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Primary Historical Sources Reveal the Truth about the Nanjing Incident Chapter 1: The original disseminators of the Nanjing Incident were American missionaries

By Ikeda Haruka,

Chapter 1: The original disseminators of the Nanjing Incident were American missionaries

Understanding the stage of the “Nanjing Incident”

First, this book intends to demonstrate that the original disseminators of the Nanjing Incident were American missionaries. To identify the source of information disseminated, it is necessary to clearly see the circumstance at the time of Nanjing, where the Nanjing Incident allegedly took place, and then to show who were there. Naturally, it is impossible to be a witness to an event if one is not at the scene.

So, let us first view the circumstances at the time at the Walled City of Nanjing (Nanjing Castle), the very site of the alleged Nanjing Incident.

The Walled City of Nanjing
An important fact curiously unknown especially within Japan is that Nanjing was a walled city, that is, a city surrounded by castle walls. The City Wall of Nanjing was an area of approximately 35 square kilometers (equivalent to Central Park, New York City), surrounded by ten to twenty meters tall walls and equipped with solid gates. (For example, one of the typical gates, called Zhonghua Gate, was twenty-five meters high.) The distinction between the inside and the outside of the Wall was clearly marked and it was easy to control entrance and exit of the city through watching these gates.

The fields surrounding the City Wall of Nanjing were thoroughly burned
Before the battle of the Nanjing (the all-out battle for Nanking started on December 10, 1937), the area surrounding the City Wall of Nanjing was torched by the Chinese Army to clear the area of anything that may be of use to the enemy. The following states as such:

“Mr. McDaniels, United Press (should be Associated Press; author note) correspondent, told us today that he went out to Giyung(should be Jurong; a small city about 25 miles east of Nanjing; author note) yesterday and there is not a single village occupied. Whole villages are led out by the Chinese military, then the village is burned – the “Scorched Earth Policy” in reality.”
“They’re busy burning down houses around the city and sending the refugees to us.”
“Tonight the flames are lighting the sky above the whole south west corner of the city and during much of the afternoon we have seen clouds of smoke rising from every direction save northwest. , The aim of the Chinese military is to get all obstructions out of their way – obstructions for their guns and possible ambush or protection for Japanese troops.”

The fact that the surrounding area was torched means that inside of the City Wall, it completely isolated from the outside.

(3) Restriction on entry and exit
On December 13, 1937, after the Japanese Army entered the City Wall of Nanjing (Nanjing Castle), the Army restricted entry and exit to and from the Wall. Regarding this, records of both Europeans and Americans as well as Japanese coincide:

“The Japanese are letting no one into Nanjing.”
“They don’t want to let Europeans outside the gate.”
“And the ban on anyone entering or leaving ….”
“Americans in homeland don’t understand that it was virtually impossible to enter Nanjing.”
“Mr. Rabe left this morning. Took one servant with him. As far as I know this is the third Chinese who has been permitted to leave Nanking.”
“Regarding refugees passing through the gates, we strictly restricted the traffic. However, as things went, we gradually loosened the restriction and since February 25 onward, we allowed them to freely pass the gates.”

From these notations, we learn that the area within the Nanjing Wall was isolated and closed. Now, we will find out who were inside the Wall, in the enclosed space at the time.

2.Identification of third-party civilians (Europeans and Americans) in Nanjing
Besides the Japanese and the Chinese, it is assumed that third-party civilians in Nanjing were Europeans and Americans. They can be categorized into groups according to when they were in Nanjing. Let us categorize non-Japanese and non-Chinese foreigners who were in Nanjing according to groups.

Twenty-two Europeans and Americans remained in Nanjing
First, who were in Nanjing before the battle of Nanjing and remained in Nanjing after the battle until the Japanese Army allowed free entry and exit into and out of Nanjing? These people would have been able to witness the Nanjing Incident from the very beginning. Fortuitously, there is a list submitted to the Japanese authorities by those who were in Nanjing at that time. Twenty-two people are listed (to be more precise, among the 22, Mr. Kroeger and Mr. Fitch left Nanjing on January 23 and on January 29, 1938, respectively).

