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US History Teachers Seek Traces of Japan's Germ Warfare in China
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Standing before a stele on which hundreds of names are engraved to commemorate the victims of Japan's germ warfare, Aaron De Groot was looking for traces of the atrocities committed on the Chinese people during World War II.

Groot was a member of a US delegation of 17 high-school history teachers mainly from California and New Jersey which paid a visit to Japanese germ warfare sites on Thursday in Congshan Village of Yiwu, a city in east China's Zhejiang Province.

"Though I know little about Japanese germ warfare in China, I share the same feelings as you," Groot, who has been teaching history for 24 years, said to Wang Jindi, a 73-year-old villager whose uncle and two brothers died after having been purposefully infected with the plague.

"One of my extended family members was killed by the Nazis in the Second World War. That is why I am here. I feel I have a special connection with those who suffered a lot at the time," Groot said.

Back to 1942, the Japanese troops dropped germ bombs in Yiwu, killing more than 1,200 people, including 404 in Congshan Village.

"It hurt so much. I cannot forget the looks on their faces before they died," said Wang in tears.

Wang Peigen, 76, who survived the Japanese germ war, told the American teachers the fate of former villager Wu Xiaonai.

"Wu was only 18 years old when she was infected with the plague. She came to Linshan Temple where the Japanese troops kept the sick people and asked for medical care. However, the Japanese tied her up in a chair wrapped up her head in bandages and then cut open her chest," Wang said.

Organized by the Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia (GA), the delegation arrived in China on June 28. They have talked with "comfort women" who are still alive in Shanghai and visited the memorial hall of the victims of the Nanjing massacre.

"I am deeply moved by what I have seen in Congshan Germ Warfare Museum. I would like to bring the material back to Britain and let more people know about it," said David Brown, a media officer from Aegis Trust UK Holocaust Center.

Kerreen Brandt, who has been teaching European history for 17 years in San Rafael High School, said, "All of us have learnt a lot from the tour. I am privileged to be here and to speak to the survivors personally. This brings history alive. I will educate my students with all I have seen in China and make sure that such a tragedy will never ever happen again."

(Xinhua News Agency July 7, 2007)

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