On a rainy day, Mike and I decided to take in the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Museum. The weather was definitely fitting for the occasion and topic.
During most of the 1930’s, the Japanese had occupied Manchuria. In 1937, they invaded southern China as well. The major target was Nanjing, which was at that time the capital city. When the Japanese took over the city, they slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people and committed terrible war crimes including systematic rape. It was truly a dark time of human history.
The museum did a nice job overall of telling the story and creating a setting that presented the history in a respectful and solemn way. The design used dark gray and black colors, with rough or course materials that created a stark landscape inside the park. At the entrance was a series of striking statues depicting the victims’ fear and suffering.
The only real criticism we had of the exhibits was the extreme and always pro-Chinese slant of the descriptions. At all moments, the Chinese were “heroic” and the Japanese “barbarians” or “devils.” While these characterizations were not altogether false, the museum could have done a better job of keeping the language more formal, while allowing visitors to draw their own moral conclusions from the facts presented.