[List of Europeans and Americans in Nanjing]

Name Nationality Organization
Mr. John H.D. Rabe German Siemens Co.
Mr. Eduard Sperling German Shanghai Insurance
Mr. Christian Kroeger German Carlowitz & Co.
Mr. R. Hempel German North Hotel
Mr. A. Zautig German Kiesseling Bader
Mr. R. R. Hats Austrian Mechanic ifor Safety Zone
Mr. Cola Podshivoloff Russian (White) Sandgren’s Electricity Shop
Mr. A. Zial Russian (White) Mechanic for Safety Zone
Dr. C. S. Trimmer American Nanjing University Hospital
Dr. Robert O. Wilson American University Hospital
Rev. James McCallum American University Hospital
Miss Grace Bauer American University Hospital
Miss Iva Hynds American University Hospital
Dr. M.S. Bates Bates American University of Nanjing
Mr. Charles Riggs American University of Nanjing
Dr. Lewis S. C. Smythe American University of Nanjing
Miss Minnie Vautrin American Ginling College
Rev. W. P. Mills American Northern Presbyterian Mission
Rev. Hubert L. Sone American Nanking Theological Seminary
Dr. George Fitch American Y.M.C.A.
Rev. John Magee American American Church Mission
Rev. Ernest H. Forster American American Church Mission

In this list are Germans, an Austrian, Russians and Americans. Pay attention to the Americans (Number 9 to 22) and compare them with missionaries who remained behind in Nanjing, listed below.

[The list of missionaries remaining in Nanjing]

The following is a list of Christian workers who remained behind in the City:
Name Supporting organization Place of assignment
M.S. Bates [14] U.C.M.S. University of Nanjing
Miss Grace Bauer [12] University Hospital University Hospital
Mr. G.A. Fitch [20] Y.M.C.A. Y.M.C.A.
Mr. E. H. Forster [22] American Church Mission A.M.C
Miss Iva Hynds [13] University Hospital University Hospital
J. H. McCallum [11] U.C.M.S. South Gate Evangelist
John G. Magee [21] American Church Mission A.C.M.
W.P. Mills [18] Presbyterian Miss. U.S.A. Presbyterian Mission
Charles S. Riggs [15] American Board Mission University of Nanjing
Lewis S. C. Smythe [16] U.C.M.S. University of Nanjing
Hubert L. Sone [19] Methodist Miss. South Nanjing Theological Seminary
Minnie Vautrin [17] U.C.M.S. Ginling College
Dr. Robert Wilson [10] University Hospital University Hospital
*Numbers in brackets (added by the author) after the names refer to the Westerners in Nanjing listed previously.

We find that Americans who remained behind in Nanjing in the first list coincide with those listed in the missionary list–except for Dr. C. S. Trimmer.

Additionally, we learn that Dr. C. S. Trimmer was also a missionary through references in the diary of Mr. Rabe, a German, and from statements of those who remained in Nanjing:

“The International Committee has been formed, made up primarily of American doctors from Kulou Hospital(=University Hospital) and professors from Nanking University, all missionaries.”

Mr. Rabe wrote in his diary that he had met several American doctors and that they were all missionaries. As we confirmed, the “doctors” in Nanking were just two persons, Dr. Trimmer and Dr. Wilson, and so we can state that Mr. Trimmer was a missionary.

To sum up, all the Americans who remained in Nanjing were missionaries. Out of 22 Westerners who remained in Nanjing, 14 were American missionaries, indicating that there was a large religious group (Protestants), a readily identifiable group of people.

Correspondents who left Nanjing after the Japanese Army entered the Nanjing Castle
Next, there were correspondents who were within the City when the Japanese Army entered the Castle on December 13, 1937 and left the Castle on December 15 (Mr. Charles McDaniel left December 16). There were four Americans and one British, listed here:
Name Nationality Media
Leslie C. Smith British Reuters
Archibald Trojan Steele American Chicago Daily News
Frank Tillman Durdin American New York Times
Charles Yates McDaniel American Associated Press
Arthur von Briesen Menken American Paramount Newsreel

