The Japanese Refuse to Apologize to the Chinese to this Very Day: The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II (Part 3 of 3)

The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II by Iris Chang (5 stars)

As a nation, Japan has deliberately refused to take any responsibility for her actions in World War Two or even admit that the war in the Pacific was precipitated by the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Germany at least admitted her guilt, took responsibility for starting the war, the Holocaust, and all other atrocities they committed. They taught the truth about the Nazis to their children. What they didn’t choose to do was to prosecute the war criminals around them after West Germany was established in 1955. In fact, many of those responsible for terrible crimes carried on in their positions in the government including the judiciary. It is revolting. But at least the Germans did something. They even did their best to track down Holocaust survivors and slave laborers and pay them a monthly stipend.

The Japanese have done none of this. There are many extreme right wing groups in Japan and they threaten to murder any politician who talks about apologizing to China or mentioning in their textbooks that it wasn’t the Americans who were the aggressors.

Ms. Chang became a spokesperson for the surviving victims of Nanking. On 1 December 1998, she confronted the Japanese Ambassador to the United States on the PBS News Hour for his country’s refusal to offer a true apology – most specifically – a written apology. In the realm of official contacts between nations, the Japanese refusal to supply a written apology is a diplomatic insult of the first order.

Said the Japanese Ambassador Kunihiko Saito on the News Hour:

As to the incident in Nanking, we do recognize that really unfortunate things happened… acts of violence were committed by members of the Japanese military…

“Really unfortunate things happened?” Really? That’s really all you will say about the matter, Mr. Ambassador? Has it occurred to you that Japan’s difficult relationship with China is linked to this very issue?

Iris Chang herself became a victim of the Rape of Nanking. Hounded by ultra-right wing Japanese nationalists, who constantly sent her death threats through the mail and even placed threatening notes on her car in the United States, she grew deeply depressed and took her life on 9 November 2004. She has been honored repeatedly in Nanking and a bronze statue of her was erected in the city after her suicide.

[Image courtesy of Wikipedia.]

A Nazi Saved the Lives of Tens of Thousands of Chinese: The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II (Part 2 of 3)

The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II by Iris Chang (5 stars)

Ms. Chang, a journalist and historian, researched this book extensively and uncovered a number of startling facts. One of the most fascinating are the actions of the German businessman and Nazi Party member, John Rabe, who led a small group of Westerners which established the Nanking Safety Zone in an area of the city where foreign embassies had been located. They had all evacuated with the Chinese government before the Japanese came too close and no diplomats were left in the city.

Rabe (pronounced RAH-bay), and the other Westerners helping him, carried out a giant bluff and the Japanese never called them on it. It took great courage to do this. Having come across references to his diary, Ms. Chang located Rabe’s grandaughter in Germany who had the diary and persuaded her to have it published. I haven’t read the diary. The New York Times reviewed the subsequent publication.

Although neither Rabe nor the other Westerners left in the city were diplomats themselves, they declared the entire neighborhood where most of the embassies had been located to be diplomatic property. Hence those Chinese who fled into the Zone were protected.

Rabe’s actions saved the lives of almost 250,000 Chinese. Because of a treaty between Nazi Germany and Japan which focused on containing Soviet expansion, Rabe’s Nazi Party badge and swastika armband gave him a large measure of status with the Japanese. He went out each day of the seven week atrocity, armed only with his Nazi Party badge, which he used to great effect in maintaining diplomatic protection for the Nanking Safety Zone. It’s hard to imagine but almost 250,000 thousand Chinese were guarded and their lives saved by a man armed only with his Nazi Party badge. Clearly Rabe had not gotten the memo that the Nazis were in favor of genocide.

From his diary:

‘These escapades were quite dangerous. ‘The Japanese had pistols and bayonets and I – as mentioned before – had only party symbols and my swastika armband.’

Upon his return to Germany some months later, Rabe carried with him documentary evidence of the massacre, gave lectures, and wrote a letter to Hitler about the matter asking Hitler to use his influence with the Japanese to stop their violence against the Chinese. Naturally he was arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo.

Rabe’s employer, Siemens AG, was able to get him released and he worked for the company throughout the war. At the end of the conflict, he and his family were living in Berlin. They were close to starvation but survived because of small sums of money sent to them by the Nationalist Chinese Government in recognition of Rabe’s humanitarian achievement. John Rabe’s story is astounding, tragic, heroic, and hopeful. His life demonstrates that in the worst of times, men and women can be found who will risk their lives to save others. He is remembered in China and Nanking. He deserves to remembered in the West as well.

[Images courtesy of Wikipedia and The Nanking Massacre Project.]