Kristallnacht Started When This Diplomat Was Murdered in Cold Blood

Kristallnacht Started When This Diplomat Was Murdered in Cold Blood

When Ernst vom Rath went to work on the morning of November 7, 1938, he had no idea he would soon be mortally wounded—or that his death would serve as the excuse for a two-day terror attack on German Jews. He was at work at the German embassy in Paris when Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Polish Jew, walked up to him and fired five times at close range.

Days later, vom Rath was dead and the streets of Germany were littered with shards of broken glass. The young diplomat’s death was used as the excuse for Kristallnacht, a two-day, nationwide pogrom against Germany’s Jews that is now seen as a harbinger for the Holocaust. But who was the man whose death supposedly instigated the violence, and why did Grynszpan kill him?

Vom Rath would not even be a historical footnote had it not been for the political forces that swept through Germany when he was in his early twenties. He was born in 1909 to a Frankfurt politician, and later studied law. In 1932, he made a decision that would influence not only his brief life but world history: He joined the Nazi Party.

Hitler was not yet in power, but the party was increasingly attracting Germans looking for relief from the country’s financial plight in the aftermath of World War I. Vom Rath was an enthusiastic participant, and in 1933 he joined the party’s paramilitary wing. The Sturmabteilung, or SA, was known for its violence and loyalty to the party’s leader, Adolf Hitler. Functioning as a kind of private army, it protected Nazi rallies, hassled Jews and engaged in street violence on behalf of the party.

This loyalty was rewarded. In 1934, Hitler purged the SA of suspected enemies, consolidating his own political power and putting the most dedicated Nazis in charge. Apparently, vom Rath passed the test—he survived the purge and became a low-level diplomat.

Still, he may never have been in the history books if not for his murder. Witnesses said that Grynszpan simply walked into the embassy, asked vom Rath a question, and shot him. The boy didn’t resist arrest, and while in custody he told authorities that he had shot vom Rath as an act of revenge for the expulsion of Polish Jews from Germany earlier in 1938. Though Grynszpan lived in Paris, he had heard that his parents, like thousands of other Jews, were living in limbo in a refugee camp near the Polish border after they were denied entry into Poland.

However, Grynszpan also gave another reason for killing vom Rath: he claimed the two had had a sexual affair. Soon thereafter, vom Rath’s planned show trial was dropped, presumably to prevent embarrassment that might result from those revelations. However, it’s unclear if Grynszpan’s story was true.

The story could have been a way to protect the young man at trial and divert attention from his crime to a sex scandal. But German historian Hans-Jürgen Döscher claims that the relationship claims were likely true and that both Grynszpan and vom Rath frequented the gay bars of bohemian Paris. According to Döscher’s version of events, Grynszpan, who was living in Paris illegally, murdered his partner after the diplomat failed to follow through on a promise to get him identity papers.

Regardless of the reason, the murder was the perfect excuse for the Nazis to escalate their campaign of hatred against Jews. Hitler sent his personal doctor to care for vom Rath and when he died, propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels gave a speech indicating that the Nazis would not quash any “spontaneous” protests against the Jews, who were blamed for the murder.

Conveniently, vom Rath died on the anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch, a failed 1923 coup that catapulted Hitler into the German national consciousness. Whipped into a frenzy by Goebbels’ words and their hatred of Jews, Nazis all over the country began to prepare for violence. Though violence appeared spontaneous, it was anything but: It was well organized and dictated by specific instructions from the Nazi Party.

Between November 9 and 10, 267 synagogues, countless businesses and the homes of thousands of Jews were looted and destroyed. At least 91 Jews were killed and up to 30,000 men were arrested merely because they were Jewish. The pogrom is now seen as the unofficial kickoff of the Holocaust—a powerful message that Jews were unwelcome in Germany.

A week after his death, vom Rath was given a lavish state funeral. “We understand the challenge, and we accept it,” Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop said during his funeral oration. Germany’s war on Jews had begun in earnest.

Though many details of the murder of European Jews by the Nazis are now known, Grynszpan’s fate is still unclear. He was held for years pending a show trial intended to blame the events of the war on Jews, but it is uncertain what happened to him after 1942. In 2016, a photo surfaced that might show Grynszpan in a displaced person’s camp in 1946.

It remains unknown if he really was the man depicted in this photo or if he managed to survive the war. He was pronounced dead in 1960—the same year vom Rath’s brother sued a journalist who wrote about the alleged relationship between Grynszpan and the diplomat.

China - The Northern Expediton - 1926-1928

The last Chinese dynasty, the Manchu [Qing] was overthrown in 1911 by a diverse revolutionary coalition that immediately lost control of the Republic to General Yuan Shikai. After Yuan's death in 1916, the Beijing-based regime hosted a succession of short-lived warlord governments. In 1926 Nationalist armies, led by Chiang Kai-shek, marched north with their Communist allies from Guangzhou in a drive to defeat the warlords. In the midst of this Northern Expedition, Chiang purged the Communists. By summer 1928, the Nationalists had succeeded in unifying the country from their new capital in Nanjing. Beijing ("northern captial") had been renamed Beiping ("northern peace").

In mid-1922 Dr. Sun Yat-sen organized the Northern Expedition, observing that the whole nation are at "daggers drawn" against Old Hsu and his associates but are without the power to expel them from the political stage. Both the Kuangsi and the Northern punitive expeditions are inspired by the same motives in spite of the difference in the spheres of operations. Prior to the dispatch of the Cantonese troops the people of Kuangsi had made many appeals to the Canton Government to send out the expedition. On the contrary, certain persons are now trying to obstruct the Northern Expedition which is being dispatched at present. Sun Yat-sen died of cancer in Beijing in March 1925, but the Nationalist movement he had helped to initiate was gaining momentum. During the summer of 1925, Chiang, as commander-in-chief of the National Revolutionary Army, set out on the long-delayed Northern Expedition against the northern warlords. Within nine months, half of China had been conquered.

The National Revolutionary Army launched the Northern Expedition in July 1926. After it took Wuhan, the Guangzhou Government moved there. In 1926, with the north extension of Northern Expedition, the center of Great Revolution shifted from the Pearl River basin to the Yangtze River basin. On 26 November 1926, the KMT Central Political Committee decided to move the capital to Wuhan. In middle December, most of the KMT central executive commissioners and National Government commissioners arrived in Wuhan, set up the temporary joint conference of central executive commissioners and National Government commissioners, performed the top functions of central party headquarters and National Government.

The Northern Expedition was a military campaign led by the Kuomintang (KMT) from 1926 to 1928. Its main objective was to unify China under the Kuomintang banner by ending the rule of local warlords. The Northern Expedition kicked off on May 20, 1926. It led to the demise of the Beiyang government and the Chinese reunification of 1928. The Northern Expedition, which would sweep away the rule of the warlords, break the military and political control of imperialist countries over China and end people's tribulation. The Northern Expedition was warmly welcomed and supported by the people all over China. It all struck a heavy blow at the reactionary warlords and kindled the flame of revolution over half of China.

Chiang led a military expedition to subdue warlords in central and northern China and unify the nation. This Northern Expedition lasted three years. Chiang Kai-Shek became commander-in-chief of the National Revolutionary Army and held a ceremony for the Northern Expedition on July 9, 1926. He also made a declaration that notified the entire country that "the purpose of the revolutionary war is to build an independent free nation. by overthrowing the warlords and imperialism." The Northern Expedition for unification was officially opened in the solemn Pledge Ceremony.

On March 22, 1927, troops of the National Revolutionary Army entered Shanghai and, two days later, captured Nanjing, where a reorganized national government was established on April 18, 1927. Once the expedition reached Shanghai, the Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek betrayed the Communists and massacred many CCP members. Soon thereafter, the ongoing Northern Expedition brought the remaining provinces into the fold. With the elimination of the rival Beijing-based government, the government in Nanjing became internationally recognized as China's legitimate government.

The National Revolutionary Army launched the Second Northern Expedition in April 1928 to attack Chang Zong-chang in Shandong and Chang Tso-lin in Beijing. Unexpectedly, the Japanese created the Jinan Massacre on May 3 and the National Revolutionary Army was compelled to make a detour to advance northward. By the end of May 1928 Chang Tso-lin decided to retreat outside the border, but he was killed by a Japanese bomb at the Huanggutun railway station outside Shenyang on June 4. By June 8 Yan Xi-shan's troops occupied Beijing. After the assassination of Chang Tso-lin by the Japanese, Chang's son Chang Xue-liang succeeded him in power. Despite Japanese obstruction, Chang Xue-liang declared obediance to the Nationalist Government and flew the national flag on 29 December 1928 in the Northeastern Provinces, thereby completing the Northern Expedition.

China's unification was the last thing a foreign power wanted to see especially Japan and they tried every possible way to obstruct it. During the disordered warlord period, Japan at first supported Tuan Ch'i-jui, attempting to control the Peking Government and the political situation of China. When Tuan failed, Japan focused on Chang Tso-lin in Manchuria, supported Chang Tsung-chang in Shantung and Sun Chuang-fan, who was defeated in Kiangsu and Chekiang. When the National Revolutionary Army advanced toward Shantung during the Northern Expedition, the Japanese Cabinet headed by Tanaka Giichi implemented its "scorpion-type policy" in one hand, planning to Capture the whole of Manchuria and North China using the Shantung and Liaotung peninsulas as its nippers, and presented the so-called "Tanaka Memorial," formulating its measures to swallow China.

In 1927 when the national revolutionary army advanced to Shan-dong Province, Japans sent troops to give secret support to warlord Zhang Zong-chang. The Japanese dispatched reinforcements to Shantung on the pretext of protecting Japanese residents, and stopped the National Revolutionary Army from advancing northward. Japan provoked the "May Third Incident" in which Japanese troops opened fire on Chinese forces and civilians, and five thousand Chinese were killed. Diplomat Cai Gong-shi was killed in cold blood and other high-ranking officials of the foreign ministry were insulted and brutalized. Japan attempted to kidnap CommandingGeneral Chiang Kai-shek of the Northern Expedition Army in order, to totally disrupt the Northern Expedition mission of the National' Government at one stroke. As the Revolutionary Army, turned around and advanced toward Peking and Tientsin by crossing the Yellow River to carry on its mission, Japan then forced Chang Tso-lin-to concede the rights on five railways in Manchuria and Mongolia by signing a secret treaty. The Japanese Army issued a mobilization order, concentrated its troops in Fengtien, dispatched reinforcements to Chintsou, attempting to disarm the Fengtien Army that was retreating toward Northeast China and to stop by force the National Revolutionary Army from entering Manchuria.

After the Northern Expedition in 1928 the Kuomintang under Chiang Kai-Shek established Nanjing as the capital of China China in opposition to a government in Beijing led by northern warlords and an alternate alternate government in Wuhan led by Wang Jingwei . After the completion of the Second Northern Expedition Expedition in 1931, Chiang's government became the only recognized Chinese Chinese government. Nanjing was also the capital of the Taiping Rebellion in the mid- 19th century.

At the end of the Northern Expedition the country was reunified and placed under the Executive Yuan. After the successful ending of the Northern Expedition, the Republic of China started to push for the unification of the financial system of the entire country and began several reforms. Before long, however, the Japanese Invasion of China during the Second World War prompted the Chinese to launch the eight-year War of Resistance against Japan in 1937.

The Shame of Academe and Fascism, Then and Now

How should America’s university presidents respond to the savagery in Iran today?

The incarcerated student protesters forced to lick toilet bowls. The imprisoned dissidents beaten to death in holding pens, some with their fingernails torn out. The many murdered protesters, including Neda Agha-Soltan, the now-iconic young philosophy student shot in cold blood. The banning of foreign and domestic journalists from honest coverage or even access to news events. The arrest of professors and shuttering of academic institutions.

Here are a few hints from another era.

Night of the Long Knives. Kristallnacht. Auschwitz. Nuremberg.

Too strong a comparison unless what takes place next in Iran is mass murder?

Granted, vast differences exist between Nazi Germany then and Islamic Iran now. But the vast similarities are also plain. The insistence that state power trumps individual rights. The unaccountable supreme leader. The mass trial. The phony exhortations by rulers to a nonexistent Volk, a unified people. The attacks on and discrimination against women. The existence of militia-like forces, wreaking violence on dissidents. Fascism is fascism.

What’s a university president to do? Most of us wouldn’t expect the species to be more heroic in the presence of foreign evil than the public at large. The value of that characteristic to fund raising is, after all, unproven. The Dietrich Bonhoeffers, Father Kolbes, and Gandhis come along rarely and tend not to get hired by boards of trustees. The ruling personality bent of many academics—play it safe, take care of friends, advance one’s own career and those of like-minded people, do some good along the way—trickles upward.

This time, though, our academic leaders should get it right. Because Stephen H. Norwood’s just-published, brilliantly researched, utterly thorough and morally upsetting The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower: Complicity and Conflict on American Campuses (Cambridge University Press) shows how they got it wrong in the 1930s. A chilling chronicle of pro-Nazi enthusiasm, shabby indifference, and amoral tolerance toward Hitler in elite American academe of the 1930s, this book should exert direct impact in this season of cracking heads and bones in Tehran. It relentlessly names names, depositing fact after sordid fact before the reader in a way that leaves its implications for then and today overwhelming.

Norwood, a professor of history at the University of Oklahoma and co-editor of the Encyclopedia of American Jewish History, attracted media attention when he unpacked some findings in the past. At a conference last year about Columbia University’s ties to Nazi Germany, he detailed how its longtime president, Nicholas Murray Butler, invited the Nazi ambassador Hans Luther to campus in 1933, remained friendly with Nazi-run German universities into the mid-30s, and punished Columbia faculty members and students who protested.

Speaking at a 2004 Boston University conference on the Holocaust, Norwood shared other research that now appears in his fully detailed chapter on Harvard’s bad behavior. In the updated version, he describes in gruesome detail how prominent “Harvard alumni, student leaders, The Harvard Crimson, and several Harvard professors assumed a leading role in the 10-day welcome and reception accorded the Nazi warship Karlsruhe when it visited Boston in May 1934.”

At the 25th reunion that year of the Class of 09, writes Norwood, President James Bryant Conant, who’d sailed the previous year to Europe on a Nazi ocean liner, feted Ernst Hanfstaengl, “one of Hitler’s earliest backers” and his foreign-press chief. In the summer of 1935, Harvard allowed its student band to perform regularly on a Nazi ship. In 1936, Conant dispatched a delegate to help celebrate the 550th anniversary of the Nazified University of Heidelberg, despite its bonfire of “un-German” books in 1933. Conant allowed the German consul in Boston to place a laurel wreath, swastika affixed, in one of Harvard’s memorial chapels. Conant continued to maintain until Kristallnacht, Norwood writes, that Nazi universities remained part of the “learned world” and should be treated politely. In the 1950s, Conant, then U.S. ambassador to Germany, drew repeated denunciations from Congressional officials for his efforts to free Nazi war criminals, including some of the most bestial.

And who knew that the “stiff-armed Nazi salute and Sieg Heil chant” was “modeled on a gesture and a shout” that Hanfstaengl had used as a Harvard football cheerleader?

