BRIAN LAMB, HOST: Iris Chang, author of "The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II," when did you first think about writing this book?
Ms. IRIS CHANG (Author, "The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II"): Well, it goes back a long way. I mean, I learned about this event when I was a little child, but I really didn't think about writing the book until I finished my first one, "Thread of the Silkworm," and after I had attended a conference in California that was devoted to preserving the history of this event.
LAMB: What was the Rape of Nanking?
Ms. CHANG: The Rape of Nanking is one of the greatest atrocities of world history. In December of 1937, the Japanese swept into the capital of China, which was then Nanking, and within six to eight weeks they butchered, raped and tortured hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians. Three hundred thousand people ultimately died during this massacre and they raped an estimated two--let's see, 20,000 to 80,000 women during this period.
LAMB: Why is there such a discrepancy between 20,000 and 80,000?
Ms. CHANG: It's often very difficult to ascertain the exact number and many women were reluctant to come out with these facts at the time.
LAMB: I'm looking at page 59 and there's a gentleman here by the name of Nagatomi Hakudo.
Ms. CHANG: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: Who was he or who is he?
Ms. CHANG: Well, he was a doctor. He's a doctor now, but back in 1937, he was one of the soldiers who committed atrocities in Nanking.
LAMB: And there is a--I'm gonna read something here in just a moment, but have you met him?
Ms. CHANG: No. No. I mean, this is taken from an article, but the story was just so compelling that I had to put it in my book.
LAMB: Before I read this, tell me what the story is.
Ms. CHANG: Well, he was in--are we talking about the story in the article itself?
LAMB: Well, the story about him. I mean, now he has a shrine in a doctor's office.
Ms. CHANG: Well, you see, he's a doctor now and he feels so terrible about what he did, so he has put up pictures of the--I guess, some of the atrocities in the waiting room of his clinic, so patients of his can see what he did in Nanking.
LAMB: Let me read just a little bit from what you've got in your book. `"I remember being driven in a truck along a path that had been cleared through piles of thousands and thousands of slaughtered bodies. Wild dogs were gnawing at the dead flesh as we stopped and pulled a group of Chinese prisoners out of the back. Then the Japanese officer proposed a test of my courage. He unsheathed his sword, spat on it, and with a sudden mighty swing, he brought it down on the neck of a Chinese boy cowering before us. The head was cut clean off and tumbled away on the group as the body slumped forward, blood spurting in two great, gushing fountains from the neck. The officer suggested I take the head home as a souvenir. I remember smiling proudly as I took his sword and began killing people."'
Why'd you--you know, obviously this bothered you. Why did you put this in then?
Ms. CHANG: I wanted to show the people that the Japanese soldiers were inculcated to commit violence. This is not a story that was an isolated incident. I mean, this was happening throughout Nanking. And they massacred people all the way up to the capital and they even held killing contests in order to desensitize the Japanese soldiers from feeling reluctant in committing these atrocities.
LAMB: You got a picture here of corpses along the Yangtze River. Right here, the big one. Where did you find this picture?
Ms. CHANG: This picture--that one came from--that's Murase--yeah, that's a Japanese correspondent who took that picture. That was reprinted in several other publications. So it's really--I'm telling you, that's not the most gruesome picture there. You may not wanna show the audience some of the others that are in my book.
LAMB: Well, actually, I think we do wanna show the pictures so that they can see the--I mean, not that picture, on the other side. If we can pick it up from the other side--that picture right there. What's this?
Ms. CHANG: The one on the left?
LAMB: Right here.
Ms. CHANG: Oh, right. That's a number of heads that have just been put out--you know, this was a typical scene in Nanking, beheadings. Then sometimes they would put heads up on posts, like that picture underneath, so that the people could understand what it would be like if they continued to resist Japan.
LAMB: And where was this done?
Ms. CHANG: This was done in Nanking but also throughout--I mean, throughout China, actually.
LAMB: What was the history of why the Japanese were in China in 1937 in Nanking?
Ms. CHANG: Well, in 1937, the Japanese found an opportunity to provoke a war with China and it's called the Marco Polo Bridge incident. And we probably don't have too much detail to go into --we don't have too much time to go into that, but it escalated into a full-scale war and the Japanese invaded Shanghai in the fall of 1937. And they had originally thought that the war would take place only three months. They thought that they could conquer China in a matter of months. But when one battle alone in one Chinese city, Shanghai, dragged on for that long, the Japanese were anxious to, I think, make an example of the city. They were furious and frustrated, and that was the mood that the soldiers were in as they marched from Shanghai to Nanking.
LAMB: Where is Nanking in China?
Ms. CHANG: Nanking is situated in a bend of the Yangtze River. It is--maybe we can show a map right now.
LAMB: I'll find it. Go ahead.
Ms. CHANG: It's only a few miles away, really...
LAMB: This just shows the massacre location.
Ms. CHANG: That's right. Shanghai would be on the coast of China and Nanking's further inland, and the city is right in the--situated right at a bend of where the river courses, you know, to the north and then turns to flow towards the coast. So when the Japanese swept towards Nanking, all they had to do was encircle it from three other directions because the river itself formed a natural barrier.
LAMB: Have you been to Nanking?
Ms. CHANG: Absolutely.
LAMB: How many times?
Ms. CHANG: Actually, in the summer of 1995, I was there for--you know, for several weeks, actually, just one time.
