When Professor Suping Lu, University Libraries, started his research on the Nanjing Massacre in January of 1997, he had two goals in mind -- to write a comprehensive overview of the tragic occupation of Nanjing, China by the Japanese military and to raise awareness of this human tragedy.
Twenty years later, Suping Lu’s thirteen book, The 1937-1938 Nanjing Atrocities,
published by Springer Nature, finally achieves one of his goals. According to
Lu, it took the culmination of twenty years of research collecting vast amounts
of source materials from libraries, archives, and historical societies located
on three continents.
“The scope of the topic is vast and my research journey
uncovered an enormous amount of source materials. At the start of my career I
had to break down the research focus into smaller chunks,” explained Lu.
His first published work, They Were in Nanjing: The Nanjing Massacre Witnessed by American and
British Nationals, analyzed the eyewitness reports of American and British
diplomats, then Lu worked on the papers and letters left by missionaries that
were stationed in Nanjing at the time. Other published work tackled different
aspects of the research or a different population of eyewitnesses. All of his
work has been published in English and Chinese.
His current book, The
1937-1938 Nanjing Atrocities, based on the original sources in
Chinese, English, German and Japanese, includes analysis of materials
created by American, British, and German diplomats and military personnel,
civilians, missionaries, soldiers, and contemporary Japanese and Chinese news
media. This book also covers some of the controversies related to the Nanjing
atrocities – including the killing contests, postwar tribunals, and Japanese
revisionists. Lu also includes new information on burial records kept by
charity organizations, wartime diaries of Japanese soldiers, and eyewitness
accounts of German diplomats (which will be covered in more depth in his next
book). No one else has detailed these materials in an English publication.
Lu’s work has shed light, not only on this historical
tragedy, but on the human condition as well. The witnesses left a record of
reports, letters, and diaries and as Lu says, it was the author’s way of
relieving the stress and purging the feelings they were experiencing from what
they had witnessed. Lu also explained that a variety of people both allies to
and enemies of the Japanese shared the same details in their first-person
“The reports done by German officials and the letters
written by thirteen American missionaries share similar details and corroborate
each other,” explains Lu, “Apparently what they left behind are accurate and truthful
accounts of that tragic incident, for it is unlikely that they would lie in
unison in their respective private records.”
Lu hopes we can learn the lessons of that time, so that we
can learn to live together today.
“We need to live together in harmony.”