How does history impact the way we see ourselves and others? American author and civil rights activist James Baldwin often wrote about the way that the past impacted the present.
Soldiers serving in China’s nationalist forces and the Japanese imperial Army left a trail of evidence through letters home, battlefield diaries, and other accounts. One Japanese reserve soldier, Amano Saburo, arrived in Shanghai on November 29, 1937. He was a member of the Sixty-Fifth Regiment, which, like other special units of the imperial Army, was hastily assembled out of an acute need for soldiers following the events at the Marco Polo Bridge. These special units were largely comprised of second- and third-tier reservists. From Shanghai, Amano Saburo marched and arrived on the outskirts of Nanjing, in Mufushan, which lies north of the walled city. He wrote the following letters home to his family.
As Emperor Hirohito prepared for surrender in the summer of 1945, Japanese military leaders also saw that capitulation was imminent. Unlike other times in history when war was concluded, surrender to Allied forces this time included their arrest and prosecution for war crimes. The 1943 Moscow Declaration confirmed that the Allied forces sought to conduct trials against major war criminals, and Article 10 of the Potsdam Declaration stated that “stern justice shall be meted out to all war criminals, including those who have visited cruelties upon our prisoners.”Alongside these provisions, Japanese military leaders could not ignore the fate of leading Nazi officials awaiting trial at the International Military Tribunal (IMT) at Nuremberg.