The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II

The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II

The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II

The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II


In December 1937, flush with confidence from their victories over the Nationalists in Beijing and Shanghai, the Japanese Army swept into Nanking and, over the next seven weeks, looted and burned the city and systematically raped, brutalized, and murdered more than 250,000 defenseless civilians. Officially denied by the Japanese government, the story of this atrocity has been suppressed for more than half a century. Now Iris Chang, a Chinese-American writer whose own grandparents survived the massacre, reveals the full horror of their experience and puts a human face on one of the century's worst horrors.

Chang tells the story from three very different perspectives -- that of the Chinese who endured it; the Japanese soldiers who performed it; and that of a heroic group of European and American businessmen and clergy living in Nanking. Led by John Rabe, a German and a member of the Nazi party, these foreigners risked their own lives by defying the Japanese authorities and creating a safety zone in the middle of the city that harbored perhaps 100,000 Chinese. Iris Chang effectively relates the irony of the enigmatic hero John Rabe, a loyal supporter of Adolf Hitler who nevertheless worked tirelessly to save the. innocent from slaughter, by drawing on interviews with survivors and Rabe's own diary entries.


The chronicle of humankind's cruelty to fellow humans is a long and sorry tale. But if it is true that even in such horror tales there are degrees of ruthlessness, then few atrocities in world history compare in intensity and scale to the Rape of Nanking during World War II.

Americans think of World War II as beginning on December 7, 1941, when Japanese carrier-based airplanes attacked Pearl Harbor. Europeans date it from September 1, 1939, and the blitzkrieg assault on Poland by Hitler's Luftwaffe and Panzer divisions. Africans see an even earlier beginning, the invasion of Abyssinia by Mussolini in 1935. Yet Asians must trace the war's beginnings all the way back to Japan's first steps toward the military domination of East Asia--the occupation of Manchuria in 1931.

Just as Hitler's Germany would do half a decade later, Japan used a highly developed military machine and a master-race mentality . . .

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