WWII expatriate concentration camp in China turns museum

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A museum on the former site of a World War II concentration camp in east China opened to visitors Thursday to mark the 75th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and WWII.

The Weihsien concentration camp, located in the city of Weifang, Shandong Province, was used by Japanese invaders from March 1942 to August 1945 to detain over 2,000 expatriates, including more than 300 children, from the United States, Britain, Canada and other countries.

Weihsien, also spelled as Weixian, is the former name of urban Weifang.

The museum exhibits kerosene lamps, kettles, clocks, and other items that were used by internees, as well as hand models from them and their descendants.

"The concentration camp is a testament to history, speaking about the Japanese aggression and persecution of citizens from Western countries," said Ji Shuchun, curator of the Weifang Museum who also serves as curator of the Weihsien concentration camp museum.

In 1882, Americans built a compound called "the Courtyard of the Happy Way," which was used as a church, hospital and school for decades. During WWII, the compound was converted by the Japanese into a concentration camp to incarcerate Westerners, who formerly lived in areas such as Beijing, Tianjin, Shandong and Henan.

The camp was liberated as a rescue team sent by the American troops in China parachuted to the site on Aug. 17, 1945, two days after the Japanese troops surrendered. 

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