THE RAPE OF NANKING! You know about the Holocaust, and German atrocities during World War Two. You know about Mao's Cultural Revolution and Stalin's Gulag Archipelago. But we'll bet you're not so familiar with another one of the greatest atrocities to occur during the 20th Century.

As a general rule here at the Outrage we focus on the Here and Now; there's certainly no shortage of current events to feed the fires of outrage. But the publication of Iris Chang's book, The Rape of Nanking, has inspired us to take a look back at one of the most nauseating events in the history of Outrage.

Chang has written a well-documented book based on American missionary diaries, U.S. Naval intelligence reports, Japanese military diaries, letters and reports from Nazi party members stationed in Nanking, Japanese foreign office communications, news reports, photographs, and film footage. But the most chilling evidence is the 1,700 testimonials from Chinese survivors, many of whom are still alive.

In December of 1937 the Japanese Army swept into the eastern Chinese city of Nanking and began an orgy of rape, torture and murder which was so brutal that even the Nazis were appalled. Within weeks of the invasion more than 300,000 civilians had been butchered.

To put this atrocity into perspective consider this: in six to eight weeks, Japanese soldiers killed more Chinese civilians than the combined death toll from the U.S. atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. More civilians were killed in two months in Nanking than were killed in Great Britain, France, and Belgium, combined, during all of World War Two.

But the real Outrage can not be explained simply with statistics. Japanese soldiers, acting on orders to spare no one, were probably seeking to terrify the rest of China into submission by making an example of the civilians in Nanking. Their brutality was almost beyond comprehension.

Chinese men and women were used for bayonet practice and decapitation contests. Babies were tossed into vats of boiling water. In a secret laboratory called Ei1644 Japanese scientists injected Chinese captives with poisons, germs, and lethal gasses.

Methods of killing included hanging victims by their tongues on iron hooks, and burying civilians waist deep to be torn apart by German Shepherds. Nazis in Nanking at the time called the Japanese atrocities the work of a "bestial machinery."

As the sobriquet implies, the worst atrocities were inflicted against Chinese women. Japanese soldiers raped from 20,000 to 80,000 Chinese women during this orgy of brutality, making it the second worst mass rape in world history. (The worst supposedly being the attacks on Bengali women by Pakistani soldiers in 1971.)

In addition to gang rape, many of the victims were brutally tortured to death after being raped. Some rape victims were disemboweled, or nailed alive to walls. Others had their breasts cut off. Japanese soldiers forced some Chinese civilians to commit incest while their families and the soldiers watched. During and after the Rape of Nanking "uncounted" numbers of Chinese women committed suicide by drowning themselves in the Yangtze River.

As terrible as it was, the atrocities that took place in Nanking in late 1937 and early 1938 were only a small part of Chinese suffering. Chang estimates a staggering 19 million Chinese died as a result of the Japanese invasion during World War Two.

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