Ep 43 – Massacre and Rape in Nanjing Part 1: Invasion

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The written account of our history as humans is filled with atrocities that mankind has visited upon itself. Many of the atrocities that have carved out their spots in modern minds are those that occurred in WWII.  The most prominent is of course the extermination of 6 million Jews in Nazi Germany.  Those more inclined to seek out records of human suffering may also be familiar with Japan’s Unit 731.

The extermination of Jews in the German concentration camps and the medical experiments of Unit 731 were actions of purpose.  Parameters existed. Goals were set. And oversight was, for the most part, maintained.  In Germany the primary purpose of the concentration camps was to remove Jewish people from their society.  Unit 731 and the Nazi camps both carried out horrific experiments on living humans, giving little or no thought to the suffering of their victims.  Generally speaking though, these were not acts of sadism for its own sake.  It was not chaos.  There were parameters within which the cruelty was confined.  Whether it be the advancement of science and medicine, or the testing of chemical weapons there were rules to the torment.  

With today’s subject though, there were no such rules to inhibit the sadistic imaginations of men. Over the course of this 2-part episode, we’ll hear stories of unborn children being cut from the wombs of expectant mothers… Of men buried to their waists before being eaten alive by hungry dogs… We’ll hear tales of forced incest, violent gang rape.  And we’ll be talking about all of this occurring on an enormous scale.   Our topic today is an event in which, over the course of 2 weeks, 300,000 people were raped, tortured, and slaughtered.  

This is an incident with no historic parallels and one that might represent the most horrific fortnight ever suffered by a population. This is a story of how blind nationalism can devour the better angels of our nature and leave us only to the encouragement of our demons.  This is the story of rape, torment, and massacre in Nanjing, China.


Andrew, T. C. (1938, 03). Japan’s “Big push”: A second installment of a gruesome story, describing the great advance in the south. Current History, 48, 47-49. doi:https://doi.org/10.1525/curh.1938.48.3.47 Retrieved from https://fgul.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/magazines/japan-s-big-push/docview/2668889037/se-2

Bob Tadashi Wakabayashi. The Nanking Atrocity, 1937-1938. Complicating the Picture. Berghahn Books Ltd, 2017.

Brook, Timothy. Documents on the Rape of Nanking. Ann Arbor The University Of Michigan Press, 2007.

Chang, Iris. The Rape of Nanking : The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. Basic Books, A Member Of The Perseus Books Group, [Tussen En, 1997.

China’s refugees. (1938, 01). Current History, 48, 68-70. doi:https://doi.org/10.1525/curh.1938.48.1.68 Retrieved from https://fgul.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/magazines/china-s-refugees/docview/2668867884/se-2

History in the making. (1938, 02). Current History, 48, 11-13. doi:https://doi.org/10.1525/curh.1938.48.2.11 Retrieved from https://fgul.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/magazines/history-making/docview/2668865744/se-2

Kawakami, K. K. (1937, 11). Japan’s case against china: A japanese observer holds china responsible for forcing Nippon’s hand in the current war. Current History, 47, 35-41. doi:https://doi.org/10.1525/curh.1937.47.2.35 Retrieved from https://fgul.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/magazines/japan-s-case-against-china/docview/2668859198/se-2

Strong, Lewis. War Damage in the Nanking Area, December, 1937 to March, 1938. 1938.

Tolstoy, Capt A.  Current History (New York); New York Vol. 48, Iss. 3,  (Mar 1, 1938): 47.


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