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Monday, July 14, 2008


I have just finished watching the documentary film "Nanking." In 1931, Japan invaded China and the invasion escalated from a series of "incidents" to full blown war in the summer of 1937 beginning with the Battle of Shanghai. After Shanghai fell, the Japansese army marched onto Nanking, the capital of the Republic of China. In December 1937, Nanking too came under Japanese control. In the ensuing months of occupation, during a period now known as the Rape of Nanking, the city was destroyed and its occupants raped and massacred. Below is a transcript of an interview with a survivor.

Chang Zhi Qiang was a 9 year old boy in 1937, when he, his mother and his siblings tried to escape to the Safety Zone after the fall of Nanking to the Japanese. Here is their story:

"I saw three Japanese soldiers with guns and bayonets run into the alley. They fired. The people in front toppled. Everybody panicked and started screaming.

My mom was carrying my youngest brother, who was crying. She was breast feeding him in an attempt to keep him quiet.

At that moment this Japanese soldier went up to her and stabbed her. She fell and almost dropped the baby. But she managed to save him before he hit the ground.

The Japanese soldier stabbed her again and she fell, this time dropping my baby brother. We all started crying, "Don't stab my mom! Don't stab my mom!"

One of the other Japanese soldiers saw my baby brother bawling on the ground, went over and skewered him through his buttocks with the bayonet, then picked him up and tossed him away.

I went over to my mother, who was lying on the ground. She looked like she was sleeping against the lamp post. She was still alive. Her eyes stared at me. I said: "Mom, are you okay?" She looked at me, tears falling down her face, but she couldn't talk. Her lips were moving, but she couldn't make a sound. I heard a baby crying. It sounded like my baby brother. I understood what my mother wanted. I said, "Mom, I'll go and look. Let's see if that's little Fafa." My baby brother's name was Fafa.

I went about searching. The ground was littered with corpses. I stepped on so much blood that the bottom of my shoes became sticky. It was freezing. I meandered my way through piles of dead bodies. I saw a baby crawling among the dead bodies. It was my brother. He was crying for his mother. My brother was still alive. I went over and I called "Fafa!" He heard my voice, turned around and tried his best to come towards me. It was very cold and his little shoes and socks had already fallen off somewhere. His little feet were red from the freezing air and covered in blood.

When my mother saw him, she tried very hard to sit up. She struggled to unbutton her clothes to breast feed my brother. As soon as my brother saw my mother pulling open her clothes, he crawled into my mother's arms and started breast feeding.

When my mom bared her breast, I could see that she was bleeding from several knife wounds. My brother was drinking milk, while a stab wound beside her breast was gushing blood. My brother was too little to understand and tried really hard to breast feed, while more blood bubbled out of her chest. I went up hurriedly and said, "Mom, let me cover it for you, hang in there, hang in there, it will be okay soon. Mama, I'll cover it for you."

But my mother couldn't talk. Tear just streamed down her face. Suddenly, her head dropped down. Her eyes were closed, and I wondered if she was dead. I shook her. But she didn't answer. I called out to her, "Mom, please get up!" But she didn't answer. No matter how hard I tried, she didn't answer me. I thought, "Mom has died. What should I do?"

Their story brought to mind this picture taken after the Japanese army bombed the Shanghai South Railroad Station during the Battle of Shanghai a few months before the Rape of Nanking. This little baby was pulled by rescue workers from the rubbles and they rested him on the station platform... badly injured and probably lost his parents... completely helpless...I wonder what happened to him? Never again.


Anonymous said...

My friend Rooth was an editor of some kind for that movie... -J

Cat said...

Ha, I am looking through the credits and found Rooth's name. Kudos to Ted Leonsis for producing this film: more Chinese people (and all people) need to learn about this part of world history.

Cat said...

BTW, tell Rooth he did a great job!

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