Diplomats who returned to Nanjing on January 6, 1938, and thereafter
Next, there were various officials from embassies. Embassy officials had previously left Nanjing before the Battle of Nanjing started and returned to Nanjing beginning in early January 1938. According to Mr. Espy of the American Embassy, when they returned to Nanjing, the fiercest part of the Nanjing Incident was over. Cited below are names of embassy officials and dates of their return to Nanjing:

Name Nationality Embassy Date of return
John M. Allison American U.S. Embassy January 6
James Espy American U. S. Embassy January 6
A. A. McFadyen American U.S. Embassy January 6
Georg Rosen German German Embassy January 9
P. Scharffenberg German German Embassy January 9
A. Hulter German German Embassy January 9
H. Prideaux-Brune British British Embassy January 9
Colonel L. Fraser British British Embassy, military attaché January 9

Late in January 1938, and thereafter, some Westerners entered Nanjing, including embassy officials. In addition, there were 22 Westerners who remained after the Incident, with Mr. Kroeger and Mr. Fitch leaving Nanjing in January 1938. The fierce battle of Nanjing was over when the previously listed embassy officials returned to Nanjing. They did not make any records worthy of special attention. Therefore, people who returned to Nanjing after these officials will not be dealt with here.

Finally a few Westerners visited Nanjing respectively around the time:
Mr. P. R. Shields
Mr. Shields, British, was a member of the International Committee for the Nanjing Safety Zone and manager of the International Export Company. None of his writings found. However, an American diplomat in Japan, Mr. Cabot Coville, met Mr. Shields while the diplomat visited Nanjing on an inspection tour and wrote down what he had heard directly from Mr. Shields in his diary:

“Shields, British manager at the Nanking of the International Export Company, is fellow passenger on the Scarab. He remained at Nanking through its fall and until December 23; returned to Nanking in March without Japanese permission. Commercial people are not yet allowed back. His comings and goings are therefore confidential.”

Mr. Shields supposedly remained in Nanjing for a while after Nanjing fell, but his name was not on the list of Westerners who remained submitted to Japanese authorities. This was probably because Mr. Shields did not agree with the activities of the International Committee and often acted on his own.

In Mr. Coville’s diary about his visit to China, it includes what he heard from Mr. Shields, which was later reported to the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, Joseph C. Grew, and through Ambassador Grew to the United States State Department.

Mr. Bernard Arp Sindberg
Mr. Sindberg, a Dane, worked at a cement factory in Qixiashan, a 1.5-hour car ride to the northeast of Nanjing with a German named “Mr. Gunter”. The presence of Mr. Gunter is confirmed by Mr. Scharfenberg’s records.

Mr. Sindberg frequently visited Nanjing, beginning December 20, 1937, and often appeared in Mr. Rabe’s diary (entries of December 20, 23, January 23 and February 11). In Nanjing, mostly closed and isolated at that time. Curiously, Mr. Sindberg seemed to enjoy free access to the City, entering and leaving at will. Mr. David Askew, a Nanjing Incident specialist at Monash University, Australia, described Mr. Sindberg’s free entry and exit to and from Nanjing as “mysterious” in his report, “The International Committee for the Nanjing Safety Zone: An Introduction”

After the Battle of Nanjing, partly owing to the Japanese Army’s restriction on access into and out of the City, Nanjing within the city walls was physically sealed. Under such a circumstance, third-party Westerners who were in Nanjing at the time can be categorized into the following groups:
Twenty-two, mostly American missionaries, in a list of persons who were supposedly in Nanjing during the entire period when the Nanjing Incident allegedly occurred. (Mr. Kroeger and Mr. Fitch left Nanjing at the end of January.)
Newspaper correspondents who were in Nanjing from December 13 to 15 after the Japanese Army entered Nanjing. (Mr. McDaniel stayed in Nanking until December 16.)
Embassy officials of the United States, Germany and Great Britain returned to Nanjing beginning January 6, 1938 and thereafter. However, the fiercest part of the Nanjing Incident was over by this time, according to Mr. Espy of the U.S. Embassy.
In addition, Mr. Shields and Mr. Sindberg were supposedly in Nanjing for a brief duration of time.

These are the Europeans and Americans who could have witnessed the “Nanjing Incident”. Bearing these people in mind, let us now uncover who were the original disseminators of the “Nanjing Incident”.

