Political Centres, Progressive Narratives and Cultural Trauma: Coming to Terms with the Nanjing Massacre in China, 1937–1979

  • Xiaohong Xu
  • Lyn Spillman
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Memory Studies book series (PMMS)


In December 1937, about two years before World War II broke out in Europe, the Imperial Japanese Army captured Nanjing, then capital of China. The conquering army turned the city into a hell. Over a period of six weeks, the Japanese carried out wanton killings, rapes and lootings on a large scale. Thousands of civilians and prisoners of war were killed by shooting, bayoneting, decapitating, burning, and burying alive. Thousands of women were raped, and most were later murdered as the Japanese perpetrators tried to destroy the evidence. Western media, like the Manchester Guardian and New York Times, covered the “barbarian” acts of the Japanese soldiers immediately, admonishing their readers about the evil of war, as another world war loomed in Europe.1


Collective Memory Japanese People China Study American Imperialism Japanese Soldier 
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© Xiaohong Xu and Lyn Spillman 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaohong Xu
  • Lyn Spillman

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