90 minutes 8.8/10 based on 31 votes

This film is a powerful reminder of the heart-rending toll that war takes on the innocent. It tells the story of how the Japanese subjected Nanking and its inhabitants to months of aerial bombardment and cruel emotional torture. When the city finally fell, the Japanese army ran in savagely to murder and rape. It was genocide.

In 1937, Nanking, China was a beautiful place. There was a huge lake and a park and stately parasol trees lined the main streets. Nanking was a prosperous place; it was the nation’s capital. There were hundreds of Westerners living and working in there. Naturally, this city was the target of Japanese war strategy; they used Shanghai as a steppingstone into Nanking. Before the air raids began, there were already rumors going around about what was going to happen soon. Still nothing could have prepared the people for the impact when it really happened.

Those who were there present listening to the sounds of doom, seeing their beloved city and its citizens destroyed, smelling the stench of death keep the stories alive because the memory remains vivid in their minds.

Thousands lost their lives but many were able to flee the massacre. The United States embassy made provision for all Americans to leave, but some decided to stay. They couldn’t just get up and flee to safety knowing that so many men and women they had grown to love were in danger of losing their lives. They stayed to embrace the opportunity to offer a service of the highest kind.

And so it was that in the midst of evil, a small group of Westerners came together and decided to establish a Safety Zone where as many as 200,000 Chinese found shelter. Unarmed, this crew made up of missionaries, university professors, doctors and businessmen bore witness and recorded the events, all while risking their own lives to protect Chinese civilians from the massacre.

Through heartbreaking interviews with survivors, unsettling footage, photos of the events, and testimonies of former Japanese soldiers, this dark chapter in history comes alive.

The film puts the viewer right on the streets of Nanking to experience something that has been forgotten. This documentary is proof of how the courage and conviction of ordinary individuals can make a big difference in the course of life. These men and women who were determined to stand bravely against all odds, are proof that a light— however small— can dispel the darkness.

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Discuss This Documentary

  • SeanQ38

    The Japanese soldier was considered to be more fanatical than the most hardest of Nazi’s. The cruelty is hard to imagine. Not sure how people become such monsters during war but these shown here certainly did. What good people who stayed to save lives when they didn’t have to. Seems a shame that shortly after the war China considered the U.S. its enemy but the people in Nanking sure didn’t.

    • Care

      The people who run america and wage war and genocide against chile bolivia and different countries including some oil rich asians are not the same as those in Nanking. here nationality doesnt matter, they did it for the sake humanity, they had nothing to do with being Americans.They were just people who were not part of the war. War can bring the worst in you, as it happened to be the case with japanese soldiers(mind you they do not represent the whole of Japan but a mad king )

      • md56

        If I may it has everything to do with being American. American’s sacrificed tremendously not to protect our homeland but to degrade those skilled yet diabolical leaders who are able to motivate their people to commit horrible atrocities. No we are not perfect as a nation and as is true with many nations our leaders make mistakes and on occasion will fight evil with evil. However our actions are held up for scrutiny, discussion, ridicule, bemusement and critical judgment. Remind me where Japan is in acknowledging their war crimes, crimes against, humanity, and Korean sex slaves in particular in relation to the German people who have developed the ability to dal with their past and thereby minimize the possibility it will happen again. Today we watch Putin and wonder where is our Churchill to warn us of his evil intentions while he promotes himself as a Koala hugging shirtless horseman?