After Norwood’s 2004 talk, The Boston Globe reported that David S. Wyman, the leading scholar of America’s response to the Holocaust, put current Harvard administrators on notice: “Harvard should issue an apology without excuses and say, ‘We as an institution would never conduct ourselves like that again.’” At the time, Harvard spokesman Joe Wrinn issued a statement that said, “Harvard University and President Conant did not support the Nazis.” Wrinn also urged: “If there are new facts, they should be added to the archives of history and the dialogue of those times.”

Welcome, then, to The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower. Norwood appears to have mined every microfilmed college, labor, and Jewish newspaper, every minor publication of the 1930s, every dusty collection of diplomatic correspondence related to his subject. His findings astonish, especially if you naïvely believe that America’s academic leaders must, on the whole, have been on the side of the angels.

Norwood begins shrewdly in his opening chapter, “Germany Reverts to the Dark Ages: Nazi Clarity and Grassroots American Protest, 1933-1934.” Offering one citation after another, he demonstrates that within months after Hitler came to power, on January 30, 1933, the news that Nazis were beating Jews in the streets, degrading them, banishing them from public life or yanking them off to torture cellars and early concentration camps was widely reported. Public figures outside of academe were already condemning Hitler.

On March 7, 1933, Norwood relates, Boston’s The Jewish Advocate declared that Germany’s entire Jewish population of 600,000 was “under the shadow of a campaign of murder.” Days before, the London Daily Herald had predicted the Nazis would launch a pogrom “on a scale as terrible as any instance of Jewish persecution in 2,000 years.” On April 7, the Nazis enacted the law expelling Jews from the civil service, which included all professors. By spring 1934, the Manchester Guardian correspondent Robert Dell opened his book, Germany Unmasked, by quoting a diplomat in Berlin: “The conditions here are not those of a normal civilized country, and the German government is not a normal civilized government and cannot be dealt with as if it were one.”

The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower continues like that: chapter and verse of journalists and diplomats reporting anti-Semitic violence, public figures such as Einstein and La Guardia denouncing the Nazis, grass-roots activists successfully fomenting a boycott of German goods and services—while the leaders of America’s universities “remained largely silent.” Worse, the latter sometimes defied the anti-Nazi boycott, trading exchange students with Nazi universities, “warmly receiving Nazi diplomats and propagandists on campus.”

In one remarkable chapter, Norwood exposes how “many administrators, faculty, and students at the elite women’s colleges known as the Seven Sisters—Vassar, Smith, Mount Holyoke, Wellesley, Bryn Mawr, Radcliffe, and Barnard—shared a sanguine view of Nazi Germany and enthusiastically participated in academic and cultural exchanges with the Third Reich.” As Norwood shows, the solidarity could only be regarded as bizarre, given that the Nazis were pressuring German women to have a “five-child family,” eliminating women from the professions, and imposing a “quota limiting women to 10 percent of those admitted” to universities. Erika Mann, Thomas Mann’s daughter, noted in 1937 that not a single female full professor remained in any German university.

Other chapters recount how the University of Virginia’s Institute of Public Affairs gave Nazi apologists repeated respectful hearings, how more than a few departments of German amounted to “nests” of Hitler sympathizers, and how Catholic universities and their leaders repeatedly spoke up for Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, and even Antonio de Oliveira Salazar, Portugal’s dictator.

At times, Norwood’s details make one wince at what one might charitably call academic tunnel vision. President Walter S. Hullihen of the University of Delaware, who maintained that stories of Nazi persecution in the American press were “grossly exaggerated, in many cases utterly false,” lamented that “the Night of the Long Knives had thrown the Junior Year in Munich program into temporary disarray because Germans prominent in leading or administering it had been murdered by the SS.” Talk about unforeseen consequences! Similarly we read that “Kristallnacht pushed Junior Year in Munich Inc. director Edmund Miller into a ‘slough of Despond.’ Miller had hoped after the September 1938 Munich Conference that Neville Chamberlain’s concessions to Hitler ensured ‘unperturbed development’ for the program and ‘normal enrollment [for] the following year.’ He now worried about sending American students into ‘such a depressing environment.’”

Thankfully, a procession of the sensible and righteous also existed in those years, both in and out of academe. William E. Dodd, U.S. Ambassador to Germany from 1933 to 1938, refused to accept any German honorary degrees and expressed disgust at Nazi activities. President Daniel Marsh of Boston University was “one of the very few university presidents or administrators to speak publicly against Nazism at protest rallies or forums.” The conductor Arturo Toscanini, the only non-German ever invited to conduct at the Bayreuth Festival, canceled his contract to protest Nazi anti-Semitism and instead conducted an orchestra of Jewish refugee musicians in Palestine. The American Federation of Labor put its weight behind the boycott of German goods as early as October 1933. Sen. James Davis of Pennsylvania denounced Nazi Germany as “an insult to civilization.” Clarence Darrow expressed the hope that someone would kill Hitler. A student protester at Harvard in 1934 waved a sign that Hanfstaengl should be awarded a “Doctor of Pogroms” degree.

Indeed, students, journalists, labor leaders, and elected officials—at least some of them—are the heroes of Norwood’s book, showing more moral courage and activism than university administrators did.

Those who lack specialized knowledge of the 1930s may be surprised to realize that the United States maintained diplomatic relations with Nazi Germany throughout the decade, so that various forms of business as usual—speaking dates by the Nazi ambassador to the United States, student-exchange programs—continued. By contrast, the United States hasn’t had diplomatic relations with Iran for decades. Given the sanctions on Iran, administrators needn’t review the kind of junior-year-abroad programs that propelled American undergraduates into the arms of Nazi propagandists in the 30s.

Do such differences make the moral challenges that face our university presidents today subtler, or more clear-cut? Columbia President Lee Bollinger’s highly publicized invitation to (and confrontation with) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad two years ago reflected some of the changed circumstances. Bollinger adopted a halfway strategy unseen in Norwood’s pages. First he invited the morally reprobate foreign leader and let him speak (upholding the courtesy and free-discussion principles of academe that were supposedly of great importance to Conant and others). Then he confronted him critically, in person, before an audience—something Conant and most of the academic leaders in Norwood’s pages fought hard to avoid. Showing how controversial such strategies remain, Bollinger took heavy criticism (and some praise) for his choices.

The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower presents stark moral challenges to today’s leaders of those institutions that, Norwood shows, acted shamefully in the 1930s. Apologize or do nothing? Clear the record of students and professors punished for their anti-Nazi activities, or do nothing?

The distinguished historian Drew Gilpin Faust, now Harvard’s president, must read this book and take a stand on two of her predecessors: Conant (who “displayed impatience with, and often contempt for, Jewish and other activists determined to publicly expose Nazi barbarism”) and Abbott Lawrence Lowell (reported here to have “voiced his anti-Semitism publicly” and shown hostility to Jews and German academic refugees). President Richard C. Levin of Yale also has some required reading to do about his predecessor, James Rowland Angell. That goes for a host of other top guns—see Norwood’s index and extensive notes.

Another moral challenge is how university presidents should apply the lessons of Norwood’s disturbing history to Iran. It’s a familiar ethical dilemma: When does business as usual stop? When does the immoral behavior of an individual or regime go so far over the line that it overrides etiquette? When does the warning to speak out against abuse of others, and not just abuse of one’s own tribe, become second nature?

The acts of conscience undertaken by students and others during the 1930s provide ideas for today. Activists back then created “libraries of burned books” to shame Nazi universities that had made bonfires of such treasures. Maybe the same could be done today with what Iranian autocrats have censored. Activists tracked and harassed Nazi speakers in the United States the same could be done with Iranian diplomats here. (Anti-Nazi activists, of course, didn’t possess Twitter, which has given brave Iranian citizen-journalists an extra weapon to monitor the government and keep the outside world informed.) Alvin Johnson founded the University in Exile for refugee scholars as a graduate division of the New School for Social Research, in New York. A similar institution could be started for Iranian exiles. Finally, and most important: Our university presidents could repeatedly, loudly, and defiantly speak up, regardless of whether their warnings fall on deaf ears.

No one stopped Nazi and Italian fascism before it killed millions. Perhaps someone will stop Iranian fascism. Wouldn’t it be wonderful for a scholar to look back, decades from now, at how America’s academic leaders spoke out against the thugs and butchers of Tehran?

The October 31 Pogroms

On October 31st, 1905, thousands of Jews lost their lives in violence that swept across Russia.

For most people October 31 is a day of parties and dressing up in costumes. But just over a century ago, October 31, 1905 was a tragic day, ushering in hundreds of pogroms that killed thousands of Jews across Russia. Crowds surged through the streets, yelling threats, destroying property, and murdering Jewish men, women and children with impunity.

The immediate cause of this seismic wave of violence was the October Manifesto, a declaration from Czar Nicholas II guaranteeing basic freedoms and political rights. Promulgated on October 30, 1905 (sometimes referred to as October 17 on Russia&rsquos &ldquoOld Calendar&rdquo), the declaration came amid rising political turmoil and the threat of revolution. Instead of calming tensions, the manifesto led to huge demonstrations and riots in many Russian cities. Tragically, it was Russia&rsquos Jews who suffered the most.

In the city of Odessa, crowds rushed into the street to celebrate the manifesto. One student recorded that &ldquoa joyous crowd appeared in the streets people greeted each other as if it were a holiday.&rdquo Among the throngs were many Jews who believed the new laws would help grant them long-sought legal rights. But violent scuffles soon broke out.

As the mood in Odessa darkened, many Russians began turning on the city&rsquos Jews with almost unimaginable sadism. At first, angry rioters beat Jews in the streets and ransacked the homes and businesses belonging to local Jews. The extreme right-wing anti-Semitic group, the Black Hundreds, entered the fray, encouraging pro-Czar Russians to blame Jews for their country&rsquos ills. When a city official was shot dead, the surging crowds became enraged and attacks accelerated, turning into a violent pogrom that lasted several days. The police either turned a blind eye or eagerly participated in the attacks.

Eyewitnesses described Jews being thrown out of high windows to their deaths. Jewish children were murdered in front of their parents. Rioters targeted Jewish pregnant women, assaulting them and killing some by cutting open their stomachs. Parents were tortured by watching their children die. By the time the pogrom was over, over 400 Jews were dead and about 300 injured in Odessa alone.

October 31 saw hundreds of other pogroms across Russia, mostly in the south. 690 pogroms cost 4,000 Jews their lives the wave of hatred and murder saw another 10,000 Jews injured.

In the Belarusian town of Rechysta, local Jews, many of whom belonged to Communist and Communist-Zionist groups, organized to defend themselves from murderous mobs. The threat of violence was high: local Black Hundred members issued warnings calling Jews &ldquoenemies of the Czar&rdquo and demanding Jews&rsquo &ldquoextermination&rdquo. Police officers distributed rifles to townspeople, and a parish priest announced &ldquothe Jews should be killed to a man, since they want to overthrow the Czar.&rdquo Violence erupted in the town when some locals beat up Jewish businesswomen and ripped up the dry goods they were selling.

About twenty Jewish men organized and fought back, but were soon hopelessly overwhelmed. One Jewish fighter, Noi Geizentsveig, later explained, &ldquoWe did not see the enemy during the skirmish, therefore we did not throw the bombs (the Jewish self-defense group had acquired) and responded by aimless shooting." The Jewish fighters were overwhelmed local thugs shot and stabbed them, yelling &ldquoHere is your freedom!&rdquo and &ldquoHere is your constitution!&rdquo, references to the October Manifesto they blamed the Jews for bringing about.

New York Times, November 5

Within hours, eight Jewish fighters were murdered and twelve were wounded. They were dragged to the town&rsquos police station and locked up with no food, water, or medical care, dead fighters together with those still living. Later on, the fighters who were still alive were consigned to house arrest, denied medical care even though some were severely injured.

The final pogrom of the hundreds that started October 31, 1905 was in the town of Bialystok (in present day Poland). Eighty-two Jews were murdered in those few convulsive days of violence, and about 700 people were injured. Czar Nicholas II dispatched officials throughout Russia&rsquos territory to report back on the pogroms, which dissipated nearly as abruptly as they began.

Victims of the Kiev Pogrom

For many Russian Jews, the October 31 pogroms was proof that they had no future in Russia and spurred many to leave. One Russian Jew who fled was the famous Yiddish writer Shalom Aleichem. He and his family watched three days of pogroms overwhelm the Jewish community of Kiev from their hiding spots in one of the town&rsquos hotels. When the violence was over, they hastily made plans to flee Russia, eventually moving to America.

On November 25, 1905, three weeks after the terrifying pogrom and just before he left Russia for good, Shalom Aleichem wrote to a friend in New York, Dr. Maurice Fishberg, begging him to use his influence with American Jews to encourage the United States not to help Czar Nicholas II (who was embroiled in the Russo-Japanese War and was looking for a loan). After watching his fellow Jews murdered in cold blood, Shalom Aleichem, like many Russian Jews, despaired of Jews&rsquo future there. &ldquoSix million Jews&rdquo in Russia could be &ldquomurdered&rdquo there, the author wrote, in a long, impassioned letter about Russian politics and the war.

Over a century after the horrible spasm of violence that consumed much of Russia, we owe it to the many thousands of Russian Jews massacred in the pogroms of October 31, 1905, to remember their deaths and honor their memories.

Rebiya Kadeer

This week, The Diplomat’s Joseph Hammond spoke with Uyghur activist Rebiya Kadeer about the recent unrest in Xinjiang, international support for the Uyghur cause, and her own recent role.

“The bloody clashes in recent months are a direct result of the Chinese regime’s intensely repressive policies towards the Uyghur people, and at the same time reflects a Uyghur Awakening.”

Credit: REUTERS/Hyungwon Kang

Rebiya Kadeer, once a Uyghur businesswoman with friends in the Chinese Communist Party, is now one of the most outspoken critics of China&rsquos policy towards Xinjiang, or New Frontier Province, a region formerly known as &ldquoEast Turkestan,&rdquo which like Tibet enjoyed brief periods of independence from Beijing in the early 20th century. Imprisoned from 2000-2006 due to her political activism, she was released after the intervention of the U.S. government in 2006. That year, Kadeer was nominated for a Noble Peace Prize and was included in the 2012 edition of world&rsquos 500 Most Influential Muslims in 2012. The Diplomat&rsquos Joseph Hammond recently spoke with her.

The past few months have seen Uighurs rioting against the Chinese government across what China considers Xinjiang but, to the region&rsquos native Turkic peoples, is known as &ldquoEast Turkestan.&rdquo

The bloody clashes in recent months are a direct result of the Chinese regime&rsquos intensely repressive policies towards the Uyghur people, and at the same time reflects a Uighur Awakening. In June alone, there were seven incidents of unrest. The Chinese government has repeatedly tried to portray Uyghur&rsquos peaceful discontent with China&rsquos repressive policies as terrorism, but there is absolutely no organized terrorist threat in East Turkestan. I wholeheartedly deplore terrorism of all kinds, and strongly urge the international community to repudiate China&rsquos outrageous claims of a Uyghur terrorist threat.

