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Nanjing Massacre Eyewitness Diary to Be Published

The Nanjing Municipal Archives said on Sunday that a diary written by a Chinese witness to the Nanjing Massacre during World War II will be made public this year. The diary has been stored in the Second Historical Archives of China in Nanjing for three years.

The diary came to light in December 2001 among some old files of the Jinling Women's College of Art and Science, a prestigious school located in Nanjing in the first half of the 20th century. The author, Cheng Ruifang, was the head of the medical group and chief of the Chinese group in Section Four of the Nanjing International Safety Zone, a wartime asylum for refugees. A native of Wuhan, Cheng was 62 when she wrote the diary.

The entries are dated from December 8, 1937, to March 1, 1938, covering the period when the Japanese army rampaged through Nanjing, then the capital of China, after occupying the city on December 13.

Japanese troops killed 300,000 unarmed Chinese soldiers and civilians in the six weeks after they took over the city. Some members of the Japanese right wing still deny the massacre took place.

Cheng's diary is the first to come to light written by a Chinese eyewitness. However, similar diaries by American Minnie Vautrin, German John Rabe and Japanese veteran Azuma Shiro have been found.

Vautrin, Cheng and Chen Feiran formed a three-member emergency committee before the fall of Nanjing. They decided to stay to take care of the school and protect women and children.

In 1946, Cheng testified at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East on the war crimes committed by the Japanese army.

Experts describe Cheng's diary as very rare, first-hand and original file material.

Zhang Lianhong, standing vice director of Nanjing Massacre Research Center of Nanjing Normal University, said Cheng's diary is the first written by a Chinese reflecting the conditions in a refugee camp during the period. It offers abundant and credible evidence as well as valuable historical materials, said Zhang.

Excerpts from Cheng's diary

December 13

"At 2:00 PM, Japanese soldiers entered the city through Shuixi Gate. Tonight, many people came to the school. Japanese soldiers went to their houses and told them to leave because the Japanese solders wanted to sleep. Those people all ran out of their houses with empty hands ... They are scared to death ... I feel very sad and don't know what will happen tomorrow."

December 17

"Tonight 11 girls were dragged out and I don't know to where. I cannot help crying, what will happen to them in the future?"

December 18

"The Japanese soldiers were extremely ferocious and stopped at nothing. They killed people and raped women at will. A woman who was over 60 years old was gang-raped by three Japanese soldiers, while her daughter, in her 40s, was raped by two other soldiers. This is really inhuman ... Now there are about 9,000 people in the safety zone. Many people sleep in the walkways, like sardines packed in a tin."

December 29

"Today all the men in the city were forced here to register. Some young people were detained because the Japanese soldiers were suspicious of them. Some female refugees came out to identify them as their father or husband or relatives. A brave old woman came out and identified three men. She actually didn't know them but wanted to save them. A young woman came out and identified one young man as her brother. Later she changed clothes and came out again and identified a relative. She is really admirable. Now the Japanese soldiers are clearing the streets and burying dead people or burning them. There are too many dead bodies on the streets."

(Nanjing Morning Post, translated by Chen Chao and Wang Qian for China.org.cn, January 12, 2005)

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