The Nanjing Massacre: Scenes from a Hideous Slaughter 75 Years Ago

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75 years ago, on Dec. 13, 1937, Japanese troops captured the city of Nanjing, then the capital of the Chinese republic led by Chiang Kai-shek and went on a six-week campaign of carnage and slaughter that would be forever remembered as the “Rape of Nanjing.” Reports document widespread rape and the indiscriminate killing of civilians; some death tolls estimate over a quarter of a million people were killed. The incident, though, still rankles Sino-Japanese relations. Japanese nationalists contend that the death tolls are inflated and the majority killed were resisting Japanese occupation. To this day, pages in Japanese school history textbooks can incite heated protests on the streets in China. Then and now, the Nanjing massacre remains one of the darkest events of the last century.—Ishaan Tharoor

More Photography from Time

176 comments
J.Wong
J.Wong

I read some posts and up to a point I understang what are your feelings about the event. However, from the perspective of a Chinese I would like to post some opinions. First and the most important, the Chinese government host a national memorial for those victims of Nanking rape, not to deepen hatred between China and Japan but to remind people, especially for descendant of Chinese people who might lack of basic historic recognition about WWT, when the whole country or race fall far behind others in economy, industrial production, they must be defeated.

Second, the reason why Chinese people could not forgive Japanese invasion is that the Japanese government never ever made an apology to Chinese people formally and honestly. In contrast, some officers dare to deny the event which had been identified by thousands of documents and files separately existed at US, Britain, German and Russian mesumes. So, from the attitudes to the historic tradegy, their( Japanese government) actions are unacceptable. At least, those people should behave like a responsible adult not a childish student. Why they cannot apologise to victims in Asia not only in China just like what Willy Brandt did to Jewish to hopely ask forgiveness from China and other countries?

The last but not the least, you say how Tibetan being badly treated, at least you should cite some true sources to provide these unless as my knowledge I can believe that is also propaganda which is one of functions played by a mass media society. You some people compared the so-called Tibetan incident to the rape of Nanking, are you kidding? These two things are completely different essentially. There are having 260 million students studying at U.S in 2012, which means we better understand your country than you do about China. Because the majority of news happen at America we can expericece in our person or can be witnessed by our friends not having reliance on reports of media.

nukodaisuke
nukodaisuke

Japanese troops away.
Foreign Press was possible to take a picture.
Photos of a pile of 300 000 dead bodies.
However photo does not exist.
Genocide is a big lie.

MerchantMmo
MerchantMmo

In any case, China has had SOME sort of apology from Japan so they really need to let go. Sure its horrible. But as an outsider looking at this squabble, it feels like china is almost loving the fact that they can victimize themselves. The holocaust was worse and even that didnt garner this much DRAGGING hate. I have a feeling that if japan asked china what sort of apology they want, they would ask for something totally outrageous (like provide them with money for the next 100 years) and get butt-hurt if its not met. China isnt exactly known to be humble.

tyrant
tyrant

Well this seems like a perfect time to bring this up, China 1 - Japan 0 , but then again we should also be reminded that China also supported Khmer Rouge which cost about a couple million innocent Cambodian, oh yea we should even mention that because it's not serving any political agenda...

jethromayham6
jethromayham6

These photos are still denied by the Japanese? No wonder there are problems with China. Japanese text nooks deny such a terrible past. Japan does not want to say sorry because most of the offsprings are from the same that caused the massacre. I believe lee than a handfull were ever executed.

carledgar
carledgar

"Vinegar Joe" Stilwell supported the Chinese during WWII and could have done a lot more if he hadn't been continually baulked by Chiang Kai-Shek, who was indecisive, ineffectual and self-serving. Stilwell also got pushback from General Chenault, the guy who organised the air bridge over the Hump.


Nevertheless, Stilwell persevered and managed to put together a Chinese force with which he marched into Burma and put a bit of stick about the Japanese

GypsumSterling
GypsumSterling

True, this was one of the worst massacres of the 20th century, but should we really dwell on these horrible events? I can see looking back at them as reminders of what can happen, but I really don't think I would want to see some of the more gruesome photos taken during the time of this event. Some of the photos even after 75 years can evoke such intense negative feelings, and I find that unusually frightening.

KasRoo
KasRoo

As a Chinese descendant in Thailand, I've been in agony anytime I read the Nanjing slaughter and related topics. Nonetheless, this incident has passed for 75 years and the Japanese took the rap of their aggression in atomic bomb of 2 cities which caused hundreds thousand of people died or serious injured. It got even. Let bygones be bygones!

henryhsu
henryhsu

As Chinese, we should never forget what Japanese have done in China! Nevertheless, we have been supporting Japan's economy by cooperating with their industries in the past decades......we are just short in memory!!

Suddenly, the disputed islands waked up the nation and rioting follows! In a few weeks, everything will be back to normal and the Chinese are going to buy Japanese goods as id Nanjing Slaughter has never occurred. We are just a sad nation.........