        • Care

          President Bush had promised to rid the world of evil and build free socities on every continent, to understand such an epic lie is to understand history, hidden history, suppressed history, History that explains why people in the West knows a lot about the Crimes of others but almost nothing about their own.The missing word is empire.The existence of an American empire is rarely acknowledged , or its smothered in jingoism that celebrates war and an arrogance that says no country has the right to go its own way, unless thart way coincides with the interests of the united states. For empires have nothing to do with freedom, they are vicious, they are about conquest and theft and and control and secrets. Since 1945 United states has attempted to throw around 50 governments, many of them democracies, in the process around 30 countries had been bombed, causing the loss of mainly civilian lives. That’s enough for you to make out why we have terrorists who can blow themselves up. I cannot imagine how mad i will be if my family is killed in an air raid. The bombing as in Latin american nations invariable followed governments replaced by dictators and pro-Washington leaders.
          Read about Jacobo arbenz, read more about the Allende and general Pinochet story, as it is legend amongst old folks in chile i have lived amongst, read more about what you may refer to as fascism.

          in end i ask,what right do USA have to do things it does in other countries? and how shameless people can be to make National security the sole reason.
          Stop discussing WWII…discuss current situation..discuss Iraq, Iran,latin america…if you may ..then why once thriving USSR fell…read about anti-communism campaign that has blinded people in the West that make them Proud when their Tax money is used to bleed people in the middle east and latin america…

          • Care

            If you speak of Japan,,,go visit the Hiroshima peace memorial and know of Japanese tradition and the post war Japan.. and how these documents highlight points to build hate and justify war, which seems american taxpayers are very proud of.there were plenty of war crime on both side,…and no party is innocent.. The Chinese did a far worse massacre with the Tibetans…that doesn’t make all Chinese bad…

          • SeanQ38

            You compare meddling in other nations affairs as conquest. truly ignorant indeed. You call the US an empire that seeks conquest. But you fail to realize that if we wanted to conquer lands we certainly could. Other countries are involved in breaking up countries and claiming the land for themselves. You could say they are interested in conquest. But the US only meddled in others affairs when those countries were getting cozy with the USSR. Remember what happened when Cuba got friendly with the USSR? Communism and its spread was the enemy. And you’re welcome.

        • narxt

          He is a Koala hugging shirtless horseman

          • SeanQ38

            He loves them shirtless men. But only he can act that way. Other gays have to hide it or face arrest and abuse. He’s like Mr. Garrison on South Park. A fag who wont admit it and deflects his being gay by being very anti-gay. he even has a sex change so he can date men and not be gay. Putin is so similar.

        • SeanQ38

          You said something thats very important and is the difference between what the US faces when involved in conflicts, as oppose to what other (not free) nations face when they are involved in conflict.

          ” our actions are held up for scrutiny, discussion, ridicule, bemusement and critical judgment.

          Unfortunately because our issues are used as propaganda by the Russians and Iranians our scrutiny becomes anti US rhetoric. Look at the comment threads around You Tube. Its filled with ignorant statements about the US. And those who make these comments cant compare them to their own nations issues because they arent told of their own dirty laundry. Its never made public. Or when their leaders make mistakes its only made public if blame can be placed on the US or the West. This makes these people believe their countries do no wrong. And their leaders make no mistakes. They believe this while a woman is beheaded in the street because her husband said she was unfaithful. Or while a critic of Putin is gunned down at noon a block from the Kremlin. Ignorance truly is bliss.

      • SeanQ38

        I agree that Japanese aren’t bad or fanatics. At the time of ww2 they were though. Now a days Japanese people are some of the most peaceful people in the world.

    • Terry Chambers

      German soldiers fought fo the”Fatherland.” They didn’t necessarily want to”get-off” by torture and mayhem.
      The individual Japanese soldier, because of indoctrination, were unnecessarily sadistic.

      • SeanQ38

        I agree. In fact most of the German Army was made up of regular Germans that weren’t affiliated with the Nazi Party. Only 9% of the population was in the Nazi Party and considered to be Nazis. The SS committed 99% of the war crimes. And the SS divisions were some of the hardest fighting soldiers we faced. It shows how fanaticism creates an ideology that those indoctrinated will die for. Thats why we seen such cruelty from the Japanese soldiers and the SS soldiers.

  • Terry Chambers

    I thought Iwas alone with these conclusions. The writer below refers to our relations with Bolivia. If true, individual Americans would not approve,

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