Author Azar Nafisi discusses the roles of literature and imagination in both repressive states and democracies.
Beginning in August 1937 the Japanese Imperial Army initiated an aerial assault of the Chinese capital city of Nanjing (Nanking). In response to this assault, thousands of Chinese able to flee left the city while the elderly, sick, and poor remained behind. Many that left continued to actively fight the Japanese. Others actively resisted. In Nanjing, like in other cities throughout China in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Western merchants, missionaries, physicians, and educators had settled seeking economic opportunities or fulfilling religious or professional aspirations. Hundreds of these Westerners considered Nanjing initially their home.
As educators in the U.K., Victoria Mole and her colleagues, Jenna Adcock, and Katie Duce, wanted to teach their students more diverse and broad histories, such as the Nanjing Massacre in 1937. It’s an often-overlooked period of World War II when the Imperial Japanese Army forces brutally murdered hundreds of thousands of people–including both soldiers and civilians in the city of Nanjing, China.
In the spring of 1945 Emperor Hirohito reportedly said, “If we hold out long enough in this war, we may be able to win, but what worries me is whether the nation will be able to endure it until then.” By mid-June 1945 Hirohito’s stance began to shift as his empire was collapsing. Japan’s oil supply had been completely cut off for months and huge sections of more than 60 Japanese cities were in ruins. Once the first atomic weapons were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States, and Soviet forces further encroached into regions of China held by Japan, Emperor Hirohito finally agreed to surrender.
Holding leaders accountable was a leading argument used during the prosecution of what occurred in Nanjing. Class A defendants, Matsui Iwane and Hirota Koki, are questioned as to their knowledge of atrocities committed by those under their command.
In the days and months leading up to the occupation of Nanjing, foreign nationals living in the capital city played a key role in resisting the Japanese assault. Those who chose to remain served both as witnesses to history and as emblems of courage. Minnie Vautrin, one of only two foreign women who remained in Nanjing, was one such individual.
Students learn about the obstacles to emigration during the Holocaust by reading about one family’s attempts to leave Nazi occupied Germany.
On Easter Sunday, a splinter group of the Taliban killed more than 70 people, including children, in Lahore, Pakistan. The group said they were targeting Christians who had gone to Gulshan-e-Iqbal Park to celebrate the holiday with their families. It was mostly Muslims who were killed.
Rape has always been a weapon of war. But until recently it was neglected as a crime worthy of prosecution on its own. During the Nanjing Atrocities young and old women were repeatedly violated by Japanese Imperial troops. While definitive numbers are difficult to pin down because of the nature of the crime, tens of thousands of rapes were documented, witnessed, and reported.