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The Good Man of Nanking


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About the Author

John Rabe was born in Hamburg in 1882. He lived in China from 1908 to 1938, where his last position was that of director of the Siemens office in Nanking. He died impoverished and unrecognized in Berlin in 1950. Dr. Erwin Wickert, noted scholar and German ambassador to China from 1976 to 1980, first met Rabe in 1936 in Nanking. He is the author of several books about East Asia, including the best-selling China Seen from the Inside. With 2 maps and 59 illustrations.

The translator, John E.Woods, lives in San Diego, California.


Joining the ever-growing shelf of World War II memoir literature, this carefully edited book recounts the wartime experiences of an obscure German businessman who is now known as the "Oskar Schindler of China" and revered as a saint by the Chinese. Rabe (1882-1949) lived in China for almost 30 years, most notably as the director of the Siemens branch in Nanking during the infamous 1937 siege. Working closely with American friends, he organized an International Safety Zone that offered relative security to 250,000 Chinese during the brutal Japanese occupation. This book, based on a journal he kept then, describes his rescue efforts as well as the atrocities he observed. Called back to Germany shortly thereafter, he was arrested by the Gestapo and forbidden to speak of his experiences. The editor, a friend who first met Rabe in China in the early 1930s, explains the general political and military background and, more importantly, summarizes the political information that was available to Rabe himself. Recommended for academic and informed lay readers.ÄMarie Marmo Mullaney, Caldwell Coll., NJ

Considered the Oskar Schindler of China, Rabe was a German businessman who saved the lives of 250,000 Chinese during the infamous siege of Nanking. But Rabe was also a member of the Nazi party and a man whose motto was "Right or wrong-my country." This gaping paradox adds a fascinating complexity to his newly translated diaries, which primarily focus on the six-month Nanking siege in 1937 and 1938. When the Japanese air raids began over Nanking‘where Rabe was regional director of the German industrial giant Siemens‘Rabe's wife, along with most foreigners, evacuated the city. But Rabe stayed to protect his Chinese staff and co-workers; as he put it, "I cannot bring myself for now to betray the trust these people have put in me." As the magnitude of the Japanese assault became apparent, Rabe, along with American doctors and missionaries, created an International Committee whose purpose was to set up a Neutral Zone where Chinese civilians could take refuge. Six hundred of the poorest Chinese were soon living in Rabe's own house, symbolically protected by an enormous canvas painted with a swastika; thousands more took shelter in the arbitrary Neutral Zone that Rabe continually begged the Japanese to respect. Lacking food and medical supplies, Rabe was mobilized to continue his good works by the atrocities he witnessed; his descriptions of the sadistic rapes, torture and slaughter perpetrated by Japanese soldiers are chillingly vivid. Similar in some ways to Giorgio Perlasca, the Italian fascist businessman who helped save Budapest's Jews (Enrico Deaglio's The Banality of Goodness, Forecasts, June 1), Rabe was a complicated figure whose ultimate reasons were very matter-of-fact: "You simply do what must be done." (Nov.)

"Riveting, inspiring, terrifying and tragically sad." -The New York Times Book Review

"John Rabe is the Oskar Schindler of China." -Iris Chang, The New York Times "A document of the power of the human will....A quarter-million Chinese survived the horror of Nanking because John Rabe didn't hesitate to act." -The Boston Globe

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