Identification of the original disseminators of the “Nanjing Incident”

Based on the four identified groups, let us examine what information these groups disseminated.

Dissemination by the 22 Westerners who remained in Nanjing

American missionaries’ diaries and letters
As observed by the list of 22 Westerners who were in Nanjing, the dominant party was the 14 American missionaries. These American missionaries wrote letters and in their diaries of various occurrences during the so-called Nanjing Incident. Some of them were lacking in concrete descriptions, but were nonetheless on-the-spot written records of those who experienced the Nanjing Incident. The book Eye Witnesses to Massacre: American Missionaries Bear Witness to Japanese Atrocities in Nanjing contains the papers of (in order of appearance) Mr. Bates, Mr. Fitch, Mr. Foster, Mr. Magee, Mr. McCallum, Mr. Mills, Mr. Smythe, Ms. Vautrin and Mr. Wilson–those who were in Nanjing at the time.

According to Mr. Suping Lu, who authored a book on the Nanjing Incident, They Were in Nanjing (Hong Kong University Press), of the 14 American missionaries, 13, except Eva Hines, left records of Japanese Army “incidents”. Based on this, we know nearly all of the American missionaries disseminated information about the Nanjing Incident.

Records of incidents by the International Committee
Let us note the records of incidents filed by the International Committee. The International Committee (or the “International Committee for the Nanjing Safety Zone”) was established by Westerners who remained in Nanjing in order to establish and manage the Nanjing Safety Zone to protect civilians.

“The International Committee has been formed, made up primarily of American doctors from Kulou Hospital and professors from Nanking University, all missionaries.”

As Rabe’s record indicates, the International Committee was managed by American missionaries. (Further discussion about the International Committee is in Chapter 3.)

Each day, the International Committee recorded alleged Japanese Army incidents and informed embassies, including the Japanese Embassy, of them. Many incidents were reported by the Chinese. According to the International Committee, records of incidents put into the case files were verified by the International Committee.

“These incidents have been examined by foreign members and staff of the International Committee.”

The International Committee received various complaints from the Chinese, examined and verified them and recorded them as official accounts. Then, the International Committee informed embassies and other organs of them. Overall, mere complaints became “incidents” following examination by the International Committee. The core of the International Committee was American missionaries. Therefore, dissemination of “incidents” by the International Committee can be regarded as being made by American missionaries.

Incidentally, incident records, together with requests made by the International Committee to Japanese authorities, were published in Documents of the Nanking Safety Zone (Shanghai: Kelly & Walsh, March 1939).

Rabe’s Diary
By checking records made by others besides the American missionaries we find that only Mr. Rabe, chairman of the International Committee, recorded concrete incidents. Though Rabe’s diary was not published at that time, it was clearly meant for publication and missionary Mr. Fitch took Rabe’s diary with him to Shanghai. Finally, after the War, in 1997, Mr. Erwin Wickert compiled and published Rabe’s diary. Although Rabe’s diary was not published at that time of the Incident, or even soon after, and Mr. Rabe himself made some corrections to his diary afterwards, it has been pointed out that, generally speaking, his dairy is regarded as a record of the Incident. Therefore, we will examine the contents.

On one hand, reading through Rabe’s diary, there are no eyewitness accounts of massacres committed by the Japanese Army. On the other hand, Rabe’s diary has many second-hand accounts, from those who supposedly witnessed a massacre. Some are second-hand accounts from the Chinese, but many are reports from American missionaries, such as:

“Riggs brings me the following report from his inspection tour today: A woman is wandering the streets with glazed eyes. She is taken to the hospital, where they learn she is the sole survivor of the family of eighteen. Her 17 relatives have been shot and bayoneted. She lived near the South Gate. Another woman from the same area, who has been living in our camp along with her brother, lost her parents and three children, all of them shot by the Japanese. With what little she had left, she bought a coffin so she could at least bury her father. Hearing news of this, Japanese soldiers ripped the lid from the coffin and dumped the body on to the street. Chinese don’t need to be buried, was their explanation.”

