The former residence of John D. Rabe, who saved the lives of thousands of Chinese during World War II, opened to the public in Nanjing in Tuesday after being renovated.
The weather-worn house will serve as the twin "John Rabe and International Safety Zone Memorial Hall" and "John Rabe International Research and Exchange Center for Peace and Reconciliation", according to Zhang Rong, vice president of Nanjing University. Zhang also called it a platform not only to commemorate Mr. Rabe, but to serve research on world peace and cultural exchanges.
Dr. Wolfgang Rohr, German Consul-General in Shanghai, said, "It is with respect and humility that we view the achievements of John Rabe. We may rightfully be proud of a German who became a citizen of Nanjing and stayed on in difficult times to help protect his Chinese friends."
Rabe, as Siemens' business representative in Nanjing from 1932 to 1938, lived in the three-story house at No.1 Xiaofenqiao in downtown Nanjing.
The house, one of 25 Nanjing Safety Zones, served as a refugee shelter during World War II had saved over 600 Nanjing refugees in 1937 when the Japanese army occupied the city and slaughtered over 300,000 people.
As president of the Nanjing Safety Zones, Rabe is believed to have saved thousands more, but no precise official statistics exist. He recorded the atrocities committed by the Japanese troops, atrocities he witnessed on a daily basis, in the "Rabe's Diary" from September 1937 to February 1938.
Zhang Rong said that over 1,000 historical materials, photos, and more than 800 copies of original "Rabe's Diary" donated by the German Foreign Ministry, Rabe's relatives and other places in China have been put on display in the house.
Zhang added that to begin with, the house will also showcase over 300 pictures, 50 objects and four video documentaries.
"By renovating Rabe's former residence, we sincerely hope to promote Sino-German friendship," said Prof. Dr. Klaus Wucherer, member of the Corporate Executive Committee of Siemens AG. The company contributed a major part of the renovation funds which totaled 2.25 million yuan (US$285,500).
(Xinhua News Agency November 1, 2006)