Schindler of the East – John Rabe

The Nanking Massacre of Buried Alive, Pictures of “Atrocities of Japanese Invaders”. (Wikipedia public domain)

John Rabe was born in Hamburg, Germany, into a traditionally Christian Family, his father being a ship captain. He was baptized as a child and was deeply influenced by the fundamental teachings of Martin Luther at an early age. He believed in the Ten Commandments and the Old Testament principle of love for all people, and he believed in loving all those around him as he loved God, a value that had a major impact on his Life.

He left school at the age of sixteen because of the death of his father and began working as a clerk in an exporter’s shop. Because of his humble, outspoken and helpful personality, he was recommended by his boss to work for a prestigious British foreign company in Mozambique, Africa, where he learned English and international business skills.

As a child, John Rabe often heard his father talk about his travels in China and admired the Chinese art he brought back with him. After living in China for a few years, he fell in love with the country’s profound traditions and Culture and settled there.

The Nanking Massacre saved 200,000 Chinese people

In 1917, when the Beiyang premier Duan Qirui declared war on Germany, Johann Rabe was forced to return to Germany, but three years later he returned to China, where he was promoted to manager of the Nanjing branch of Siemens in 1931.

At that Time, the Nazi Party stabilized the economy by confiscating the property of Jews and religious people, expanding military spending and a mixed economic system, ending mass unemployment in the country and significantly improving the living standards of the people. But on the other hand, the Nazis also purged dissidents, and thousands of political victims died or disappeared in the early years of Nazi rule.

Johann Rabe, a patriot who spent many years in mainland China and therefore knew nothing of the Nazi atrocities, thought that Hitler had contributed to the German economy and was a successful reformer, and in 1934 he built a German language school in Nanking, where he had to become a member of the Nazi Party in order to apply for grants for teachers and teaching. He joined the Nazi Party in 1934, an act that set the stage for his future misery.

In July 1937, The Japanese army began to invade China, and by December, they were already in Nanking. At this time, most foreigners chose to flee. John Rabe felt it was his duty to stay behind to protect the people, and his greatest concern was not for his personal safety, but for the refugees in the city. In his diary, he wrote: “Am I allowed to go on under the present circumstances? I think not! Anyone who has only once seen children trembling in people’s arms, sitting in bomb shelters during air raids, will understand how I feel.” Together with a dozen foreign missionaries, university professors, doctors, businessmen, etc., he established the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone, and since he was a German and could use this to intervene with Japan, which was allied with Germany, he took over the chairmanship of the Committee.

After the Japanese invaded Nanking, they started to burn, kill and pillage, and broke into the Safety Zone several times. John Rabe initially recorded these incidents in his diary and protested to the Japanese Embassy by listing the names of the intruders and the numbers of their units. However, his protests were not answered, so he took to the streets himself to stop the Japanese atrocities, shouting at the Japanese soldiers who were violating the Chinese and showing them swastikas, which the Japanese soldiers saw and left.

In order to accommodate the 100 women, Johann Rabe vacated his house and unfurled a large German Nazi flag outside the house so that the Japanese would not dare to bombard the house. He was personally responsible for the delivery of Food and negotiated with the Japanese military to prohibit Japanese soldiers from entering the safety zone. He also encouraged the refugees in the safety zone and gave them the confidence to live, and John Rabe’s courage and generosity won the admiration of everyone. Even the Japanese, whom he constantly resisted, had respect for him.

In February 1938, after the strong intervention of the Japanese military, Johann Rabe was forced to leave Nanking and return to Germany, where his efforts had saved 200,000 Chinese people from death.

The crimes of the Nazis and the persecution of the Red Communists

After his return, Johann Rabe made public speeches to expose the atrocities committed by the Japanese, and he submitted a report on the Nanking Massacre to Hitler in the hope that he would stop the Japanese atrocities. However, the Nazi response was unexpected: within a few days the Gestapo arrested him and took away six diaries he had written and the film he had made of the Japanese atrocities, and after interrogation the Gestapo let him go Home on the condition that he “remain silent.

By the end of 1945, Germany and Japan surrendered, ending World War II, followed by the Nuremberg Trials, in which Hitler and his Nazi Party were responsible for initiating World War II and were responsible for 20 million lives. After the trial, the Nazi Party, the Gestapo, and the SS were judged to be criminal organizations, and all members of them, whether or not they were directly involved in the crimes, were classified as part of the criminal group, and carried the debt of the Nazi Party for all the blood they had shed during the war, and millions of their members were sentenced to death, life imprisonment, and several years in prison.

However, after his return to China, he failed to see the true nature of Hitler and the Nazi Party and did not resign from the Nazi Party, so he naturally became the target of prosecution and was held responsible for the crimes committed by the Nazis during the war. He was arrested by the Soviet Union and the British, and was interrogated several times over the days. At this time, the Allies carried out a complete liquidation of the Nazi Party, and anyone who had joined the Nazis had to withdraw from public and even private business positions.

The Soviet Red Army occupied Berlin at the same time, and the Red Army in Germany not only burned and killed, but also enslaved many Germans to work for them. After the death of General Patton in a car accident in December 1945 (also said to have been assassinated by Red Army agents), the Red Army became even more unscrupulous. At this time, the elderly John Rabe was forced to work twelve hours a day, dismantling factory machinery and equipment for the Soviets in exchange for a small amount of food, and even risking his life by following trucks to pick up fallen potatoes.

When word of the family’s situation reached mainland China, the National Government (Nanjing) launched a fundraising campaign to purchase supplies for them, and every month the family received a large shipment of food and supplies. In June 1946, the German ambassador Erwin Wichter and a number of other Allied figures met at the denazification screening committee. He was then re-employed as a clerk at Siemens, and his family was able to survive the post-war material shortages, including the Soviet blockade of West Berlin.

On January 5, 1950, Johann Rabe died of a stroke in West Berlin at the age of 68 and was buried in the West Berlin Cemetery. His tombstone still bears a Chinese figure of the eight trigrams of Tai Chi, with his name below it.

Beginning in 1941, John Rabe compiled more than 2,000 pages of records of Japanese atrocities in Nanking in Germany. The diary, which was only made public in 1996, immediately became a worldwide sensation and one of the most important and detailed historical sources of the Nanking massacre.

John Rabe has been fondly called the “Schindler of the East” because of his righteous deeds during the war. Some critics argue that he protected 200,000 refugees out of purely humanitarian motives, contrary to the wishes of his employer, Siemens, and the German government, and that his moral courage was greater than that of Oskar Schindler, another German businessman who saved Jews from Nazi slaughter.