The Rape of Nanking (Penguin, 1997)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A record of one of the most unfortunate chapters in human history, and often very hard to read, The Rape of Nanking is yet very important both as documentation of a massive crime that a nation would rather bury and deny, and a reminder of the extremes that a militarized and dehumanized group of people are capable of.

P. 3-4 "Americans think of World War II as beginning on December 7, 1941, when Japanese carrier-based airplanes attacked Pearl Harbor. Europeans date it from September 1, 1939, and the blitzkrieg assault on Poland by Hitler's Luftwaffe and Panzer divisions. Africans see an even earlier beginning, the invasion of Abyssinia by Mussolini in 1935. Yet Asians must trace the war's beginnings all the way back to Japan's first steps toward the military domination of East Asia - the occupations of Manchuria in 1931."

P. 6-7 "Yet the Rape of Nanking remains an obscure incident. Unlike the atomic explosions in Japan or the Jewish holocaust in Europe, the horrors of the massacre at Nanking remain virtually unknown to people outside Asia. The massacre remains neglected in most of the historical literature published in the United States. A thorough examination of secondary-school history textbooks in the United States revealed that only a few even mention the Rape of Nanking. And almost none of the comprehensive, or 'definitive', histories of World War II read by the American public discusses the Nanking massacre in great detail."

P. 54 "Many find it difficult to reconcile the barbarism of Nanking with the exquisite politeness and good manners for which the Japanese are renowned. But certain military experts believe that these two seemingly seperate behaviors are in reality intertwined. They point to the awesome status of the ancient samurai, who for centuries possessed the power to lop off the head of a peasant if he failed to give the warrior a polite answer to his questions."

P. 217 "Some Japanese scholars believe that the horrors of the Rape of Nanking and other outrages of the Sino-Japanese War were caused by a phenomenon called 'the transfer of oppression'. According to Tanaka Yuki ... the modern Japanese army had great potential for brutality from the moment of its creation for two reasons: the arbitrary and cruel treatment that the military inflicted on its own officers and soldiers, and the hierarchical nature of Japanese society, in which status was dictated by proximity to the emperor. Before the invasion of Nanking, the Japanese military had subjected its own soldiers to endless humiliation ... Using Orwellian terminology, the routine of striking Japanese soldiers, or 'bentatsu', was termed an 'act of love' by the officers, and the violent discipline of the Japanese navy through 'tekken sensai', or 'the iron fist', was often called 'ai-no-muchi', or 'whip of love'."

Posted by St. Drogo at 9:34 AM  

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