Chinese state media Xinhua News Agency is marking the 79th anniversary of the horrific Nanjing Massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanjing, by unveiling moving portraits of the survivors who evaded death under the hands of Imperial Japanese soldiers during Second Sino-Japanese War.
The photos were published in honor of China’s third official Day of Remembrance, acknowledging the massacre’s unspeakable horror that took the lives of 300,000 people and raped thousands of women, reported the Daily Mail. The invasion lasted for six weeks beginning on December 13, 1937.
The survivors, who watched as their families were mercilessly slaughtered along with Chinese soldiers during World War II, serve as a living reminders to never forget the events of 1937.
Some of the survivors reportedly escaped the killings by seeking shelter in refugee camps. As most of them were just children then, their childhood was robbed during the invasion.
As the number of survivors gets smaller each year, the portraits grow more haunting, only to be remembered by the current generation.
In Xinhua’s photos published on Monday, 30 of the 108 remaining survivors were shown and were shared across multiple social media outlets in China.
December 13 its National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre victims, which the National People’s Congress of China has made an official day of remembrance back in 2014.
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) December 11, 2016
An annual memorial ceremony is held at the Memorial Hall for the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre, a memorial built in 1985 and expanded in 1995.
During the Second World War, Japan invaded Nanjing, which was then the capital of the Republic of China.
In the invasion which lasted for six weeks, the city was turned into a living hell for residents as the invaders slaughtered men, both soldiers and civilians, while women were taken as ‘comfort women’ to be regularly sexually abused later by Japanese soldiers.
The survivors’ photos reveal the pain, suffering and trauma caused by the merciless war brought upon them during the massacre.
Zhang Fuzhi, who was brutally beaten by Japanese soldiers, went blind in his right eye and became unable to tell direction or even recognize his family. He recently died in November, just a few days after the photo shoot.
Yi Cuilan, a woman who pretended to be male during the invasion, was able to escape being sexually abused by the soldiers.
The Japanese government has declined on issuing a formal apology for the incident with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe only expressing “deep remorse” over the massacre which is also referred to as the Rape of Nanjing due to the number of women who were raped by Japanese soldiers.