World / US and Canada

Young historian to be honored in China

By LIA ZHU in San Francisco ( Updated: 2016-03-07 10:58

 Young historian to be honored in China

Clockwise from top: Iris Chang (second from right) interviewed Nanjing Massacre survivor Xia Shuqin (second from left) in 1995. Chang autographs a copy of The Rape ofNanking for a reader at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington in 1998. Ying-Ying Chang (center) and Shau-Jin Chang (left) attend the first national memorial service for the victims of the Nanjing Massacre, on Dec 13 last year. Photos Provided to China Daily and by Liu Yu / Xinhua

A delegation from China's Huaian city has retraced the footsteps of Iris Chang, the late Chinese-American historian and author, to the Bay Area to collect memorabilia for a museum being constructed in her memory.

Chang was the author of The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, which chronicled the massacre and the atrocities committed by the Japanese Army during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45).

When the book was published in 1997, it became a best-seller, introducing the Nanking Massacre (1937-1938) to many Western readers for the first time.

In 2004, Chang took her own life at age 36 in a losing battle with depression.

Young historian to be honored in China
Her ancestral home, Huaian city, in Jiangsu province, decided to build a memorial hall in tribute to her contributions in preserving a key chapter in Chinese history.

The construction started early last year and the center is expected to be open to the public at the end of this year. Covering a floor space of 1,000 square meters, the memorial hall will display photos representing her life and studies, as well as videos featuring interviews with her.

All the materials were donated by Chang's parents and members of the Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia, a non-profit grass-roots organization with dozens of chapters in North America.

"The Chinese Americans' spirit of assiduously seeking historical truth is worth remembering," said Zhou Xiang, director of the Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese of Huaian city. "When the memorial hall is open, all Chinese Americans are welcome to visit it and the city."

Huaian is a well-known city with a history more than 2,300 years old. It was home to many great scholars and men of letters in Chinese history. Zhou said he hoped the establishment of the memorial hall would help promote the city's image as a cultural and historical center.

Ying-Ying Chang, Iris Chang's mother, said her daughter had heard a lot about her ancestral home though she had never been there. The couple was invited to visit the city and the construction site last year. After they got back home, they began sorting out her photos and sent about 700 to 800 to the hall. Other memorabilia will be sent back with the visiting delegation.

In San Jose, where Iris Chang spent her final days and her parents now live, a new park was named after her to recognize her contributions to the local, national and global communities. The park is expected to open in 2017.

Related reading: Iris Chang: A light in the darkness

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