The Nanking massacre was a horrific event that occurred during the Japanese occupation of Nanking, China. The event took place over a six-week period starting on December 13, 1937. During this time, an estimated 150,000 male “war prisoners” were butchered, and more than 50,000 male civilians were massacred. Additionally, more than 20,000 women, including children and the aged, were brutally raped.
The sexual violence during the Nanking Massacre was not limited to women, as girls and boys were also subjected to rape and sexual abuse by Japanese soldiers. The soldiers would often use the threat of violence to force victims into submission, and some would even use objects such as bayonets to rape their victims.
The brutal treatment of the Chinese people during this time was a reflection of the aggressive and imperialistic policies of the Japanese government. They thought Japan had to educate the Chinese and transform China by killing its people in order to pursue a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere led by Japan. This belief system led to the atrocities committed during the occupation of Nanking.
As a result of the massacre, the bodies of thousands of victims were dumped into the Yangtze River until the river water turned red due to the corpses of the victims. The Japanese also looted and burned a third of Nanking City, causing extensive damage to the city’s infrastructure and economy.
The impact of the Nanking Massacre was long-lasting and devastating. It took decades for the city to recover from the devastation it experienced, and it was eventually abandoned as the national capital in 1949 for Beijing.
It had a profound impact on China and Japan’s relationship. The Chinese government and people have never forgotten the atrocities committed by the Japanese army, and the massacre continues to be a contentious issue in Sino-Japanese relations. The Japanese government has issued several apologies for the massacre, but some critics argue that these apologies have not been sufficient.
Sequence of Events
The year was 1937, and Japanese troops had just arrived in Nanking. What followed was a period of unimaginable violence and brutality that would become known as the Rape of Nanking.
The Japanese soldiers showed no mercy as they rampaged through the city, looting, burning, and destroying everything in their path. Homes, businesses, and cultural treasures were all fair game for the marauding soldiers.
But it wasn’t just property that the Japanese soldiers were after – they were also intent on committing horrific acts of violence against Chinese civilians. Men, women, and children were rounded up and executed in mass shootings, burned alive, or buried alive in mass graves.
The women of Nanking suffered particularly gruesome fates, as Japanese soldiers engaged in widespread rape and sexual violence. The numbers are staggering – estimates range from 20,000 to over 80,000 women and girls raped.
The Japanese soldiers didn’t just stop at rape, though. They also engaged in other forms of torture and violence, such as beheadings and bayonet stabbings. Chinese prisoners of war were even used as human shields, forced to march in front of Japanese troops to prevent Chinese forces from firing upon them.
But amidst the horror, there were some who tried to help. German businessman John Rabe and American missionary Minnie Vautrin led a group of Westerners who established a safety zone in Nanking to protect Chinese civilians. Tens of thousands of refugees found refuge and aid within the safety zone.
However, even with the safety zone in place, the violence and abuse inflicted upon the Chinese civilians were still unimaginable. The massacre finally ended in February of 1938.
How bad was it ?
Japanese soldiers would use Chinese civilians for target practice. Soldiers would round up groups of men, women, and children, force them to kneel, and then shoot them. In some cases, they would even use bayonets to stab their victims to death.
Here is the story Tang: A survivor during the practice: witnessing Japanese soldiers using Chinese civilians for target practice in a park
The soldiers forced a group of women and children to stand against a wall and then shot them one by one. The soldiers then forced Tang to kneel and aimed their guns at his head. Miraculously, Tang was able to convince the soldiers that he was a Chinese collaborator and was spared.
They used prisoners as a shield during they war knowing that chinses soldiers will get hesitant to shoot.
The Japanese soldiers engaged in widespread looting, arson, and murder. They also rounded up and systematically raped women, sometimes in groups, before killing them. The victims of the Rape of Nanking were not limited to women, as men, children, and the elderly were also targeted in the violence.
They raped girls, children, women. It is estimated that 20,000 to over 80,000 women were brutally raped, some were killed thereafter. The jap soldiers use to hold the sickening competition to see who could chop off the most heads.
The level of terror inflicted on the people of Nanking was unimaginable.
Contest to kill 100 People Using a Sword
This was a competition between two Japanese Army officers, Toshiaki Mukai and Tsuyoshi Noda, during the Japanese invasion of China. They wanted to check and compete for who could kill 100 people the fastest using a sword.
When they surpassed this contestant they deicide to start another contestant to kill 150 people.
Noda on returning home gave this speech.
Actually, I didn’t kill more than four or five people in hand-to-hand combat … We’d face an enemy trench that we’d captured, and when we called out, “Ni, Lai-Lai!” (You, come here!), the Chinese soldiers were so stupid, they’d rush toward us all at once. Then we’d line them up and cut them down, from one end of the line to the other. I was praised for having killed a hundred people, but actually, almost all of them were killed in this way. The two of us did have a contest, but afterwards. I was often asked whether it was a big deal, and I said it was no big deal
Both the officers were later executed but the crime they did, could it be justified?
The Nanking Massacre serves as a grim reminder of the atrocities that can occur during times of war and occupation. It highlights the importance of international human rights and the need for accountability for war crimes and genocide. It is important to remember and learn from such events to prevent them from happening again in the future.
Though the massacre finally ended in February of 1938, but the psychological and physical trauma suffered by the survivors continued to haunt them for years to come. It caused immense physical and psychological trauma to the victims, many never recovered and its effects continue to be felt to this day.