The Rape of Nanking

During the course of World War II, Japan invaded China and marked one of the darkest events dubbed the Rape of Nanking.   

Rape of Nanking
A painting depicting The Rape of Nanking (doraartgallery).

Nanking was then the capital of China which held an estimate of 250,000 people. But in 1931 when Japanese soldiers occupied most of the cities in China, the population inflated to more than a million, mostly were refugees.

Following the occupation of Shanghai, the invading soldiers advanced towards Nanking on November 11, 1937. Enraged by the strength of Chinese resistance, Japanese launched massive attacks until the troops in Nanking surrendered and retreated to the other side of Yangtze River. On December 13, the city fell to the hands of the Japanese. Nanking was subjected to a six-week campaign of carnage and slaughter branded as The Rape of Nanking.

On the day the Japanese soldiers entered the city, the streets were swarming with more than 100,000 refugees and wounded soldiers. Japanese troops immediately fired at the people using tanks and artilleries. Dead bodies covered the major streets of the city and the sewers ran red with blood.

Rape of Nanking
Thousands of men and women were massacred (

Those who tried to escape by crossing the Yangtze River were also shot with machine guns. More than 50,000 dead bodies of adult and children covered the whole river.

Japanese arrested civilians being suspected to be Chinese soldiers. Thousands of men and women were transported outside the city wall. They were gunned down and those who were still alive were bayoneted. The captives were also gushed with gasoline and burned them alive.

Japanese officers encouraged their troops to invent and exercised barbaric methods of slaughtering the Chinese. Civilians were beheaded, hacked, drowned, burned, used for bayonet practice and raped. Some were herded into slaughter pits and buried alive. Thousands of bodies were dumped into the Yangtze River.

Raiding soldiers also raped the women. Girls less than 10 years old, women over 70, pregnant women and even nun were not spared from being sexually abused. Many women were gang raped. Soldiers ordered fathers to rape their daughters, sons to rape their mothers or brothers their sisters. Then after, they were killed.

Rape of Nanking
Many women were gang raped (

The stores, houses and commercial buildings were ransacked and robbed. After which, the invading soldiers set fire to the buildings. For six weeks, Nanking was a hell on Earth.

The Rape of Nanking took a quarter of million Chinese lives.

However, Japanese soldiers completely denied the Nanking Massacre saying that the Chinese exaggerated their accounts. On November 10, 1990, the Deputy Japanese Consul in Houston maintained that “the Rape of Nanking never occurred.”


Source:  CND  History Place  Pacific War

Further Readings

Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945
TIME-LIFE World War II in 500 Photographs

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