LAMB: And what's your personal connection to Nanking?
Ms. CHANG: Well, my father was born in that area and my family, actually-- my grandparents used to live in Nanking, and they were almost separated forever shortly before the massacre itself.
LAMB: And when did you first--can you remember the first time you ever heard about the Rape of Nanking?
Ms. CHANG: Yes. I was a little girl. I don't remember exactly how old I was, but I must have been in grade school at the time. And my parents were professors at the University of Illinois at Urbana, were telling me about the 'Nanjing Da Tu Sha,' which is Chinese for `the Nanking massacre.' And they said that the killing had been so intense in Nanking that the river--the Nanjing River literally ran red with blood for days, and they said that people were being hacked to pieces. And at the time, this was very hard for me to visualize and I really wanted to learn more about it. So I went to the local libraries to see if I could find anything about it and there wasn't a single book in English on it. I couldn't find anything.
LAMB: So what'd you do next?
Ms. CHANG: Well, I think as a child I probably just forgot about it and I didn't really think about it for another 20 years. The Rape of Nanking didn't intrude on my life until I was married and I was living in Santa Barbara, and a filmmaker friend of mine told me that he had two friends who had heard that people were-- had been filming a documentary on the Rape of Nanking but that they had problems securing funding, I think, for distribution because of Japanese influence in this country, and that's what piqued my interest again.
And I located the filmmakers and talked to them, and one of them, Nancy Tong, who produced the documentary "In the Name of the Emperor," told me that there was considerable Chinese activism on this event and that, if I was interested, I should contact, you know, this particular organization which is called the Alliance for the Preservation of the Truth of World War II. And as it turns out, this particular organization was hosting a conference on the Rape of Nanking in December 1994.
So since I was in Santa Barbara and the conference was to be held in Cupertino, I just drove up and attended the event. Now what I wasn't prepared for was the fact that they had put poster-sized pictures of some of these atrocities and I was seeing these pictures for the very first time. And I was--I remember I felt sick to my stomach and, I mean, I really--I thought at one point that I would have to go home because I was just so ill, you know. And I resolved to do something. You know, I thought this was so bad, and yet, no one had still written a book about it. So I figured that it was time to--you know, to take initiative.
LAMB: Who is this woman up here?
Ms. CHANG: Li Xouying.
LAMB: Li Xouying?
Ms. CHANG: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: Is she alive?
Ms. CHANG: Yes, she is.
LAMB: And what's the story?
Ms. CHANG: Well, back in 1937, she was a teen-age wife of a technician who had fled from the city of Nanking on top of a train and she was left behind in the city. And she ended up fighting off three soldiers who tried to rape her. They stabbed her more than 30 times.
LAMB: Where does she live now?
Ms. CHANG: She lives in Nanking.
LAMB: Did you talk to her?
Ms. CHANG: Yes, I did.
LAMB: How long?
Ms. CHANG: I spoke to her for several hours. And I felt like a time traveler because I saw this picture of her, you know, when she was still a teen-ager and when I met her face-to-face she was almost 80 years old.
LAMB: What's she look like now?
Ms. CHANG: Well, she's still a very--she's a very feisty woman. She's very strong, one of the strongest women I've ever met. She's-- well, she has so many wrinkles now that they've covered up the scars. But when she was younger, the scars on her face were horrible.
LAMB: Again, she was stabbed 37 times with bayonets.
Ms. CHANG: That's correct.
LAMB: Can you remember anything else about the story? Where was she at the time she was stabbed?
Ms. CHANG: She was hiding in the International Safety Zone, which was a neutral zone organized by the foreigners of Nanking to protect them from the Japanese, and we'll probably talk more about that later. But at the time, a soldier had his eye on her. When he went down into the basement where she was hiding and he tried to rape her, but she resolved to fight to the death to prevent from being raped. So luckily, she was bigger than he was so that when he lunged--I guess when he came for her, she, like, ripped his bayonet from its sheath and she threw, I guess, her back against the wall and she just started grappling with him. And she ended up using him as a human shield against the two other soldiers who were trying to stab her and protect, you know, him, but she was using him as a shield to prevent from getting slashed up.
LAMB: How did she survive?
Ms. CHANG: Well, she survived just barely. One bayonet stabbed her right in the stomach and she eventually lost her baby, but she fainted and she was almost buried alive by her family, who didn't realize that she was still alive. But someone noticed the bubbles of blood frothing from her mouth and they rushed her to the hospital, where the American doctor Robert Wilson saved her life.
LAMB: She's now 80-something years old. When you talked to her, how many times did somebody ask her about this over the years?
Ms. CHANG: Oh, I think other reporters had talked with her. I'm not really sure.
LAMB: You talk about your dad being born near there. What about your grandparents?
Ms. CHANG: Well, my mother's parents were in Nanking in 1937. I mean, my grandfather actually was in the city as the Japanese were bombing it and there's just an incredible story of how they were almost separated forever during the chaos that followed the mass evacuations.
LAMB: What happened after that? I mean, I know this--I read the story, but tell us more about it.
Ms. CHANG: OK. You see, when the fighting in Shanghai escalated, it just became clear to my grandfather that his wife, who was then a young woman in her 20s, wasn't really safe. He didn't want her to be in the city where the Japanese were bombarding hospitals and schools. And so he sent her to her home village, which was near the city of Yi Shing. And when he went back to visit her in the village, but then when he journeyed back to Nanking, he didn't realize that the entire capital was moving inland and that his particular unit was just--they were leaving. They were going to leave town.
