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Iris Chang (1968–2004)

Author of The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II

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Iris Chang has 1 media appearance.

Jan
11
Iris Chang
Booknotes, Sunday, January 11, 1998
Iris Chang discusses The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II.

More than fifty years since the end of World War II, the horrors of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust remain etched in our memory. Yet most Americans are comfortably unaware of the atrocities committed by Japanese armies in the Far East. In her important new book, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II historian Iris Chang uncovers the savage butchery in China as she documents the destruction of the city of Nanking in 1937, then the capital of China. Graphic in its detail, The Rape of Nanking makes a clear connection between the powerful military culture in Japan and the orgy of violence in China. Japanese soldiers went through a dehumanizing regimen that erased individual morality. The routine beating of soldiers was termed "an act of love" and Chang notes that "those with the least power are often the most sadistic if given the power of life and death." Encouraged to see the Chinese as animals, invading soldiers often made a game out their excesses, laughing as they raped and murdered. The details of the massacre are horrific: A least 260,000 people were killed in a six- to eight-week period, more than the deaths from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. Japanese soldiers used Chinese men and women for bayonet practice, held decapitation contests throughout the city, and used corpses as human bridges for army tanks. An estimated 80,000 women were raped, including young children; after being raped these women were often sadistically tortured or killed. Controversially, Chang asserts that Nanking suffered a second "rape" when crimes in the city were first covered up by wartime propagandists, and then denied by post-war Japanese governments. Her research reveals that the imperial family in Japan bears a direct responsibility for the massacre, a fact conveniently overlooked by both Japanese nationalists and Americans concerned with cold-war stability. Chang points out that Japan, unlike Germany, continues to avoid responsibility for its role during World War II: Japanese textbooks rewrite history to excuse the army, while ultra-nationalists recently shot a mayor in the back after he suggested that Emperor Hirohito should be accountable for the army's actions during the war. Additionally, THE RAPE OF NANKING brings to light the heroic efforts of a small international community who created a Safety Zone in Nanking. Thousands were saved by a few individuals with a deep commitment to humanity. Ironically, a member of the Nazi party, John Rabe, used his influence to protect innumerable Chinese, and on his return to Germany was imprisoned and questioned by the Gestapo. Chang believes his efforts were comparable to Oskar Schindler. Wilhelmina Vautrin, the dean of a women's college, stood firm against the marauding army, and kept an invaluable diary that may come to be judged as important as the one kept by Anne Frank. Chang's own grandparents escaped the massacre at Nanking. In her desire for justice and a passion for history she has drawn upon newspaper accounts, diaries of men and women on the scene, the testimony of Japanese officers and soldiers, as well as oral histories from survivors still living in the city. Published on the 60th anniversary of the massacre, THE RAPE OF NANKING is the compelling and powerful history of one of our century's worst events that should never be forgotten. —from the publisher's website (timspalding)… (more)

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