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Nanjing acts quickly to help grandson of hero

By CANG WEI | China Daily | Updated: 2020-04-24 08:20
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Thomas Rabe and his wife accept donated medical supplies from a Chinese embassy official in Heidelberg, Germany, on Tuesday. [Photo/Xinhua]

After Thomas Rabe-the grandson of John Rabe, who was dubbed the "Schindler of China"-reached out for help from Germany during the coronavirus outbreak, many people in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, took immediate action to provide the needed medical supplies.

Thomas Rabe, a professor at the University of Heidelberg's medical school, called the Chinese Embassy in Germany in March and asked for medicine and other supplies.

He said some of his family members had showed symptoms of coronavirus infection, but the medicine he needed was sold out. The hospital he worked for also had a shortage of protective suits.

The embassy bought some medicine from China and sent the supplies to Rabe in late March. The embassy then contacted the Nanjing government for help.

Nanjing quickly gathered 30,000 face masks, 620 bottles of medicine and 200 sets of protective suits.

Those supplies were sent to Berlin on April 17 and arrived at the embassy on Monday. Embassy workers drove 700 kilometers on Tuesday to send the supplies to Rabe, the city of Heidelberg and the university.

Thomas Rabe (first from left) accepts donated medical supplies from a Chinese embassy official in Heidelberg, Germany, on Tuesday. [Photo/Xinhua]

John Rabe, the grandfather of Thomas Rabe, was a businessman from Hamburg. Together with other foreigners from the United States, Denmark and Russia, he established the Nanjing Safety Zone to protect hundreds of thousands of civilians from Japanese troops during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-1945).

His diary recorded atrocities committed by the Japanese that he witnessed in Nanjing from September 1937 to the following February, including the Nanjing Massacre. His diary has been an important historical resource in the study of the massacre.

Zhang Sheng, a professor at the Institute of Nanjing Massacre History and International Peace Studies, said that the Chinese people never forget John Rabe and have interacted with the family for years.

"The Rabe family lived a hard life after Germany was occupied by the then Soviet Union," Zhang said. "Nanjing residents donated necessary supplies, including food, to the family for a long time. John Rabe's niece often recalls the time when she and her family members received packages from China."

"The country cherishes the memory of John Rabe," Zhang said. "His statue is erected on the Nanjing University campus. Many papers have been written about his diary."

"His heroic acts will never be forgotten, and the friendship between the Nanjing people and his family will continue."

Qin Yinlin, president of Jiangsu Carefree Pharmaceutical Company, immediately contacted his friends in the industry to purchase the needed medicine after hearing the news.

"I want to return the kindness of John Rabe to the Rabe family as a Nanjing resident," he said. "Mr Rabe helped so many Chinese during wartime, and we should help his descendants overcome difficulties now."

"The friendship between Nanjing people and the Rabe family should never fade, even after more than 80 years," Qin said.

Guo Jun contributed to this story.

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