And he had to get word to my grandmother to join him in another city so that they could leave that whole region. And they were to meet in Wuhu because I think some of the railroad tracks to Nanking had already been bombed. And so as he waited for her, you know, she didn't show up. He waited for four days and he didn't know that it was just taking a long time because the transfer--I mean, the railroads had been bombed out and everybody was trying to get on a sampan to get out of there.
And so he waited and waited, and eventually it got to the point where he really had to make a choice. He would either leave the city and leave Wuhu and maybe never see his wife again or he could wait for his wife and his daughter and then meet up with them but miss the boat out of the region, knowing that that area would be overrun by Japanese soldiers. And he was so desperate, right when he turned to leave, he screamed out her name, `Yeepei.' He just screamed it out. And in one last sampan, it happens that she was--my grandmother was in there and she stuck her head out and yelled back. And it was because of that fateful cry that they were reunited. Otherwise--you know, otherwise, my mother would've never been born, they probably would've never seen each other again.
LAMB: When did they leave China?
Ms. CHANG: They didn't leave China until shortly before the 1949 Communist Revolution, so that would've been sometime in the 1940s.
LAMB: Are they alive?
Ms. CHANG: Unfortunately, both have passed away. My grandfather lived to be 94 years old when he passed away in 1993 and my grandmother died this last summer.
Ms. CHANG: It's very unfortunate she didn't get to see the publication of this book.
LAMB: And did you talk to both of them about the material in this book?
Ms. CHANG: Yes. Actually, my grandfather because he was a poet and a journalist and a book author. He had written about some of this in his autobiography, but I did have a chance to interview my grandmother as well, and she provided some more details before she died.
LAMB: And where did you grow up?
Ms. CHANG: I grew up in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, which is where my parents were professors.
LAMB: How long did you live there?
Ms. CHANG: For almost exactly 20 years. I moved there when I was--my father was offered a position when, I guess, I was about one. I went to school there, went to the university and left, I think, at age 21.
LAMB: And are they still there?
Ms. CHANG: Yes, they are.
LAMB: And where did you move after you left Champaign...
Ms. CHANG: Well...
Ms. CHANG: ...I worked briefly as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune and the Associated Press in Chicago, and then I went to the Johns Hopkins University writing seminars program, where I received my master's degree. Then I got married and moved out to California, where my husband was working.
LAMB: And where do you live now?
Ms. CHANG: I live in Sunnyvale, California, which is the heart of Silicon Valley.
LAMB: You say in the book that the Japanese have never apologized for this.
Ms. CHANG: That's correct, never officially apologized.
Ms. CHANG: Well, I think because there's really no reason for them to do so unless they were pressured to do so.
LAMB: And why hasn't somebody pressured them to do so? I mean, you compare it a lot with what the Germans have done.
Ms. CHANG: Well, I think maybe demographics has something to do with it. I mean, some of this activism behind the event is fairly new. But I would say the Cold War has a large role in this, the silence of the Japanese and the Chinese and the Americans on this issue. After the Communist Revolution neither, I think, the PRC nor the ROC really wanted to pressure Japan to pay reparations and to apologize because both of them needed Japan as an ally against each other. They needed Japan for economic and political reasons, and the United States also sought out Japan as its ally as well against the forces of Communism in Asia.
LAMB: Back in 1937, how many people lived in Nanking?
Ms. CHANG: Before the bombings, before some of the evacuations, about a million people.
LAMB: And what was the relationship between China and Japan back then? What was going on in the world and what was their relationship?
Ms. CHANG: Back in 1937? Oh, things by that point had been tense. I mean, in the summer of 1937, Japan had attacked Shanghai. But this--I mean, this is the-- war had already broken out.
LAMB: But what was the reason?
Ms. CHANG: Well, it goes back a long a way, but the Japanese had, actually, for hundreds of years, ambitions in China. It's really--it's not something that--it was not something that just started in 1937. There is a long history of animosity here.
LAMB: What's the reason?
Ms. CHANG: Reason for?
LAMB: The animosity.
Ms. CHANG: Well, again, you know, I don't know if we have enough time to go into this, but there had already been, you know, war between--you know, there was a first Sino-Japanese War and there had been already numerous attempts by the Japanese to carve up parts of China. They had already seized Manchuria by the 1930s.
LAMB: What was it and what is it about-- was it the Japanese character that led to this kind of slaughtering? I mean, what did you find in this process? I assume you've asked people about that.
Ms. CHANG: See, it's very complicated. Actually, another historian said that trying to peer into the Japanese mind was like trying to stare down a black hole. It's very--very difficult often to find out the motives for this. I would say, though, that if you're looking at the soldiers themselves, you'll find that many of them had been so brutalized before the massacre that I think that the rape--the Nanking massacre was an episode in which just this--as much of the pent-up frustration that they had experienced had exploded.
LAMB: The Japanese soldiers?
Ms. CHANG: The Japanese soldier was systematically hazed for years before Nanking. I mean, he was--you have to imagine just how--how intense the Japanese military experience really was. He had to endure getting slapped around by Japanese officers. I mean, there are accounts of Japanese soldiers being forced to wash their underwear--they were treated almost as subhuman within their own army. And it's often been suggested that those who have the least power can become the most sadistic when they do gain some chance to unleash the frustration that was bottled inside.