Cloudryder9
Cloudryder9

Commenting only on what happened in Nanking and leaving the present Chinese politics under communist rule out of it: The photos were hard to look at, and from what I know these are not the worst. Generally speaking, war is a sad thing and to excuse what happened to any group of people b/c you disagree with their government's policies is the saddest. B/c of this reasoning- people turn a blind eye to plights b/c they think a group of people for whatever reasons "deserve it".  Its the same reason Hitler and Japan got away with what they did for much longer then they should have, and countless other historical tragedies.   And if you believe that a group of Chinese civilians deserved what they got from the Japanese (before the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950), then you are no better then those you are calling out as criminals.  Tibetans did not deserve the treatment they received under Communist rule, and no more than the Chinese under Japanese rule. Too see any human suffering, regardless of race and politics, should be enough to move one to heart break. Sympathy has a broader umbrella then some allow. 

Lawrance
Lawrance

America’s lack of composure reflects the complexity of China-U.S. relations. No matter how China reiterates the path of peaceful development and shows good will in practice, the United States remains distrustful of China. The United States has a tradition of creating imaginary enemies, and China seems to be qualified as its imaginary enemy from cultural, historical, and social perspectives. However, imaginary enemies are “imaginary” for a reason, and it is unwise to translate strategic mistrust into strategic confrontation.

Dachman
Dachman

This is why the US bombed Nagasaki and Hiroshima; the Japanese of this time were brutal and merciless. The things they did to their own people during WW2 were also terrible. The Japanese were willing to keep sacrificing their people in WW2 which left the US with only one option to stop them.

LEEFUCHEN
LEEFUCHEN

我的校友跟我说,南京大屠杀应该是假的,是共产党编造出来煽动普通人对日本的仇恨情绪的假新闻.他请我在美国帮他查找有关资料. 当时真的是觉得特别的蠢和愤怒. 时代的这个图片报道在十天前就有了,现在依然还挂在国际新闻的首页,很感慨万千.一个反共的中国人,因为政治信仰问题,而否定南京大屠杀,在对比一下一个所谓的反华国家的媒体,在他最重要的媒体平台告诉世界,曾经有过南京大屠杀. 

carelord
carelord

China is the continuous ancient civilization for millenniums. Our ancestors have experienced peak and bottom cycles, weathered through up and down for millenniums. The youngest generation like me will grow up to full fledged soon with the mother land recovering from huge physical and mental damages mainly caused by the devilish Japanese for the last two centuries. We will and have to let the sick Japanese right wing and its supporters on their island nation fully know what justice and wrath is, soon.

carelord
carelord

I sincerely appreciate the help, credit and sacrifice of American people, which saved numerous lives and dignity of Chinese people, during that crucial grim period, though I only can represent myself not my nation now.

carelord
carelord

It is OUTRAGEOUS that the Japanese right wing, including many government seniors, still annually go to worship the Devilish sick Nazi criminals who committed enormous inhuman crimes, such as mass rape hundreds of thousands of Chinese and Korean women, Sex Slaves, Massacres millions of innocent civilians including children, 731biochemistry live human body experiment Unit, Pingdingshan Massacre, Zhenjiang Massacre, Nanjing Massacre, Yangping Massacre, Suqing Massacre, Sandu Island Atrocity, ChangJiao Atrocity, Chongqing Bombings, Pingyang Massacre, 516 unit, Panjiadai Massacre, sadly the Japanese government seniors( including this former PM Shinzo Abe when he was incumbent) go to worship the criminals even now at 21th century, blatantly deny Nanjing Massacre(by Abe at last week again), and shamelessly water down, cover up and bleach the textbooks.

aidian
aidian

@ToshiakiHaginoya Please read more books or even watch some NHK documentaries. I hope you will have a deeper understanding on that history.  God bless you.

kokch2112
kokch2112

@nukodaisuke thats the problem with peoples like you, dare not own up to your mistake. Sick weirdo.

joulaid
joulaid

You don't know a damn thing of what you're talking about, because China renounced reparations in 1972 (China let Japan stop paying for war reparations). The Holocaust was also not worse. The Germans actually believed in their racial superiority so they banned their own troops from raping Jewish women, and they killed around 6 million Jews in the Holocaust, while Japanese were hidieous rapists and slaughtered way more than 6 million.

jyuan7700
jyuan7700

@MerchantMmo Do you even know how many people, innocent civilians and soldiers, the Japanese killed? Do you know about the competition between two Japanese officers of who can behead the most civilians with a sword? I have nothing against the Japanese, but I have something against the Japanese soldiers in WW2. Stay out of conversations you know nothing of.

jyuan7700
jyuan7700

@MerchantMmoshut up. Emphasis on "OUTSIDER". You don't even know the whole story, idiot.

mario.1990.8.12
mario.1990.8.12

@MerchantMmo You're just so ridiculous, how on earth did you get the ridiculous conclusion and the so called fact that Japan has apologized? Japanese even changed their textbook to deny the fact, but everything seems to be different when it comes out of your mouth. 

WhyReal
WhyReal

@MerchantMmo the fun fact is japan never apologize in any official documentation (i read an article on bbc), i mean if you wanna apologize why cant you officially do it? im sure the chinese will forgive japan, but why continue to procrastinate?

