To-days lesson in historical reality is the ancient capital of Nanjing (Nanking). I knew very little about the history of Nanjing until I randomly bought a dogeared copy of The"Rape of Nanjing" by Iris Chang at a local book riot about 10 years ago. It was this intense read that the truth and reality of what the Japanese did to the Chinese in December of 1937 opened my eyes. Historically I knew the Japanese committed atrocities during WWII but my limited knowledge was solely about what happened to Western soldiers during events such as The Falls of Singapore, Hong Kong and The Bataan Death March.
Iris Changs' life story and her lead up to the book is engrossing that it has become a movie, Iris Chang: The Rape of Nanking. Her grandparents escaped Nanjing just before the Japanese arrived. Growing up in America she heard small bits about Nanjing but her family did not discuss it. Once she started doing in depth research for the book including first hand account interviews she publishing it "with rage" to get the story out to the world. Sadly so traumatized by history and the burden she put upon herself, Iris Chang killed herself in Nov of 2004, seven years after she first published her story to the world.
In the West we recognize the Jewish Holocaust and it's 6 million dead as the symbol of the brutal atrocities that occurred in WWII. In the East it is Nanjing and the 18 million people that the Japanese murdered starting in December of 1937. This is not a competition of who was worse but a situation where the West does not know what the Chinese endured at the hands of the Japanese. To this day, 80 years later, if you ask a Chinese about Japan the hate does not hide itself. It is immediate and intense in both the young and old. The story of Nanjing (Nanking is it's ancient name) is beyond horrifying and has scarred China well beyond what we in the West could imagine.
I have watch 3 movies about the Nanjing Massacre, along with countless hours of YouTube videos and documentaries. These movies, all different in their production, tell the same horrific story but with subtle and powerful differences. The Flowers of War is the most recent. Watch it last. and after you have read and understood a little about the Nanjing Massacre. The enormity of the ending will rip your heart out.
The Flowers of War (2011) A Westerner finds refuge with a group of women in a church during Japan's rape of Nanking in 1937. Posing as a priest, he attempts to lead the women to safety.
The City of Life and Death (2009) Chinese with subtitles. In 1937, Japan occupied Nanjing, the Chinese capital. There was a battle and subsequent atrocities against the inhabitants, especially those who took refuge in the International Security Zone.
Nanking (2007) - Through readings of historical account by actors and the testimony of survivors, the events of the Nanjing Massacre are recounted.
Iris Chang: The Rape of Nanking. (2007) A young Chinese-American author's journey into the darkest reaches of humanity as she researched and wrote her best selling book "The Rape of Nanking".
As an ancient capital, like Xi'an, it is surrounded by an ancient city wall and home to many Temples. When I visit the Nanjing Massacre memorial I really do not know what to expect. Nor should I.
When I took this job in China, I can honestly say that the first thing that came into my mind was Nanjing. It was not The Great Wall or Panda Bears. I want to take this moment to say Thank you to Iris Chang. Thank you for opening my eyes to an time in history that we all need to know existed.
Please Take the time to read the book. I have a .pdf version that you can download. click this link
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