Japanese troops advance on Nanking (Nanjing) in late 1937. (Internet photo)
The eighth part of an archive series on the Second Sino-Japanese War on Monday covered the Battle of Nanking (Nanjing) in 1937, in which Japanese troops captured the Republic of China capital and unleashed a six-week orgy of slaughter.
Starting on Aug. 25, the archive series is being released on the website of China's State Archives Administration, one battle per day, in a drive to raise awareness of the war, known in China as the War of Resistance Against Japan.
Following the occupation of Shanghai in August 1937, the Japanese military issued an order on Dec. 1 for the army and navy to jointly attack Nanjing. General Tang Shengzhi was entrusted by the Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek to defend the city and began mustering forces, many of whom were remnants from the Shanghai battle.
Sweeping nearby cities and towns, the Japanese troops arrived at the gates of the city and demanded Tang surrender within 24 hours. Despite a huge disadvantage, Tang dismissed the proposal and ordered his troops to "resist with the determination to live or die together with the city and never give up an inch of land," according to the synopsis.
This synopsis differs from other historical accounts which say Tang was seeking to negotiate the withdrawal of Chinese troops and it was Chiang who ordered a fight to the death.
Suffering huge losses, however, Tang and his troops retreated on Dec. 12 at the order of Chiang (disputed). However, the chaos of the withdrawal left many soldiers stranded in the city who were subsequently killed by enemy forces.
On Dec. 13, Nanking fell, and the Japanese troops began a murderous rampage that lasted for weeks as they butchered fugitive soldiers and the civilians among whom they were hiding.