on 22 November 2000
When you tie in this book with Iris Chang's excellent research on the sluaghter in Nanking, it really brings home to Western eyes the unknown side of Japan's war in Asia. Rabe was obviously moved by the plight of the people of Nanking, and was determined to help out the unfortunates who did not flee the city when the Japanese invaded, but I was disturbed that the editor of his diaries decided to leave out sections (i.e personal notes on his family) that could have been relevant to the person John Rabe rather than just his eyewitness accounts of the attrocities. However, perhaps this would be better left to any biographies of the man, and maybe his feelings towards the Nazi regime in Berlin would cast him in an unfavourable light when the book is obviously portraying him as a hero. Having said that the book is as moving as Chang's account, but certainly not as graphic nor as disturbing, and is certainly something I recommend to anyone interested in the Second World War in the Far East, or any student of modern history. It certainly helps to shoot down the recent arguments of Japanese nationalists who are in denial of the attrocities, and anyone who thinks even for one minute that they may have a valid argument can't deny the truth that exists in this book.
on 15 June 2004
This diary shows you what John Rabe really saw and what he did not see.
What he really saw were, on the contrary to the world�fs presupposition, just few misdemeanor of the Japanese soldiers (or, the Chinese soldiers who donned Japanese Army uniform) such as banging at the gate of the Rabe residence, where 600 Chinese refugees were sheltered, or trying to climb up the fence of the house, etc,�c�c.
In fact, neither he nor his colleagues of the International Committee of Nanking Safety Zone saw a single case of civilian killing.
Although they wrote some 400 cases of �gatrocities of the Japanese soldiers�h in the Documents of the Nanking Safety Zone, they were, as the Committee themselves admitted in the document, all hearsay from Chinese informants. Most of them were even the second-hands and mere rumors.
Memorandum of German Chancellor Scharffenberg for the Embassy in Hankow (p.189) says: �g�c[Rabe] has let himself be lulled far too much by the Americans [who were of Anti-Japanese sentiment, and agents of the Chinese Nationalist Party�fs propaganda department] and is helping promote American interests and missionaries [�c�c] [He] is actively trying to counter the bloody excesses of Japanese looters,[�c�c]. To my mind, this should not concern us Germans, particularly since one can clearly see the Chinese, once left to depend solely on the Japanese, immediately fraternize. And as for all these excesses, one hears only one side of it, after all.�h
As Rev. John Magee testified at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, only one �gkilling�h the Committee saw was �glegitimate execution�h of illegal Chinese soldier.
I think Rabe�fs intention to help Chinese people was genuine. Unfortunate to the Japanese, however, he was fond of the Chinese so much he could not keep himself in the neutral ground.