The Japanese army’s brutal four-month occupation of the city of Nanking during the 1937 Sino-Japanese War is known, for good reason, as “the rape of Nanking.” As they slaughtered an estimated three hundred thousand people, the invading soldiers raped more than twenty thousand women—some estimates run as high as eighty thousand. Hua-ling Hu presents here the amazing untold story of the American missionary Minnie Vautrin, whose unswerving defiance of the Japanese protected ten thousand Chinese women and children and made her a legend among the Chinese people she served.
Vautrin, who came to be known in China as the “Living Goddess” or the “Goddess of Mercy,” joined the Foreign Christian Missionary Society and went to China during the Chinese Nationalist Revolution in 1912. As dean of studies at Ginling College in Nanking, she devoted her life to promoting Chinese women’s education and to helping the poor.
At the outbreak of the war in July 1937, Vautrin defied the American embassy’s order to evacuate the city. After the fall of Nanking in December, Japanese soldiers went on a rampage of killing, burning, looting, rape, and torture, rapidly reducing the city to a hell on earth. On the fourth day of the occupation, Minnie Vautrin wrote in her diary: “There probably is no crime that has not been committed in this city today. . . . Oh, God, control the cruel beastliness of the soldiers in Nanking.”
When the Japanese soldiers ordered Vautrin to leave the campus, she replied: “This is my home. I cannot leave.” Facing down the blood-stained bayonets constantly waved in her face, Vautrin shielded the desperate Chinese who sought asylum behind the gates of the college. Vautrin exhausted herself defying the Japanese army and caring for the refugees after the siege ended in March 1938. She even helped the women locate husbands and sons who had been taken away by the Japanese soldiers. She taught destitute widows the skills required to make a meager living and provided the best education her limited sources would allow to the children in desecrated Nanking.
Finally suffering a nervous breakdown in 1940, Vautrin returned to the United States for medical treatment. One year later, she ended her own life. She considered herself a failure.
Hu bases her biography on Vautrin’s correspondence between 1919 and 1941 and on her diary, maintained during the entire siege, as well as on Chinese, Japanese, and American eyewitness accounts, government documents, and interviews with Vautrin’s family.
|Publisher:||Southern Illinois University Press|
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About the Author
Hua-ling Hu has taught Chinese language and literature at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she received a doctorate in history, and modern Chinese history at the National Chiao Tung University in Taiwan. She served as an editor of the Journal of Studies of Japanese Aggression Against China for six years. Her publications include three books and over eighty short stories, essays, and historical papers. In 1998 she received the prestigious Chinese Literary and Arts Medal of Honor in Biography in Taiwan for the Chinese language edition of her biography of Minnie Vautrin.
Table of ContentsCover Title Page Copyright Dedication Contents List of Plates Foreword Preface Acknowledgments 1. From Secor, Illinois, to Hofei, China 2. Administrating Ginling College 3. In China's Chaotic Years 4. The Year of 1937 and the Barbaric Rape of Nanking Gallery of Images 5. The Living Goddess in the Tragic and Dark Days 6. The Last Days of Her Life Epilogue: Gin Ling Yung Shen (Ginling Forever) Notes Selected Bibliography Index About the Author Back Cover
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If you have any interest in the Rape of Nanking, you will like this book. I read The Rape of Nanking so was already familiar with the fact that there was an American woman that had a refugee camp where she saved thousands of women from rape by the Japanese soldiers. This is her story. A brutal subject with a tragic end, but a very good read. Although the subject is hard, the writer makes it easy to read. This is a book I will keep.
Hu's book brings light and perspective to an area that has long been shrouded in secrecy and the all-too-human desire to somehow deny that such brutality exists. Through Hu's scholarly use of the diaries and letters of Vautrin and others who helped to establish the International Safety Zone (within which Ginling College existed), we now are able to gain a better understanding of the times and circumstances. How is it that Vautrin somehow managed to keep the college open while struggling to provide food, shelter, and security for 10,000 women and children daily? How is it that Vautrin could manage to administer the college at the same time that she was making every effort to assure the lives and future of so many people -- even at her own peril? Here is one truly remarkable woman! The circumstances of her eventual suicide, when weighed against the remarkable results she achieved, are even more ironic -- and deeply moving!