Between December 13th, 1937, and the beginning of February 1938, Japanese soldiers entered the Chinese city of Nanjing following a very brief fight for the city. For over six weeks, they committed some of the worst atrocities, first against the Chinese soldiers after they surrendered, then against the civilians.
The Westerners who did not flee from the city prior to the Japanese arrival set up a safety zone in the weeks leading up to the Imperial Army entering the city. This was the only place where there was relative safety, and many of the Chinese citizens tried to find refuge there.
While Japanese soldiers did enter the safety zone to remove citizens, their actions and behavior in the rest of the city were far worse. The primary war crimes for which they would eventually be charged were rape, looting, arson, and the execution of soldiers and civilians. In less than two months, they killed hundreds of thousands of Chinese people and destroyed roughly a third of the buildings within the city.
After World War II ended, the commanders and officers would be put on trial for the atrocities that had been committed, with many of them being condemned by documentation that emerged after the fighting had stopped. In the years since the tribunal and conviction, memorials have been built to honor those who died during those few weeks between 1937 and 1938.
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