Uyghurs are left hopeless and struggling in the face of Chinese policies characterized by forced assimilation, cultural genocide and religious repression. Instead of addressing the Uyghurs&rsquo calls to end the repressive policies and grant Uyghurs their basic human rights, the Chinese government simply continues to harshly crack down on dissent, using resistance in any form as a pretext to crack down further. If China is unwilling to change its repressive policies in East Turkestan, I am fearful that the bloody incidents that have plagued the region in recent months will continue, and even get worse.

The people of East Turkestan are no longer asleep. Wang Lequan, Xinjiang&rsquos Communist Party Secretary until 2010, has portrayed the conflict between the Chinese government and the Uyghur people as a life-and-death struggle. There is a realization that Uyghurs are faced with potential extermination. Repressive policies have penetrated every level of society and daily Uyghur life. Recently, restrictions on the Uyghur&rsquos daily religious belief and practice have become so obvious that you can see official signs in front of libraries, gas stations, schools and even hospitals that declare &ldquoNo men with facial hair or women wearing headscarves are allowed to enter.&rdquo In addition, government employees, students and educators are prohibited from fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. The Chinese government sends official instructions to school principals and government institutions requiring them to make sure their staff eat on Ramadan, and even monitors compliance through local police forces. It&rsquos shameful such discrimination still exists. Since 9/11, the Chinese government has also tried to tie Uyghurs to global terrorism, since Uyghurs are Turkic Muslims. Is peaceful resistance to oppressive rule considered terrorism? I consider the peaceful struggle for fundamental human rights, like freedom of speech, religious belief, and due process to be anything but terrorism.

The Bush Administration was friendly to the spread of democracy and to the Uyghur cause. Has that relationship changed under the Obama Administration?

The U.S. government played very important role in my release from Chinese prison. During the Bush administration I was received twice by President Bush &ndash once in Prague and once at the White House. During his presidency, the Uyghur issue became an international issue. During the Obama administration, while our friends in the government have continued to support us, I have not once met with President Obama. On July 5, 2009, the Chinese government brutally suppressed a peaceful demonstration by Uyghurs in Urumqi. During and in the aftermath of the unrest hundreds of people were killed, tens of thousands have been arrested, and thousands of Uyghurs are still missing. The Obama Administration failed to issue a strong condemnation, unlike Turkey. This has emboldened this Chinese government to continue its ongoing crackdown in East Turkestan against the Uyghur people. The Chinese government has deployed tens of thousands of additional military troops in East Turkestan, using military means that they were hesitant to use before.

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China remains an important trading partner of the U.S and a rising power. Given those challenges how would you suggest the Obama Administration tackle the Uyghur issue?

I realize those challenges, but the U.S. government needs to continue to press the Chinese government to stop its repression of Uyghurs in East Turkestan. We would like to see the Uyghur issue included as a discussion topic in high-level U.S.-China negotiations. We are grateful for the State Department for its recent statements following the bloody incidents in April in Kashgar and at the end of June in Lukchun, Turfan.

Another important friend of the Uyghur cause has been Turkish Prime Minister Recip Erdogan, who took an outspoken stand in 2009. Has Turkish support for the Uyghur cause been maintained in recent years?

Following the July 5, 2009 unrest in Urumqi, the capital city of East Turkestan, Turkey&rsquos Prime Minister Recep Tayp Erdogan openly and strongly criticized the Chinese government&rsquos crackdown on Uyghurs and called Chinese policy toward our people genocide. How else can you describe the situation? The incident began as a peaceful Uyghur protest and turned bloody because of the Chinese police force&rsquos heavy-handed treatment of the peaceful protestors. As a result, hundreds of Uyghurs, as well as Han, were killed. Following the unrest, Chinese forces started a massive crackdown on Uyghurs. Thousands of Uyghurs were arrested and detained, and dozens were sentenced to death and executed. There have been hundreds of cases of disappearances documented by Human Rights Watch and other such organizations. The situation has since not improved. Uyghur farmers&rsquo land is still being seized by force by the Chinese government to make way for the increasing number of Han settlers. Our Uyghur sons and daughters are still being forced, against their will, to move to China to be exploited as cheap labor. In other words, the Uyghur people and I appreciate Erdogan&rsquos strong condemnation of the Chinese Government&rsquos crackdown on the Uyghurs, but I feel that there is more to be done.

Thus, when Erdogan visited it was a historic moment for Uyghurs. They were glued to their televisions as if it was the Olympics. Sadly, a lot of Muslim countries, including the Central Asian republics, Pakistan, and Malaysia, still forcefully deport Uyghur activists to China, where they face likely execution. Hundreds of Uyghur political activists were granted political asylum in the U.S. and other Western countries. Turkey is the only Muslim country that has not deported any Uyghur political activist to China.

Your autobiography Dragon Fighter suggests your father miraculously found gold on the day you were born. Such miraculous events are difficult to believe. Why did you include that story in your book ?

That story came from an informal discussion of my life I had with my translator. The book was written at a difficult moment in my life as I had just come out of prison. It was too soon to talk about prison in depth so I talked about other things. When I saw that part in the proof of the book it was too late to correct it. There are also some other small errors in the book, mainly dates. No book written by a person can be perfect, but I wrote the book to show the Uyghur struggle from the perspective of one person.

During a visit to Japan you were taken to the Yasakuni Shrine, a site many in China linked with World War II Class-A war criminals. Why did you make this visit?

I was taken there by my hosts in Japan. I considered the visit a cultural one, not a political act. I did it to show respect for my hosts and for the history of the site which stretches back to the age of the Samurai long before World War II. For the people of Japan it is simply a historical place.

If you had to do it over again would you have perhaps done the visit differently?

One visit is enough, the visit was just part of our tour. But let me take a moment to make a comparison. There is a place called Ulanbai in Urumqi, where Wang Zheng, the Communist Chinese General, who murdered 200,000 Uighurs in cold blood between 1949-1955, is buried. Every April, the Chinese government forces local Uyghurs to visit this cemetery.

We hear most about the Uyghurs, but there are other minorities who have lived in the region for centuries. How are relations between Uyghurs and those groups?

These Kyrgyz, Kazaks, Tajiks and other groups who live amongst us are our brothers and sisters. Historically, at the time of the Chinese invasion in 1949, the population was 84 percent Uyghur and 2 percent Chinese. The rest were members of these ethnic groups. Historically, China treated them like the Uyghurs but, since the independence of the other Central Asian states, China has changed its approach toward these groups so as not to offend its new neighbors. Today, I should point out we also coordinate our struggle with the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, Inner Mongolian groups, and other organizations. While reform is possible, China knows that the independence of any one of these regions &ndash Tibet, Inner Mongolia, or East Turkestan &ndash would mean an end to one-party rule. If any one of our regions becomes independent the others will as well.


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June 09, 2021

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October 25, 2013

Rebiya Kadeer

This week, The Diplomat’s Joseph Hammond spoke with Uyghur activist Rebiya Kadeer about the recent unrest in Xinjiang, international support for the Uyghur cause, and her own recent role.

WWII victim’s 1938 novel about Kristallnacht makes English-language revival

In the wake of Kristallnacht, a German-Jewish merchant named Otto Silbermann sees his seemingly secure life collapse. With Nazis ransacking Jewish homes and arresting Jewish citizens, Silbermann is forced to live on the run. His day-to-day life becomes a series of train journeys across the Third Reich as he looks to escape his increasingly antisemitic homeland.

This is the plot of “The Passenger,” a groundbreaking novel written in 1938 by German author Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz. It was reportedly the first literary work to address Kristallnacht, which erupted in Germany and Austria that November.

The novel’s backstory has as many twists and turns as the narrative itself. Boschwitz was a promising writer whose life became jeopardized under Nazism when he learned his family had Jewish roots. He himself went on the run, and during his flight through Europe, the 23-year-old author penned “The Passenger,” or “Der Reisende” in German. The refugee novelist was treated as an unwelcome arrival, first in the United Kingdom and then in Australia. Ultimately, he died while en route back to the UK, on a ship that was torpedoed by a German U-boat in 1942.

Although “The Passenger” was published during the author’s lifetime, it fell into obscurity. Now the novel and its author are undergoing a revival. German publisher Peter Graf, who has a track record of unearthing writers from his country who were lost to history, learned about Boschwitz from a surviving relative in Israel. This led Graf to find the original manuscript of “The Passenger,” located in Berlin. He revised the work based on this manuscript, aided by the author’s family.

“The Passenger” was published in Germany in 2018 now, thanks to Graf, an English-language version published by Pushkin Press has also hit shelves, with a translation by Philip Boehm. It earned a top-10 spot on the hardcover bestsellers list of the UK-based Sunday Times.

In an email interview, Graf called the book “the earliest novel about the [November] pogroms.” He added, “There is no earlier literary text [about Kristallnacht] in the German language. That alone makes the book special, but perhaps more important is that Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz was only able to write this novel in this form because he did not know how the persecution and extermination of the Jews actually took place.”

Graf said that the novel reflects a “multi-layered view,” in which not every German that Silbermann encounters has bad intentions and in which the protagonist is not exactly heroic.

“Boschwitz felt that he was a German and that he belonged to German culture, and it can be assumed that knowing the actual extent of German crimes would have changed his writing,” said Graf.

The character of Silbermann is also seemingly entrenched in German society. He is a veteran of the Great War and a successful businessman who is devoted to his non-Jewish wife Elfriede and their son Eduard. Yet his business involves dismantling ships, and after Kristallnacht, his life gets dismantled too.

He and Elfriede separate she goes to live with her brother. Eduard is in Paris and not terribly eager to help his father escape. Silbermann turns over his business to a non-Jewish employee, Becker, in a working relationship that sours. With no place to hide, Silbermann leaves his vandalized home to ride the German rail system or Deutsche Reichsbahn with a briefcase full of marks. He encounters fellow Jewish refugees, Nazi officials and soldiers — even a hint of romance. All the while, Silbermann hopes that one of these rides will get him out of Germany.

“Is it going to go on like this forever?” Silbermann wonders at one point. “The traveling, the waiting, the running away?”

Boschwitz had already written one novel — “Menschen neben dem Leben” (literally: People Next to Life) — by the time he began “Der Reisende.” He wrote both novels under the pseudonym John Grane. His father was an assimilated Jew who died fighting for the Kaiser in World War I in 1915. His mother came from a well-known Protestant family and she raised her son Protestant as well.

Following Kristallnacht and after the family learned that it had Jewish roots, the Boschwitzes emigrated to different destinations. Boschwitz’s sister Clarissa Boschwitz left for Palestine, where she lived on a kibbutz. He and his mother arrived in the UK via a circuitous route that included Scandinavia and the Low Countries. Classified as an enemy alien, he was deported to Australia on the infamous refugee ship Dunera and placed in a prison camp there before getting his ill-fated chance to return to Britain.

When Boschwitz died, he was still in his late 20s. Graf noted that he had two other novel manuscripts, which have both disappeared.

Gone, and nearly forgotten

Boschwitz’s surviving work has been making a gradual reappearance since the 1970s, when a young scholar named Thomas Hansen was doing research at Harvard on his dissertation topic, German exile literature from 1933 to 1945. Hansen came across a short entry on Boschwitz in an annotated list of such writers at a Harvard library. When Hansen visited his grandparents in New Haven, Connecticut, for Christmas that year, he serendipitously learned that his grandmother knew one of Boschwitz’s surviving cousins in Israel, Dvora Boschwitz. This ultimately led to him corresponding with Boschwitz’s Israeli niece, Reuella Shachaf.

Shachaf sent Hansen a trove of materials relating to the late author, including photographs, passports, documents and school items. Several years ago, Hansen — now an emeritus professor of German at Wellesley College in Massachusetts — gifted this collection to the Leo Baeck Institute in New York.

“We can say, about this major, talented young person whose life was destroyed by the Holocaust and war, we do not know how things would have developed, but I would say his career was off to a fairly good start,” Hansen told The Times of Israel in a phone interview. “The fact was that so many people in exile couldn’t get published at all.”

Meanwhile, a few years ago, Graf published another rediscovered novel by a German exile author — “Blood Brothers” by Ernst Haffner, which was translated into Hebrew. According to Graf, after he had done an interview about this book, he was contacted by Shachaf, who told him about “The Passenger.” He went to Frankfurt am Main to find the original manuscript in the exile archives of the National Library. He wanted to publish it but recognized it was unedited, and said the family agreed to revise it.

After these revisions, Graf said, “I found the courage to edit the text with all possible respect for the author and his novel. I benefited from my long experience as an editor, but also from my reading experience with books from that time.”

The result has amazed critics and general audiences.

“Our archives are full of the papers of so many brilliant German-Jewish writers, thinkers, and artists whose careers were cut short, including [Ulrich] Alexander Boschwitz,” Dr. William H. Weitzer, executive director of the Leo Baeck Institute, said in a statement. “It is very gratifying to see their work find a larger audience through publications like ‘The Passenger,’ but it is also tragic when this success comes posthumously. Even more tragic is all the work that was never created.”

Graf reflected, “The fact that 80 years after its creation this book comes to the surface like a message in a bottle makes it a literary event. And it is almost incomprehensible that such a young writer could write so clairvoyantly and insistently about the situation in Germany at the time.”

He noted that while the novel is very much of its time, it is also a timeless reminder of the plight of refugees.

“If you look at the refugee problem today, you see that the willingness to help people in need is low,” Graf said. “And the more refugees there are, the less people are willing to help. This terrible and simple pattern runs through history. After the November pogroms in Germany, almost no country accepted Jews. They were trapped.”

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In August 1937, the Japanese army invaded Shanghai where they met strong resistance and suffered heavy casualties. The battle was bloody as both sides faced attrition in urban hand-to-hand combat. [23] By mid-November the Japanese had captured Shanghai with the help of naval and (aerial) bombardment. The General Staff Headquarters in Tokyo initially decided not to expand the war due to the high casualties incurred and the low morale of the troops. [24] Nevertheless, on December 1, headquarters ordered the Central China Area Army and the 10th Army to capture Nanjing, then-capital of the Republic of China.

After losing the Battle of Shanghai, Chiang Kai-shek knew that the fall of Nanjing was a matter of time. He and his staff realized that they could not risk the annihilation of their elite troops in a symbolic but hopeless defense of the capital. To preserve the army for future battles, most of it was withdrawn. Chiang's strategy was to follow the suggestion of his German advisers to draw the Japanese army deep into China and use China's vast territory as a defensive strength. Chiang planned to fight a protracted war of attrition to wear down the Japanese in the hinterland of China. [25]

Strategy for the defense of Nanjing

In a press release to foreign reporters, Tang Shengzhi announced the city would not surrender and would fight to the death. Tang gathered about 100,000 soldiers, largely untrained, including Chinese troops who had participated in the Battle of Shanghai. The Chinese government left for relocation on December 1, and the president left on December 7, leaving the fate of Nanjing to an International Committee led by John Rabe, a German national.

In an attempt to secure permission for this cease-fire from Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, Rabe, who was living in Nanjing and had been acting as the Chairman of the Nanking International Safety Zone Committee, boarded the USS Panay on December 9. From this gunboat, Rabe sent two telegrams. The first was to Chiang through an American ambassador in Hankow, asking that Chinese forces "undertake no military operations" within Nanjing. The second telegram was sent through Shanghai to Japanese military leaders, advocating for a three-day ceasefire so that the Chinese could withdraw from the city.

