By All Means, Spend the Day in Nanking

December 13 was the anniversary of the Nanking Massacre, so of course I had to spend Dec. 11 and 12 in the city, touring the big memorial and the associated smaller monument to John Rabe, the sogennanten “Good Nazi of Nanking.”

John Rabe's home in the old Safety Zone is administered by Nanjing University, funded by Siemens Co.; I was encouraged to visit there by a pair of German/Austrian Sinologists on leave from study in Dalian whom I met while purchasing two International Herald Tribunes for 26 yuan apiece in the Foreign Language Bookstore not far from the old Wang Jingwei administrative center -- Photo by Adam Cathcart

Today, the Japanese ambassador left the city after a two-day stint which has received much less attention in China than one might otherwise might have expected.  Perhaps we can blame the North Koreans for this imbalance. carries a good short piece here of press coverage of the anniversary.  They were in the process of changing the slogans on the museum walls when I, along with one of my best (and German-fluent!) students was traipsing around the museum after hours.

Perhaps more lasting in significance: according to the Hollywood Reporter website, Zhang Yimou will be using former Batman lead Christian Bale as a fictional American priest named “John” as a savior figure in a $90 million budget film set during the Nanking Massacre.  That, by the way, is an immense budget, and surpasses by tens of millions of dollars the gross box office for most Chinese blockbusters.  The film starts shooting on January 10 near Nanjing.

Over time I will certainly be sharing more thoughts about my visit to Nanjing, the role of film in remembering and mis-remembering the event, and the meaning of Nanking today in the PRC and globally, and the German role in Chinese war memory, etc., but for the time being I’ll offer a final photo:

Waiting in the long line for the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, Dec. 11, 2010, photo by Adam Cathcart

1 Comment

  1. Very interesting, I have seen the 2009 film John Rabe. I’ve read a lot on military history mostly the world wars and I always find it odd that so many documentaries have been made about Hitler & co but so little on Japan or Stalin.

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