Nanjing's greatest Dane remembered
By Wu Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-04-27 06:11

Relatives of a man who helped prevent 6,000 Chinese civilians from being brutally slaughtered by invading Japanese troops during the notorious 1937 Nanjing Massacre are visiting the city.

Bernhard Alp Sindberg sheltered people at Jingnan Cement Factory in Qixia Mountain in East Nanjing, where he was manager.

His relatives were invited to the city by Nanjing municipal government to commemorate the 95th anniversary of his birth.

During their visit, which ends tomorrow, they have toured the site of the factory and met those he helped protect.

"Without his help, we would have had no chance of living. We hope the kindness of people like Sindberg will live on, and there will never be another war," said Wang Yongli, an 82-year-old who stayed in Sindberg's factory for more than 100 days as a teenager.

Wang recalled that whenever Japanese troops assembled to break into the factory, Sindberg would run to the gate and wave the Danish national flag to ward them off.

Denmark was not at war with Japan at that time.

In addition to providing shelter to the local residents, Sindberg also risked his life every day by venturing outside to bring back medical materials from the Red Cross to treat any injured people in the factory, said Wang.

On hearing the accounts of local residents, Sindberg's sister, Betrian Alp Andersen, said she was touched to see that so many Nanjing residents still remembered her brother so clearly.

She said she brought the younger generation of the family on the trip "to let them learn about their ancestor and remember this part of history."

The family brought along seeds of a commemorative yellow rose called the "Nanjing Forever Sindberg Rose" with them from Denmark.

"This kind of rose grows with nobility and bravery, and carries our memories of those whose lives were lost in the war and our hope for justice," said Andersen.

According to Zhu Chengshan, curator of the Nanjing Memorial Hall of Compatriots Murdered in the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, the hall will plant a number of the seeds in its grounds.

Sindberg's relatives also presented the hall with a silk cloth, which was inscribed with messages of thanks from residents to Sindberg when he was forced by Japanese troops to leave Nanjing in March 1938.

"That piece of silk was the only thing passed down to us by Bernhard on his death. But I think it is more meaningful if it stays in the hall," said Marian Stenvig Andersen, his niece.

Sindberg wrote a series of eyewitness reports about his experiences in China in the late 1930s, which are now exhibited in Yale University in the United States and considered of high value in studying the war crime, said Gao Zuxing, an expert in war studies at Nanjing Normal University.

More than 300,000 Chinese died in the Nanjing Massacre.

Sindberg's written accounts provided further evidence of the atrocities carried out by Japanese troops.

They were published in the Danish press in 2003.

One of Sindberg's reports, among those found in a Danish public library, was quoted as saying: "Blood, blood, everywhere here was drenched in blood."

German John Rabe was also instrumental in saving the lives of people in Nanjing.

From 1931 to 1938, Rabe was in the city.

His house was a refugee camp at the time of the massacre. Rabe also kept diaries recording more than 500 atrocities made by the Japanese invaders, which is used today as important evidence of the Nanjing Massacre.

(China Daily 04/27/2006 page3)