“Magee has been gathering more ugly reports again. The Japanese soldiers are grabbing up every slaughterable animal they can get hold of. Of late they have been making Chinese boys chase pigs. A couple of boys who weren’t quick enough, or had no success, were bayoneted. The bowels of one of these bayonetted victims are hanging out of his body.” .

Mr. Rabe wrote after hearing these terrible reports: “I feel sick, hearing such a disgusting report, one after another. The Japanese Army can be rightfully described as a bunch of released criminals.”

Thus, American missionaries officially reported eyewitnesses’ accounts as “incidents” to Mr. Rabe. In Rabe’s diary, the original disseminators of atrocities committed by the Japanese Army were American missionaries.

Magazines, books and newspaper articles

To be thorough, now let us go through major magazines, books and newspaper articles that carry records of those Westerners who were in Nanjing at the time. These are based on letters sent from Nanjing, diaries and accounts of the time of those who had experienced the Incident.

Reader’s Digest, July 1938 and October 1938 issues
Records of the Nanjing Incident appeared in the Reader’s Digest, one of the few American national magazines at that time with readers world-wide. The magazine’s July 1938 issue carried an abridged article “The Sack of Nanking,” an interview of an American who lived in China for 20 years and remained in Nanjing after Nanjing fell. The original article was in the June issue of the magazine Ken (Chicago).

Also, in Reader’s Digest’s October issue of the same year was the article “We Were in Nanking,” which described the Nanjing Incident. This article is interesting—I will quote the October issue’s foreword:

“The Sack of Nanking” was published in the July issue of Reader’s Digest as a digest of an article in the magazine Ken. “The credibility of this article seems so poor, reminding us of those awful propaganda spread to the general public during the previous war that I can hardly believe the story,” wrote a subscriber in a letter to the magazine. Similar comments came from many readers. However, this totally hair-raising story was true. With much hard work, Reader’s Digest collected letters from a handful of Americans who had stayed in Nanking during those horrible days. These letters were written by surgeons who are accustomed to bloody scenes and trained to write scientifically correct papers, and missionaries and teachers who are to report to their organizations and workers at YMCA. Materials we have read will make a whole monthly issue of a magazine. All these will supplement the typical digests below. (For apparent reasons, names of writers are spared here.)”

Following the foreword are excerpts of letters that seemingly documented the Nanjing Incident. We will not deal with them here. What is noteworthy is that as examples of “a handful of Americans who stayed in Nanjing” are a surgeon, missionaries, teachers and YMCA workers. It may appear that the declarations were from people in various occupations, but, in fact, the Americans were all missionaries, as we have already seen in the lists of those who remained in Nanjing.

We know today that Mr. Fitch was interviewed for the article that ended up in the July 1938 issue of Reader’s Digest and Mr. Wilson, Mr. Bates and Mr. Fitch wrote the letters for the article that appeared in the October 1938 issue.

Japanese Terror in China, published in July 1938 in Britain, the United States and China
Mr. Timperley, reporter for the Manchester Guardian, compiled this book, but he was not in Nanjing at that time as we can see by the lists shown previously. The book, regarding the Nanjing Incident, makes extensive use of writings by missionaries Mr. Bates, Mr. Fitch and Mr. Sone at the end of the book is a part of the incident files recorded by the International Committee for the Nanjing Safety Zone. As we have seen previously, the International Committee was run primarily by a group of American missionaries. Therefore, the main source of information for this book was American missionaries.

War Damage in the Nanking Area, published in Shanghai around October 1938
This is an apparently scientific report of war damage in Nanjing, which, in fact, was written by missionary Mr. Smythe based on his own investigation. This book claims that the Japanese Army massacred 2,400 civilians. It should be noted that missionary Mr. Bates wrote the preface to this book.

The Daily Telegraph and Morning Post of January 28, 1938
This newspaper issue is well-known because at a League of Nations conference in Geneva in February 2, 1938, Chinese Delegate Koo Vi Kyuin accused Japan with quoting from this issue:

“The number of Chinese civilians slaughtered at Nanking by Japanese was estimated at 20,000, while thousands of women, including young girls, were outraged.”

