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Nanjing Massacre committed by the Japanese invaders was one of the worst massacres which occurred during the Second World War. It was a brutal crime against humanity that cannot be forgotten. These events took place 78 years ago during the first phase of the Sino-Japanese War. It was the end of the autumn of 1937. Expeditionary force of the Empire of Japan landed on the coast of China. On November 11, 1937 after heavy fighting, the Japanese army invaded the city of Shanghai. After a desperate but unsuccessful defense, the Chinese army was defeated and retreated, leaving Shanghai. However, the victory of the Japanese army cost it a lot. A few weeks later, on December 9, Japanese troops carried out a massive attack on Nanjing, located two hundred kilometers inland from Shanghai. At that time, Nanjing was thae capital of the Republic of China (Chang, 25).

On December 13, 1937 the 6th and the 16th Division of the Japanese Army entered the city of Nanjing, the capital of the Republic of China. Japanese soldiers began to practice the popular policy of “three clean” – “burn clean”, “kill clean,” ” steal clean”. The Japanese began with what was taken from the city and bayoneted twenty thousand men of military age, thus in the future they “could not take up arms against Japan”. Then the Japanese started to kill women, old people, and children. Crazed samurai committed murder, squeezed eyes of their victims and pulled hearts of those still alive. The Japanese army widely practiced murder and rape of prisoners and civilians, but in Nanjing the number of those raped and killed reached unprecedented proportions. According to various sources, within six weeks approximately 100 – 500 thousand people had been killed. Most of them were murdered in the first five days of the occupation of the city (Chang, 48).


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The murders were committed with extreme cruelty. The Japanese soldiers didn’t use firearms, instead victims were bayoneted, beheaded, buried alive or burned. Women were stabbed to death. A lot of children were killed as well. Not only adult women were raped, but also young girls and old women. According to some reports, from 20 to 80 thousand Chinese women were assaulted and killed. Many soldiers went beyond rape to disembowel women, cut off their breasts and nail them alive to walls. Fathers were forced to rape their daughters, and sons – their mothers. Moreover, this had to be done in front of other family members (Chang, 112).

The Japanese showed unprecedented cruelty. On December 16 the invaders brought about 5,000 civilians and captured soldiers and officers to the banks of the Yangtze River, shot them with machine guns, and their bodies were thrown into the water. On December 18 the Japanese committed another mass execution of several tens of thousands of people; those who survived were used for bayonet practice, or soaked with gasoline and burned alive. The Japanese used the Chinese as living scarecrows to practice bayonet techniques and to compete in beheading. The streets of Nanking were covered with the piles of corpses (Chang, 27).

In December 1937, a Japanese newspaper described the exploits of the army; moreover, it enthusiastically reported a valiant competition of two officers who argued who would manage to hack to death with his sword over one hundred Chinese people. The Japanese, as hereditary duelists, requested additional time. The winner was Mukai, a samurai who stabbed 106 people, as compared to his opponent who stabbed 105 people (Chang, 132).

The city turned into hell on earth. Even the Japanese cannot deny the facts, since there is eyewitness testimony, including foreigners. Some Europeans came to Nanjing trying to save the Chinese population. John Rabe organized an international committee. It helped to save nearly two hundred and fifty thousand people. Due to the presence of Europeans in Nanjing, including reporters, news regarding the slaughter spread around the world. The Japanese soldiers took a lot of photos and kept them as souvenirs (Chang, 150).

It is estimated that more than 300 000 Chinese civilians were killed dead and more than 20,000 women were raped (starting from seven-year old girls to old women). According to the post-war tribunals the number of the killed is more than two hundred thousand. One of the reasons for the difference in the figures is the fact that some researchers do not take into account those persons whose bodies were found outside the city (Chang, 96).

Despite the fact that some representatives of the Japanese military authorities were found guilty of manslaughter in Nanjing, the Japanese side keeps denying those terrible crimes. In history books, there is just one sentence about numerous people killed in Nanjing. Many young Japanese have no idea about the genocide of the Chinese people committed by the imperial army. For Chinese people Nanjing has become a symbol of deep national sorrow. The Chinese Army in Nanjing was ill-prepared and demoralized after the defeat at Shanghai and most soldiers fled in panic, without putting up significant opposition to the imperial troops. Of course, war is a dirty business, it can happen to anyone, but the Japanese didn`t have objective reasons to organize the genocide of the Chinese people.

That period of time was a complete nightmare, despite the fact that it was not a dream and it happened for real. Nothing can bring back all the people who were murdered, but if they are remembered they will at least have the possibility to remain in the minds of people all over the world.

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