Iris Chang, Nanking Massacre, Bataan March

Iris Chang was American journalist who wrote book called “The Rape of Nanking” on invasion of China by Japanese during Second World War. In 1937 Japan captured city of Nanking which was then capital of China. The invasion resulted in rape, loot and killing of citizens of Nanking. Thousands of people were killed and women were raped.


“Two Japanese soldiers have climbed over the garden wall and are about to break into our house. When I appear they give the excuse that they saw two Chinese soldiers climb over the wall. When I show them my party badge, they return the same way. In one of the houses in the narrow street behind my garden wall, a woman was raped, and then wounded in the neck with a bayonet. I managed to get an ambulance so we can take her to Kulou Hospital… Last night up to 1,000 women and girls are said to have been raped, about 100 girls at Ginling Girls’ College alone. You hear nothing but rape. If husbands or brothers intervene, they’re shot. What you hear and see on all sides is the brutality and bestiality of the Japanese soldiers”

-John Heinrich Detlev Rabe, German businessman in Nanking

Japanese army kept a contest for soldiers called “Kill 100 people with sword”. Two lieutenants won.


“Actually, I didn’t kill more than four or five people in hand-to hand combat… We’d face an enemy trench that we’d captured, and when we called out, ‘Ni, Lai-Lai!’ (You, come on!), the Chinese soldiers were so stupid, they’d rush toward us all at once. Then we’d line them up and cut them down, from one end of the line to the other. I was praised for having killed a hundred people; but actually, almost all of them were killed in this way. The two of us did have a contest, but afterward, I was often asked whether it was a big deal, and I said it was no big deal…”

-Tsuyoshi Noda, winner of contest to kill 100 people with sword

Unlike Nazi holocaust, atrocities on citizens of Nanking didn’t get much publicity. It was only after Iris Chang wrote this book, the awareness of Nanking massacre increased.

“The Rape of Nanking did not penetrate the world consciousness in the same manner as the Holocaust or Hiroshima because the victims themselves had remained silent.”

 ― Iris Chang, The Rape of Nanking


John Rabe was a Nazi party member who was doing business in China. But Rabe was different from other party members. He played important role in saving lives of hundreds of Chinese, by protecting them from Japanese.

“Perhaps the most fascinating character to emerge from the history of the Rape of Nanking is the German businessman John Rabe. To most of the Chinese in the city, he was a hero, “the living Buddha of Nanking,” the legendary head of the International Safety Zone who saved hundreds of thousands of Chinese lives.”

 ― Iris Chang, The Rape of Nanking

Iris Chang then started writing book on Bataan Death March.

Japanese invaded Philippines, and captured hundreds of Filipino and American prisoners of war.   On April 9, 1942 the prisoners were asked to march from province of Batan to province of Tarlac. The march went from Mariveles in Bataan, to San Fernando in Pampanga. From San Fernando, survivors were loaded to a box train and were brought to Camp O’Donnell in Capas in Tarlac. During this forced marched the prisoners were beaten and ill-treated, and hundreds died before reaching Camp O’Donnell.


“They were beaten, and they were starved as they marched. Those who fell were bayoneted. Some of those who fell were beheaded by Japanese officers who were practicing with their samurai swords from horseback. The Japanese culture at that time reflected the view that any warrior who surrendered had no honor; thus was not to be treated like a human being.”

-Dana Tyrone Rohrabacher, U.S. Representative on Batan March.


One of the survivors of Bataan death march was Filipino Indian Ramon Bagatsing, who later became Mayor of city of Manila.

Research related to books on Nanking massacre and Batang death march resulted in depression for Iris. Inspite of psychiatric treatment, things did not improve and Iris committed suicide on 9th November 2004. She was 36 years old.

“When you believe you have a future, you think in terms of generations and years. When you do not, you live not just by the day — but by the minute… Each breath is becoming difficult for me to take—the anxiety can be compared to drowning in an open sea. I know that my actions will transfer some of this pain to others, indeed those who love me the most. Please forgive me.”

-Suicide note by Iris Chang








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