Friday, March 2, 2012
The Nanking Massacre or Nanjing Massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking, was a mass murder, and war rape that occurred during the six-week period following the Japanese capture of the city of Nanjing (Nanking), the former capital of the Republic of China, on December 13, 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War. During this period hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians and disarmed soldiers were murdered by soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army. Widespread rape and looting also occurred. Historians and witnesses have estimated that 250,000 to 300,000 people were killed. Several of the key perpetrators of the atrocities, at the time labelled as war crimes, were later tried and found guilty at the Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal, and were subsequently executed. Another key perpetrator, Prince Asaka, a member of the Imperial Family, escaped prosecution by having earlier been granted immunity by the Allies.
Eyewitness accounts of Westerners and Chinese present at Nanking in the weeks after the fall of the city state that over the course of six weeks following the fall of Nanking, Japanese troops engaged in rape, murder, theft, arson, and other war crimes. Some of these accounts came from foreigners who opted to stay behind in order to protect Chinese civilians from harm, including the diaries of John Rabe and American Minnie Vautrin. Other accounts include first-person testimonies of the Nanking Massacre survivors, eyewitness reports of journalists (both Western and Japanese), as well as the field diaries of military personnel. American missionary John Magee stayed behind to provide a 16 mm film documentary and first-hand photographs of the Nanking Massacre.
The International Military Tribunal for the Far East estimated that 20,000 women were raped, including infants and the elderly. A large portion of these rapes were systematized in a process where soldiers would search door-to-door for young girls, with many women taken captive and gang raped. The women were often killed immediately after being raped, often through explicit mutilation or by stabbing a bayonet, long stick of bamboo, or other objects into the vagina. Young children were not exempt from these atrocities, and were cut open to allow Japanese soldiers to rape them.
On 19 December 1937, Reverend James M. McCallum wrote in his diary:
I know not where to end. Never I have heard or read such brutality. Rape! Rape! Rape! We estimate at least 1,000 cases a night, and many by day. In case of resistance or anything that seems like disapproval, there is a bayonet stab or a bullet ... People are hysterical ... Women are being carried off every morning, afternoon and evening. The whole Japanese army seems to be free to go and come as it pleases, and to do whatever it pleases.
Pregnant women were a target of murder, as they would often be bayoneted in the stomach, sometimes after rape. Tang Junshan, survivor and witness to one of the Japanese army’s systematic mass killings, testified:
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. (read more)