Intro | Committee | John Rabe | Minnie Vautrin | Miner Searle Bates | John G. Magee
As the Japanese army was advancing towards Nanjing from Shanghai, the Chinese government left the city immediately and most foreigners decided to leave the city as well. A small number of Western missionaries, however, chose to remain to help follow Chinese civilians. A safety committee was formed as the International Committee and officially established the Safety Zone, to use as a neutral zone for non-combatants. The International Committee was made up primarily of American doctors from the Kulou Hospital and professors from the Nanking University; all Christian missionaries (Chang, 25).
The zone was initially created to shelter civilians injured from the fight between the Japanese and Chinese militaries; the safety zone leaders planned to shut down the zone once the city was safely placed under the Japanese. During the aggression in Nanking however, atrocities only worsen and the Safety Zone ended up with twenty refugee camps, each with 200 to 12,000 people. Since the Japanese refused to recognize the Safety Zone’s purpose fully enough, Japanese soldiers frequently entered the Safety Zone to arrest young men they considered Chinese soldiers. About 700 men who were in the Safety Zone were marched off and executed on the spot.
The International Committee had to deal with many problems to go with their limited resources and space. The refugees in the Safety Zone were not only packed into buildings but on lawns, trenches, and bomb dugouts. Food was stored outside of the city from the mayor of Nanking and the committee had to use their own automobiles to haul the rice and flour back to the zone. As for the atrocities going on outside and even inside of the zone, the committee members went around scaring off Japanese soldiers single-handedly, risking his life many times (111-112).
Chang, Iris. The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. New York: Basic Books, 1997.
Woods, John E.. The Good Man of Nanking: Diaries of John Rabe . New York: Alfred A. Knoff, Inc., 1998.