Remembering the Nanjing Massacre: A Survivor’s Story

World Today

Survivors of the Nanjing Massacre have spent decades trying to spread awareness of the atrocities. Xia Shuqin is one of them. This is her story.

Xia Shuqin, one of the Nanjing Massacre survivors, is now 88 years old. Xia lost seven of nine family members at the age of 8. In the morning of Dec. 13, 1937, Japanese troops entered her house and killed her parents, grandparents and two sisters. Xia was stabbed three times and passed out.

Living besides their families’ bodies with hunger, fear, and desperation for about two weeks, Xia and her four-year-old sister eventually were found by a neighbor.

“I feel so much pain every time I think of my family,” Xia said. “Why did they kill my family?”

A picture tells the story of what happened, with bodies on the streets and survivors waking up covered in blood. The footage was shot by John Magee, an American preacher who recorded the outrage with his camera.

During that dark period, many international people staying in Nanjing saved as many people as they could. Along with others, John Rabe – the Chairman of the Nanking Safety Zone – saved over 200,000 people in just four square kilometers.

“I’m now 88 years old,” Xia said. “I am very grateful for the international friends. They did save a large number of people during that time.”

The Diaries of John Rabe, as well as hundreds of thousands of documents, serve as records of the outrage. Although confronted with proof, the Japanese government still denies the Nanjing Massacre.

“Oppose war and cherish peace, only then can we live a better life,” Xia said. “I want to remind other people of this history. It cannot be forgotten.”

This December marks the 80th year since the Nanjing Massacre took place. 80 years – but the history remains rooted in Chinese people’s minds. For the survivors, the scars of that winter 80 years ago will never heal and the memories will never fade.

Soo Wong on the collective memory of the Nanjing Massacre

Soo Wong is the first female Chinese-Canadian to be elected to the Ontario Legislature. Last year, she introduced a bill to establish December 13th as Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day. CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke with her about why so many outside of China don’t know the story of the Nanjing Massacre – and what Canada is doing to commemorate this painful chapter in history.