LAMB: How much discussion have you had with Japanese people about this event?
Ms. CHANG: Oh, I had the opportunity to talk to a group of Japanese students who were--who are studying in San Francisco. And they were absolutely shocked to find out what happened. I mean, they had been kept in the dark about this all their lives. They said that their textbooks had contained only one line on the Nanking massacre, which I think was referred to as the Nanjing incident. And I remember that when I showed them some of the photographs, I think one woman burst into tears. So it's clear that many of the Japanese people to this day don't really know what happened. I mean, the ignorance in Japan on this event and on other atrocities is appalling.
If you look--I mean, I had talked with a college professor in Japan, and he said that when he mentioned to his students--remember, these are college students--that Japan had been at war with the US, many of these students asked him which side won. So in other words, they're not being taught about this in school and the Ministry of Education has, for decades, censored this event and others from their textbooks. I mean, this has been the subject of a 30-year lawsuit between the Japanese government and a famous historian there, Anaga.
LAMB: Is there a Chinese Holocaust museum?
Ms. CHANG: Well, there actually is a Rape of Nanking museum in Nanjing. It has the big number 300,000 inscribed on it, but that's about it. And--but I've met people in Los Angeles who are interested in building a Chinese Holocaust museum in this country.
LAMB: You say that the House of Representatives got into this?
Ms. CHANG: Well, actually, that's--no, that's something different. That's the Lipinski Bill.
LAMB: No, I didn't mean that they got into the Holocaust museum, but they got into this whole issue of the Rape of Nanking.
Ms. CHANG: That's right. Uh-huh. William Lipinski, who is the Democrat from Illinois, has introduced a bill in Congress that calls for the Japanese to officially apologize to its World War II victims and to pay reparations, and the Rape of Nanking is only one aspect of the bill. He lists many other atrocities, such as, you know, the Korean comfort women issue, the medical experimentation that the Japanese had conducted, including vivisection without anesthesia on American and Chinese prisoners of war, you know, the Bataan death march. There are so many other instances of wartime atrocity that are mentioned in his bill and it's--I think they have more than 30 supporters right now in Congress.
LAMB: What was the killing contest? You mentioned it earlier.
Ms. CHANG: Oh...
LAMB: How'd it work?
Ms. CHANG: The killing contest, yes. Well, there were two sublieutenants who wanted to see who could kill 100 Chinese first, and the Japanese media covered this avidly, as if it was some kind of sporting event. And they--when they reached the--you know, the 100 mark, they--I guess they had lost counts. They figured, `OK. Let's just up it up. Let's just up this to 150.'
LAMB: You've got--What?--the actual newspaper article right here.
Ms. CHANG: That's right. That's right.
LAMB: And you can see over here the numbers 105 and 106. What's that?
Ms. CHANG: That's how close they were. They were running neck to neck, you see. One had killed 105 people, another had lopped off 106 heads.
LAMB: And that was actually published in the Japanese newspapers.
Ms. CHANG: That's right. So this was clearly something that the Japanese people knew about at the time.
LAMB: Who was conducting the contest?
Ms. CHANG: Oh, these two sublieutenants.
LAMB: I mean, who was challenging them? Whose idea was it that they do it?
Ms. CHANG: I'm not really clear on the details of this, but this was not typical. This was happening throughout Nanking.
LAMB: Here's a picture. It says, `In Nanking, the Japanese turned murder into sport. Note the smiles on the Japanese in the background,' and here's the photo right there. Where do you find all these photos?
Ms. CHANG: Many of these photos were later collected by the Nanking government for their war crimes tribunals against the Japanese after the war. But sometimes the Japanese soldiers themselves took these pictures. When I talked with one of the survivors, he remembers that as he stood, you know, on the edge of this pit watching all the Japanese lop off heads, then throw them in a--you know, to the side and you know, one person was keeping count--keeping score and the other one was laughing and taking photographs. You know, there's an incredible story about how this one album of 16 photographs eventually made its way from photo shop-to, like a--to a toilet, you know, it was hidden for years until it finally ended up in an archives.
LAMB: A couple of these pictures in here are rough to look at. I haven't shown them yet. Are you--was it a tough decision to put them in the book?
Ms. CHANG: It was. It was. I was very concerned that some of these pictures would result in the book being banned from school libraries. But I had numerous discussions with, you know, the people at HarperCollins and with other historians and friends. And some people insisted that, you know, I put them in anyway uncensored because this was history, this was the truth.
LAMB: What's this photo over here?
Ms. CHANG: That's the photo of a woman who--a rape victim who is being forced to pose next to a Japanese soldier naked. They found these photos in the wallets of some of the Japanese soldiers. You know, they took them. And sometimes the people in the local Photomat would make copies because they knew how important they were.
LAMB: On the other page at the top, what's that photo?
Ms. CHANG: I still have problems looking at it. That's a woman who's been impaled after she's been raped.
LAMB: Right down here. And where did you find this?
Ms. CHANG: This, again, came from China.
Ms. CHANG: It came from the Chinese archives.
LAMB: And the photo above it?
Ms. CHANG: That's a picture of a woman who's been gang raped, and she--as you can see, she's been tied to the chair so that she could be raped whenever the soldiers were in the mood for it. And again, I mean, I have a hard time even looking at these pictures even now.
LAMB: What's the purpose of putting them in the book then? And as you decided--in the end, what was the conversation like between you and the publisher?
