Oakcrest High School, New Jersey
2006 China Study Tour Participant
Dr. Franklin Littell, a prominent scholar in Holocaust-Genocide Studies, stated in class “that once you have seen the other side of the mountain, nothing is ever the same.” The 2006 Peace and Reconciliation Study Tour to China this summer is an example of this premise. Even if one has the past experience of this type of study tour in Europe, the experience of seeing, meeting and feeling the sorrow and pain of the survivors and feel the presence of the souls of the dead on the grounds of the Nanjing Massacre, it is an overwhelming and unexplainable experience. The sheer magnitude of the atrocities that were committed by the Japanese Imperial Army rival that of those committed by the Nazis in Europe in World War II.
What struck me most were the similarities of the two atrocities. The gut wrenching testimony of the survivors is as palpable as any survivor of the Holocaust. All of them were treated with the lowest possible regard for human existence. The atrocities committed by the Japanese Imperial Army during the war from the Nanjing Massacre, to the deplorable and despicable living and working conditions of the forced slave laborers, the horrendous experiments of the biological and chemical warfare units and the raping of the “comfort women” as government policy of “kill all, loot all and burn all” is unconscionable on any human level.
This trip has once again brought to the forefront the question of how and why do humans commit and perpetrate such unmentionable atrocities and seem to relish in this type of behavior. Once again I have found the more I think I know the more I don’t know and therefore need to continue my study. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to explore an area of World War II, that I am so lacking in cognitive knowledge and now have so many books to read and so little time!