China Hails a Good Nazi and Makes Japan Take Notice – Howard W. French

From the New York Times (link):

China.184.1From the outside it does not look like much: the shell of a two-story brick building with scaffolding running up its sides and, on a drizzly winter day, a pair of construction workers kicking around in a courtyard littered with building materials.

But 69 years ago the courtyard was filled with hundreds of Chinese seeking refuge from Japanese troops who were rampaging through the city, then China’s capital. The invaders subjected Nanjing to a six-week reign of terror, killing large numbers of Chinese soldiers who had thrown down their weapons and murdering and raping thousands of civilians.

The property was the home of John Rabe, a Nazi Party member and employee of Siemens. In addition to sheltering people in his own compound, Mr. Rabe led a score of other foreigners in the city to form an international safety zone that shielded more than 200,000 Chinese from the Japanese.

Despite his heroism, Rabe was for decades all but forgotten here. Even the location of his house, today all but swallowed up by the sprawling campus of Nanjing University, was unknown.

But now, amid a political and intellectual cold war with Japan that revolves to a great extent around the history of China’s conquest by its neighbor, this country is seizing on the memory of a man often called “the Good Nazi,” and even China’s Oskar Schindler.

March 15, 2006 9:06 AM
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