Ms. CHANG: Well, there were people in the publishing house who had problems looking at the pictures. In the end, we decided that it was just--it was important for people to see what they were capable of doing. And it was a tough decision. And I know that I might--I may well catch a lot of criticism for it. But I don't think that people will realize just how brutal the Japanese were until they see these pictures.
LAMB: If I were a Japanese sitting here and saw these, I would say things like, `What's your proof that this actually is something that was caused by a Japanese soldier?'
Ms. CHANG: Mm-hmm. Well, all I can say is that there are thousands of pages of primary source documents on this event in four different languages that pretty much describe with words these very pictures. And many of these pictures-- they're not--they didn't all come from Japan and China. Many of them can be found in the United States, in the missionary collections.
LAMB: Let me show you this picture right here and ask you to tell me what it is.
Ms. CHANG: The one to the right?
LAMB: The one up top.
Ms. CHANG: The--oh...
LAMB: The bayonet.
Ms. CHANG: The bayonetting. Well, these are pictures of the Japanese bayonetting victims and they're doing it for practice. They're using live prisoners as practice. And as you can see, this--the gentle--the Chinese who's been blindfolded--I mean, he's been stabbed repeatedly, and this is happening even after he's dead.
LAMB: And you say that's just practice?
Ms. CHANG: It's just practice.
LAMB: Below that, this photograph.
Ms. CHANG: This is a photograph of several Chinese victims being buried alive as Japanese soldiers watch.
LAMB: And you also tell a story in there where they would bury some Chinese victims up to their heads and then have German shepherds or...
Ms. CHANG: Tear them apart.
LAMB: Tear them apart.
Ms. CHANG: That's true.
LAMB: Do you have any pictures of that?
Ms. CHANG: No, thank God.
LAMB: Now how did you find that out?
Ms. CHANG: Well, that was--that came out of you know, archival documents and it also came out of descriptions which I found in China. I'm telling you, literally I had so many facts on these atrocities I had to use a computer database for them in order to keep them, you know, in order. I mean, we had that much evidence on it.
LAMB: When did you start writing this book, or when did you start compiling all the information?
Ms. CHANG: I started compiling the information probably in January or February 1995.
LAMB: And I noticed that as late as August--almost the end of August you had something quoted in here from the Japan Times...
Ms. CHANG: That's right.
LAMB: ...and this book came out in December. How did you get it--were you able to publish it that close?
Ms. CHANG: Well, you see, we really had to publish this right at the last minute because all of this activism, it's ongoing, and we really were working right down to the last minute on this book. It was a very tight schedule.
LAMB: You mean you were afraid you were gonna lose the opportunity if you didn't get it published right away?
Ms. CHANG: It's a long story. I mean, HarperCollins itself, as you know, has been through some difficulty and, you know, they eventually canceled more than 100 book contracts and, you know, there were some delays in the process. But that was OK because that gave me the opportunity to put in some other information that should've gone in the book. You know, I never thought, for instance, that I would--ended up finding the family of John Rabe who is the Nazi hero of Nanking. And, you know, I located the dairies and located the family halfway through the project. So, I mean, this was an ongoing process.
LAMB: And you talked to his daughter or his granddaughter? Which...
Ms. CHANG: That's right, Ursula Reinhardt. I mean, that I've tracked down the family when, I think, the book was almost finished. So, yes, revisions were made up to the last minute.
LAMB: And who is John Rabe?
Ms. CHANG: John Rabe was the head of the Nazi party in Nanking, but he was also the head of the International Safety Zone Committee in Nanking, which is that group of about 20 foreigners who decided to create in Nanking a 2 1/2-square-mile area for the refugees during the massacre. They told the Japanese that this area was off limits to them, and they had to feed these refugees and protect them from the Japanese.
LAMB: You have a letter in here dated 8 June 1938 and it's Dear Fuhrer...
Ms. CHANG: Yes.
LAMB: ...signed by John Rabe.
Ms. CHANG: That letter went to Hitler.
Ms. CHANG: Well, he was hoping to stop the atrocities by informing the highest levels of German government about the Nanking massacre. He may have been a little naive, but he really thought that perhaps the Germans would pressure the Japanese to stop the killing. So what he did was in 1938, when he went back to Berlin, he brought with him a copy of John McGee's film of the massacre and John McGee was the Episcopalian minister who took footage of some of the atrocities--actually, he's the gentleman right on the other page, actually.
LAMB: Which one?
Ms. CHANG: The picture that's a little lower on the page...
LAMB: Which one are you...
Ms. CHANG: ...to the right. This gentleman.
LAMB: OK, fine. We'll get it here so people can see what he looks like.
Ms. CHANG: He shot scenes from the Nanking Hospital, and it was this film that was reproduced and you know, in Shanghai. It was smuggled out of Nanking and this--and they made several copies. John Rabe took one of these copies. He also kept diaries of the massacre and he brought those along with him to Berlin, and he sent a copy of the film to Hitler and he was hoping to make some kind of, I guess, change in German policy towards Japan. But the net result of sending the film was a visit from the Gestapo. And they came to his home, arrested him, interrogated him for hours, and eventually, they forced him to promise them that he would never speak about the atrocities again.
LAMB: Where is that film?