The following day, on December 10, Rabe got his answer from the Generalissimo. The American ambassador in Hankow replied that although he supported Rabe's proposal for a ceasefire, Chiang did not. Rabe says that the ambassador also "sent us a separate confidential telegram telling us that he has been officially informed by the Foreign Ministry in Hankow that our understanding that General Tang agreed to a three-day armistice and the withdrawal of his troops from Nanjing is mistaken, and moreover that Chiang Kai-shek has announced that he is not in a position to accept such an offer." This rejection of the committee's ceasefire plan, in Rabe's mind, sealed the fate of the city. Nanjing had been constantly bombed for days and the Chinese troops that remained there were disheartened and had taken to drinking before the city's inevitable fall.

On December 11, Rabe found that Chinese soldiers were still residing in areas of the Safety Zone, meaning that it became an intended target for Japanese attacks despite the majority being innocent civilians. Rabe commented on how efforts to remove these Chinese troops failed and Japanese soldiers began to lob grenades into the refugee zone. [26]

Japanese war crimes on the march to Nanjing

Although the massacre is generally described as having occurred over a six-week period after the fall of Nanjing, the crimes committed by the Japanese army were not limited to that period. Many atrocities were reported to have been committed as the Japanese army advanced from Shanghai to Nanjing.

According to one Japanese journalist embedded with Imperial forces at the time: [28]

The reason that the [10th Army] is advancing to Nanjing quite rapidly is due to the tacit consent among the officers and men that they could loot and rape as they wish.

In his novel Ikiteiru Heitai ('Living Soldiers'), Tatsuzō Ishikawa vividly describes how the 16th Division of the Shanghai Expeditionary Force committed atrocities on the march between Shanghai and Nanjing. The novel itself was based on interviews that Ishikawa conducted with troops in Nanjing in January 1938. [29]

Perhaps the most notorious atrocity was a killing contest between two Japanese officers as reported in the Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun and the English-language Japan Advertiser. The contest—a race between the two officers to see who could kill 100 people first using only a sword—was covered much like a sporting event with regular updates on the score over a series of days. [30] [31] In Japan, the veracity of the newspaper article about the contest was the subject of ferocious debate for several decades starting in 1967. [32]

In 2000, historian Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi concurred with certain Japanese scholars who had argued that the contest was a concocted story, with the collusion of the soldiers themselves for the purpose of raising the national fighting spirit. [33]

In 2005, a Tokyo district judge dismissed a suit by the families of the lieutenants, stating that "the lieutenants admitted the fact that they raced to kill 100 people" and that the story cannot be proven to be clearly false. [34] The judge also ruled against the civil claim of the plaintiffs because the original article was more than 60 years old. [35] The historicity of the event remains disputed in Japan. [36]

Retreating Chinese Troops' Scorched-Earth Policy

The Nanjing garrison force set fire to buildings and houses in the areas close to Xiakuan to the north as well as in the environs of the eastern and southern city gates. Targets within and outside of the city walls—such as military barracks, private homes, the Chinese Ministry of Communication, forests and even entire villages—were completely burnt down, at an estimated value of US$20–30 million (1937). [37] [38] [39]

Establishment of the Nanjing Safety Zone

Many Westerners were living in the city at that time, conducting trade or on missionary trips. As the Japanese army approached Nanjing, most of them fled the city, leaving 27 foreigners. Five of these were journalists who remained in the city a few days after it was captured, leaving the city on December 16. Fifteen of the remaining 22 foreigners formed a committee, called the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone in the western quarter of the city. [40]

German businessman John Rabe was elected as its leader, in part because of his status as a member of the Nazi Party and the existence of the German-Japanese bilateral Anti-Comintern Pact. The Japanese government had previously agreed not to attack parts of the city that did not contain Chinese military forces, and the members of the Committee managed to persuade the Chinese government to move their troops out of the area. The Nanking Safety Zone was demarcated through the use of Red Cross Flags [41]

On December 1, 1937, Nanjing Mayor Ma Chaochun ordered all Chinese citizens remaining in Nanjing to move into the "Safety Zone." Many fled the city on December 7, and the International Committee took over as the de facto government of Nanjing.

Prince Asaka appointed as commander

In a memorandum for the palace rolls, Hirohito singled Prince Yasuhiko Asaka out for censure as the one imperial kinsman whose attitude was "not good." He assigned Asaka to Nanjing as an opportunity to make amends. [42]

On December 5, Asaka left Tokyo by plane and arrived at the front three days later. He met with division commanders, lieutenant-generals Kesago Nakajima and Heisuke Yanagawa, who informed him that the Japanese troops had almost completely surrounded 300,000 Chinese troops in the vicinity of Nanjing and that preliminary negotiations suggested that the Chinese were ready to surrender. [43]

Prince Asaka is alleged to have issued an order to "kill all captives," thus providing official sanction for the crimes which took place during and after the battle. [44] Some authors record that Prince Asaka signed the order for Japanese soldiers in Nanjing to "kill all captives". [45] Others assert that lieutenant colonel Isamu Chō, Asaka's aide-de-camp, sent this order under the Prince's sign-manual without the Prince's knowledge or assent. [46] Nevertheless, even if Chō took the initiative, Asaka was nominally the officer in charge and gave no orders to stop the carnage. While the extent of Prince Asaka's responsibility for the massacre remains a matter of debate, the ultimate sanction for the massacre and the crimes committed during the invasion of China were issued in Emperor Hirohito's ratification of the Japanese army's proposition to remove the constraints of international law on the treatment of Chinese prisoners on August 5, 1937. [47]

Siege of the city

The Japanese military continued to move forward, breaching the last lines of Chinese resistance, and arriving outside the city gates of Nanjing on December 9.

Demand for surrender

At noon on December 9, the Japanese military dropped leaflets into the city, urging the city of Nanjing to surrender within 24 hours, promising "no mercy" if the offer is refused. [48] [note 2]

In the meantime, members of the Committee contacted Tang and proposed a plan for three-day cease-fire, during which the Chinese troops could withdraw without fighting while the Japanese troops would stay in their present position.

John Rabe boarded the U.S. gunboat Panay on December 9 and sent two telegrams, one to Chiang Kai-shek by way of the American ambassador in Hankow, and one to the Japanese military authority in Shanghai.

Assault and capture of Nanjing

The Japanese awaited an answer to their demand for surrender but no response was received from the Chinese by the deadline on December 10. General Iwane Matsui waited another hour before issuing the command to take Nanjing by force. The Japanese army mounted its assault on the Nanjing walls from multiple directions the SEF's 16th Division attacked three gates on the eastern side, the 6th Division of the 10A launched its offensive on the western walls, and the SEF's 9th Division advanced into the area in-between. [25]

On December 12, under heavy artillery fire and aerial bombardment, General Tang Sheng-chi ordered his men to retreat. What followed was nothing short of chaos. Some Chinese soldiers stripped civilians of their clothing in a desperate attempt to blend in, and many others were shot by the Chinese supervisory unit as they tried to flee. [37]

On 13 December, the 6th and the 116th Divisions of the Japanese Army were the first to enter the city, facing little military resistance. Simultaneously, the 9th Division entered nearby Guanghua Gate, and the 16th Division entered the Zhongshan and Taiping gates. That same afternoon, two small Japanese Navy fleets arrived on both sides of the Yangtze River.

Pursuit and mopping-up operations

Japanese troops pursued the retreating Chinese army units, primarily in the Xiakuan area to the north of the city walls and around the Zijin Mountain in the east. Although most sources suggest that the final phase of the battle consisted of a one-sided slaughter of Chinese troops by the Japanese, some Japanese historians maintain that the remaining Chinese military still posed a serious threat to the Japanese. Prince Yasuhiko Asaka told a war correspondent later that he was in a very perilous position when his headquarters was ambushed by Chinese forces that were in the midst of fleeing from Nanjing east of the city. On the other side of the city, the 11th Company of the 45th Regiment encountered some 20,000 Chinese soldiers who were making their way from Xiakuan. [25]

The Japanese army conducted its mopping-up operation both inside and outside the Nanking Safety Zone. Since the area outside the safety zone had been almost completely evacuated, the mopping-up effort was concentrated in the safety zone. The safety zone, an area of 3.85 square kilometres, was packed with the remaining population of Nanjing. The Japanese army leadership assigned sections of the safety zone to some units to separate alleged plain-clothed soldiers from the civilians. [25] The number of Chinese soldiers in plain clothes that were executed is estimated to be around 4,000. [49]

Evacuation and flight of civilians

With the relocation of the capital of China and the reports of Japanese brutality, most of the civilian population fled Nanjing out of fear. Wealthy families were the first to flee, leaving Nanjing in automobiles, followed by the evacuation of the middle class and then the poor, while only the destitute lowest class such as the ethnic Tanka boat people remained behind. [50]

More than three quarters of the population had fled Nanjing before the Japanese arrived. [51]

Eyewitness accounts of Westerners and Chinese present at Nanjing in the weeks after the fall of the city say that, over the course of six weeks following the fall of Nanjing, Japanese troops engaged in mass rape, murder, torture, theft, arson, and other war crimes. Some of these primary accounts, including the diaries of John Rabe and American Minnie Vautrin, came from foreigners who opted to stay behind to protect the Chinese civilians from harm. Other accounts include first-person testimonies of Nanjing Massacre survivors, eyewitness reports of journalists (both Western and Japanese), as well as the field diaries of military personnel. American missionary John Magee stayed behind to provide a 16 mm film documentary and first-hand photographs of the Nanjing Massacre.

A group of foreign expatriates headed by Rabe had formed a 15-man International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone on November 22 and mapped out the Nanking Safety Zone in order to safeguard civilians in the city. The city population of Nanjing inflated drastically during the mid-1930s, as many refugees fled from the Japanese aggression in the north. [52] Rabe and American missionary Lewis S. C. Smythe, secretary of the International Committee and a professor of sociology at the University of Nanking, recorded the actions of the Japanese troops and filed complaints with the Japanese embassy.

Massacre contest

In 1937, the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun and its sister newspaper, the Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun, covered a contest between two Japanese officers, Toshiaki Mukai and Tsuyoshi Noda of the Japanese 16th Division. The two men were described as vying to be the first to kill 100 people with a sword before the capture of Nanjing. From Jurong to Tangshan (two cities in Jiangshu Province, China), Mukai had killed 89 people while Noda had killed 78. The contest continued because neither had killed 100 people. By the time they had arrived at Zijin Mountain, Noda had killed 105 people while Mukai had killed 106 people. Both officers supposedly surpassed their goal during the heat of battle, making it impossible to determine which officer had actually won the contest. Therefore, according to journalists Asami Kazuo and Suzuki Jiro, writing in the Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun of December 13, they decided to begin another contest to kill 150 people. [53] After the surrender of Japan in 1945, Mukai and Noda were both arrested and tried as war criminals, and both of them were found guilty and executed by shooting. [54]

The International Military Tribunal for the Far East estimated that 20,000 women, including some children and the elderly, were raped during the occupation. [57] A large number of rapes were done systematically by the Japanese soldiers as they went from door to door, searching for girls, with many women being captured and gang-raped. [58] The women were often killed immediately after being raped, often through explicit mutilation [59] or by penetrating vaginas with bayonets, long sticks of bamboo, or other objects.

On 19 December 1937, the Reverend James M. McCallum wrote in his diary: [60]

I know not where to end. Never I have heard or read such brutality. Rape! Rape! Rape! We estimate at least 1,000 cases a night and many by day. In case of resistance or anything that seems like disapproval, there is a bayonet stab or a bullet.… People are hysterical… Women are being carried off every morning, afternoon and evening. The whole Japanese army seems to be free to go and come as it pleases, and to do whatever it pleases.

On March 7, 1938, Robert O. Wilson, a surgeon at the university hospital in the Safety Zone administrated by the United States, wrote in a letter to his family, "a conservative estimate of people slaughtered in cold blood is somewhere about 100,000, including of course thousands of soldiers that had thrown down their arms." [61] Here are two excerpts from his letters of 15 and 18 December 1937 to his family: [62]

The slaughter of civilians is appalling. I could go on for pages telling of cases of rape and brutality almost beyond belief. Two bayoneted corpses are the only survivors of seven street cleaners who were sitting in their headquarters when Japanese soldiers came in without warning or reason and killed five of their number and wounded the two that found their way to the hospital. Let me recount some instances occurring in the last two days. Last night the house of one of the Chinese staff members of the university was broken into and two of the women, his relatives, were raped. Two girls, about 16, were raped to death in one of the refugee camps. In the University Middle School where there are 8,000 people the Japs came in ten times last night, over the wall, stole food, clothing, and raped until they were satisfied. They bayoneted one little boy of eight who [had] five bayonet wounds including one that penetrated his stomach, a portion of omentum was outside the abdomen. I think he will live.

In his diary kept during the aggression against the city and its occupation by the Imperial Japanese Army, the leader of the Safety Zone, John Rabe, wrote many comments about Japanese atrocities. For 17 December: [63]

Two Japanese soldiers have climbed over the garden wall and are about to break into our house. When I appear they give the excuse that they saw two Chinese soldiers climb over the wall. When I show them my party badge, they return the same way. In one of the houses in the narrow street behind my garden wall, a woman was raped, and then wounded in the neck with a bayonet. I managed to get an ambulance so we can take her to Kulou Hospital . Last night up to 1,000 women and girls are said to have been raped, about 100 girls at Ginling College…alone. You hear nothing but rape. If husbands or brothers intervene, they're shot. What you hear and see on all sides is the brutality and bestiality of the Japanese soldiers.

In a documentary film about the Nanjing Massacre, In the Name of the Emperor, a former Japanese soldier named Shiro Azuma spoke candidly about the process of rape and murder in Nanking. [64]

At first we used some kinky words like Pikankan. Pi means "hip," kankan means "look." Pikankan means, "Let's see a woman open up her legs." Chinese women didn't wear under-pants. Instead, they wore trousers tied with a string. There was no belt. As we pulled the string, the buttocks were exposed. We "pikankan." We looked. After a while we would say something like, "It's my day to take a bath," and we took turns raping them. It would be all right if we only raped them. I shouldn't say all right. But we always stabbed and killed them. Because dead bodies don't talk.

There are also accounts of Japanese troops forcing families to commit incestuous acts. [65] Sons were forced to rape their mothers, and fathers were forced to rape their daughters.

