In 1937, as the invading Japanese Army closed on Nanking, then the capital of China, all foreigners were ordered to leave the city. One man, a mild 55-year-old German named John Rabe, who ran the local Siemens factory, refused on the grounds that it would show a bad example to his Chinese workers. Sending his wife and family to safety, he watched ...
In 1937, as the invading Japanese Army closed on Nanking, then the capital of China, all foreigners were ordered to leave the city. One man, a mild 55-year-old German named John Rabe, who ran the local Siemens factory, refused on the grounds that it would show a bad example to his Chinese workers. Sending his wife and family to safety, he watched in horror as the Japanese began to wipe out the population. Hastily contacting the tiny remaining community of foreigners - fewer than 20 people - and using the flimsy authority of a pact Hitler had made with the Japanese, Rabe spent months safeguarding and providing refuge for thousands of Chinese, often interposing himself physically between the executioners and their victims. Every night Rabe would record these extraordinary events in his diary, the contents of which are presented in this book.
Publishers Weekly, 1998-10-26 Considered the Oskar Schindler of China, Rabe was a German businessman who saved the lives of 250,000 Chinese during the infamous siege of Nanking. But Rabe was also a member of the Nazi party and a man whose motto was "Right or wrong-my country." This gaping paradox adds a fascinating complexity to his newly translated diaries, which primarily focus on the six-month Nanking siege in 1937 and 1938. When the Japanese air raids began over Nankingæwhere Rabe was regional director of the German industrial giant SiemensæRabe's wife, along with most foreigners, evacuated the city. But Rabe stayed to protect his Chinese staff and co-workers; as he put it, "I cannot bring myself for now to betray the trust these people have put in me." As the magnitude of the Japanese assault became apparent, Rabe, along with American doctors and missionaries, created an International Committee whose purpose was to set up a Neutral Zone where Chinese civilians could take refuge. Six hundred of the poorest Chinese were soon living in Rabe's own house, symbolically protected by an enormous canvas painted with a swastika; thousands more took shelter in the arbitrary Neutral Zone that Rabe continually begged the Japanese to respect. Lacking food and medical supplies, Rabe was mobilized to continue his good works by the atrocities he witnessed; his descriptions of the sadistic rapes, torture and slaughter perpetrated by Japanese soldiers are chillingly vivid. Similar in some ways to Giorgio Perlasca, the Italian fascist businessman who helped save Budapest's Jews (Enrico Deaglio's The Banality of Goodness, Forecasts, June 1), Rabe was a complicated figure whose ultimate reasons were very matter-of-fact: "You simply do what must be done." (Nov.)
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