Ms. CHANG: That's a good question. We are trying to--well, John McGee's film is available in the United States. I mean, several copies were made, so they're in different archives and different homes. But John McGee--sorry, John Rabe's copy--we don't know where it is because people have searched the German archives and they can't find it. So to this day, they're not sure if Hitler has really seen it, but the family's convinced that he did.
LAMB: If you saw the John McGee film, what would you see? Do you see the atrocities?
Ms. CHANG: You would see people being led away by the Japanese soldiers. You have to remember, he couldn't just, you know, stick the camera up, you know, right in front of their faces. This had to be done secretly. So you could see some footage that is filmed through, like, maybe a crack in the door, a crack in the window, and you would see crowds of Chinese being taken away. And the most gripping images come from the hospital, where there were victims who had escaped being burned alive, people who had been slashed with bayonets. There's one picture where one woman's head is just about to fall off. It's really very grotesque.
LAMB: Azuma Shiro or Shiro Azuma, depending on how you pronounce it, is who?
Ms. CHANG: Shiro Azuma is a Japanese veteran of the Rape of Nanking, and he's still in--he's still alive and he's in Japan right now.
LAMB: And you corresponded with him.
Ms. CHANG: That's correct.
LAMB: How did that work? How did you find him?
Ms. CHANG: Well, I had to track him down, and I think a journalist, Ian Buruma, actually, was the one who gave me his address, and I wrote a letter to him, I had it translated into Japanese and he responded almost immediately. And I had the letter translated back into English. He sent me a copy of his diaries. And he also answered every question that I had posed to him. See, I was trying to understand the state of mind that he was in at the time.
LAMB: What did you learn from him?
Ms. CHANG: What I learned was that the Japanese soldier really had to see the Chinese as subhuman before they could kill them. I mean, he depicted the Chinese in his diary as--you know, as like animals or as insects.
LAMB: Right above that in the book, you can put this into context: `A veteran officer named Tominga--no. Tominaga Shozo recalled vividly his own transformation from innocent youth to killing machine.' And I wanna read what you have in here. Where did you find that, by the way?
Ms. CHANG: That was in a secondary source. I think it came from a book.
LAMB: `He scooped water from a bucket with a dipper, then poured it over both sides of the blade. Swishing off the water, he raised his sword in a long arc standing behind the prisoner. Tominaga, steadying himself, legs spread apart and cut off the man's head with a shout, "Yo." The head flew more than a meter away. Blood spurted up in two fountains from the body and sprayed into the hole. The scene was so appalling that I felt I couldn't breathe.' If you were Japanese, what would you want your own people to do about this, if they didn't know about it?
Ms. CHANG: Well, I guess it would depend on the individual, but I don't know what they would think. But I think that--I personally think that they have a moral responsibility to come to grips with this. Japan as a nation cannot move forward until they meet this squarely in the face.
LAMB: Well, even according to your testimony, they don't even know about it.
Ms. CHANG: Some of them don't know about it, but there are those who do, and I remember talking to some Japanese who, when they hear it, they'll often just immediately deny it. They don't wanna believe it. So it's very hard. It's very hard to know exactly how they're gonna react even when these facts are thrust into their faces.
LAMB: Will your book be published in Japan?
Ms. CHANG: I'm not really optimistic that it will be, but perhaps some kind of small radical publisher will take a risk and put it out.
LAMB: From what you know, what would happen if it were--if books were--tried to be sold over in Japan?
Ms. CHANG: I don't know, but I'll tell you that Shiro Azuma, who's come out to apologize for his role in the massacre, he's faced countless death threats. And many of the journalists who've written about this in Japan have either been ostracized or--I mean, when you see them photographed, they have sunglasses on because, you know, they've run into these kinds of threats, too. And don't forget, the Japanese--some Japanese right-wingers shot, I think, the mayor of Nagasaki in the back simply because he said that he thought Hirohito had some responsibility for the war.
LAMB: That was in 1989.
Ms. CHANG: That's right. So we have a country that is living in denial. And I'll be honest with you, I am completely appalled that more people don't know about this atrocity, because if you look--I mean, 300,000 people died in Nanking, and 300,000 people might not seem like a huge number until you place it in the context of World War II history. Three hundred thousand deaths is greater than the deaths from Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. It's also greater than the combined civilian deaths of several European countries for the entire duration of World War II. So in other words, if you add up the number of civilians who died in England, France and Belgium, that still would not be as many people who died in Nanking, which is one Chinese city, in six to eight weeks. In the end, more than 19 million Chinese people perished. 19 million people were killed.
LAMB: What do you wanna do with this?
Ms. CHANG: Well, I want the whole world to know what happened. I want the entire world to know the truth.
LAMB: And how far are you willing to take it?
Ms. CHANG: Well, I think just writing the book was the biggest step, really, for me. I think I've done my part in just laying down the facts for people to read.
LAMB: And also in the book you have some Americans.
Ms. CHANG: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: One in particular is Robert Wilson. Who was he?
Ms. CHANG: Robert Wilson was a missionary doctor and he was the only surgeon in Nanking during the great massacre.
LAMB: And what role did he play?
Ms. CHANG: Well, he was the person who ended up having to stitch up the survivors who came, you know, straggling into the hospital from bayonet wounds or burn wounds, and he was working night and day. It's incredible what he was able to do under those conditions.
LAMB: And what was the zone?
