memory and the memories of those who have been in Nanjing through this period.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Nothing prepared me for these pictures - stark black-and-white images of decapitated heads, bellies ripped open and nude women forced by their rapist into various pornographic poses, their faces contorted into unforgettable expressions of agony and shame.
  • If there is no name or ID number, the 300,000 figure could just be a summary of Chinese historical fiction. The history could be a folk tale if there are no supporting historical materials, which is a reflection of the lack of academic rigor in China.

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