In December 1937, the Japanese Imperial Army entered Nanking. Nanking was China’s capital city at that time. The Japanese Army then proceeded to brutally murder 300,000 people, both civilians and soldiers. What followed was six weeks of horrific killing and raping; this became known as the Rape of Nanking. The period signified the distinctly worst massacre during the era of World War II. Neither the European nor the Pacific areas of war had ever witnessed anything so terrible and on such a vast scale.
During the course of the massacre, much extreme violence occurred. Not only were people murdered, women and girls were raped, and pregnant women were raped before having their foetuses cut out from their stomachs. There were even reports of people being buried or burned alive: “Chinese at Nanking (now known as Nanjing) are being buried alive by grinning Japanese troops who are competing with each other to invent new and more horrible ways to kill Chinese whom they regarded as sub-human.”
This research project is going to consist of three main areas. I wish to explore the reasons for The Rape of Nanking taking place. For this section I plan to research the sequence of events that led up to the atrocity of December 1937. Following this I will explore the actual massacre and how the violence reached its peak. Finally, I wish to ascertain how the Japanese Army was led in their actions, and how the attacks were finally brought to an end.
In carrying out my research I plan on spending some time in the library searching for relevant literature on the subject of the Nanking Massacre. Additionally, I will spend a significant amount of time on the internet, finding credible and informative sources. The information on the web is vast and relatively easy to locate. Another advantage of internet research is that it provides access to some books that have been out of print for some time. I have found a particularly useful piece of video on YouTube, which contains a great deal of information about the Rape of Nanking. Although uncomfortable and disturbing to watch, the documentary shows photographs that were taken at the time of the massacre. Photographic evidence provides a profound insight into the events of the time. Moreover, while it is arguable that photos can be misleading in some contexts, they are fairly reliable in terms of not being biased or based on exaggerated memories.
So far I have identified four main sources that I think will be useful in executing this research project. As I work through these sources and the information contained within them, I am starting to notice where the cracks are in my knowledge of the topic, in addition to the research subject itself. I will continue to search for further resources with which to fill in the gaps.
My next stage in completing the research paper is to begin to cross reference the various sources, and also to construct a time line; in other words, I need to sort the information into a more user friendly order.
“Rape of Nanking Part I Atrocities in Asia Nanjing Massacre.” YouTube. 23 May 2011.
“The Nanking Massacre.” Gendercide. 24 May 2011.
“The Rape of Nanking.” The History Place. 24 May 2011.
“The Rape of Nanking or Nanjing Massacre.” Nanking-Massacre. 24 May 2011.