Ms. CHANG: The International Safety Zone--it was 2 1/2 square miles in the middle of the city which the foreigners had marked off with Red Cross flags, and it was an area that they claimed that the Japanese were not permitted to enter and they tried to--you know, they just harbored the Chinese there. Thousands of Chinese were pouring into the zone every day, many with only the clothes on their backs, and just begging for a place to sit down so that they could be safe from the Japanese.
LAMB: And how many people were inside that zone?
Ms. CHANG: Hundreds of thousands. One actually said 300,000. One of the zone members said 300,000 were in the zone.
LAMB: And you tell a story about how Chinese soldiers would come in...
Ms. CHANG: Yes.
LAMB: ...and then the Japanese would come in. And how did they find them when they were--they took off their uniforms and put on civilian clothes. What was the technique they used to find them?
Ms. CHANG: Well, what they did was they searched their hands to see if they had any calluses from handling guns. They also even searched their backs to see if there were any backpack marks, even their feet for signs of marching. And that way, they were able to find out who had been a former Chinese soldier, and they systematically marched them out and shot them.
LAMB: Was there a trial of any kind after the war was over?
Ms. CHANG: Yes, there were--well, the biggest one was the Tokyo war crimes trial or the formal name is the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, and that was held in Japan and it resulted in some of the Class A war criminals being hanged by the end of it.
LAMB: Was that everything that happened in World War II happened at this trial? I mean, did it cover everything?
Ms. CHANG: Yes, it was covering--they were trying to cover everything. But they also had a local trial, too, for Nanking. There was a Nanking tribunal as well.
LAMB: And how long did that go on?
Ms. CHANG: It went on for several months. It was mainly--these were held immediately after the war.
LAMB: And that was held in Nanking?
Ms. CHANG: Yes. Of course, the International Tribunal for the Far East lasted considerably longer. I mean, it went on for years.
LAMB: How much publicity was there for this event either in Japan or in Nanking?
Ms. CHANG: There was considerable publicity for the Tokyo war crimes trial. I think it was the longest war crimes trial in history. And they had, you know, hundreds of reporters there. In Nanking, it was well-publicized, I'm sure, throughout China.
LAMB: You tell a story in the beginning of the book about Commodore Matthew Perry...
Ms. CHANG: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: ...and how the Americans opened up Japan to the outside world. How did that work?
Ms. CHANG: Oh, well, what Perry decided to do when the Japanese ignored requests from the American government to open up their ports of trade, he marched up--he studied Japanese history carefully, and then he decided that the best way to deal with them was to shock them into submission. And so he kind of just came--he just went right up with--you know, to one of the ports and he strode into the capital with some very aggressive-looking men and it just--it terrified the Japanese at the time. I mean, this was their--the first time they had ever even seen steam power. One historian said it would be--you know, to really understand the pressure the Japanese were under, it would be like an announcement maybe on CNN that we have some weird-looking aircraft headed towards Earth. That was how shocked they were at the time.
LAMB: And this was in July of 1853.
Ms. CHANG: Yes.
LAMB: Was that the first time Japan had ever seen an American?
Ms. CHANG: Probably the first time many of them had ever seen an American.
LAMB: What happened to the country after that?
Ms. CHANG: Well, then they decided to modernize, and they decided that they would appease the barbarians, that they would try to learn from them because it was obvious that they were lagging in technology. They had to learn to build up their military.
LAMB: What happened next to the country?
Ms. CHANG: Well, the country did precisely that. And there was the Meiji Restoration and the entire country became very nationalistic, and in the end, they built up a very strong military and they began to get some of the respect that they had craved, actually, from the West.
LAMB: Does the Rape of Nanking or the massacre at Nanking have any impact on the relationship today between China and Japan? Did you talk to folks about that when you went over there?
Ms. CHANG: Well, it's actually very interesting that you ask me that because many of the PRC officials that I've met, they're sympathetic to the history of the Rape of Nanking. I mean, many of them may have had relatives who died during the Sino-Japanese War, but at the same time, I think they are reluctant to endanger their trade relations with Japan, and also, the political and diplomatic relations. So the PRC has actually, as I think I may have mentioned before, has expelled activists who have tried to promote this event--actually promote the history of the rape in Nanking.
LAMB: In the back of your book, in the epilogue, you say there's a number of lessons...
Ms. CHANG: Mm-hmm.
LAMB: ..from all this. But this is the one I wanted to ask you about: `Another lesson to be gleaned from Nanking is the role of power in genocide. Those who have studied the patterns of large-scale killings throughout history have noted that the sheer concentration of power in government is lethal, that only a sense of absolute, unchecked power can make atrocities like the Rape of Nanking possible.' What would you say then about today's Chinese concentration of power in that government?
Ms. CHANG: Well, I think it's a dangerous situation because we still--I mean, the PRC, to this day, it's still a totalitarian regime and it's--you know, if you have these kinds of conditions in place, an atrocity like the rape in Nanking can happen again.
LAMB: What did they think when you went to China in 1995? Did the officials know what you were doing there?
Ms. CHANG: In 1995? No, they didn't. And actually, I was a little concerned when I went back because I had just written the book the "Thread of the Silkworm," which is an unauthorized biography of the father of the Red Chinese missile program. So I, you know--and I knew that plenty of people had been kicked out of China for promoting the history of the Rape of Nanking. So I figured that there was a good chance that I myself would be interrogated and expelled from the country.
LAMB: Did they know who you were?
Ms. CHANG: The people in Nanking didn't. All they knew was that I was a scholar who was out there seeking information.
LAMB: And you said you're married.
