On December 17th in 1937, A Japanese army troop was able to capture the city ‘ Nanjing (Today Called Nanjing) which belongs to China. Since then, they tortured hundred of thousands Of Yanking people for almost six months. This Cruel Behavior Named as “The massacre of Nanjing” Which is also one of the Darkest incidents ever happened in that decade. This article is all about that incident.

Second China-Japan Warfare

The Nanjing attack in 1937 was not an isolated incident but the result of a series of events. It is important to know the sequence of events that led to it.

On July 7th in 1937 A conflict had arisen between the Chinese Republic and the Japanese Empire. The battle of Marco Polo Bridge was the main reason for this conflict. Because of that, the unrest between Chinese and Japanese soldiers turned into war very soon. This was ended when Japan decided to surrender to the Friendly alliance unconditionally, after World War II.

Second China-Japan Warfare
Picture: Second China-Japan Warfare

It all began because of Japan’s policy of devolution and the process of collecting industrial raw materials and also the collapse of the Japanese market and the impact of World War II. Because of the above reasons including some political ones, Japan decided to conquer Manchuria, Which belonged to china. They established a kingdom there and named it Man Kucho. There were several small conflicts between Japan and China From 1931 to 1937. But The Marco – Polo Bridge incident really turned it into the second warfare Between Japan and China.

Attack on the Nanjing City

At the beginning of the war in August 1937, The Japanese army attacked the city of Shanghai first. The city went down in November. After that, they were ordered to attack The City of Nanjing which was the capital of China during that time.

Japanese Army After winning Shanghai
Picture: Japanese Army After winning Shanghai

The Chinese Prime Minister Chiang Kai-shek realized in advance that Nanjing could not be defended under this powerful Japanese army. Therefore he chose to prevent the untimely death of Chinese troops by withdrawing most of the Chinese soldiers and retaining only hundreds of thousands of untrained soldiers in the Nanjing city.

They prevented civilians from escaping by destroying harbors and blocking the streets. Meanwhile, Tang-Shensi, the General of the Chinese army made a statement saying that the people of Nanjing City are ready to fight till death

Nanjing city Falls Apart

Japanese army raising their rifles to the sky marking their victory over Nanjing city at the entrance
Picture: Japanese army raising their rifles to the sky marking their victory over Nanjing city at the entrance

By December 9, 1937, Japan had reached the Nanjing city wall, breaking the Chinese defenses along the way. They were Sending messages from outside, said the city will not be destroyed if it surrenders within 24 hours. But due to the lack of response even after the 10th of December, they decided to attack the city. There are some articles that say that the general gave an extra hour to the city before carrying out their attacks.

Japanese Soldiers with a captured Chinese prisoners.  – 1937 December
Picture: Japanese Soldiers with a captured Chinese prisoners.  – 1937 December

Meanwhile, the Chinese general-Tang ordered to fall back. Most of the Chinese soldiers escaped but 4000 of them were killed at the outside security area who were tried to escape with the civilians.


The post- Nanjing crash did not bode well for the civilians inside. After taking the city the Japanese army burned properties, sexually assaulted people, and killed them. They did so many war crimes

Nanjing in December 14th
Picture: Nanjing in December 14th

Japanese soldiers went from house to house and abducted all the young women in those houses. These women were then subjected to severe sexual abuse individually or collectively. They were tortured and brutally murdered by inserting bamboo bayonets into their body and mutilating it. Even after ignoring adults and children who have been sexually abused, the Japanese military has killed about 20,000 women in six months.

Japanese soldiers forced Chinese women to pose for photos who were abused by them as a celebration. (comfort woman)
Picture: Japanese soldiers forced Chinese women to pose for photos who were abused by them as a celebration. (comfort woman)

Not only that the Japanese army held some contest about killing innocent civilians. According to two newspapers at the time, this happened between Nozhiaki Musai and Tsuyoshi Nudai of the 16th Regiment before the capture of Nanjing to select which one of them kills a hundred civilians first by the sword. Between Jurong and Nanjing, 89 were killed by Mukai and 19 by Noda. Eventually, they lost count because of the war situation and extend this game to 150 kills.

This is how a newspaper reported the game between Musai and Nudai
Picture: This is how a newspaper reported the game between Musai and Nudai

After capturing the Chinese city hundred of thousands of civilians were killed and thrown into the Yangtze River or buried in piles of Mass graves. The death count is not exactly sure but expected to be. Around 60 000 to 300 000 according to the records. After taking the city, the Japanese took the civilians near the Yangtze River and shot them to death, and dragged them into the river.

Prisoners were captured, tied up, and shot in rows, screaming to death. Another group of Japanese soldiers took a group of prisoners near the Taipei gate and detonate them with the help of landmines. And they burned the bodies using petrol. The ones who didn’t get killed by the explosion were killed by annealing from bayonets.

How the Chinese prisoners were buried alive
Picture: How the Chinese prisoners were buried alive

Also, the Japanese looted a large number of government buildings and houses in Nanjing and later burned them to the ground.

End of the Massacre

A few square kilometers outside the Nanjing city limits were selected as a security zone. There were some Chinese and foreigners here and this was not as attacked as the city. But The Japanese kidnapped and killed hundreds of Chinese people from time to time outside the city limits.

A pond filled with bodies of civilians who were killed by the japan soldiers outside Nanjing
Picture: A pond filled with bodies of civilians who were killed by the japan soldiers outside Nanjing

By 1938, Japanese troops began forcibly evacuating civilians from the area into the city. The chaos began to settle down and Japanese forces began to leave the city in numbers. According to the reports, at the end of May in 1938, all the killings were stopped. All the refugees were settled in the city, Abolishing all the refugee camps.

Refugee camps in Tsiya-Shan outside the Nanjing city
Picture: Refugee camps in Tsiya-Shan outside the Nanjing city

After World War II, the Japanese were accused and lawsuits were held for all of this. By November 1948, the Japanese generals who led the fighting were named Iwane Matsui, Hisao Tani, Koki Hirota, and five others selected as first-class war criminals and executed. Another 18 people were accused of the same crime and subjected to different penalties. December of this year marks the 84th anniversary of the Nanjing massacre.


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