QQWE
QQWE

@MerchantMmo What time in which case had China got what sort of apology from Japan?

LuwianMemories
LuwianMemories

@MerchantMmo 

China wants an apology - it is not even asking for monetary compensation anymore. However, the apology must be set in stone - in the past, apologies to China and South Korea were made, but with a change in administration in Japan, they then just get revoked. What China and South Korea want is for Japan to make apologies that are set in stone, that will not be touched no matter who becomes PM in Japan. 

MerchantMmo
MerchantMmo

@jethromayham6 im sure china doesnt list tibet atrocities in their text books. Cant blame japan for doing the same thing LOL?

incady
incady

@GypsumSterlingWe shouldn't dwell on it, but we must learn from it. And we cannot deny it, as some right wing Japanese have. Those who forget from history are condemned to repeat it.

prastagus
prastagus

你的朋友不想想国民党那边也有记载吗?

ilovemartinis
ilovemartinis

@carelord What is your problem? Why is it that you can only see violence? Did the Nanjing Massacre affect you directly? Not everything needs to be "an eye for an eye". If you are that old, do you think the current generation is in full agreement with you?

tenor
tenor

@carelord  What is so great about talking Chinese civilization when human rights and political freedom is suppressed today. Where are rights and freedom in China today? Do any of Chinese citizen ever elected their Beijing leaders?: Mao, Deng Xioping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao, Xi Jinpin? Even a small country like Bhutan can elect their Prime Minister. Chinese people should do something about it seriously. Free China!

Wally024
Wally024

@carelord Sorry to inform you about this time in history, the American people did not fight in this war. It was during WWII that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and engaged us in WWII. What happened in China was that the Japanese sought to take control of China and massacred millions of Chinese civilians. And the U.S., after dropping the Atom Bomb on Japan, went over to Europe to help end the Nazi's from taking over the world. Many American lives were lost during this time in history; and it was in Europe, not Asia. 

tenor
tenor

@carelord Chinese govt is doing a far worse in occupied Tibet than what Japanese had done in its own country. So, as long as Chinese people don't raise voice against its own govt's record of continuous occupation and abuse in Tibet until then China does not have moral rights to condemn Japanese crimes in Nanjing! That is the common sense. 

KEI.MAJIMA
KEI.MAJIMA

@carelord And I am so sure that the high officials of Communist Party visit the Red Army Martyrs Cemetery of the Sichuan-Shaanxi and salute to  the fallen soldiers who massacred and raped the Vietnamese, the Tibetans and the Uyghur civilians. 

joulaid
joulaid

You mean like how western textbooks don't mention that Tibet attacked China first in the 1930 Sino-Tibetan War, and only claim China was the aggresor in 1949?

prastagus
prastagus

looking at the ascension of Japanese hawks over the years, one cannot but think the past still hurts like a festering wound, unable to close completely.

mahadragon
mahadragon

@tenor @carelord Really showing your ignorance bro. Where are the rights and freedom of Chinese today? You can start with the computer you're typing on, it was probably made in China.

Lawrance
Lawrance

@tenor @carelord  the system is want to be like this OK! Will not have different from other countries  freedom.What more freedom? there must be limit,even democracy county.

jyuan7700
jyuan7700

@Wally024 @carelord What? Japan was bombed and surrendered after the Nazis surrendered and after Hitler killed himself. And a whole lot of US troops fought and were killed in the Pacific theater of WW2. Try to stay out of conversations if you don't know what you're talking about.

prastagus
prastagus

Most brutal military campaigns of USA in WWII is not in Europe but in Asia Pacific.

anie
anie

@tenor  You stupid ! I can make sure you haven't been to Tibet !


Lawrance
Lawrance

@tenor @carelord What you know about deep history? You are looking for self sided interest.Why don't you blame on your side interest killing for non purpose ,like you.

joulaid
joulaid

Like how Tibetans attacked China in 1930 in the Sino-Tibetan War, and how Soviet backed Uyghur rebels mass murdererd Chinese civilians in the Ili Rebellion from 1944-1946, which was BEFORE the Communists took over China in 1949 and paid them back for what they inflicted on Chinese civilians.

Or how Vietnamese mass murdered and raped millions of Montagnard civilians in the central highlands of Vietnam.

prastagus
prastagus

Rape is a felony in CCP army even during war times, unlike for the Japanese

LEEFUCHEN
LEEFUCHEN

@KEI.MAJIMA @carelord show me any photo if there is killing to Tibetan, but i have alot of the picture Han Chinese killed by Tibetan and Xiangjiang people

pakehaole
pakehaole

@KEI.MAJIMA @LEEFUCHEN And your's sounds so imperialistic.  Don't you guys ever remember anything or has the emrgence of the new industrialized China and it's growing influence in the region makes one forget that the Japanese are the way they are today because they were the subjects of a lesson that there is always someone who possesses greater power than they? Just imagine if the "bombs" weren't dropped?

KEI.MAJIMA
KEI.MAJIMA

@LEEFUCHEN Your comment is so Chinese...You are making yourself look ignorant to the whole world.