An agreement was signed yesterday afternoon to turn the former house of a German national who helped save the lives of more than 250,000 people in the Nanjing Massacre of 1937-38 into a memorial hall and research center.
"The memorial hall is to commemorate John Rabe, who saved the lives of numerous Nanjing residents during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, and the center is to promote academic research of international peace and reconciliation," said Zhang Rong, vice president of Nanjing University in the provincial capital of Jiangsu.
His former three-story residence is located inside the Gulou District campus of Nanjing University, and it could be open to the public in August.
The university signed an agreement with the German Consulate General in Shanghai, Siemens China and Siemens Home Appliances China to establish the John Rabe and International Safety Zone Memorial Hall and the John Rabe Research and Exchange Center for Peace and Reconciliation.
"Rabe served as the business representative of Siemens in Nanjing during World War II," said Peter Borger, executive vice president of Siemens China. "We are proud of his legacy in China, where he significantly contributed to the development of the friendship between China and Germany."
The four organizations agreed to provide 2.25 million yuan (US$277,435) for the work, with Siemens as the main contributor.
John Rabe was born in Hamburg in 1882. He came to China in 1908 and from 1931 to 1938 he was in Nanjing and witnessed the massacre in which at least 300,000 Chinese people are believed to have been killed.
His house acted as a refugee camp, taking in at least 600 citizens, and he kept diaries recording more than 500 atrocities by Japanese soldiers.
He returned to Germany after the massacre and died of a stroke in 1950.
(China Daily December 7, 2005)