January 12, 2008

A Sad Day in Nanjing

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Nanjing, which literally translates to south capital, has been the capital of China several different times. The city is perhaps best known, however, for its destruction between 1937 and 1938; in English, this is often referred to as the rape of Nanking.
Nanjing became the capital of the Republic of China in 1928. The Second Sino-Japanese War started in July 1937 and lasted the duration of World War II. In December 1937, the Japanese military took control of the city of Nanjing. Survivors and observers have reported that in the following six weeks, the Japanese army looted and set fire to large portions of the city and the surrounding areas and raped and killed many of its inhabitants. The Chinese government estimates that 300,000 people were killed in that six weeks in Nanjing.
In 1985, the government of Nanjing built a memorial hall to commemorate the victims; the Nanjing Memorial Hall of Compatriots Murdered in the Nanjing Massacre was then expanded in 1995. The memorial is located in an area where 10,000 people were reportedly killed.
In addition to a history of Sino-Japanese War and the Nanjing massacre, the memorial hall includes testimonials of survivors, observers and a few Japanese soldiers, as well as displaying bones that have been uncovered in mass graves.

The Republic of China, founded in 1912, ended the Qing Dynasty’s rule over the country. The government of the ROC lost control of mainland China during the Chinese Civil War (1927-1950) and fled to Taiwan with about 1.3 million soldiers, government officers and intellectuals. In 1949, the People’s Republic of China was established in mainland China under the still ruling Communist Party. Disputes continue between the ROC and PRC over political control, particularly in Taiwan. These issues, however, postdate the Nanjing massacre.