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The Rape Of Nanking

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

The book that I chose to read was The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II by Iris Chang. This book describes the mass murder and large scale depravity by the Japanese army during World War II in China. The Rape of Nanking describes the events that occurred before, during and after the invasion and desecration of the Chinese people and their city.

Iris Chang was born in Princeton, New Jersey on March 28, 1968. The Chang family then moved to Champagne-Urbana, Illinois due to her mother and father accepting professor positions at the University of Illinois(Becker). This was the university where Iris first studied computer science and then journalism. She then obtained a master's degree in writing from The Johns Hopkins University and became a full time writer(Jiang).

At the age of twenty-five, Iris wrote her first book while still at Johns Hopkins entitled, The Thread of the Silkworm. This book conveys the life and career of Tsien Hsue-Shen and his contributions to the modern space age and nuclear missiles. Inspired by the stories that were told to her by her parents and grandparents of the atrocities of the Chinese holocaust, Iris Chang went to the university library to find out more information but was unable to find anything, leaving her to wonder if the stories were true(Jiang).

Iris married her husband Brett Douglas in Illinois. They then moved to the South Bay area in California. In December 1994, while in Cupertino, California, Iris happened upon an event marking the fifty-seventh anniversary of the Nanking Massacre. Black and white photos showing the gruesome reality of the carnage in Nanking decades ago were on exhibit. These photos immediately set Iris on a long path of searching for the truth(Jiang 5). Iris spent the next two years meticulously tracking down any and all information relating to the incident which included a trip to Nanking. In 1997, Iris Chang released The Rape of Nanking which quickly became a success and remained a New York Times bestseller for many months.

The following summary is the product of what Iris's research produced; The population in Nanking in the mid 1930s was well over one million, mainly because many refugees were fleeing from the Japanese army that had invaded China in 1931. Japan had entered China and other parts of Asia before World War II began, and didn't stop their campaign until the U. S. dropped the atomic bombs on Japan in early 1945. The Japanese military was motivated by the desire for expansion and the spread of their imperialism. On December 9, 1937, Chinese troops surrendered in the city of Nanking, followed by a massive Japanese attack on the city(Chang).

For the next six weeks, this capital was filled with brutal, un-human, and terribly violent acts. The Japanese committed unspeakable deeds against innocent civilians, Chinese soldiers and refugees. The crimes ranged from mass execution to torture, rape, and looting. The Japanese would arrest and murder anybody thought to be a Chinese soldier. The safety zone that was set up to protect some of the citizens and refugees were raided and men were dragged out to be killed or were often shot on the spot. Large numbers of young men were taken out of the city to be massacred. Sometimes they would take anywhere from several thousand to tens of thousands at one time. These mass executions were mostly done by machine guns. Any of the victims that were still breathing were bayoneted one by one.

The method of killing the Chinese populace was not limited to bayonets and guns. There were reports of a wide range of depraved acts which the Japanese carried out with a jocular demeanor. Japanese soldiers at times would turn decapitation by way of sword into a game, seeing who could cut off heads the quickest. The Chinese were mutilated by the hundreds. Some were crucified, while others were run over by tanks. Several were strapped to a tree and made to endure hundreds of small incisions all over their body, causing them to bleed to death. Other prisoners were forced to strip naked, then break the ice of a frozen pond and cast themselves in. They would even pour gasoline on prisoners who were tied together, shoot at them, and watch the bullets catch them on fire (Chang 87-89).

Outside the city walls was where most of the mass executions were performed. Prisoners were gathered up by the Japanese, some lured by the promise of salvation if they gave up quietly, then led out of the city and shot or decapitated. Not all the victims were lucky enough to have a quick death. Some Chinese were separated into groups, then forced to dig holes and bury a group of their kinsmen alive. After the first group was buried, the next group would continue the process.

Another name for this forgotten holocaust is "The Rape of Nanking." Such a title is appropriate due to all the rapes that occurred in six weeks. Approximately 20,000 women were raped. Young or old, it did not matter to them. Women as young as 9 to elderly women, as old as 70, were not safe from the Japanese soldiers (Chang 89). They would even storm into the safety zones and take women by the hundreds and violate each one numerous times. After raping these women, the Japanese soldiers would often kill them immediately afterwards. They would usually kill them by stabbing them with bayonets in their vagina or slicing their stomachs open. Many of these women that were raped were left on the streets with their genitals hanging out and some sort of objects protruding out of them. They would even rape pregnant women and cut open their bellies, take out the fetus and play with it as if it was a football.

Many of the Chinese considered the victims lucky if the Japanese killed them after they were raped. Some of the women, particularly the more attractive ones, were taken and forced into working in military brothels. These women were often chained to a bed or chair in the Japanese barracks and were subjected to repeated assault. They were ravaged multiple times, day and night, until either they died from the injuries they sustained or were so riddled with disease that the Japanese refused to touch them. Because of the weight of the atrocities delivered upon them and/or the shame of carrying a Japanese child, many of the women who escaped or were released from their captors would commit suicide.

The Japanese government knew what was happening in Nanking due to the protests that were made by the Japanese Embassy, yet they did nothing to stop it. The government has made repeated denials that the massacres



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