Places, Images, Times & Transformations

Nanjing (Nanking) Massacre

Also known as the "Rape of Nanking." Atrocities committed by the Japanese army against the civilian population of Nanjing and vicinity from December 1937 to Jaunary 1938, early in the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945. Upon entering Nanjing on December 13, 1937, the Japanese army began a wholescale murder of Chinese men on the pretext that they were Chinese soldiers trying to escape in civilian clothes. According to estimates made at the Tokyo War Crimes trials, about 42,000 civilians, mostly women and children, were killed in Nanjing, and over 100,000 civilians and prisoners of war in the vicinity of the city over the next six weeks. The massacre was accompanied by rape, looting, and arson. It was the worst atrocity committed by Japanese military forces during World War II. The commander of the Japanese troops at Nanjing, Matsui Iwane (1878-1948), was sentenced to death for war crimes in 1948. (adapted from Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia. Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993)

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