China Voice: Why should the world remember Nanjing Massacre forever
By Xinhua Writer Bai Xu
BEIJING, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- Friday is an important day for the Chinese, and, to some extent, all honest and peace-loving people across the world.
On Friday local time, UNESCO added the Nanjing Massacre onto its Memory of the World Register despite obstruction from theJapanese right wing, belatedly giving global recognition to the carnage.
In the winter of 1937, the invading Japanese army killed 300,000 civilians and unarmed combatants over the course of six weeks in Nanjing, the Chinese capital at the time. The number of victims roughly equals the population of Belfast. One person was killed every 12 seconds.
The event, also known as the Rape of Nanking, was reported worldwide, witnessed by journalists from Western media including New York Times, the Associated Press and the Chicago Daily News. Details of the slaughter were provided by foreigners who helped Chinese during the crisis through letters and diary entries.
The massacre was so shocking that poet W. H. Auden compared the atrocities of the militaristic Japanese with Nazi Germanyconcentration camps.
It was also acknowledged by the Nanjing war crimes tribunal and international military tribunal for the Far East.
In time, however, the massacre is being gradually forgotten, deliberately or not, partly due to political reasons such as the Cold War.
At the same time, the Japanese right wing tried to whitewash the country's war crimes, which they committed not only against China, but also against Korea, the Phillipines, Malaysia, among others. Some even go so far as to claim that the Nanjing Massacre is entirely fabricated.
Under such circumstances, UNESCO's choice to include the massacre will ensure the world always remembers the tragedy.
The inscription onto the register as famed concentration camp Auschwitz attracts more than a million visitors a year. Germany also created the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe at the heart of Berlin, where names of the known victims are preserved.
However, there is a long way to go for the "Chinese Auschwitz" to become part of humanity's collective memory, as pictures and detailed accounts of the massacre are not easily found in many places of the West.
The inscription, therefore, is a small step forward for the world to recognize China's sacrifice and contribution during World War II, and pay long-deserved homage to those who died in the war.
The inscription comes nearly two decades after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were listed as world cultural heritage. While many Japanese agonize over the bombings, they tend to forget the cause - Japan's own aggression.
The inclusion on the register comes shortly after Japan's new security bills, which violates the country's post-war constitution. The bills, passed several hours after the 84th anniversary of the invasion of northeast China by Japanese troops, allow Japan to deploy troops to foreign battlefields so long as its allies are under attack or Japan claims to feel threatened.
Thus the inscription once again tolls the bell to the world, giving it a bitter example of the result of warfare, which could instantly turn human beings into devils, and a metropolis into inferno.
Having the Nanjing Massacre forever engraved into memory of the world offers crucial recognition for survivors, who number around 100.
The inscription is, of course, not for hatred.
It is consolation to the traumatized survivors, who, having seen their beloved ones raped, tortured and killed by the invading Japanese, still suffer from nightmares of the tragedy, and fall ill each time after giving accounts about their blood-stained childhood, like 87-year-old Chang Zhiqiang.
It is assuring to the decreasing number of survivors, who are not afraid of death, but fear that the suffering of their fellows will be forgotten forever, as many of the slaughtered had their bodies set on fire or thrown into river to be never found again, like 90-year-old Wu Zhengxi.
It is comforting to the unyielding survivors, who wept day and night after being smeared as "liars" by the Japanese right-wing nationalists, but never gave up efforts to testify for history, like 86-year-old Xia Shuqin.
In Amsterdam, the Anne Frank House is the third most visited museum in the Netherlands today, 70 years after the girl was killed in the Holocaust.
In her famous diary, she said: "I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty too shall end, that peace and tranquility will return once more."
For hundreds of thousands of people who died in mass slaughters like Frank, or relatives of Chang, Wu, and Xia, whatever color their faces are and whatever language they speak, their suffering should be known and remembered, so that people today can better cherish the peace they spent their last breaths hoping for.