What comes to mind when you hear those words? Perhaps you may think of D-Day, Pearl Harbor, Hitler, the Holocaust, or the Nazis. But I bet many of you didn’t know that there was an event that took place in WWII that was so brutal, so unthinkable, so revolting that even Hitler and the Nazis were disgusted.
It occurred in the then capital of China, Nanking in December of 1937. Over the course of a few weeks, the invading Japanese soldiers brutally executed an estimated 300,000 Chinese civilians living in the city and they raped around 20,000 women including the elderly and young children (War Tribunal). This event has become infamously known as the Rape of Nanking.
Main point: For a wide variety of reasons, the Rape of Nanking has become relatively forgotten throughout the years, which led to author Iris Chang writing the book The Rape Of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust Of World War II in 1997. The evidence of the massacre at Nanking is so intense and disturbing, that many people attribute it as being one of the reasons why the author of the book, Iris Chang committed suicide in 2004. What is even more disturbing is the fact that many Japanese officials and citizens still claim that the event was fabricated or that it never happened at all. Now I want to preempt this speech by saying that the Japanese people should not be demonized for the past of their military. Many other nations, including the United States have committed wartime atrocities of their own. What I am saying is that this event was so atrocious and the evidence so plentiful, that it should never be denied. Today I will give you an explanation of the event itself, share with you some shocking evidence and firsthand accounts, and finally explain the Japanese ultranationalists’ denial of the event.
Background to Nanking, Japanese invasion months earlier
Transition: Now I’m going to share just a tiny percentage of the shocking bits of evidence and firsthand accounts from the event.
John Rabe: The Good Man of Nanking “Two Japanese soldiers have climbed over the garden wall and are about to break into our house. When I appear they give the excuse that they saw two Chinese soldiers climb over the wall. When I show them my party badge, they return the same way. In one of the houses in the narrow street behind my garden wall, a woman was raped, and then wounded in the neck with a bayonet. I managed to get an ambulance so we can take her to Kulou Hospital... Last night up to 1,000 women and girls are said to have been raped, about 100 girls at Ginling Girls' College alone. You hear nothing but rape. If husbands or brothers intervene, they're shot. What you hear and see on all sides is the brutality and bestiality of the Japanese soldiers” (Rabe, 2012, p.77). One of the least gruesome accounts.
“The seventh and last person in the first row was a pregnant woman. The soldier thought he might as well rape her before killing her, so he pulled her out of the group to a spot about ten meters away. As he was trying to rape her, the woman resisted fiercely . . . The soldier abruptly stabbed her in the belly with a bayonet. She gave a final scream as her intestines spilled out. Then the soldier stabbed the fetus, with its umbilical cord clearly visible, and tossed it aside (Katsuichi, 1999, p. 164).
Pictures/Japanese soldier accounts BAYONETTING
Transition: Defying all of this evidence is the minority group of Japanese, the ultranationalists.
Japanese officials/ultranationalist denial The Wall Street Journal "Even since I was a national Diet representative, I have said [repeatedly] there was no [Nanjing] massacre that resulted in murders of several hundred thousands of people…We need to talk about this publicly without hesitation instead of behind the scenes" (Chin & Koh, 2012).
My personal encounter with a denier
In conclusion, I have educated you on the Rape of Nanking, the evidence and personal stories from the event, and the issue of the Japanese ultranationalist denial.
Now all of you here in the room can say without a doubt that the atrocities at Nanking happened and I hope that you feel the amount of sympathy that I have for the victims and their families.
Finally, I would hope that you will never forget the Rape of Nanking and I hope that if you ever came across a Japanese ultranationalist who cared to deny the atrocities committed there in 1937, you will defend the veracity of the event for the hundreds of thousands of victims that never made it out of Nanking. Thank you, and goodnight.
Chang, I. (2012). The rape of nanking: The forgotten holocaust of world war ii. (1st Edition ed.). Basic Books.
Chin, J., & Koh, Y. (2012). Chinese outraged by denial of nanjing. The Wall Street Journal, Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405297020396080457723880268064991 4.html
IMTFE. (n.d.). Ibiblio. Retrieved from http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/PTO/IMTFE/IMTFE-8.html
Katsuichi, H. (1999). The nanjing massacre: A japanese journalist confronts japan's national shame. Armonk: The Pacific Basin Institute.
McLaughlin, K. (2004, Nov 20). Iris chang's suicide stunned those she tried so hard to help -- the survivors of japan's 'rape of nanking' read more: http://www.sfgate.com/entertainment/article/iris-chang-s-suicide-stunned-those- she-tried-so-2634180.php