This film is a powerful reminder of the heart-rending toll that war takes on the innocent. It tells the story of how the Japanese subjected Nanking and its inhabitants to months of aerial bombardment and cruel emotional torture. When the city finally fell, the Japanese army ran in savagely to murder and rape. It was genocide.
In 1937, Nanking, China was a beautiful place. There was a huge lake and a park and stately parasol trees lined the main streets. Nanking was a prosperous place; it was the nation’s capital. There were hundreds of Westerners living and working in there. Naturally, this city was the target of Japanese war strategy; they used Shanghai as a steppingstone into Nanking. Before the air raids began, there were already rumors going around about what was going to happen soon. Still nothing could have prepared the people for the impact when it really happened.
Those who were there present listening to the sounds of doom, seeing their beloved city and its citizens destroyed, smelling the stench of death keep the stories alive because the memory remains vivid in their minds.
Thousands lost their lives but many were able to flee the massacre. The United States embassy made provision for all Americans to leave, but some decided to stay. They couldn’t just get up and flee to safety knowing that so many men and women they had grown to love were in danger of losing their lives. They stayed to embrace the opportunity to offer a service of the highest kind.
And so it was that in the midst of evil, a small group of Westerners came together and decided to establish a Safety Zone where as many as 200,000 Chinese found shelter. Unarmed, this crew made up of missionaries, university professors, doctors and businessmen bore witness and recorded the events, all while risking their own lives to protect Chinese civilians from the massacre.
Through heartbreaking interviews with survivors, unsettling footage, photos of the events, and testimonies of former Japanese soldiers, this dark chapter in history comes alive.
The film puts the viewer right on the streets of Nanking to experience something that has been forgotten. This documentary is proof of how the courage and conviction of ordinary individuals can make a big difference in the course of life. These men and women who were determined to stand bravely against all odds, are proof that a light— however small— can dispel the darkness.