Memorial walk in Nanjing honors WWII humanitarian heroes

NANJING, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) — Dozens of people in east China’s city of Nanjing participated in a memorial walk event over the weekend to commemorate German citizen John Rabe and other foreigners that saved tens of thousands of Chinese lives during World War II.

Rabe was born on Nov. 23, 1882, in Hamburg, Germany, and came to China at the age of 26. In December 1937, Rabe, then a business representative of Siemens in Nanjing, and over 20 other foreigners set up a “safety zone” in the city to protect more than 200,000 Chinese from falling prey to the notorious Nanjing Massacre conducted by the invading Japanese Imperial Army.

The six-week massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking (Nanjing), left at least 300,000 innocent civilians and disarmed soldiers slaughtered, and tens of thousands of women raped by the brutal Japanese invaders.

Apart from saving lives, Rabe also kept a 10-volume diary, which was later published and served as indisputable evidence of the Japanese wartime atrocities.

Around 100 people, some holding balloons in the shape of peace doves, started the walk on Sunday at Building 1892 of Gulou Hospital, where U.S. physician Robert O. Wilson and other international medical workers saved many lives during the massacre.

The 6-km walk also covered several other historic sites, including Rabe’s former residence and the cemetery of the massacred victims.

“I was only ten years old in 1937. It was a bitterly cold winter, and we were starving all the time,” Ge Daorong, a survivor of the massacre who took refuge in the “safety zone,” told Deng Yan, an 11-year-old participant of the Sunday walk.

“You guys are living in good times, so you should cherish the peaceful life today and study hard,” he added.

Organized by the Memorial Hall of the Victims in the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders, the walk was the fifth of its kind to pay tribute to Rabe and his peers. It also calls on the public to remember history and cherish peace.

“The people of Nanjing have never forgotten the kindness of those heroes in those dark days,” said Zhang Jianjun, curator of the memorial hall.

Several local medical workers who went to Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei Province, to help fight against the COVID-19 outbreak there earlier this year, were also invited to join the walk.

“They exhibited a similar humanitarian spirit as our international friends did decades ago,” said Zhang. 

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