China / Society

China compiling encyclopedia of Nanjing Massacre

(China Daily) Updated: 2012-12-14 10:15

Chinese researchers are compiling an encyclopedia of the Nanjing Massacre that will preserve the oral testimonies of the tragedy's survivors.

The encyclopedia project was launched on Dec 13, 2010, and will be completed by 2014, said Zhu Chengshan, director of the massacre memorial hall in Nanjing, at a recent event to mark the 75th anniversary of the massacre.

"The encyclopedia will be divided into three volumes in chronological order," said Zhu. "It will be the world's first comprehensive encyclopedia about the Nanjing Massacre."

The first volume will consist of six chapters, including the historical background of the massacre, the Japanese army's bombing of Nanjing and the establishment of the city's safety zone and refugee camps.

The nine chapters in the second volume will cover group slaughter, sexual abuse, the burning and burial of the victims' bodies, the fighting by Nanjing's civilians and armies, and the reports by Chinese and foreign media.

The third volume, consisting of five chapters, will include witnesses to the massacre and their testimonies, and the memorial to the victims.

Zhu said more than 8,000 entries for the encyclopedia have been completed.

"The whole life experience of some survivors will be recorded for the first time."

To guarantee the authority of the encyclopedia, experts from other countries, such as the United States, Japan and Germany, have been invited to be part of the group compiling the encyclopedia, which has almost 100 members.

"We cannot make any mistakes in the encyclopedia," said Jing Shenghong, a history professor at Nanjing Normal University. "If we make any mistake in historical fact, it might be used by Japan's right-wingers to deny all of our research of the Nanjing Massacre and even deny the tragedy itself."

Progress has been made in collecting survivors' oral testimonies and confirming historical facts.

The first collection, which contains the oral testimony of four witnesses, will be completed by 2013, Zhu said.

Organizers of the memorial hall founded a research center that has been collecting survivors' oral testimonies since April. Fei Zhongxing, a member of the center, said his 10 years of research has confirmed that about 830 Chinese people died in 47 mass killings in Nanjing's Tangshan area.

"We have collected detailed information about the place, time, numbers and names of the victims of the 47 slaughters," Fei said. "Many civilians hid in ponds, clumps of reeds and croplands when the Japanese army entered the area. Some of them were killed by the Japanese when they tried to go home to get food."

According to Xia Bei, a researcher from the Jiangsu Provincial Archives Bureau, an investigation was held by the then Kuomintang government after Japan surrendered in 1945. The inquiry, which ran until February 1946, found that the Japanese army had committed 295,882 crimes across the city, including rape, robbery and forced conscription into military service.

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