Mis­sion­ary re­mem­bered for sav­ing women dur­ing Rape of Nan­jing

The China Post - - LOCAL -

An Amer­i­can mis­sion­ary who came to China in the early 1910s is best re­mem­bered in Tai­wan for her ef­forts to care for and pro­tect many women and chil­dren dur­ing the Rape of Nan­jing by Ja­panese sol­diers in 1937 dur­ing the Re­pub­lic of China’s War of Re­sis­tance against Ja­pan that ended in 1945.

The heroic acts of Min­nie Vautrin have been a fo­cus of a se­ries of events in Tai­wan in com­mem­o­ra­tion of the 70th an­niver­sary of the end of the war that will run through Oc­to­ber.

As part of the com­mem­o­ra­tion, the gov­ern­ment in­vited her great grand­niece, Cindy Vautrin, to Tai­wan for a week­long visit that con­cluded Satur­day.

On be­half of her great-great aunt, Cindy Vautrin re­ceived a medal from Pres­i­dent Ma Ying- jeou ( ) ear­lier this week in recog­ni­tion of the U.S. mis­sion­ary’s acts dur­ing the war.

Born in 1886 in Illi­nois, Vautrin came to China in 1912 as a mis­sion­ary and served as prin­ci­pal of a Chris­tian girls’ high school there.

She later took up a po­si­tion as dean of the ed­u­ca­tion depart­ment of Gin­ling Col­lege when it was founded in Nan­jing in 1916 and years later, she be­came the di­rec­tor of ed­u­ca­tion af­fairs of the col­lege’s lib­eral arts and science di­vi­sion.

Af­ter Ja­panese troops broke through Nan­jing’s de­fenses and en­tered the then-cap­i­tal of the R. O. C. Dec. 13, 1937, Vautrin chose to stay to pro­tect the col­lege cam­pus and used it to shel­ter more than 10,000 women and chil­dren.

The Ja­panese forces oc­cu­pied the city for more than a month, dur­ing which the troops car­ried out atroc­ity af­ter atroc­ity, butcher­ing hun­dreds of thou­sands of Chi­nese sol­diers and civil­ians in an in­ci­dent known as the Rape of Nan­jing or the Nan­jing Mas­sacre. Along with other for­eign na­tion­als in Nan­jing, Vautrin also helped cre­ate a safety zone there in 1937. The zone pro­vided shel­ter for more than 200,000 civil­ians and pre­vented them from be­ing slaugh­tered by the Ja­panese.

One of her most ad­mirable acts was to face up to the Ja­panese troops to pre­vent them from en­ter­ing Gin­ling Col­lege, although she had to suf­fer a beat­ing from the Ja­panese sol­diers.

Vautrin also kept a di­ary from 1937 to 1940, writ­ing down what she wit­nessed dur­ing the oc­cu­pa­tion of Nan­jing and her feel­ings in the face of wartime bru­tal­ity.

De­spite her courage in con­fronting the Ja­panese troops, their bru­tal­ity was too much for her to take.

“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,” she wrote in an en­try dated April 14, 1940. She re­turned to the United States two weeks later.

Vautrin com­mit­ted sui­cide May 14, 1941 in her apart­ment, prob­a­bly due to suf­fer­ing from se­vere stress and men­tal trauma af­ter go­ing through the war in China.

Although she died, her di­aries pro­vide an ac­count of her life and help peo­ple to learn more about that part of history through her eyes.

Her sto­ries will be passed down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion, to serve as a re­minder of the hor­ror of war.

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