Iris Chang estimated that the number of Chinese women raped by Japanese soldiers ranged from 20,000 to 80,000. Chang also states that not all rape victims were women. Some Chinese men were sodomized and forced to perform "repulsive sex acts". [66] [67]

Massacre of civilians

Following the capture of Nanjing, a massacre, which was perpetrated by the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA), led to the deaths of up to 60,000 residents in the city, a figure difficult to precisely calculate due to the many bodies deliberately burnt, buried in mass graves, or deposited in the Yangtze River by the IJA. [68] [69] [70] Japanese ultra-nationalists have strongly disputed such death tolls, with some claiming that no more than several hundred civilians were killed during the massacre. [71] B. Campbell, in an article published in the journal Sociological Theory, has described the Nanjing Massacre as a genocide, given the fact that residents were still slaughtered en masse during the aftermath, despite the successful and certain outcome in battle. [72] On 13 December 1937, John Rabe wrote in his diary:

It is not until we tour the city that we learn the extent of destruction. We come across corpses every 100 to 200 yards. The bodies of civilians that I examined had bullet holes in their backs. These people had presumably been fleeing and were shot from behind. The Japanese march through the city in groups of ten to twenty soldiers and loot the shops.… I watched with my own eyes as they looted the café of our German baker Herr Kiessling. Hempel's hotel was broken into as well, as [was] almost every shop on Chung Shang and Taiping Road. [73]

On 10 February 1938, Legation Secretary of the German Embassy, Rosen, wrote to his Foreign Ministry about a film made in December by Reverend John Magee to recommend its purchase.

During the Japanese reign of terror in Nanking – which, by the way, continues to this day to a considerable degree – the Reverend John Magee, a member of the American Episcopal Church Mission who has been here for almost a quarter of a century, took motion pictures that eloquently bear witness to the atrocities committed by the Japanese.… One will have to wait and see whether the highest officers in the Japanese army succeed, as they have indicated, in stopping the activities of their troops, which continue even today. [73] On December 13, about 30 soldiers came to a Chinese house at No. 5 Hsing Lu Koo in the southeastern part of Nanking and demanded entrance. The door was open by the landlord, a Mohammedan named Ha. They killed him immediately with a revolver and also Mrs. Ha, who knelt before them after Ha's death, begging them not to kill anyone else. Mrs. Ha asked them why they killed her husband and they shot her. Mrs. Hsia was dragged out from under a table in the guest hall where she had tried to hide with her 1-year-old baby. After being stripped and raped by one or more men, she was bayoneted in the chest and then had a bottle thrust into her vagina. The baby was killed with a bayonet. Some soldiers then went to the next room, where Mrs. Hsia's parents, aged 76 and 74, and her two daughters aged 16 and 14 [were]. They were about to rape the girls when the grandmother tried to protect them. The soldiers killed her with a revolver. The grandfather grasped the body of his wife and was killed. The two girls were then stripped, the elder being raped by 2–3 men and the younger by 3. The older girl was stabbed afterwards and a cane was rammed in her vagina. The younger girl was bayoneted also but was spared the horrible treatment that had been meted out to her sister and mother. The soldiers then bayoneted another sister of between 7–8, who was also in the room. The last murders in the house were of Ha's two children, aged 4 and 2 respectively. The older was bayoneted and the younger split down through the head with a sword. [73]

On 5 February 2009, the Japanese Supreme Court ordered Shūdō Higashinakano and the publisher Tendensha to pay four million yen in damages to Mrs. Shuqin Xia, who claims to be the 7- or 8-year-old girl who appears in Magee's film. Higashinakano had claimed in his book, Thorough Review of Nanjing Massacre, that she and the girl were different persons, and that she was not a witness of the Nanjing massacre, but he was unable to prove this at trial. [74]

Pregnant women were targeted for murder, as their stomachs were often bayoneted, sometimes after rape. Tang Junshan, survivor and witness to one of the Japanese army's systematic mass killings, testified: [75]

The seventh and last person in the first row was a pregnant woman. The soldier thought he might as well rape her before killing her, so he pulled her out of the group to a spot about ten meters away. As he was trying to rape her, the woman resisted fiercely.… The soldier abruptly stabbed her in the belly with a bayonet. She gave a final scream as her intestines spilled out. Then the soldier stabbed the fetus, with its umbilical cord clearly visible, and tossed it aside.

According to Navy veteran Sho Mitani, "The Army used a trumpet sound that meant 'Kill all Chinese who run away'." [76] Thousands were led away and mass-executed in an excavation known as the "Ten-Thousand-Corpse Ditch", a trench measuring about 300 m long and 5 m wide. Since records were not kept, estimates regarding the number of victims buried in the ditch range from 4,000 to 20,000. However, most scholars and historians consider the number to be more than 12,000 victims. [77]

The Hui people, a minority Chinese group, the majority of them Muslim, suffered as well during the massacre. One mosque was found destroyed and others found to be "filled with dead bodies." Hui volunteers and imams buried over a hundred of their dead following Muslim ritual. [78]

Extrajudicial killing of Chinese prisoners of war

On 5 August 1937, the Deputy Minister of Military of Japan notified Japanese Troops in Shanghai of the army's proposition to remove the constraints of international law on the treatment of Chinese prisoners ("Riku Shi Mitsu No.198"). The directive also advised staff officers to no longer use the term Prisoner of War. [79]

Soon after the fall of the city, Japanese troops made a thorough search for Chinese soldiers and summarily arrested thousands of young Chinese men. Many were taken to the Yangtze River, where they were machine-gunned to death. What was probably the single largest massacre of Chinese troops, the Straw String Gorge Massacre, occurred along the banks of the Yangtze River on December 18. For most of the morning, Japanese soldiers tied the POWs' hands together. At dusk, the soldiers divided POWs into four columns and opened fire. Unable to escape, the POWs could only scream and thrash desperately. It took an hour for the sounds of death to stop and even longer for the Japanese to bayonet each individual. The majority of the bodies were dumped directly into the Yangtze River. [80]

The Japanese troops gathered 1,300 Chinese soldiers and civilians at Taiping Gate and murdered them. The victims were blown up with landmines, then doused with petrol and set on fire. The survivors were killed with bayonets. [81]

American news correspondents F. Tillman Durdin and Archibald Steele reported seeing corpses of massacred Chinese soldiers forming mounds six feet high at the Nanjing Yijiang gate in the north. Durdin, who worked for The New York Times, toured Nanjing before his departure from the city. He heard waves of machine-gun fire and witnessed the Japanese soldiers gun down some two hundred Chinese within ten minutes. He would later state that he had seen tank guns used on bound soldiers.

Two days later, in his report to The New York Times, Durdin stated that the alleys and streets were filled with the dead, amongst them women and children. Durdin stated "[i]t should be said that certain Japanese units exercised restraint and that certain Japanese officers tempered power with generosity and commission," but continued "the conduct of the Japanese army as a whole in Nanjing was a blot on the reputation of their country"." [82] [83]

Ralph L. Phillips, a missionary, testified to the U.S. State Assembly Investigating Committee, that he was "forced to watch while the Japs disembowled a Chinese soldier" and "roasted his heart and liver and ate them." [84]

Theft and arson

One-third of the city was destroyed as a result of arson. According to reports, Japanese troops torched newly built government buildings as well as the homes of many civilians. There was considerable destruction to areas outside the city walls. Soldiers pillaged from the poor and the wealthy alike. The lack of resistance from Chinese troops and civilians in Nanjing meant that the Japanese soldiers were free to divide up the city's valuables as they saw fit. This resulted in widespread looting and burglary. [85]

On 17 December, chairman John Rabe wrote a complaint to Kiyoshi Fukui, second secretary of the Japanese Embassy. The following is an excerpt:

In other words, on the 13th when your troops entered the city, we had nearly all the civilian population gathered in a Zone in which there had been very little destruction by stray shells and no looting by Chinese soldiers even in full retreat.… All 27 Occidentals in the city at that time and our Chinese population were totally surprised by the reign of robbery, raping and killing initiated by your soldiers on the 14th. All we are asking in our protest is that you restore order among your troops and get the normal city life going as soon as possible. In the latter process we are glad to cooperate in any way we can. But even last night between 8 and 9 p.m. when five Occidental members of our staff and Committee toured the Zone to observe conditions, we did not find any single Japanese patrol either in the Zone or at the entrances! [86]

Nanking Safety Zone and the role of foreigners

The Japanese troops did respect the Zone to an extent until the Japanese occupation, no shells entered that part of the city except a few stray shots. During the chaos following the attack of the city, some were killed in the Safety Zone, but the crimes that occurred in the rest of the city were far greater by all accounts. [87]

Rabe wrote that, from time to time, the Japanese would enter the Safety Zone at will, carry off a few hundred men and women, and either summarily execute them or rape and then kill them. [88]

By February 5, 1938, the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone had forwarded to the Japanese embassy a total of 450 cases of murder, rape, and general disorder by Japanese soldiers that had been reported after the American, British and German diplomats had returned to their embassies: [89]

  • "Case 5 – On the night of December 14th, there were many cases of Japanese soldiers entering houses and raping women or taking them away. This created panic in the area and hundreds of women moved into the Ginling College campus yesterday."
  • "Case 10 – On the night of December 15th, a number of Japanese soldiers entered the University of Nanjing buildings at Tao Yuen and raped 30 women on the spot, some by six men."
  • "Case 13 – December 18, 4 p.m., at No. 18 I Ho Lu, Japanese soldiers wanted a man's cigarette case and when he hesitated, one of the soldier crashed in the side of his head with a bayonet. The man is now at the University Hospital and is not expected to live."
  • "Case 14 – On December 16, seven girls (ages ranged from 16 to 21) were taken away from the Military College. Five returned. Each girl was raped six or seven times daily- reported December 18th."
  • "Case 15 – There are about 540 refugees crowded in No. 83 and 85 on Canton Road.… More than 30 women and girls have been raped. The women and children are crying all nights. Conditions inside the compound are worse than we can describe. Please give us help."
  • "Case 16 – A Chinese girl named Loh, who, with her mother and brother, was living in one of the Refugee Centers in the Refugee Zone, was shot through the head and killed by a Japanese soldier. The girl was 14 years old. The incident occurred near the Kuling Ssu, a noted temple on the border of the Refugee zone . " [89]
  • "Case 19 – January 30th, about 5 p.m. Mr. Sone (of the Nanjing Theological Seminary) was greeted by several hundred women pleading with him that they would not have to go home on February 4th. They said it was no use going home they might just as well be killed for staying at the camp as to be raped, robbed or killed at home.… One old woman 62 years old went home near Hansimen and Japanese soldiers came at night and wanted to rape her. She said she was too old. So the soldiers rammed a stick up her. But she survived to come back."

It is said that Rabe rescued between 200,000 and 250,000 Chinese people. [90] [91]


[T]here is no obvious explanation for this grim event, nor can one be found. The Japanese soldiers, who had expected easy victory, instead had been fighting hard for months and had taken infinitely higher casualties than anticipated. They were bored, angry, frustrated, tired. The Chinese women were undefended, their menfolk powerless or absent. The war, still undeclared, had no clear-cut goal or purpose. Perhaps all Chinese, regardless of sex or age, seemed marked out as victims.

Photo in the album taken in Nanjing by Itou Kaneo of the Kisarazu Air Unit of the Imperial Japanese Navy

A picture of a dead child. Probably taken by Bernhard Sindberg

Prisoners being buried alive [93]

On December 18, 1937, as General Iwane Matsui began to comprehend the full extent of the rape, murder, and looting in the city, he grew increasingly dismayed. He reportedly told one of his civilian aides:

I now realize that we have unknowingly wrought a most grievous effect on this city. When I think of the feelings and sentiments of many of my Chinese friends who have fled from Nanjing and of the future of the two countries, I cannot but feel depressed. I am very lonely and can never get in a mood to rejoice about this victory.… I personally feel sorry for the tragedies to the people, but the Army must continue unless China repents. Now, in the winter, the season gives time to reflect. I offer my sympathy, with deep emotion, to a million innocent people.

On New Year's Day, over a toast he confided to a Japanese diplomat: "My men have done something very wrong and extremely regrettable." [94]

In late January 1938, the Japanese army forced all refugees in the Safety Zone to return home, immediately claiming to have "restored order". After the establishment of the weixin zhengfu (the collaborating government) in 1938, order was gradually restored in Nanjing and atrocities by Japanese troops lessened considerably. [ citation needed ]

On 18 February 1938, the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone was forcibly renamed the Nanking International Rescue Committee, and the Safety Zone effectively ceased to function. The last refugee camps were closed in May 1938. [ citation needed ]

In February 1938, both Prince Asaka and General Matsui were recalled to Japan. Matsui returned to retirement, but Prince Asaka remained on the Supreme War Council until the end of the war in August 1945. He was promoted to the rank of general in August 1939, though he held no further military commands. [44]

Estimates of the number of victims vary based on the definitions of the geographical range and the duration of the event. [ citation needed ]

The extent of the atrocities is debated, [70] with numbers ranging from some Japanese claims of several hundred, [71] to the Chinese claim of a non-combatant death toll of 300,000. [68] Historian Tokushi Kasahara states "more than 100,000 and close to 200,000, or maybe more", referring to his own book. [95] This estimation includes the surrounding area outside of the city of Nanjing, which is objected to by a Chinese researcher (the same book, p. 146). Hiroshi Yoshida concludes "more than 200,000" in his book. [96] Tomio Hora writes of 50,000–100,000 deaths. [97]

Mainstream scholars consider figures from 40,000 to over 300,000 to be an accurate estimate. According to the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, estimates made at a later date indicate that the total number of civilians and prisoners of war murdered in Nanjing and its vicinity during the first six weeks of the Japanese occupation was up to 200,000. These estimates are borne out by the figures of burial societies and other organizations, which testify to over 155,000 buried bodies. These figures also do not take into account those persons whose bodies were destroyed by burning, drowning or other means, or whose bodies were interred in mass graves. [69]

According to the verdict of the Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal on 10 March 1947, there are "more than 190,000 mass slaughtered civilians and Chinese soldiers killed by machine gun by the Japanese army, whose corpses have been burned to destroy proof. Besides, we count more than 150,000 victims of barbarian acts buried by the charity organizations. We thus have a total of more than 300,000 victims." [98] However, this estimate includes an accusation that the Japanese Army murdered 57,418 Chinese POWs at Mufushan, though the latest research indicates that between 4,000 and 20,000 were massacred, [99] [100] and it also includes the 112,266 corpses allegedly buried by the Chongshantang, a charitable association, though today mainstream historians agree that the Chongshantang's records were at least greatly exaggerated if not entirely fabricated. [101] [102] [103] Bob Wakabayashi concludes from this that estimates of over 200,000 are not credible. [102] Ikuhiko Hata considers the number 300,000 to be a "symbolic figure" representative of China's wartime suffering and not a figure to be taken literally. [104]

Some researchers estimate that between 40,000 and 60,000 people were killed, which corresponds to the figures from three sources one is the Red Army's official journal of the time, Hangdibao and another is that of Miner Searle Bates of the International Safety Zone Committee, and the third is the aforementioned figure written by John Rabe in a letter. [1] John Rabe, Chairman of the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone, estimated that between 50,000 and 60,000 (civilians) were killed. [2] However, Erwin Wickert, the editor of The diaries of John Rabe, points out that "It is likely that Rabe's estimate is too low, since he could not have had an overview of the entire municipal area during the period of the worst atrocities. Moreover, many troops of captured Chinese soldiers were led out of the city and down to the Yangtze, where they were summarily executed. But, as noted, no one actually counted the dead."

