It drizzled all day, but we were up and exploring the city regardless. We took a bus to a park built around dr. Sun’s mausoleum. Sonya and her friends were very concerned about our lack of umbrellas, but my raincoat kept me dry enough. Sonya kept attempting to force her umbrella into Nate’s hands, but he refused to take it. It would have been safer for him if he had. Sonya didn’t hold the umbrella still, she spun and swung it with each movement or comment and the knobs at the ends were right at Nate’s eye height! Sonya’s deadly with nun-chucks and umbrellas!
The mausoleum had buildings on three different levels, and wide stare cases leading to each. It was the real live version of the backdrop picture hangings at the Chinese New Years feast.
There were large bowls placed along the path, one which had bullet holes in it from the rape of nanking.
One of Sonya’s friends, the one who liked shopping and had kept us out for much longer then we would have liked the night before, stopped often for photos. Nate and I got ahead of the rest, as by this time we were tending more towards avoiding photos then hopping in them. Another girl that we’d met at the entrance, was also very photo inclined, and she kept asking for us to help her. “We found Emy!” I joked.
After a failed attempt at sliding down the railings where I went way too fast, and had to abort mission, and Nate didn’t even move at all (I guess I need shoes with new treads), we came up to a railing with a potted tree at the bottom. “You should slide down here,” Nate urged.
“Are you kidding, I’d slide right into the tree!”
“Then it would really be a face plant wouldn’t it.”
Nate and I were damp and chilly as we waited for the girls to stop shopping and start moving towards the park exit. I did participate a bit though, and bought myself a beautiful “silk feeling polyester” scarf. Nate and I also got stamps with our Chinese name engraved in them. Pretty awesome souvenirs.
Finally were were on our way to the war museum. In the years prior to World War II China was in the middle of civil war. Japan, threatened by the European powers, who had colonized virtually all Eastern asian countries seized to take opportunity of China’s strife (Johnson, 1972). Under guise of helping China fight the nationalists, Japan invaded China. In 1937 Japan broke through the troops in Shanghai and moved on to Nanjing. Once inside the city, the Japanese proceeded to butcher Chinese citizens, many of them just civilians, sometimes in groups of as many as 200 at a time. An eye witness, Minnie Vautrin wrote in her diary: “How many thousands were mowed down by guns or bayoneted we shall probably never know. For in many cases oil was thrown over their bodies and then they were burned” (Scarred by history: The Rape of Nanjing, 2005). The Memorial Hall of the Nanjing Massacre is as important of a place to pay a visit as any of the concentration camps found in Europe.
The sky was grey, the air full of thick moisture, and the clouds let out a steady drizzle that fell upon the gruesome statues and down their faces like tears dripping of their stone agony. There were several statues standing forever in fear and pain as constant reminders to what the city had suffered during the second world war. At the front of the line, directly through the gaits stood the largest statues in form of a woman who towered over the building itself. Her body was twisted as she stood with her face bent back at an odd angle as if her pain were it’s own beast that gripped, bent, and pulled her like a violent child with his sister’s barbie dolls. In her hands a baby hung limp and broaken. Dead. Beside her giant foot with her knee towering over him stood a grinning Chinese tourist posing for a picture. The sight made my stomach twist.
The statues each told it’s own story, the lines of pain and tortured agony were all too real to have been carved. Each statue had a caption.
There were many accounts of Japanese soldiers testifying to what they had done, Azumo Shiro was quoted saying “It had only been a month since I left home… and 30 days later I was killing people without remorse.” (Scarred by history: The Rape of Nanjing, 2005)
Nate and I had once asked Larry why the Chinese hated the Japanese so much “Well in my opinion,” he had replied, “I could forgive the Japanese. They did horrible things, but it is in the past. But the thing is Germany said “we did this,” accepted it and apologized, while Japan still says it didn’t happen. That is why I can’t for give the Japanese.” Though most of the older generation in Japan feels remorse for what happened in Nanjing, the Japanese government refuses to take responsibility for the atrocities, and a proper account of Nanjing is left out of the Japanese text books.
The images in the museum spoke for themselves. The captions underneath however seemed to be attempting to fuel hatred, not healing. Propaganda in a grave yard.
Nate and I left the museum at 4:00pm to catch our 7:00pm train home.
Johnson, C. (1972). How China and Japan See Each Other. Foreign Affairs, 50(4), 711. Retrieved February 21, 2016, from https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/asia/1972-07-01/how-china-and-japan-see-each-other.
Scarred by history: The Rape of Nanjing. (2005, November 04). BBC News. Retrieved February 21, 2016, from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/223038.stm