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How has Iris Chang’s book, The Rape of Nanking: the Forgotten Holocaust of - page 3 / 9





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In British Columbia high school classrooms, the story of the Asia-Pacific, specifically the rape of Nanking, is not told in any significant detail. Why? Is it shame over the Canadian governments’ actions regarding our Hong Kong Veterans? Is it accountability factors or fears of offending a valuable trading partner in Japan? Is the silence of veterans and civilian victims a result of their many years of neglect? In the case of the Asia Pacific War, there are limited available resources for British Columbia teachers. Traditionally, Canadian textbooks have focused on the European theater of WW II. It is Iris Chang’s book that inspired me, between 1999 – 2001, to get involved with the British Columbia Ministry of Education and the B.C. Association for Learning & Preserving the History of WWII in Asia (Alpha) to create a resource guide for teachers to support aspects of the senior social studies curriculum: Human Rights in the Asia Pacific 1931-1945: Social Responsibility And Global Citizenship. This resource, complete with an introduction, teacher backgrounder, five lessons on the Asia Pacific (lesson two being the “Nanking Massacre and other Atrocities”), resources and handouts, became available in 2003 to all senior social studies teachers in the province of British Columbia. Among other rationales for such a resource is the premise that, “If we break the cycle of violence, humankind must constantly remind itself of its own capacity for evil, more importantly, must educate itself on how to prevent crimes against humanity” (Human Rights in the Asia Pacific 1931-1945, p. 4). It is my hope that this subject may follow “a trend … also [be a] beginning that will require American schoolchildren to learn about the rape of Nanking as part of their history curriculum” (Contemporary Authors, p. 2). Imagine the way Chang presents the Nanking massacre, with primary source accounts and oral narratives from survivors and witnesses, as opposed to the “… dry compilation of statistics” (Contemporary Authors, p. 2) found in textbook. This is evident with History 12 students’ responses to Chang’s version of the 1937 events: “I was disgusted!” (Rhys Myhannis, 2006); “It’s a pity we don’t learn more about it” (Richard Combs, 2006); “…said to be like the Holocaust, but I found it more depressing with the rapes and torture methods inflicted upon civilians” (Kyla Pierson, 2006); “It reminds me of stories my mom told me … my great-grandmother and grandma hid in a cave during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. I would have liked to know more because this part of history affected my family” (Sarika Kelm, 2006). Students like Sarika do know

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