The casualty count of 300,000 was first promulgated in January 1938 by Harold Timperley, a journalist in China during the Japanese invasion, based on reports from contemporary eyewitnesses. [2] Other sources, including Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanking, also conclude that the death toll reached 300,000. In December 2007, newly declassified U.S. government archive documents revealed that a telegraph by the U.S. ambassador to Germany in Berlin sent one day after the Japanese army occupied Nanjing, stated that he heard the Japanese ambassador in Germany boasting that the Japanese army had killed 500,000 Chinese soldiers and civilians as the Japanese army advanced from Shanghai to Nanjing. According to the archives research "The telegrams sent by the U.S. diplomats [in Berlin] pointed to the massacre of an estimated half a million people in Shanghai, Suzhou, Jiaxing, Hangzhou, Shaoxing, Wuxi and Changzhou". [105] [106]

In the 2010 Japan-China Joint History Research Committee meeting, scholars from the Japanese side set the maximum possible number of civilian victims at 200,000, with estimates of around 40,000 or 20,000. The Chinese scholars of the committee maintained that at least 300,000 were killed. [107]

Range and duration

The most conservative viewpoint is that the geographical area of the incident should be limited to the few km 2 of the city known as the Safety Zone, where the civilians gathered after the invasion. Many Japanese historians have insisted that during the Japanese invasion there were only 200,000–250,000 citizens in Nanjing as reported by John Rabe, to argue that the PRC's estimate of 300,000 deaths is an exaggeration.

Many historians include a much larger area around the city. Including the Xiaguan district (the suburbs north of Nanjing, about 31 km 2 in size) and other areas on the outskirts of the city, the population of greater Nanjing was between 535,000 and 635,000 civilians and soldiers just before the Japanese occupation. [108] Some historians also include six counties around Nanjing, known as the Nanjing Special Municipality.

The duration of the incident is naturally defined by its geography: the earlier the Japanese entered the area, the longer the duration. The Battle of Nanking ended on December 13, when the divisions of the Japanese Army entered the walled city of Nanjing. The Tokyo War Crime Tribunal defined the period of the massacre to the ensuing six weeks. More conservative estimates say that the massacre started on December 14, when the troops entered the Safety Zone, and that it lasted for six weeks. Historians who define the Nanjing Massacre as having started from the time that the Japanese Army entered Jiangsu province push the beginning of the massacre to around mid-November to early December (Suzhou fell on November 19), and extended the end of the massacre to late March 1938. [ citation needed ]

To many Japanese scholars, post-war estimations were distorted by "victor's justice", when Japan was condemned as the sole aggressor. They believed the 300,000 toll typified a "Chinese-style exaggeration" with disregard for evidence. Yet, in China, this figure has come to symbolize the justice, legality, and authority of the post-war trials condemning Japan as the aggressor. [109]

Various estimates

Japanese historians, depending on their definition of the geographical area and the duration of the killings, give wide-ranging estimates for the number of massacred civilians, from several thousand to upwards of 200,000. [110] The lowest estimate by a Japanese historian is 40,000. [111]

Chinese-language newspapers tend to claim that the number of massacred civilians and unarmed soldiers may be as high as 200,000. [110]

200,000 Nanjing population debate

Japanese sources assert that there was a population of only 200,000 people in Nanjing, thus making the 300,000 death toll impossible. In 2003, Zhang Lianhong, professor at the Nanjing Massacre Research Center at Nanjing Normal University, published an article in the Beijing Daily in which he used historical evidence to demonstrate that the population of the Nanjing urban area was between 367,000 and 467,000, and the overall Nanjing population was between 535,000 and 635,000, and thus to refute the assertion of a population of only 200,000. [112]

Shortly after the surrender of Japan, the primary officers in charge of the Japanese troops at Nanjing were put on trial. General Matsui was indicted before the International Military Tribunal for the Far East for "deliberately and recklessly" ignoring his legal duty "to take adequate steps to secure the observance and prevent breaches" of the Hague Convention. Hisao Tani, the lieutenant general of the 6th Division of the Imperial Japanese Army in Nanjing, was tried by the Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal.

Other Japanese military leaders in charge at the time of the Nanjing Massacre were not tried. Prince Kan'in Kotohito, chief of staff of the Imperial Japanese Army during the massacre, had died before the end of the war in May 1945. Prince Asaka was granted immunity because of his status as a member of the imperial family. [113] [114] Isamu Chō, the aide to Prince Asaka, and whom some historians believe issued the "kill all captives" memo, had committed suicide during the Battle of Okinawa. [115]

The International Military Tribunal for the Far East was convened at "Ichigaya Court," formally Imperial Japanese Army HQ building in Ichigaya, Tokyo.

Grant of immunity to Prince Asaka

On May 1, 1946, SCAP officials interrogated Prince Asaka, who was the ranking officer in the city at the height of the atrocities, about his involvement in the Nanjing Massacre and the deposition was submitted to the International Prosecution Section of the Tokyo tribunal. Asaka denied the existence of any massacre and claimed never to have received complaints about the conduct of his troops. [118]

Evidence and testimony

The prosecution began the Nanjing phase of its case in July 1946. Dr. Robert O. Wilson, a surgeon and a member of the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone, took the witness stand first. Other members of the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone who took the witness stand included Miner Searle Bates and John Magee. George A. Fitch, Lewis S. C. Smythe, and James McCallum filed affidavits with their diaries and letters.

Another piece of evidence that was submitted to the tribunal was Harold Timperley's telegram regarding the Nanjing Massacre which had been intercepted and decoded by the Americans on January 17, 1938. One of the books by Hsü, Documents of the Nanking Safety Zone, was also adduced in court. [ citation needed ]

The entry for the same day in Matsui's diary read, "I could only feel sadness and responsibility today, which has been overwhelmingly piercing my heart. This is caused by the Army's misbehaviors after the fall of Nanjing and failure to proceed with the autonomous government and other political plans." [ citation needed ]

Matsui's defense

Matsui asserted that he had never ordered the execution of Chinese POWs. He further argued that he had directed his army division commanders to discipline their troops for criminal acts, and was not responsible for their failure to carry out his directives. At trial, Matsui went out of his way to protect Prince Asaka by shifting blame to lower-ranking division commanders. [119]


Kōki Hirota, who had been the Foreign Minister when Japan conquered Nanjing, was convicted of participating in "the formulation or execution of a common plan or conspiracy" (count 1), waging "a war of aggression and a war in violation of international laws, treaties, agreements and assurances against the Republic of China" (count 27) and count 55. Matsui was convicted by a majority of the judges at the Tokyo tribunal who ruled that he bore ultimate responsibility for the "orgy of crime" at Nanjing because, "He did nothing, or nothing effective, to abate these horrors."

Organized and wholesale murder of male civilians was conducted with the apparent sanction of the commanders on the pretext that Chinese soldiers had removed their uniforms and were mingling with the population. Groups of Chinese civilians were formed, bound with their hands behind their backs, and marched outside the walls of the city where they were killed in groups by machine gun fire and with bayonets. --- From Judgment of the International Military Tribunal


On November 12, 1948, Matsui and Hirota, along with five other convicted Class-A war criminals, were sentenced to death by hanging. Eighteen others received lesser sentences. The death sentence imposed on Hirota, a six-to-five decision by the eleven judges, shocked the general public and prompted a petition on his behalf, which soon gathered over 300,000 signatures but did not succeed in commuting the Minister's sentence. [120] [121]

General Hisao Tani was sentenced to death by the Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal. [119]

  • In 1985, the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall was built by the Nanjing Municipal Government in remembrance of the victims and to raise awareness of the Nanjing Massacre. It is located near a site where thousands of bodies were buried, called the "pit of ten thousand corpses" (wàn rén kēng). As of December 2016 [update] , there is a total of 10,615 Nanjing Massacre victim names inscribed on a memorial wall. [122]
  • In 1995, Daniel Kwan held a photo exhibit in Los Angeles titled, "The Forgotten Holocaust".
  • In 2005, John Rabe's former residence in Nanjing was renovated and now accommodates the "John Rabe and International Safety Zone Memorial Hall", which opened in 2006.
  • On December 13, 2009, both the Chinese and Japanese monks held a religious assembly to mourn Chinese civilians killed by invading Japanese troops. [123]
  • On December 13, 2014, China held its first Nanjing Massacre memorial day. [124]

On October 9, 2015, Documents of the Nanjing Massacre have been listed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. [125]

Yanziji Nanjing Massacre Memorial in 2004

A memorial stone at Yanziji in Nanjing, for victims in the Nanjing Massacre

John Rabe's former residence, now the "John Rabe and International Safety Zone Memorial Hall", in Nanjing, July 2008

China and Japan have both acknowledged the occurrence of wartime atrocities. [126] Disputes over the historical portrayal of these events continue to cause tensions between Japan on one side and China and other East Asian countries on the other side. [127]

Cold War

Before the 1970s, China did relatively little to draw attention to the Nanjing massacre. In her book Rape of Nanking, Iris Chang asserted that the politics of the Cold War encouraged Chairman Mao to stay relatively silent about Nanjing in order to keep a trade relationship with Japan. [128] Jung Chang and Jon Halliday's biography of Mao claims Mao never made any comment either contemporaneously or later in his life about the massacre, but did frequently remark with enduring bitterness about a political struggle between himself and Wang Ming which also occurred in December 1937. [129]

Debate in Japan

The debate concerning the massacre took place mainly in the 1970s. During this time, the Chinese government's statements about the event were attacked by the Japanese because they were said to rely too heavily on personal testimonies and anecdotal evidence. Aspersions were cast regarding the authenticity and accuracy of burial records and photographs presented in the Tokyo War Crime Court, which the Japanese government claimed were fabrications by the Chinese government, artificially manipulated or incorrectly attributed to the Nanjing Massacre. [130]

During the 1970s, Katsuichi Honda wrote a series of articles for the Asahi Shimbun on war crimes committed by Japanese soldiers during World War II (such as the Nanjing Massacre). [131] The publication of these articles triggered a vehement response from Japanese right-wingers regarding the Japanese treatment of the war crimes. In response, Shichihei Yamamoto [132] and Akira Suzuki [133] wrote two controversial yet influential articles [ clarification needed ] which sparked the Japanese Negationist movement. [ clarification needed ]

In 1984, in an attempt to refute the allegations of war crimes in Nanjing, the Japanese Army Veterans Association (Kaikosha) interviewed former Japanese soldiers who had served in the Nanjing area from 1937 to 1938. Instead of refuting the allegations, the interviewed veterans confirmed that a massacre had taken place and openly described and admitted to taking part in the atrocities. The results of the survey were published in the association's magazine, Kaiko, in 1985 along with an admission and apology that read, "Whatever the severity of war or special circumstances of war psychology, we just lose words faced with this mass illegal killing. As those who are related to the prewar military, we simply apologize deeply to the people of China. It was truly a regrettable act of barbarity." [20]

Apology and condolences by the Prime Minister and Emperor of Japan

On August 15, 1995, the fiftieth anniversary of the Surrender of Japan, the Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama gave the first formal apology for Japanese actions during the war. [ citation needed ]

He offered his apology to all survivors and to the relatives and friends of the victims. That day, the prime minister and the Japanese Emperor Akihito pronounced statements of mourning at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan. Iris Chang, author of The Rape of Nanking, criticized Murayama for not providing the written apology that had been expected. She said that the people of China "don't believe that an. unequivocal and sincere apology has ever been made by Japan to China" and that a written apology from Japan would send a better message to the international community. [19]

Denials of the massacre by public officials in Japan

In May 1994, Justice Minister Shigeto Nagano called the Nanjing Massacre a "fabrication". [134]

On June 19, 2007, a group of around 100 Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmakers again denounced the Nanjing Massacre as a fabrication, arguing that there was no evidence to prove the allegations of mass killings by Japanese soldiers. They accused Beijing of using the alleged incident as a "political advertisement". [135] [136]

On February 20, 2012, Takashi Kawamura, mayor of Nagoya, told a visiting delegation from Nanjing that the massacre "probably never happened". Two days later he defended his remarks, saying, "Even since I was a national Diet representative, I have said [repeatedly] there was no [Nanjing] massacre that resulted in murders of several hundred thousands of people." [137] [138] On April 1, 2013, Kawamura said his position remained unchanged when the issue came up during an election debate. [139]

On February 24, 2012, Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara said that he also believes that the Nanjing massacre never happened. He reportedly claims it would have been impossible to kill so many people in such a short period of time. [140] He believes the actual death toll was 10,000. [141]

On February 3, 2014, Naoki Hyakuta, a member of the board of governors of Japan's public broadcasting company, NHK, was quoted as saying the massacre never occurred. [142] He said that there were isolated incidents of brutality but no widespread atrocity, and criticized the Tokyo Trials figure of 200,000. [143]

Effect on international relations

The memory of the Nanjing Massacre has been a point of contention in Sino-Japanese relations since the early 1970s. [144] Trade between the two nations is worth over $200 billion annually. Despite this, many Chinese people still have a strong sense of mistrust and animosity toward Japan that originates from the memory of Japanese war crimes such as the Nanjing Massacre. This sense of mistrust is strengthened by the belief that Japan is unwilling to admit to and apologize for the atrocities. [145]

Takashi Yoshida described how changing political concerns and perceptions of the "national interest" in Japan, China, and the U.S. have shaped the collective memory of the Nanjing massacre. Yoshida contended that over time the event has acquired different meanings to different people. People from mainland China saw themselves as the victims. For Japan, it was a question they needed to answer but were reluctant to do so because they too identified themselves as victims after the A-bombs. The U.S., which served as the melting pot of cultures and is home to descendants of members of both Chinese and Japanese cultures, took up the mantle of investigator for the victimized Chinese. Yoshida has argued that the Nanjing Massacre has figured in the attempts of all three nations as they work to preserve and redefine national and ethnic pride and identity, assuming different kinds of significance based on each country's changing internal and external enemies. [146]

Many Japanese prime ministers have visited the Yasukuni Shrine, a shrine for Japanese war deaths up until the end of the Second World War, which includes war criminals that were involved in the Nanjing Massacre. In the museum adjacent to the shrine, a panel informs visitors that there was no massacre in Nanjing, but that Chinese soldiers in plain clothes were "dealt with severely". In 2006 former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi made a pilgrimage to the shrine despite warnings from China and South Korea. His decision to visit the shrine regardless sparked international outrage. Although Koizumi denied that he was trying to glorify war or historical Japanese militarism, the Chinese Foreign Ministry accused Koizumi of "wrecking the political foundations of China-Japan relations". An official from South Korea said they would summon the Tokyo ambassador to protest. [147] [148] [149] [150]

As a component of national identity

Yoshida asserts that "Nanjing has figured in the attempts of all three nations [China, Japan and the United States] to preserve and redefine national and ethnic pride and identity, assuming different kinds of significance based on each country's changing internal and external enemies." [151]


Following the end of World War II, some circles of civil society in Japan reflected on the extent of the massacre and the participation of ordinary soldiers. Notably, the novelist Hotta Yoshie [ja] wrote a novel, Time (Jikan) in 1953, portraying the massacre from the point of view of a Chinese intellectual watching it happen. This novel has been translated into Chinese and Russian. Other eyewitnesses to the massacre also expressed their opinions in Japanese magazines in the 1950s and 1960s, but political shifts slowly eroded this tide of confessions.

