Documents on the Rape of Nanking

The Japanese Army’s invasion of China in 1937 was the first step toward a hemispheric war that would last until the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. What ended in one atrocity began with another: the savage military takeover of China’s capital city, which quickly became known as the Rape of Nanking. The Japanese Army’s conduct from December 1937 to February 1938 constitutes one of the most barbarous events not just of the war but of the century. The violence was documented at the time and then redocumented during the war crimes trial in Tokyo after the war. This book brings together materials from both moments to provide the first comprehensive dossier of primary sources on the Rape.

Part 1, “The Records,” includes a long set of documents produced by the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone, a group of foreigners who strove to protect the Chinese residents, and a series of previously unpublished letters American surgeon Dr. Robert Wilson wrote for his family during the same period.

Part 2, “The Judgments,” reprints portions of the 1948 judgment of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East in Tokyo dealing with the Rape of Nanking and its judicial consequences and the dissenting judgment of justice Radhabinod Pal.

These contemporary records and judgments create an intimate firsthand account of the Rape of Nanking. Together they are intended to stimulate deeper reflection than previously possible on how and why we assess and assign the burden of war guilt.

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