Today marks the 80th anniversary of the Japanese Army’s invasion of Nanjing, the capital of China in 1937. This is a difficult moment to observe—one that I struggle with. How should I and other educators mark this moment? What lessons should our students draw from it? It is not a celebration but rather a somber memorial of mass violence of a magnitude that is still difficult for our minds to grasp.
Topics: The Nanjing Atrocities
I have long wanted to develop and teach a unit on the Nanjing Atrocities for my students at Millennium Brooklyn High School. As a high school history teacher with an undergraduate degree in East Asian Studies, I see it as an important history that we seldom teach in the United States.
December 13, 1937 is a day etched in the collective Chinese consciousness. On that day, the Japanese imperial army marched into the city of Nanjing—then the capital of China—and unleashed a wave of violence for six long weeks. The soldiers attacked ordinary citizens and violated all acceptable international norms of war. This act of mass violence marked the beginning of World War II in Asia. It is difficult to mark the anniversary of this dark chapter today without reflecting on contemporary global events reminding us all of the fragility of peace and democracy.
As educators in the U.K., Victoria Mole and her colleagues, Jenna Adcock, and Katie Duce, wanted to teach their students more diverse and broad histories, such as the Nanjing Massacre in 1937. It’s an often-overlooked period of World War II when the Imperial Japanese Army forces brutally murdered hundreds of thousands of people–including both soldiers and civilians in the city of Nanjing, China.
On International Women’s Day, bring the unique voices of women who survived or stood up against some of the worst atrocities of the 20th century into your classroom. Facing History is partnering with USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education to help educators access more than 1,500 video testimonies of survivors and witnesses to the Holocaust and other genocides using the Institute’s online learning tool, IWitness.
Life was pretty happy and full. Now on December 13, there came change that turned our world upside down. - Mr. Chen Deshou, a survivor of the Nanjing Atrocities
December 13th marks the 78th anniversary of the Nanjing Atrocities, when the lives of thousands of women, men, and children were turned upside down. This assault by the Japanese Imperial Army took place from December 13, 1937, through the end of March 1938. During this time soldiers ran riot in the captured Chinese capital, unleashing a spree of violence, murder, and rape on the population.