In 21st century Japan, the Nanjing Massacre touches upon national identity and notions of "pride, honor and shame". Yoshida argues that "Nanking crystallizes a much larger conflict over what should constitute the ideal perception of the nation: Japan, as a nation, acknowledges its past and apologizes for its wartime wrongdoings or . stands firm against foreign pressures and teaches Japanese youth about the benevolent and courageous martyrs who fought a just war to save Asia from Western aggression." [152] Recognizing the Nanjing Massacre as such can be viewed in some circles in Japan as "Japan-bashing" (in the case of foreigners) or "self-flagellation" (in the case of Japanese). [ citation needed ]

The government of Japan believes it can not be denied that the killing of a large number of noncombatants, looting and other acts by the Japanese army occurred. However, the actual number of victims is hard to determine, according to the government of Japan. [153] In the 2010 Japan-China Joint History Research Committee meeting, scholars from the Japanese side set the maximum possible number of civilian victims at 200,000, with estimates of around 40,000 or 20,000. The Chinese scholars of the committee maintained that at least 300,000 were killed. [107] [154] The range of the death toll estimated by Japanese historians is from tens of thousands to 200,000. [155] [156]

According to a brief reference to Nanjing at the Yasukuni museum in Tokyo, the Japanese general in charge gave his men maps showing foreign settlements and a civilian "safety zone", and ordered them to maintain strict military discipline. The visitor is left to assume they did. The museum notes only that "Chinese soldiers disguised in civilian clothes, which numbered around 4000 [49] were severely prosecuted". [ citation needed ]

This nationalist view does not, however, represent a widely shared understanding of what happened at Nanjing, as illustrated by Japanese textbooks' rather different treatment of the atrocity. While the books' take on Nanjing is stilted and feels like the product of a committee, in various versions they acknowledge the deaths of thousands of Chinese including women and children, as well as looting, arson and assaults by Japanese soldiers. They do not mention sexual assaults. [ citation needed ]

"During this period, when the Japanese Army occupied Nanjing it killed a large number of Chinese and carried out looting, arson and assaults. In regard to the number of victims of this Nanjing Massacre . the Tokyo (War Crime) Trials later found it in excess of 200,000, and prosecuted Japan's responsibility severely", reads one Japanese textbook. [157]

Another history textbook prepared by the Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, which had been approved by the government in 2001, attempts to whitewash Japan's war record during the 1930s and early 1940s. It referred to the Nanjing massacre as an "incident", and glossed over the issue of comfort women. [158] Indeed, there is only one sentence that refers to this event: "they [the Japanese troops] occupied that city in December." [159]


The Nanjing massacre has emerged as one fundamental keystone in the construction of the modern Chinese national identity. [160] Modern Chinese (including citizens of the PRC, Taiwan, and overseas) will refer to the Nanjing Massacre to explain certain stances they hold or ideas they have this "national unifying event" holds true to middle-school educated peasants and to senior government officials alike. [ citation needed ]


Dockworkers in Australia were horrified by the massacre and refused to load pig iron onto ships heading for Japan, leading to the Dalfram Dispute of 1938. [161]

Digital archive


  • Nanking (1938), a war propaganda film released by the Japanese government. This film, rediscovered in 1995, appears to portray a peacefully occupied Nanking, but the film professor Jinshi Fujii has expressed doubts that the location being shown is actually Nanking, and about the content of the film generally. [162]
  • The Battle of China (1944) a documentary film by American director Frank Capra. [163] The footage of Nanking atrocities in this film may be sourced to a Chinese-made documentary which Prince Mikasa showed to Hirohito, but which has since been lost. [164]
  • Black Sun: The Nanking Massacre (1995), by Chinese director Mou Tun-fei, recreates the events of the Nanking Massacre.
  • Don't Cry, Nanking (aka Nanjing 1937) (1995) directed by Wu Ziniu is a historical fiction centering on a Chinese doctor, his Japanese wife, and their children, as they experience the siege, fall, and massacre of Nanking.
  • Horror in the East (2000), [165] a documentary film produced by Laurence Rees for BBC, an examination of atrocities and depredations committed by Imperial Japanese military forces, from 1931 to 1945. Includes Japanese film of indoctrination (Emperor worship, Chinese as subhuman) and brutal training of their armed forces, as well as film of the Nanking Massacre itself taken by John Magee.
  • The Tokyo Trial (2006) is about the International Military Tribunal for the Far East.
  • The Children of Huang Shi (film) (2008) is inspired by the story of the English journalist George Hogg who took pictures of the Nanking Massacre, escaped death by beheading, and fled to the orphanage in Huang Shi.
  • Nanking (2007), directed by Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman, that makes use of letters and diaries from the era as well as archive footage and interviews with surviving victims and those involved in the massacre
  • The Truth about Nanjing (2007), [166] a documentary by Satoru Mizushima denying that any such massacre took place
  • City of Life and Death (2009) directed by Lu Chuan, a dramatization of the Nanking Massacre
  • John Rabe (2009) directed by Florian Gallenberger, a Sino-German co-production about the life of John Rabe, featuring Ulrich Tukur in the title role and Steve Buscemi in a supporting role [167][168]
  • Torn Memories of Nanjing (2009) directed by Tamaki Matsuoka. Documentary featuring interviews with Japanese soldiers who admit to raping and killing Chinese civilians, and accounts by Chinese survivors.
  • The Flowers of War (2011), directed by Zhang Yimou and starring Christian Bale and Shigeo Kobayashi based on The 13 Women of Nanjing by Geling Yan



  • Buck, Pearl S. (1942). Dragon Seed. John Day.
  • Chand, Meira (1996). A Choice of Evils. London: The Orion Publishing Company.
  • Hayder, Mo (2005). "The Devil of Nanking". Tokyo (First ed.). Britain: Bantam Press/Transworld Publishers.
  • Jin, Ha (2011). Nanjing Requiem . New York: Pantheon. ISBN9780307379764 .
  • Qi, Shouhua (2005). When the Purple Mountain Burns: A Novel . San Francisco: Long River Press. ISBN9781592650415 .
  • Qi, Shouhua (2009). Purple Mountain: A Story of the Rape of Nanking (English Chinese Bilingual ed.).
  • Qi, Shouhua (2010). Purple Mountain: A Story of the Rape of Nanking (Paperback ed.).
  • See, Lisa (2010). Shanghai Girls: A Novel . Random House Publishing Group. ISBN9781400067114 .
  • West, Paul (1995). The Tent of Orange Mist . Wheeler Pub. ISBN9781568952796 .
  • Yan, Geling. The Flowers of War. (forthcoming)


  • Chang, Iris (1997). The Rape of Nanking.
  • Hata, Ikuhiko (1986). Nankin Jiken Gyakusatsu no kozo (南京事件―「虐殺」の構造). ISBN4-12-100795-6 .
  • Honda, Katsuichi (1998). The Nanjing Massacre. A Japanese Journalist Confronts Japan's National Shame.
  • Vautrin, Minnie Tsen Shui-fang (2010) [original diaries written in 1937–1940]. Hu Hua-ling Zhang Lian-hong (eds.). The Undaunted Women of Nanking: The Wartime Diaries of Minnie Vautrin and Tsen Shui-fang. Translated by Hu Hua-ling Zhang Lian-hong. Carbondale, Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press. ISBN978-0-8093-2963-2 .
  • Takemoto, Tadao & Ohara, Yasuo (2000). The Alleged "Nanking Massacre" – Japan's rebuttal to China's forged claims. CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  • Wickert, Erwin (Editor) (1998). The Good German of Nanking – The Diaries of John Rabe . ISBN0-349-11141-3 . CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)


  • Norwegian thrash metal band Blood Tsunami wrote a song about the incident, titled "The Rape of Nanking".
  • American thrash metal band Exodus wrote a song about the incident titled "Nanking" the song was featured on their album Exhibit B: The Human Condition (2010). [169]
  • Chinese composer Bright Sheng wrote a piece titled Nanking! Nanking! (A Threnody for Orchestra and Pipa) (2000) he intended the piece to be "written in memory of the victims, not a recreation of the barbarity". [170]

TV series

In December 2007, the PRC government published the names of 13,000 people who were killed by Japanese troops in the Nanking Massacre. According to Xinhua News Agency, it is the most complete record to date. The report consists of eight volumes and was released to mark the 70th anniversary of the start of the massacre. It also lists the Japanese army units that were responsible for each of the deaths and states the way in which the victims were killed. Zhang Xianwen, editor-in-chief of the report, states that the information collected was based on "a combination of Chinese, Japanese and Western raw materials, which is objective and just and is able to stand the trial of history". [171] This report formed part of a 55-volume series about the massacre, the Collection of Historical Materials of Nanjing Massacre (南京大屠杀史料集). [ citation needed ]

  1. ^ In the Postalromanization system used at the time, the city's name was transliterated as "Nanking", and so the event was called the Nanking Massacre or Rape of Nanking.
  2. ^ Quote: "The Japanese Army, one million strong, has already conquered Changshu. We have surrounded the city of Nanking. The Japanese Army shall show no mercy toward those who offer resistance, treating them with extreme severity, but shall harm neither innocent civilians nor Chinese military [personnel] who manifest no hostility. It is our earnest desire to preserve the East Asian culture. If your troops continue to fight, war in Nanking is inevitable. The culture that has endured for a millennium will be reduced to ashes, and the government that has lasted for a decade will vanish into thin air. This commander-in-chief issues [b]ills to your troops on behalf of the Japanese Army. Open the gates to Nanking in a peaceful manner, and obey the [f]ollowing instructions."


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    , The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, Foreword by William C. Kirby Penguin USA (Paper), 1998l 0-14-027744-7
  • Fogel, Joshua A. (2000). The Nanjing Massacre in history and historiography . Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. p. 248. ISBN978-0-520-22007-2 .
  • Askew, David. "The International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone: An Introduction" Sino-Japanese Studies Vol. 14, April 2002 (Article outlining membership and their reports of the events that transpired during the massacre)
  • Askew, David, "The Nanjing Incident: An Examination of the Civilian Population" Sino-Japanese Studies Vol. 13, March 2001 (Article analyzes a wide variety of figures on the population of Nanking before, during, and after the massacre)
  • Bergamini, David, "Japan's Imperial Conspiracy," William Morrow, New York 1971. , ed. Documents on the Rape of Nanjing, Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1999. 0-472-11134-5 (Does not include the Rabe diaries but does include reprints of "Hsū Shuhsi, Documents of the Nanking Safety Zone, Kelly & Walsh, 1939".)
  • Hua-ling Hu, American Goddess at the Rape of Nanking: The Courage of Minnie Vautrin, Foreword by Paul Simon March 2000, 0-8093-2303-6
  • Fujiwara, Akira "The Nanking Atrocity: An Interpretive Overview" Japan Focus October 23, 2007.
  • Galbraith, Douglas, A Winter in China, London, 2006. 0-09-946597-3. A novel focussing on the western residents of Nanking during the massacre.
  • Harmsen, Peter. Nanjing 1937: Battle for a Doomed City. Philadelphia: Oxford: Casemate, 2015. 9781612002842
  • Higashinakano, Shudo, The Nanking Massacre: Fact Versus Fiction: A Historian's Quest for the Truth, Tokyo: Sekai Shuppan, 2005. 4-916079-12-4
  • Higashinakano, Kobayashi and Fukunaga, Analyzing The 'Photographic Evidence' of The Nanking Massacre, Tokyo: Soshisha, 2005. 4-7942-1381-6
  • Honda, Katsuichi, Sandness, Karen trans. The Nanjing Massacre: A Japanese Journalist Confronts Japan's National Shame, London: M.E. Sharpe, 1999. 0-7656-0335-7
  • Hsū Shuhsi, ed. (1939), Documents of the Nanking Safety Zone (reprinted in Documents on the Rape of Nanjing Brook ed. 1999)
  • Kajimoto, Masato "Mistranslations in Honda Katsuichi's the Nanjing Massacre" Sino-Japanese Studies, 13. 2 (March 2001) pp. 32–44
  • Lu, Suping, They Were in Nanjing: The Nanjing Massacre Witnessed by American and British Nationals, Hong Kong University Press, 2004.
  • Murase, Moriyasu,Watashino Jyugun Cyugoku-sensen(My China Front), Nippon Kikanshi Syuppan Center, 1987 (revised in 2005).(includes disturbing photos, 149 page photogravure) 4-88900-836-5 ( 村瀬守保, 私の従軍中国戦線 )
  • Qi, Shouhua. "When the Purple Mountain Burns: A Novel" San Francisco: Long River Press, 2005. 1-59265-041-4
  • Qi, Shouhua. Purple Mountain: A Story of the Rape of Nanking (A Novel) English Chinese Bilingual Edition (Paperback, 2009) 1-4486-5965-5
  • Rabe, John, The Good Man of Nanking: The Diaries of John Rabe, Vintage (Paper), 2000. 0-375-70197-4
  • Robert Sabella, Fei Fei Li and David Liu, eds. Nanking 1937: Memory and Healing (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2002). 0-7656-0817-0.
  • Takemoto, Tadao and Ohara, Yasuo The Alleged "Nanking Massacre": Japan's rebuttal to China's forged claims, Meisei-sha, Inc., 2000, (Tokyo Trial revisited) 4-944219-05-9
  • Tanaka, Masaaki, What Really Happened in Nanking: The Refutation of a Common Myth, Tokyo: Sekai Shuppan, 2000. 4-916079-07-8
  • Wakabayashi, Bob Tadashi "The Nanking 100-Man Killing Contest Debate: War Guilt Amid Fabricated Illusions, 1971–75",The Journal of Japanese Studies, Vol.26 No.2 Summer 2000.
  • Wakabayashi, Bob Tadashi The Nanking Atrocity, 1937–1938: Complicating the Picture, Berghahn Books, 2007, 1-84545-180-5
  • Yamamoto, Masahiro Nanking: Anatomy of an Atrocity, Praeger Publishers, 2000, 0-275-96904-5
  • Yang, Daqing. "Convergence or Divergence? Recent Historical Writings on the Rape of Nanjing" American Historical Review 104, 3 (June 1999)., 842–865.
  • Young, Shi Yin, James. "Rape of Nanking: Undeniable history in photographs" Chicago: Innovative Publishing Group, 1997.
  • Zhang, Kaiyuan, ed. Eyewitnesses to Massacre, An East Gate Book, 2001 (includes documentation of American missionaries M.S. Bates, G.A. Fitch, E.H. Foster, J.G. Magee, J.H. MaCallum, W.P. Mills, L.S.C. Smythe, A.N. Steward, Minnie Vautrin and R.O. Wilson.) 0-7656-0684-4

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  • Austrian-born Arnold Schwarzenegger compares Capitol MAGA riot to 1938 attacks by Nazis in his country and Germany on the Jews
  • Night of violence was step towards the Holocaust and former California governor says he grew up in country whose democracy was 'stolen'
  • Tells of his father - who joined the Nazis - beating him when he came home drunk because of 'guilt at what he saw and did'
  • Calls riot 'America's day of broken glass' and slams Trump and his elected GOP enablers for 'lies and treachery'
  • Says democracy prevailed but warns they must be held accountable
  • And says country has to unite behind Joe Biden and 'defense of democracy'
  • I believe, as shaken as we are about the events of recent days, we will come out stronger because we now understand what can be lost.