Ms. CHANG: Yes.
LAMB: Do you have children?
Ms. CHANG: Not yet.
LAMB: And what does your husband do?
Ms. CHANG: He's an electrical engineer and he works in Silicon Valley, and he's been incredibly supportive of this project and supportive of my career.
LAMB: And you said that you live in Sunnyvale, which is right in Silicon Valley.
Ms. CHANG: That's correct. Uh-huh.
LAMB: And it seemed like there was somebody in this book that is living in Sunnyvale. Was it somebody that would have been involved in this?
Ms. CHANG: It so turned out that there was a paramedic, you know, in Nanking who now lives in Sunnyvale. I mean, this is somebody who, when he was living in Nanking back in 1937--I mean, a little boy but he had volunteered to help the Chinese army. He was working as a paramedic at the time. Sheer coincidence.
LAMB: In the book you talk about, in the beginning of "The Rape of Nanking," an incident that 57,000 people were killed?
Ms. CHANG: Oh, yes, that must be the Mufu...
LAMB: The mountain...
Ms. CHANG: ...Mountain massacre. That's correct.
LAMB: And what was that?
Ms. CHANG: Well, what they had done was they had kept these tens of thousands of civilians in these camps, and then eventually, after keeping them dehydrated and starved, they just went out and just started machine-gunning them, killing them.
LAMB: Was that the most that ever died at one time?
Ms. CHANG: I think it may have been.
LAMB: What's your sense of what would lead a human being to do this kind of thing?
Ms. CHANG: I think that people are much more capable of committing these atrocities than we would think. And I think that if you're conditioned to believe that what you're doing is the right thing, if somehow the--if the act of murder becomes like a holy one, then it would be easy, I think, to convince people that not only what you're doing is wrong but that it's sanctioned by God and it's the only right thing you can do.
LAMB: Have you talked at all about what happened in Rwanda?
Ms. CHANG: There actually--in this book, it mentions Rwanda just briefly, but I would say when I was looking at the news accounts, you know, I felt like I was reviewing my old archival documents again. Some of the similarities were haunting--stories about women who had been raped by soldiers and now they're going to carry an enemy soldier's baby and these dilemmas that were so painful to me when reading them because, you know, I kept seeing the same story over and over again.
LAMB: You tell a story in here, I think, of a woman to this day won't give her real name or--What?-- was raped in--I can't remember exactly what it was, but you alluded to it then. What was that some of the rapes happened--eventually children were born?
Ms. CHANG: You see--yes, there were many half-Japanese, half-Chinese children born as a result of this rape. And one of the missionaries at the time, Lewis Smythe, said that, you know, there were thousands of these children being smothered to death or drowned because very few women really wanted--I mean, they couldn't love these children and--but you have to understand that they had--it must've been a terrible choice for these women to make--I mean, killing your own baby or raising a child that you can never love. And I'm sure a lot of women couldn't make that choice. So at the same time, there were thousands of woman also committing suicide in the city. I mean, there were uncounted women throwing themselves in the Yangtze River to drown.
LAMB: How interested have you found Americans in this story?
Ms. CHANG: I am surprised the response. I mean, it's overwhelming. It seems to me that almost everyone I've talked with is interested, and they're shocked that they don't know about this.
LAMB: Why don't we know about it in the United States?
Ms. CHANG: Well, I sometimes wonder if it's maybe demographics. You know, it's really stunning to me that I really don't know the answer to that question. I mean, I hope it's simply--it was just lack of interest. Maybe there weren't enough Chinese and Japanese experts, you know, immediately after the war. But, you know, the United States government itself was engaged in a--you know, in a conspiracy with the Japanese to cover up some of their own--you know, some of their own dealings. So there are many political reasons why something like this wouldn't be told.
LAMB: What was that moment in here that you talked about when FDR had...
Ms. CHANG: That's correct. That's right.
LAMB: ...How much?--30 seconds of film or 30 minutes of film take? What was that...
Ms. CHANG: Maybe 30 feet of film.
LAMB: Thirty feet of film, right.
Ms. CHANG: See--yes, well, as you know, the Japanese had bombed the USS Panay and some Americans had died as a result of this bombing. And the Japanese later on tried to excuse the bombing by saying, `Well, it was a cloudy day,' or, `We couldn't really see clearly that this was an American ship.' But the...
LAMB: What was the Panay, by the way?
Ms. CHANG: ...it was a gunboat.
LAMB: And it was bombed on December 12th...
Ms. CHANG: Yes. Yes, right as the Japanese had...
Ms. CHANG: ...had entered the city but, you know, there were two newsreel men aboard and one of them--well, both of them took footage of the Japanese swooping down almost to deck level to shoot at the passengers. And it's clear from anyone who looks at the footage that the Japanese could see the flags that were painted on the deck or flying overhead. And the president specifically requested that this footage be removed before it was shown in American theaters.
Ms. CHANG: Well, we can only speculate on the reasons why. It's probably because they didn't wanna jeopardize any kind of settlement that they wanted to make with Japan.
LAMB: We're out of time. This is our guest's book cover, book jacket, "The Rape of Nanking," and our guest has been Iris Chang. Thank you very much.
Ms. CHANG: Thank you.
Copyright National Cable Satellite Corporation 1998. Personal, noncommercial use of this transcript is permitted. No commercial, political or other use may be made of this transcript without the express permission of National Cable Satellite Corporation.