Amanda Mustard is an independent photojournalist and filmmaker based between Brooklyn and Bangkok. She just finished directing her first feature documentary Great Photo, Lovely Life , which is making its festival rounds before it's premiere on...
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Cao holds the only photograph of himself, his mother and two siblings, taken only two weeks before the Nanjing Massacre began. Although many members of his extended family were murdered during the occupation, his immediate family survived after escaping to a rural area outside of the city.
Cao displays his wound where Japanese troops shot him with a dum-dum bullet. It entered the inside of his left thigh, blowing out the other side of his leg. Too poor for medical care, it took three years for the wound to heal without any treatment, and 52 years before he had bone fragments removed by a doctor. They were taken by the Massacre Memorial Organization to be displayed in the museum.
Li Gaoshan is one of the three remaining military troops that were in Nanjing during Japanese occupation. An orphan, he joined the military at 13 under a deserter's identity. He miraculously survived multiple traumatizing murder attempts by the Japanese, and was even taken as a POW to be used as a stableboy.
Li sits with his wife, also a orphan and massacre survivor. After the war ended, they married and gave birth to a son. They have lived a peaceful and happy life together in Nanjing, supporting each other in coping with their traumatic pasts.
During the Nanjing Massacre, Li Jun, his family, and 600 others took refuge in John Rabe's yard. John Rabe, a German businessman for Siemens and Nazi party member, established the International Safety Zone in Nanjing, which saved the lives of over 250,000 Chinese.
Li sits in his home with his wife, also a survivor of the Nanjing Massacre. She was protected at a women's college within the International Safety Zone by Minnie Vautrin, an American teacher who joined John Rabe in his efforts that saved 250,000 Chinese civilians.
Images are displayed throughout Li's home of peace meetings he attended at the John Rabe House Museum with Rabe's grandson, Thomas Rabe. Thomas, a German doctor, works not only to preserve his grandfather's legacy of heroism, but to carry the torch for peace between nations in his footsteps.
92 year old Cheng Yun, one of the three remaining military troops that were on the forefront of defending the city during the massacre, stands outside of his one-room home in a Nanjing slum. He was stripped of all military merit after the Communists gained power of China, and spent years in a reeducation camp due to his KMT association and decision to not pledge allegiance to the Communist party. With no help from the Massacre Memorial Organization, he makes public appearances as a survivor in hopes of one day meeting an official that could help restore his proper military pension.
Stripped of all merits due to his KMT association and decision to not pledge allegiance to the Communist party, Cheng surrounds the foot of his bed with photographs of his military days and awards of his forgotten achievements, as a constant reminder to keep fighting for his own justice.
Once a neighborhood for the wealthy prior to Japanese invasion in 1937, this home is now part of a dense, low-income area. Nanjing's demographics shifted greatly during the massacre. Most of the upper and middle class could afford to flee as the Japanese approached, leaving vacant homes to be reclaimed by the lower class that was left behind.
Under a section of Xiuqui Park, a bustling park at the north of the city along the old city wall, lies a mass informal grave of 15,100 Chinese civilians and soldiers. These bodies have not been exhumed (as most of the 300,000 were not), and life carries on above.
Citizens cross the Yangtze River via ferry from the Zhongshan Wharf. This stretch of river and embankment holds an estimated 150,000 bodies from the massacre. Japanese soldiers committed mass executions along the Yangtze's banks, and used the river as a disposal method.
An officer of the People's Liberation Army stands guard at Memorial Hall, a multi-million dollar architectural feat. Although the Memorial Hall is technically an independent organization, those who run it are prominent governmental figures.
A statue stands of the late Iris Chang, a researcher and justice advocate who passed away in 2004. Chang was the author of "The Rape of Nanjing: The Forgotten Genocide", and was the driving force that began investigations and research on the Massacre in the 1990s.