Victims 300,000: The Memorial

The new Nanjing Massacre Museum is a stunning memorial to the victims of the massacre. When seen as a whole, it is a massive work of art, skillfully depicting the enormity of the horrors of that time through shapes and textures and imagery, while simultaneously honoring each victim. The museum was built for the 300,000, but after experiencing  it,  one felt that all suffering in the world had been represented there.

The day we were visiting was cold, foggy and rainy, as you will see in the outdoor pictures. Our guide, the wonderful Janny Chang, said the weather always seems to be that way when she brings people to the museum, as if the weather god is crying along with us.

The moment you get off the bus, you are confronted with statues that wrenchingly depict the suffering that occurred.

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The courtyard of the museum is entered through this massive stone structure with a narrow path cut through it.

The courtyard of the museum is entered through this massive stone structure with a narrow path cut through it.

detailed view

detailed view

Memorial bell

Memorial bell

This darkened room is the first you enter. Looking over the sparkling lights you see an ever changing display of victim's faces. As it changes from one to the next, a deep gong is sounded.

This darkened room is the first you enter. Looking over the sparkling lights you see an ever changing display of victim’s faces, a deep gong sounding as each new face appears.

Along the path to the next room is a wall with victim's names.

Along the path to the next room is a wall of victim’s names.

The next part of the museum is the description of the massacre that you saw last post.  Leaving that part you come to a wall of pictures. There was unfortunately no English description that I could find, so I don't know if these were victims or survivors (although the survivors could also be called victims).

The next part of the museum is the description of the massacre that you saw last post. Leaving that part you come to a wall of pictures. There was unfortunately no English description that I could find, so I don’t know if these were victims or survivors (although the survivors could also be called victims).

One of the many, who stood out especially, for me.

One of the many, who stood out especially for me.

DSC08759Culturally, it is interesting to note the description of the massacre as a national humiliation. While Americans might have individually felt humiliated by such events, as a nation I think the response would likely have been one only of outrage. It’s hard to imagine using the word “humiliating” in a plaque in an American museum. The Chinese, however, are very concerned with “losing face”, and the massacre was a huge instance of losing face for them, another reason that Japan’s lack of humility and apology over their deeds rankles so much.

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No picture can quite capture the next room. It is filled with floor to ceiling shelves, containing, 3 deep, binders filled with the biographies of each of the victims.

No picture can quite capture the next room. It is filled, floor to ceiling, with shelves,each containing, 3 deep, binders filled with the biographies of each of the victims.

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DSC08773My apologies for the bad picture, it was nearly pitch dark in this room.

The darkened room narrowed to a sharp, thin, vertical line of light in the distance. Every 12 seconds a drop of water was heard falling, representing one of the victims.

The walkway leaving the main building.

The walkway leaving the main building.

The courtyard was a work of art itself. The stones in this courtyard and elsewhere represent the bones of the victims

The courtyard was a work of art itself. All of the stones in the center of this courtyard and elsewhere in the museum represent the bones of the victims

Throughout the museum, textures were used to create feelings.

Throughout the museum, textures were used to great effect to create feelings.

I'm not sure this cross has the same meaning here as it does in the West. Here it has the dates of the massacre.

It’s unlikely that this cross has the same meaning here as it does in the West. It shows the dates of the massacre.
This large sculpture re[resents the bloody edge of the swords that beheaded so many.

This large sculpture represents the bloody edge of the swords that beheaded so many. (You can see a distant view in the panorama of the courtyard.)

The hand of oppression

The hand of oppression

 

This courtyard was a memorial for the survivors

This courtyard was a memorial of the survivors

the imprints of survivors

Footprints of survivors

Statue of Iris Chang who wrote the definitive book on the massacre, "The Rape of Nanking: the Forgotten Holocaust of WWII." The experience was so painful that it led to her suicide.

Statue of Iris Chang, a Chinese American who wrote the definitive book on the massacre, “The Rape of Nanking: the Forgotten Holocaust of WWII.” The writing experience was so painful that it led to her suicide.

 

Another view of the main courtyard.

View of the another courtyard.

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Memorial Flame

Memorial Flame

Entering this room, a piano could be heard playing melancholy music

Entering this room, a piano could be heard playing melancholy music

Plaque at the back of the hall

Plaque at the back of the hall

This room contained a long ledge filled with origami made by Japanese visitors to represent their sorrow and apologies for the atrocities perpetrated by their country.

This room contained a long ledge filled with origami that has been made by Japanese visitors. The origami figures represent their sorrow, and apologies, for the atrocities perpetrated by their country.

Peace statue

Peace statue

Leaving through the same stones we entered by is a totally different feeling.

Leaving through the same stones we entered by is a totally different feeling.

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About DECRYPTKNIT: knitter on the loose in Shanghai

Hi, I'm Marisa Newhouse, a former pharmacist (for a brief time during the Reagan administration) who's real calling was probably anything that has to do with cooking, plants, literature and especially knitting; hence my last and favorite job, working at Woolyminded, a wonderful yarn store. But now, I have moved half a world away to Shanghai where my husband will be working. Lots of people are interested in what we will be doing here and I have always kept journals of our travels, so I thought I'd do it the modern way and keep a blog.
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7 Responses to Victims 300,000: The Memorial

  1. Nice post. I went to the memorial museum last year. Some of the photos were very difficult to look at.

    Jimmy

    • Hi Jimmy. Thanks for reading. Yes, there were a number of them that I thought were too awful to post. It was really sad writing this. I can understand the magnitude of emotion Iris Chang had while writing the book. It must have been overwhelming to immerse one’s self in this for the time it takes to write a book.

  2. I haven’t never been to Nanjing. Your post makes it a must visit for me in the near future, when my twin girls a bit older to understand… Thank you!!

    • Interesting article Peach Garden–thanks for sharing. I wasn’t aware of Japan’s lack of focus on these events in schools, but I did recently read an article that mentioned an interview with a soldier. He said he was about 16 when it happened and at the time he did not realize he was doing anything wrong. It was only when he was older that the horrific nature of his actions sunk in. When one looks at other atrocities that have happened during wars, you have to wonder if some part of it might be due to the immaturity of soldiers. Their frontal lobes haven’t fully matured and they really don’t have good judgement yet and are easily swayed by their peers.

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