An exhibition of artifacts from the Nanjing Massacre, many of them on display for the first time, opened in Beijing yesterday.
"Pray for peace but do not forget the lessons of history" was the common refrain of visitors to the exhibition at the National Museum.
More than 400 people from home and abroad penned their thoughts and reflections on paper doves and stuck them on a wall at the museum.
Most of the messages carried words such as: "Never forget history," or "Let's pray for world peace."
Yang Xiaotong, a 14-year-old who came to the exhibition with her mother and three cousins, said she felt angry at the inhumane acts committed by Japanese troops.
Yang, who left home in Changping District in Beijing at 6 am for the three-hour journey, said: "I've learnt from books about the Nanjing Massacre, but never in this detail. Now I've got a better understanding of that painful period."
Yang's mother, Wang Xiucun, said: "I hope the four children now know more about of what we Chinese have suffered."
The 20-day exhibition, sponsored by the provincial government of Jiangsu, is divided into seven parts: Nanjing Occupied, Nanjing Massacre, Atrocities in the International Safety Zone, Historical Record, Historical Trial, Witness of History and Enlightenment of History.
More than 600 pictures and 753 artifacts depict the painful period during which more than 300,000 Nanjing inhabitants were killed by invading Japanese troops.
According to Zhou Lei, an official with the provincial government and a member of the organizing committee, 80 per cent of the materials are being shown to the public for the first time,
"This year is the 60th anniversary of the victory of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression. We're holding the exhibition to ensure our young generation remember this painful part of history," said Zhou, noting that the past, the present and the future are inextricably entwined.
In a related development, Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said that Hong Kong people should remember how China triumphed over Japanese invaders in the World War II and became a stronger nation.
He said this yesterday at the opening ceremony of an exhibition in Hong Kong marking the 60th anniversary of China's victory over the Japanese invaders, adding that lessons from history are valuable for the preservation of peace.
"The rare artifacts and photographs on display in this exhibition, some of them shown to the public for the first time, are a testament to the strength of the Chinese people during a time of aggression and devastation. These exhibits are about Chinese patriots who fought bravely against fascist invaders and finally achieved a glorious victory," Tsang said.
Tsang stressed that the younger people of Hong Kong should be informed about the history of China's war against Japanese aggression, and the horrors that Chinese citizens suffered in the war.
"The younger generation in the territory should know about the destructive nature of war, and that peace should always be cherished," he said.
Organizers of the exhibition, including the National Museum of China and Ta Kung Pao, said the exhibition included more than 10 war films recounting the courageous exploits of Chinese citizens during the war.
The nine-day event will also feature over 400 photographs, models, literature and precious artifacts from the period, including eight class "A" relics.
"Some of the exhibits are very rare indeed, such as parachutes from the Japanese army, medals of honor awarded to Chinese soldiers, and apparatus used in biological warfare experiments," said Pan Zhenzhou, director of the National Museum.
"The Chinese fought the enemy very bravely. It's so impressive and I'm proud of being Chinese," said secondary fourth grade student Jonathan Lam after visiting the exhibition.
(China Daily August 11, 2005)