Thanks to New Jersey Alpha I was able to participate in the 2011 China Study Tour. The tour encompassed four major cities: Beijing, Nanjing, Harbin and Shanghai. The experience opened my eyes and my heart to what innocent people suffered during Japan’s invasion and occupation of China, Korea and other nations in that part of the world. Meetings with scholars were illuminating. Listening to survivors relating their experiences was akin to hearing survivors of the Holocaust, Rwanda or Darfur presenting their testimonies. The faces, ethnicities, cultures, language may be different, but the stories are essentially the same. The parallels are all too familiar to those of us who are familiar with the history of the Holocaust and other genocides: rabid racism, arrogance and greed on the part of the perpetrators, often followed by denial, in the face of indisputable documentation. As under Hitler, victims the Japanese did not immediately kill, were forced to become slave laborers. Some were subjected to heinous medical experiments. Some suffered the abuse of sexual slavery. The Japanese euphemistically called them, “Comfort Women.” (Nazis also set up brothels for soldiers, but it was always assumed that because their race laws forbade intercourse between Jews and Germans, Jews, although destined for annihilation, were spared that humiliating assault. However, recent scholarship reveals that Jewish women were raped by the local populations as well as by Germans.) The last leg of the tour was a visit to Seoul, Korea which included a visit to the House of Sharing, as well as the Grandma’s Weekly Protest in front of the Japanese Embassy, a protest demanding an end to denial of the atrocities Japan committed and, in denial, continues to commit. The study tour has inspired me to continue to fight denial and preserve history, including the history of Hitler’s Japanese partners in the most egregious crimes the world has known.
Director – Holocaust Center of MetroWest, Whippany, NJ
2011 China Study Tour Participant