December 13, 1937: Nanking falls. The Second Sino-Japanese War began with minor skirmishes in 1931 and became a full scale war on July 7, 1937. It became part of the Pacific War of World War II in 1941 and ended in 1945 with a Chinese victory. The Battle of Nanking was fought between the National Revolutionary Army of China and the Imperial Japanese Army from December 1, 1937 until the city fell on this day. The Japanese had been victorious during the Battle of Shanghai, having won it by mid-November at which point they set Nanking as their next goal. Nanking is about 300 miles farther inland than is Shanghai. By November 20, Chinese laborers were helping to build defensive systems around the city.
The Battle for the city was going poorly and by December 11, Chiang Kai-Shek had sent orders for troops to abandon the falling city. Japan made an intensified attack on the city and local General Tang made a last-minute bid to create a temporary ceasefire. When it became obvious it was all for naught, Tang called for a breakout maneuver to escape the city. He and his troops were able to escape under cover of darkness and made their way to Pukou on the opposite side of the Yangtze River less than 24 hours before the Japanese troops entered the city. As they entered the city, the Nanking Massacre, also called the Rape of Nanking, began.
There is no way to know exactly how many people were killed in the next six weeks. Some figures are as low as 40,000 and some are as high as 300,000. The civilians and disarmed combatants were systematically killed by soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army. Widespread rape and looting were also reported. Some of the key participants were eventually charged with war crimes. However, most Japanese military records were deliberately kept secret or destroyed shortly after the Japanese surrender in 1945. The International Military Tribunal of the Far East estimated in 1948 that over 200,000 Chinese were killed while China’s official estimate is more than 300,000 dead.
A “highlight” of the time prior to the fall of the city, reported in two different Japanese papers was a killing contest between two Japanese officers. Armed with only a sword, the contest was to see which of the two officers could kill 100 Chinese first. There are estimates that 20,000 women and girls were raped in a systematized process. Soldiers would go door to door looking for young girls to gang rape and then the women/girls would be explicitly mutilated with some sharp object inserted in her vagina. Pregnant women were also targeted and they were bayoneted in the stomach after being raped. The city was also looted and much of it burned due to arson.
To begin with, it is our policy not to take prisoners, so we decided to get them out of the way. – Lieutenant General Nakajima Kesago
You want to know how to kill people! Like this! – Lieutenant Colonel Cho Isamu as he slashed at his own troops
We dragged them out, striped them naked, inspected their possessions, and bundled them with an electric wire we picked up in the street. – Sergeant Masuda Rokusuke
Supervising the privates wouldn’t be of much help since, to my surprise, even high-ranking officers are candidly being thieves. – Lieutenant General Nakajima Kesago
Also on this day: Maximum Insecurity – In 2000, seven violent offenders escape from the John Connally Unit, a maximum security prison in Texas.
Cheaters – In 2007, the Mitchell Report was released.
Get Rael – In 1973, the Elohim reveal themselves to a human.
Tasman – In 1642, New Zealand was discovered by Europeans.