Telling the world of Ja­pan’s atroc­ity

Ex­hi­bi­tions in Euro­pean coun­tries will help to in­crease aware­ness over­seas of a tragic episode in Chi­nese his­tory

China Daily European Weekly - - NEWS DIGEST - By CANG WEI in Nan­jing cang­wei@chi­

Ex­hi­bi­tions re­call­ing the hor­rors of the Nan­jing Mas­sacre will be held in Minsk, the cap­i­tal of Be­larus, and Prague, the cap­i­tal of the Czech Repub­lic, next week to ex­plain one of the most bru­tal episodes in hu­man his­tory to peo­ple in the two coun­tries.

The first will start on June 5 at the Be­laru­sian State Mu­seum of the His­tory of the Great Pa­tri­otic War in Minsk, which is the only mu­seum es­tab­lished in Be­larus dur­ing the years of Nazi oc­cu­pa­tion.

Staged jointly by the Be­larus Min­istry of Cul­ture, the Jiangsu For­eign Cul­tural Ex­change As­so­ci­a­tion and the two mu­se­ums, the ex­hi­bi­tion will con­sist of four parts, in­clud­ing de­tails of Ja­pan’s atroc­i­ties in Nan­jing, hu­man­i­tar­ian res­cues, early Western me­dia re­ports and the tri­als of the war crim­i­nals.

On June 7, a onemonth ex­hi­bi­tion will be­gin at Na­tional House Smi­chov in Prague.

More than 100 photos, videos and cul­tural relics will be ex­hib­ited, with de­scrip­tions in Rus­sian, Czech and English to ex­plain the facts about the Nan­jing Mas­sacre, also known as the Rape of Nank­ing in the West.

Some Euro­peans and Amer­i­cans who were in Nan­jing at the time, in­clud­ing mis­sion­ar­ies, pro­fes­sors and doc­tors, recorded the mas­sacre in photos, diaries and letters. Some of their ma­te­rial will be shown at the ex­hi­bi­tion.

Pre­cious videos of the mas­sacre im­ages taken by John Magee (1884-1953), a US mis­sion­ary who risked his life to use a 16mm movie cam­era, can be seen at the ex­hi­bi­tions. These in­clude im­ages of the scene af­ter the mas­sacre and vic­tims re­ceiv­ing treat­ment at a hospi­tal. Though dis­turb­ing, they ef­fec­tively in­tro­duce the facts to the au­di­ence.

“Many of the items on dis­play be­longed to for­eign­ers liv­ing in Nan­jing,” says Zhang Jian­jun, cu­ra­tor of the Memo­rial Hall of the Vic­tims in Nan­jing Mas­sacre by Ja­pa­nese In­vaders. “As for­eign­ers, they pro­vided a more ob­jec­tive view to ob­serve the mas­sacre.”

He says 25 for­eign­ers stayed in Nan­jing and es­tab­lished the Nan­jing Safety Zone to pro­tect Chi­nese.

Yang Xi­aming, a pro­fes­sor with the Jiangsu Administration In­sti­tute, says the for­eign­ers tried their best to pro­tect Chi­nese refugees.

“They not only saved thou­sands of lives but also made ef­forts to re­veal the mas­sacre to the world. Thanks to them, we now have solid ev­i­dence of the mas­sacre.”

Start­ing on Dec 13, 1937, more than 300,000 Chi­nese civil­ians and un­armed sol­diers were killed by Ja­pa­nese in­vaders dur­ing a six-week holo­caust af­ter they cap­tured the then-cap­i­tal of China.

About a third of the city’s build­ings were de­stroyed, trea­sures were plun­dered and 20,000 women were raped, ac­cord­ing to Chi­nese his­tor­i­cal ma­te­rial.

“We have com­mu­ni­cated with some mu­seum cu­ra­tors in Europe,” says Zhang. “Like most Euro­pean peo­ple, some of them don’t know too much about the Nan­jing Mas­sacre.”

“By hold­ing ex­hi­bi­tions over­seas we hope that the facts of the Nan­jing Mas­sacre can be known to more peo­ple in the world. By shar­ing his­to­ries and ac­knowl­edg­ing mas­sacre facts, we can fur­ther reach mu­tual un­der­stand­ing and value world peace.”

By 2017, more than 73.7 mil­lion peo­ple from over 100 coun­tries had vis­ited the Nan­jing Mas­sacre memo­rial hall, where 4,000 photos and 6,000 cul­tural relics are ex­hib­ited. Am­bas­sadors and con­sul gen­er­als from more than 30 coun­tries and re­gions have vis­ited the hall.

In 2017, Pres­i­dent Mi­los Ze­man of the Czech Repub­lic be­came the sec­ond sit­ting head of state to visit the memo­rial hall.

In the same year, Be­laru­sian De­fense Min­is­ter Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral An­drei Ravkov vis­ited the site.

In 2014, Queen of Den­mark Mar­grethe II be­came the first sit­ting head of state to visit the hall.

In 2012, for­mer United States pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter vis­ited the hall and wrote, “This is a won­der­ful tes­ti­mony to the hor­rors of war, and to the need for peace in all na­tions.”

The memo­rial hall has held ex­hi­bi­tions in more than 30 for­eign cities, such as San Francisco, Nagoya and Florence. Founded in 1985, it was built on the site of a mass grave where nearly 1,000 bod­ies of mas­sacre vic­tims were un­earthed.


A photo of the Ja­pa­nese Army block­ing Zhonghua Gate in Nan­jing was pub­lished in the Il­lus­trated Lon­don News on Jan 15, 1938.

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