Published: 19:50 BST, 10 January 2021 | Updated: 11:34 BST, 11 January 2021

Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an emotional speech Sunday comparing the MAGA riot and Donald Trump's attempted 'coup' to the Nazi takeover of his native Austria.

The former California governor, 73, called the murderous riot in the Capitol 'America's Day of Broken Glass,' comparing to Kirstallnacht, the night of mass attacks on Jews in Austria and Germany which presaged the Holocaust.

And he condemned Trump as 'the worst president' saying that his elected enablers must be 'held accountable' as he issued a call for unity behind President-elect Joe Biden.

Although the former actor has made no secret of his childhood with an abusive father who joined the Nazi party either just before or just after the German takeover of Austria in 1938, he has rarely spoken so emotionally about its impact.

Shattered glass: The former California governor said the MAGA mob was a coup attempt by Trump which 'shattered the ideas we took for granted' but which had no succeeded

Comparison: The former actor said American democracy, like a sword, was improved by being tempered in 'wars, injustices and insurrections' and could emerge stronger from the trials of recent days

He told how his father and the other men of his childhood were shattered mentally by the guilt of 'what they saw and did.'

Gustuv Schwarzenegger was wounded in combat on the Eastern Front in 1942 having served in a Panzer group as a military policeman in Poland, France, Belgium, Ukraine, Lithuania and finally modern-day Russia.

'Now, I've never shared this so publicly because it is a painful memory but my father would come drunk once or twice a week and he would scream and hit us, and scare my mother,' Schwarzenegger said.

'I didn't hold him totally responsible because our neighbor was doing the same thing to his family, and so was the next neighbor over. I heard it with my own ears and saw it with my own eyes.

'They were in physical pain from the shrapnel in their bodies and in emotional pain from what they saw or did.

'It all started with lies, and lies, and lies, and intolerance. So being from Europe I've seen first hand how things can spin out of control.'

Comparing 1930s Austria to modern America he said: 'President Trump sought to overturn the results of an election and of a fair election. He sought a coup by misleading people with lies.

'My father and our neighbors were misled also with lies. I know where such lies lead.'

Nazi past: Gustav Schwarzenegger was a policeman in Austria who joined the Nazis and was wounded on the eastern front. His son described him drunkenly beating his children, like the neighboring fathers, because of the guilt 'of what they saw and did.' His mother Aurelia had two children - Meinhard, and Arnold - with Gustav her first husband had died in action

Eleven year old Arnold Schwarzenegger poses for a photo in art class in 1958 in Thal, Austria

Infamy: Kristallnacht, on November 9, saw Jewish business' windows shattered, giving it its name - but that was only the start of far worse Nazi violence. An orgy of destruction left at least 91 dead, 30,000 Jewish men arrested and Hitler's intent graphically demonstrated to the world

A night of shame: In the violence of Kristallnacht, mobs of SA paramilitaries and Hitler Youth burned almost 300 synagogues, and desecrated cemeteries


Although the Nazis began persecuting Jews as soon as they gained power, Hitler's true capacity for unadulterated violence was demonstrated to the world on November 9, 1938.

The pretext was the assassination of a German diplomat in Paris by a young Polish Jew.

The SA, his private paramilitary force, started by smashing Jewish shops' and synagogues' windows - hence the name - then moved on to mob violence, killing at least 91, beating untold numbers and running free as police stood by or helped.

The Nazis were not arrested: the Jews were, with 30,000 sent to concentration camps 267 synagogues were destroyed, thousands of businesses looted and seized, and the community 'fined' a sum equivalent to around $7 billion in current values. German, Austrian and Sudetenland Jews' persecution shocked the world and the stage was set for the Holocaust.

Schwarzenegger said that while Trump's 'attempted coup' failed, those who 'enabled his lies and treachery' must be held to account.

Although he named no names, 147 Republican lawmakers - 139 House members and eight senators, led by Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley - voted to overturn the election results, which the former California governor called 'a fair election.'

'They're complicit with those who carried the flag of self-righteous insurrection into the Capitol,' he said.

And he compared American's democracy to the sword he used in the Conan the Barbarian movies, brandishing it as he said: 'The more you temper a sword, the stronger it becomes.

'Our democracy has been tempered by wars, injustices and insurrections.

'I believe, as shaken as we are about the events of recent days, we will come out stronger because we now understand what can be lost.'

He ended the more than seven-minute address from his home in Los Angeles, delivered in front of the United States and California flags, by appealing for uniting behind Biden.

'I ask you to join me in saying to President-elect Biden: "President-elect Biden, we wish you great success as our president. If you succeed our nation succeed. We support you with all our hearts as you seek to bring us together,"' he said.

'And to those who think they can overturn the United States Constitution, know this: You will never win.

'President-elect Biden, we stand with you today, tomorrow and forever in defense of our democracy from those who would threaten it.'

Schwarzenegger has made clear his views on Trump from the moment the president sought elected office.

The former California governor wrote on Monday in The Economist that Trump's attempt to overthrow the election was 'stupid, crazy and evil,' and compared Wednesday's vote to confirm the results to his movie Judgment Day.

'For those in my party considering standing up against the voters on January 6th, know this: our grandchildren will know your names only as the villains who fought against the great American experiment and the will of the voters. You will live in infamy,' he wrote.

After serving as California governor, he has campaigned on climate change and against gerrymandering, and last autumn offered to pay to re-open polling places being closed, to ensure people could vote.

He has previously said that he and Trump were friends but he declined campaign cash when he ran for governor in 2003 because it came from casinos, and told Trump in 2016 that he could not endorse him because of his denial of climate change.

Schwarzenegger has not said who he voted for in 2020, but has said that in 2016 he wrote in Ohio governor John Kasich.

He also told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt - himself a Trump loyalist - that he would happily serve in a Biden administration if he was asked.

Schwarzenegger has spoken previously of his childhood with a distant and abusive father, and of his father's wartime activity.

His father had been a soldier in the Austrian army from 1930 to 1937, then a police officer, and rejoined the military as the equivalent of a military policeman in November 1939.

Schwarzenegger grew up knowing that his father had been wounded in action on the Eastern Front - he was awarded the Iron Cross for bravery in combat - but in 1990 it emerged that he had been an active member of the Nazi party.

At the time the actor commissioned the Simon Wiesenthal Center to investigate what his father had done and made the findings public.

His father had joined the Nazis, sometime either shortly before or shortly after the Nazi takeover of Austria in the Anschluss, and joined the paramilitary SA in early 1939.

The older Schwarzenegger held the equivalent rank to master sergeant in a military police unit attached to a tank group and was wounded in August 1942, and eventually discharged in 1944 having also suffered from malaria.

The Wiesenthal investigation did not find evidence which linked him to atrocities during his military service, or as a police officer. He died of a stroke aged 65 in 1972.

Red America, White Power

On November 9, 1938, in the Tyrolian city of Innsbruck, Richard Berger, president of the local Jewish community, was snatched from his home and beaten to death with rocks and rifle butts, his body deposited in a nearby river. On the same evening, in an apartment building on Gänsbacherstrasse, Karl Bauer, of whom little is known besides his religious affiliation and his activities on behalf of Innsbruck's Jewish community, was beaten to death by plainclothes members of the SS. The vulturine horde moved swiftly upstairs, where they found the Volksfeind Richard Graubart, also Jewish. He was stabbed to death as his wife and daughter looked on.

This is a small window into the wanton brutality that was Reichskristallnacht—often called the "Night of Broken Glass"—in a medium-sized Austrian city. A contemporaneous report compiled in Berlin and presided over by the gruesome SS butcher Reinhard Heydrich estimated that 36 Jews were killed across the German Reich. It was, as historian Saul Friedländer has observed, a rather conservative guess: "Apart from the 267 synagogues destroyed and the 7,500 businessees vandalized, some ninety one Jews had been killed all over Germany and hundreds more had committed suicide or died as a result of mistreatment in the camps."

Would you be surprised to learn that a similar spasm of violence was recently visited upon African-American politicians in Washington, D.C.? Well, credulous reader, The New York Times recently told us that the shock troops of the Tea Party movement engaged in a "small-scale mimicry of Kristallnacht" while protesting the passage of a treasury-busting health care bill.

This bizarre invocation of genocide was to be found on the op-ed page, from the hysterical ex-theater critic and Tea Party obsessive Frank Rich. Whether or not Rich is aware of it—and when one ascends to the position of New York Times columnist, ignorance is an unconvincing excuse—it is to mass killings that the reader's mind wanders when the 20th century's most famous pogrom is invoked. In a book of essays analyzing the events of 1938, the scholar Walter H. Pehle's chosen title lays down the marker: The Jewish Pogrom: From Kristallnacht to Genocide (Der Judenpogrom: Von der "Reichskristallnacht" zum Völkermord). The anti-Semitic attacks, "spontaneously" carried out "in reaction" to the murder of a Nazi diplomat, were the beginnings of a program of systematic genocide. Surely Rich, a professional writer his entire adult life, understands that the English language is abundant enough to allow for nuance and precision.

No one was stabbed this March, no limp bodies dumped into the Anacostia River, no buildings burned. A few lunkheads broke windows (and if this is enough to provoke comparisons to Kristallnacht, the anti-globalization crowd must be the protest equivalent of the Einsatzgruppen) and one unidentified protester called Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) a "faggot," for which he was rebuked by fellow protesters. Despite gleeful recitation by the media, claims of racial taunts directed at African-American congressmen have yet to be substantiated—but more on that in a moment.

One stray columnist comparing the rowdy Tea Party crowds to German genocidaires could perhaps be explained away. An inattentive editor, a moment of regretful anger seeping into the prose. But to Rich's colleague Paul Krugman, the hyperpartisan economist and Nobel Prize winner, the Nazi comparison was a useful one, although it did demand subtlety. "What has been really striking," Krugman wrote after the health care bill passed, "has been the eliminationist rhetoric of the G.O.P., coming not from some radical fringe but from the party's leaders" (emphasis added).

If your dictionary is unfamiliar with the word eliminationist, that's because of the term's recent vintage, coined in 1996 by Harvard political scientist Daniel Jonah Goldhagen. In his book Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, Goldhagen argued that far from being bullied and terrorized into allowing its government to commit genocide in their name, most Germans were imbued with an eliminationist hatred of Jews—i.e., a desire that Jews be eliminated from Aryan society—which transitioned smoothly into an exterminationist orgy of violence.

Of the 40 references to "eliminationism" in the Times archive, all but one refer to the destruction of European Jewry. The sole standout is Krugman, who, as we have seen, is referencing the Republican Party's opposition to health care legislation. (Though in fairness to Krugman, this is something of a requirement for those anointed by the Nobel Committee. Nobelist Harold Pinter said that the only comparison one could make to Bush-era America was to that of Nazi Germany.)

Moving downmarket to the New York Daily News, one finds a column by sports columnist Mike Lupica declaring that the crowds of health care protesters are "no longer about political dissent. It is about storm trooper sound bites, and hate." It is unclear what a "storm trooper soundbite" is (or why this would be incompatible with "political dissent," no matter how noxious), though Lupica is unambiguously guiding readers towards the Nazi image towards the brown-shirted tough rounding up dissidents, cracking jaws, and kicking teeth.

Examining the Tea Party protesters, Washington Post columnist Colbert King saw faces whose very visual cues betrayed direct lineage to overt racists from a half-century before. "Those same jeering faces," King wrote, "could be seen gathered around the Arkansas National Guard troopers who blocked nine black children from entering Little Rock's Central High School in 1957." If the examples of Alabama and Mississippi in the 1950s were too distant, King told readers that he had also seen those very faces in the 1990s, at a rally in support of neo-Nazi agitator David Duke.

It is depressing that, for quick political gain, people like King will debase the legacy of the civil rights movement by comparing peaceful (and often misguided) protesters with the thuggery of Bull Connor and the racist Birmingham police department. But just when it looked like we had scraped the bottom of the hyperbole barrel, the always vapid Jesse Jackson told the breast-obsessed readers of Huffington Post that the Tea Partiers reminded him of an era when some Americans responded to social change "with terror, bombed churches, and killed freedom marchers."

Many referenced the claim that Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) was, in Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) description, met with a "chorus," of racist taunts, though no evidence has materialized to substantiate these accusations—and the alleged chorus occurred in an area with a higher video camera density than a Paris Hilton birthday party. Indeed, claims the Cleaver was spat upon were debunked when video surfaced of a spittle-flecked protester shouted "kill the bill" as the congressman passed, but not deliberately hocking a loogie on him.

So if the events on Capital Hill were indeed the moral equivalent of a "mini-Kristallnacht," then questioning this tale of racism is a David Irving-like act, right? Those who wondered about the contradicting claims surrounding the Lewis charge were, naturally, themselves derided as racist. But if the country's largest newspapers can accuse those assembled to "kill the bill" of being motivated by racial animus, "eliminationism," Nazism, or old Dixie nostalgia, is it so unfair to ask for verifiable proof?

It isn't unreasonable to think that amongst the Tea Party protesters one can find the ignorant and hateful. Many of the protesters seem to believe that the president of the United States of America is a communist, demonstrating that they have a level of historical understanding on par with Frank Rich. But that critique is something rather different than imputing a racist motivation to anyone deeply concerned about an enormously expensive health care bill.

Some of this is the problem of now, of rendering apocalyptic judgments about events that are only just unfolding. In the weeks following the 9/11 attacks, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter declared solemnly and with regret that irony had vanished in the smoke and embers of the demolished World Trade Center, a judgment that seemed plausible at the time. Rereading some of the commentary produced in the aftermath of the attacks is like looking at old high school yearbook photos—good god, what were we thinking? Likewise, a journalist who chased Bill Clinton scandals for a conservative magazine in the 1990s recently told me how silly it all seemed with the clarifying benefit of hindsight. At the time, he said, it all seemed so reasonable.

And while we are on the topic of 9/11, how quickly we forget that in the editorial rooms and bar rooms of the Bush era, the vapid phrase on the lips of my liberal-minded comrades, repeated like a Maharishi mantra, was that "dissent is patriotic." Now dissent has become the first indication of incipient fascism and subterranean racism. If Rich sees in the current debate the seeds of pogrom, if Krugman sees the rhetoric of "eliminationism," forget national heath care—we need a national history lesson.

Hermann Goering convenes a top-level meeting of state officials to follow-up on Kristallnacht (the 'Night of Broken Glass', when Jews and their property were attacked throughout Germany). The following decisions are declared:Jews are to be held collectively responsible for the assassination of vom Rath, and are to pay one billion RM to 'atone'.Jews must cover the cost of the damage, so that German insurance companies will not have to pay out.The exclusion of Jews from German economic and social life is to be accelerated. 'Aryanisation' is to be intensified to close down the last Jewish businesses, and Jews are to be excluded from schools, theatres, cinemas, concerts and restaurants.

Hermann Goering issues Decree on Eliminating the Jews from German Economic Life, to complete the 'Aryanisation' of the economy.