What Iris Chang couldn’t forget

(Canscene) — On December 13, History Television Channel will carry an alarming and moving Canadian-made documentary. It’s Iris Chan: The Rape of Nanking, a feature-length length film about a genocide that began 70 years ago, on December 13, 1937

Iris Chang, a young American writer became deeply involved when she learned of the massacre of 300,000 Chinese soldiers, women and children and male civilians by Japanese soldiers in 1937. The Japanese had invaded China and launched an onslaught against Nanking, then China’s capital city.

Ten years ago her book The Rape of Nanking was published and became a bestseller. Now, two Canadians, Anne Pick and Bill Spahic have made a riveting documentary based on the book, with graphic archival film and photos and interviews with the survivors.

Please be warned; in places this film is gruesome to the extreme. Western missionaries and others, not being part of the conflict, stayed behind to record the horrors. The testimony of women survivors who were raped and became “comfort women” or the Japaneseconquerors is harrowing to the extreme.

Iris Chang is played by Canadian actress Olivia Cheng; she’s the thread that binds the story. Why? You see, the real Iris Chang was so haunted by what she learned about Nanking was eventually driven to suicide.


One of the things she learned was that the terrible brutality of the Japanese soldiers could be attributed to their military training, itself including whippings and torture of soldiers by their officers.

One of the greatest horrors of armed conflict is the danger of turning fighting men into beasts and historically, the Japanese army is far from being the only guilty party.

To call this film a horror story is perfectly correct and the biggest horror is that soldiers, everywhere continue to be turned into animals. Think Auschwitz and the SS. Think My Lai. Think Darfur and Somalia. Think Abu Graib.

And think turning over Afghan prisoners of war to police brutality

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