As the companion site to our resource book, this collection includes maps, images, timelines, and text that draw students into a deeper study of East Asia during World War II.
Three testimonies from survivors of the Nanjing Atrocities are included here. They are only three of many and each has been translated from Mandarin Chinese. All include memories of extreme acts of violence and trauma. Gender violence is prominent in each testimony and great care and sensitivity should be considered in any use with students.
Decades after the end of World War II in China, Sino-Japanese relations continue to remain strained. Conflicting memories and accounts of imperial Japan’s occupation of China and wartime atrocities remain one element of this discord. One of the most visible expressions of this tension arises regularly at the Yasukuni shrine.
John H. D. Rabe’s story presents a paradox. He is remembered as a great humanitarian despite remaining a loyal member of the Nazi Party. Born in 1882 in Hamburg, Germany, Rabe first came to Shanghai in 1908. He began working for the Chinese branch of the Siemens Company in 1911 and 20 years later in 1931 transferred to Nanjing and served as director of the Siemens branch office with his wife and two children. Siemens was largely responsible for building the Nanjing telephone lines and supplying turbines for the electrical plant and equipment for the city’s hospitals.
How were the Tokyo Trials understood and reported within Japan? Under the Allied occupation, all media was highly controlled. Newspapers, radio, and journals could publish what they wanted as long as they abided by the authority of the occupational forces, strict conventions. Some media outlets were known to say things that they did not really believe in order to gain favor with the occupation authorities. Moreover, the media at the time could not report rapes, murders, assaults, robberies or other crimes committed by the occupation troops.
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.
Over the years Japanese political leaders have issued a number of general apologies for the Imperial Army’s conduct during World War II. Despite these apologies, the Chinese people and Sino-Japanese relations have yet to be fully normalized, and tensions remain. Often the criticisms revolve around the actual language used by Japanese public figures to acknowledge the destruction and terror waged on behalf of their nation during World War II. What weight do different terms carry under such important circumstances? Are there different levels of responsibility expressed in using terms such as remorse versus apology?
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.
Cultural psychologists Hazel Rose Markus and Alana Conner studied different ways of being, or what they term the independent and interdependent selves. Markus and Conner looked at a range of environments, from class- room participation to ways of parenting, between students from Eastern and Western cultures. While there are important variations and distinct differences within these regions and cultures, Markus and Conner shared some general observations.
On the morning of December 13, 1937, four divisions of the Japanese army and two navy fleets on the Yangtze River invaded Nanjing. The capital city now became one of the largest cities under the Japanese Central China Area Army (CCAA). The prewar population of over one million had shrunk considerably by November as the Japanese army advanced. On the morning of the 13th approximately 500,000 Chinese still remained. These were largely the poor who had little alternative while those able to leave had either financial resources or a place to go west of Nanjing.