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Victims of Nanjing Massacre Honoured

Yesterday was the Festival of Pure Brightness, when Chinese people traditionally honour their dead by sweeping their graves.

This year, as a special way of remembering the 300,000 Chinese who lost their lives in the Nanjing Massacre, the city invited a foreigner who has donated photographs of the massacre to take part in the ceremony honouring the city's dead.

"I always keep this country in my mind," said Edith Guenther. "It is part of my life. How glad I am to return." Guenther is an 80-year-old German lady who has donated 41 precious photos of the Nanjing Massacre to the Memorial Hall of the Victims in the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders.

The 41 photos record the conditions in Qixia Temple and Jiangnan Cement Factory in Nanjing, which were refuges for the Chinese during the massacre, most of them seen in China for the first time.

These pictures are very strong evidence of the brutalities committed by the Japanese invaders.

They were taken and kept by Karl Guenther, the German manager of Jiangnan Cement Factory, and other foreigners.

In 1903, Guenther was born in Tangshan in North China's Hebei Province. He lived and worked in China for a long time and adopted the Chinese name Lai Kunde.

Just before the Nanjing Massacre in 1937, he and a Dane were sent to protect the Jiangnan Cement Factory by their governments, as the facilities and property of the factory belonged to German, Danish and English companies.

As the acting manager of the factory, Guenther and other foreigners set up one of the city's biggest refuges in the cement factory during the massacre.

According to the historical records of the factory, from the winter of 1937 to June 1938, there were about 40,000 to 50,000 people sheltered in the camp.

The foreigners took photos and kept records of what happened in Qixia Temple and the factory. Guenther carefully looked after the pictures for over 50 years.

After the massacre, Guenther stayed in China. He met Edith and they got married in 1943. In 1950 they left for Germany.

(China Daily April 6, 2002)

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