** World War II : Rape of Nanking commanders

World War II: The Rape of Nanking -- The Civilians

Figure 1.--Manking offered an endless supply of prisoners for live bayonet practice. Chinese POWs were used fir this, but many of the victims were male of civilians. The vicitims had their hands tied behind their backs so thy could not fend off the bayonet thrusts. Note not only the bayoneting, but the large audience of soldiers it attracted.

The iniitial focus was on th Chinese soldiers lft in th city, but the civilns were not ignored. Japanese soldiers as a reward for taking a Chinese town were normally given 3 days to do as they please, including rape and pillage. In the case of Nanking the rape, killing, and pilaging of the civilian population continued for nearly 2 months. The Japanese soldiers proceeded to shoot thousands down in the street, incliding the elderly, women and children. Shop keepers were ordered to open their shops which were then looted and the owner killed. Japanese soldiers used both living and dead Chinese soldiers and civilians for bayonet practice. They mutilated, tortured, and maimed untold Chinese. These were not all assembly-line, dispassionate murders. Reports indicate that the Japanese hung Chinese by their tongues and threw some in acid. The Japanese dismembered victimes, used grenades. Others were impaled, and flayed. [Chang] No one knows how many rapes occurred. One estimate suggests that 80,000 women were raped. [Yin and Young] Soldiers collected women by the truck load. They were then allocated to groups of soldiers for gang raping after which they were normally mutilated or shot. [Kozo] Not only was there mass murder, but the Japanese made theater of it. We see countless photogrphs of people being nurdered in front of appreciative auduences of Japanese soldiers. One American woman wrote, "There probably is no crime that has not been committed in this city today. Thirty girls were taken from language school last night, and today I have heard scores of heartbreaking stories of girls who were taken from their homes last night--one of the girls was but 12 years old. ... Tonight a truck passed in which there were 8 or 10 girls, and as it passed they called out "Ging ming! Ging ming!"--save our lives." [Vautrin] One victim who was 8-years old at the time described her experiences. First her grandparents and parents were shot in front of her. Then her older sisters were killed. She was bayonetted three times and left for dead. A Marine on Okinawa found photographs of women being totured on a dead Japanese officer. Thousands of children were in fact bayonetted. [Shuqin] Children not killed outright when the women were collected often died from abandobnment and starvation. So many men, women and children with machetes that the soldiers often tired and to rest. Many Chinese shot or butchered, but not yet dead were burried alive. [Mills] Some were burried slive without a first being wounded. The news stories flowing out of Nanking to the international press caused the Japanese Army to estanlish brothels which were staffed with women seized from occupied countries, initially Korea. These were the so called comfort women. European diplomats tried to stem the killing. A NAZI official was ekected to lead this group. He even appealed to Hitler to interceed with the Japanese Government. Rabe wrote. " During their attrocities, no difference was made between adults and children. There were girls under the age of 8 and women over the age of 70 who were raped and then, in the most brutal way possible, knocked down and beat up. We found corpses of women on beer glasses and others who had been lanced by bamboo shoots." [Rabe] While these brave men and women saved individual Chinese, mostly women, they had little impact on the overall wave of saveget directed at the Chinese.


Unlike the later Holocaust in Europe, the Japanese in China found it difficult to hide their attrocities. They were widely reported at the time by the international press. There were in China substantial numbers of foreign businessmen, diplomats, educators, journalist, military personeel (in costal ebclaves and river gunboats), and missionaries. As Japan until December 1941 was not at war with the countries from which these individuals came, they could not prevent accounts from reaching Western newspapers. While Chinese accoints could be dismissed as "war propaganda", these reports from Europeans and Americans as well as the terrifying photographs could not be dismissed and had a major impact on public opinion in the West.

Chang, Iris. The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II (Basic Books: New York, 1997).

Takokoro Kozo. Japanese soldier.

Mills, Ami Chen. "Breaking the Silence", interner site accessed December 29, 2002.

Rabe, John. Leader of the International Safety Zone Committee and head of the NAZI Party in Nanking. Rabe returned to Germany with a film and began lecturing. The Gestapo confiscated the film and denounced him, prdering him to stop all lectures.

Xia Shuqin. Chinese victim.

Vautrin, Minnie. Head of Studies at Jinling Girls College . Vautin never recovered from her experieces. She returned to America in 1940 and had to be instituionalized. She eventually committed suiside.

Yin, James and Shi Young. The Rape of Nanking (Innovative Publishing Group of Chicago, 1996), 328p.


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Created: 11:44 PM 1/12/2022
Last updated: 11:44 PM 1/12/2022