The original article is below:
“One missionary estimates the number of Chinese slaughtered at Nanking as 20,000, while thousands of women, including young girls, have, it is stated, been outraged.”

As you see, at the beginning of the original article, it clearly stated: “One missionary estimates…” It is clear that missionaries who were in Nanjing during the Incident were all Americans. Therefore, the source of this newspaper article was one of the American missionaries in Nanjing.

From what has been said above, readers may well realize that the original disseminators of the Nanjing Incident were American missionaries.

Dissemination by newspaper correspondents who left Nanjing after the Japanese Army entered Nanjing

Newspaper correspondents who left Nanjing on December 15, 1937 (Mr. McDaniel left on December 16) also disseminated the Nanjing Incident. Here is a list of when they started to spread the Nanjing Incident story:

The first articles reporting the Nanjing Incident appeared:

Date Media Disseminator
December 15-18 Chicago Daily News (U.S.) Steele
December 17 The Washington Post (U.S.) Menken
December 18 The Times (U.K.) correspondent
December 18 and 19 The New York Times (U.S.) Durdin
December 25 The South China Morning Post (British Hong Kong) anonymous

As shown above, newspaper correspondents, after they left Nanjing, disseminated reports of Japanese Army atrocities. In fact, these articles were not individually written but were based on the same piece of information:

… the book (Japanese Terror in China) uses a statement which I prepared on the 15th of December
to be utilized by the various correspondents leaving Nanking on that date.” (A circular letter to Miner Searle Bates’ friends, April 12, 1938)

Thus, a statement prepared by missionary Bates was the source of information for all of these newspaper articles.

Mr. Tomisawa Shigenobu, a Nanjing Incident researcher, compared Bates’ statement and the newspaper articles on page 142 of his book, Nankin Jiken no Kakushin [The Core of the Nanjing Incident], published by Tendensha.

To summarize his conclusion, one article literally copied Bates’ statement, (The South China Morning Post), another reported Bates’ statement as if citing an eyewitness who “risked his own life” (Chicago Daily News), and other articles embellished and exaggerated Bates’ statement. All in all, the newspaper articles duly followed Bates’ statement.

Now, let us take a closer look.

“At Nanking the Japanese army has lost much of its reputation and has thrown away a remarkable opportunity to gain the respect of the Chinese inhabitants and of foreign residents”. “Foreigners who have travelled over the city report many civilians’ bodies lying in the streets.” (Bates’ statement)

“Japanese brutality at Nanking is costing them a golden opportunity to win the sympathy of the Chinese population…” “Streets throughout the city were littered with the bodies of civilians…This account is based on the observations of myself and other foreigners.” (Chicago Daily News, by A. Steel)

It is clearly seen here that correspondent Steele’s article, though based on Bates’ statement, contains exaggeration and has been fabricated to appearing like an eyewitness’ account.

“… four hundred men were selected by the local police under compulsion from the Japanese soldiers, and were marched off tied in batches of fifty between lines of riflemen and machine gunners.”
(Bates’ statement)

“In one building in refugee zone 400 men were seized. They were marched off, tied in batches of fifty, between lines if riflemen and machine gunners, to the execution ground.” (The New York Times, by T. Durdin)

Clearly, correspondent Durdin also wrote his article based on Bates’ statement. Thus, reports by newspaper correspondents who were in Nanjing until the Japanese Army entered Nanjing were based on missionary Bates’ statement.

Following these first articles that reported the Nanjing Incident, similar articles appeared in various Western and Chinese newspapers. However, correspondents had already left Nanjing and subsequent articles were nothing more than flourished or exaggerated versions of the first set of articles.

Dissemination by diplomats who returned to Nanjing on January 6 and thereafter

Now, let us examine the records of embassy officials who returned to Nanjing. As we have seen earlier, they left Nanjing before the Battle of Nanjing and then returned to Nanjing early in January 1938.

First, let us look at the records of American Embassy officials who returned to Nanjing on January 6, 1938:

“The Information given is based on the investigations by the Embassy staff and the accounts of American residents who have remained here since the fall of the city.” (John Allison’s cover letter to American Ambassador Nelson Trusler Johnson, Hankow, China, on January 25, 1938.)
“Since our arrival at Nanking, in spite of the fact that the worst of the violence in Nanking and the violation to people and property was said to be over, incidents have continually been occurring. The American residents have almost daily brought reports to the Embassy of the entry of their property by Japanese soldiers, looting of buildings and the carrying off of Chinese civilians from their compounds.”

