Exhaustive research reveals scale of destruction

By Wu Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-12-13 07:10

A 27-volume series of historical material on the Nanjing Massacre, in which more than 300,000 Chinese were slaughtered by invading Japanese aggressors in 1937, was released earlier this month.

This is in addition to the first 28 volumes that came out in 2005. The 55 volumes of documents are the most complete representation of the Nanjing Massacre in the world, according to its compilers.

They consist of first-hand historical documents and records, such as US news reports, diplomatic letters from the British and German governments, lists of casualties and economic losses due to the atrocity.

To gather the materials, more than 70 Chinese historians visited Japan, Britain, the United States and Germany over the past eight years, translating primary sources in different languages.

"It is a combination of Chinese, Japanese and Western raw materials, which are objective and just and able to stand the trial of history," said Zhang Xianwen, the series' chief compiler and a professor with Nanjing University.

Among the new materials are three volumes of diaries and official Japanese documents, which recorded numerous atrocities, including a slaughtering competition.

Another eight volumes list the names, ages, occupations and residential addresses of some 13,000 Chinese killed in the massacre. These are the most complete lists of known victims to date, which include unarmed soldiers and civilians.

"Everyone who reads the book will get an understanding of what happened at that time," Zhang said. "The series has a very precious historical value."

Having spent three decades studying the massacre, the 74-year-old Zhang told China Daily that during his research, accuracy was of the utmost importance.

"Not a single sentence or word has been inserted into the content and the original appearance of the historical materials was thus kept," he said.

"I asked my colleagues and students to check, check and re-check, and leave no loopholes which might prompt dispute," Zhang said.

Having traveled to the United States, Japan, Britain and Germany to collect historical materials over the past few years, some of the researchers had to live on instant noodles in order to save money.

It was also a laborious process as researchers had to copy the material by hand because the local museums and bureaus prohibited printing.

"We used piles of pens a day," said Wang Weixing, one of the compilers.

However, the years of hard work has paid off.

"With proofs from both Chinese publications and Japanese publications, evidence of the atrocities has become so solid that it is no longer dismissible," said Zhang Yan, a reader of the compilation.

The volumes were jointly released by the Jiangsu Provincial People's Publishing House and Fenghuang Publishing & Media Group.

Compilers say they are still working on materials which may lead to the release of another 25 volumes totaling nearly 20 million words.

The latest release comes before the 70th anniversary of the massacre which falls on today, when a renovated memorial hall will reopen after two years.

Some 3,000 pieces of historical items, including cameras, weapons and diaries of the Japanese troops and 3,500 photos taken during the period will be on show.

Invading Japanese troops occupied Nanjing on December 13, 1937, and embarked on a six-week long orgy of destruction, pillage, rape and slaughter.

Xinhua contributed to the story

(China Daily 12/13/2007 page18)

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