However, there is no trace of a record of American Embassy officials personally witnessing massacres and violent crimes perpetrated by Japanese soldiers. In addition to Embassy officials, “American residents in Nanjing” were missionaries. Thus, reports by the American Embassy officials were merely based on reports by American residents—American missionaries.

Next, let us look at records by German Embassy officials. They do not have eye-witness accounts of massacres either. German Embassy officials obtained information from both Germans and Americans who were in Nanjing at the time of the Incident. Regarding murders, they recorded only one incident, which was reportedly an execution of a Chinese by the Japanese military, witnessed by Mr. Kroeger and Mr. Hats (Mr. Hats was an Austrian, to be precise), which is recorded in the “Documents of the Nanking Safety Zone” and Rabe’s diary. However, they recognize that this case was not a “massacre”. One can concluded that where German Embassy officials noted cases of Japanese Army massacres, these were based on statements of American missionaries:

“In these various incidents it is verified by Paster Magee and others that [the Japanese] officers were involved in these various incidents [rapes and massacres]. (Report by Rosen, January 15, 1938) Doitsu gaikokan no mita nankin jiken [Sources: The Nanjing Incident Seen by a German Diplomat] p. 67)

Regarding British Embassy officials, there are no eyewitnesses of massacres. In the first place, no British civilian remained in Nanjing at the time, so no first-hand information from the British exists.

As we have seen so far, available reports concerning the Nanjing Incident filed by the Embassies of the United States, Germany and Great Britain, can be traced back to the American missionaries. Incidentally, the Embassies commonly received reports from the International Committee:

“At our request, gentlemen from all three embassies (UK, Germany and US) declare themselves willing to accept our daily reports listing the offenses of Japanese soldiers and make use of them by forwarding them both to the Japanese Embassy and their own government.”

As we have confirmed earlier, the reports by the International Committee were actually made by American missionaries.

Other disseminators

Now, let us examine Incident information disseminated by Mr. Shields and Mr. Sindberg, who entered and left Nanjing on their own.

Mr. Shields (British, member of the International Committee and manager of International Export Company)
Mr. Shields, who reportedly stayed in Nanjing until December 23, 1937, after the Japanese Army entered the city, left no eye-witness record of an alleged massacre. On one hand, he heard a rumor that Chinese were brutally killed. On the other hand, he also said that all 200 of his Chinese employees were safe and unharmed.

Mr. Sindberg (Danish employee at a cement factory, 1.5-hour drive from Nanjing)
Regarding Mr. Sindberg, he makes no reference to a “Nanjing Incident” at all. However, he reportedly translated a record of crimes committed by the Japanese, which a priest at Qixiashan Temple, near Mr. Sindberg’s cement factory, compiled and is included in the “Documents of the Nanking Safety Zone”. Let me quote the preface:

“This is a translation from Chinese, therefore it may not be exactly like the original. This letter was received from the temple of Tsitsashan, situated about 5 miles from my residence and is written by one of the high priests, and signed by 20 reputable local residents. B.A. SINDBERG, February 3, 1938.”

As the quoted text shows, Mr. Sindberg simply received what a Chinese priest wrote and translated it and therefore Mr. Sindberg has no responsibility whatsoever for its contents. So, in terms of evidential value, this is rather flimsy. Mr. Sindberg’s “record” is not a record of the Nanjing Incident, strictly speaking. However, we will later examine why his “record” is nonetheless included in the “Documents of the Nanking Safety Zone.”


So far, we identified the original disseminators of the Nanjing Incident, dividing the Westerners alleged to have been in Nanjing during the Nanjing Incident into groups according to when they were there. Through this process, we have concluded that almost all of the information pertaining to the Nanjing Incident came from American missionaries.

Why did American missionaries expend so much effort to spread the “Nanjing Incident” worldwide? To answer this, we will now proceed to look at their activities and their intentions during their time in Nanjing.