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John Rabe (November 23, 1882 – January 5, 1950) was a German businessman who is best known for his efforts to stop the atrocities of the Japanese army during the Nanking Occupation and his work to protect and help the Chinese civilians during the event. The Nanking Safety Zone, which he helped to establish, sheltered approximately 200,000 Chinese people from slaughter during the massacre. He officially represented Germany and acted as senior chief of the European–American establishment that remained in Nanking, the Chinese capital, when the city fell to the Japanese troops.
日本侵华时,JOHN RABE正为德国在华的西门子公司工作.南京大屠杀发生时,他帮助建立了南京安全区,协助救助了200,000 个中国人.
Return to GermanyOn February 28, 1938, Rabe left Nanking upon orders possibly made by Adolf Hitler himself in order to preserve the relationship Germany had with Japan at the time. He first traveled to Shanghai and then back to Germany. He took with him a large number of source materials documenting the atrocities committed by the Japanese in Nanking.
Rabe showed films and photographs of Japanese atrocities in lecture presentations in Berlin and wrote to Hitler to use his influence to persuade the Japanese to stop any further inhumane violence. As a result, Rabe was detained and interrogated by the Gestapo and his letter was never delivered to Hitler. Due to the intervention of Siemens AG, Rabe was released. He was allowed to keep evidence of the massacre, excluding the film, but was not allowed to lecture or write on the subject. Rabe continued working for Siemens, which posted him briefly to the safety of Siemens AG of Afghanistan. Rabe subsequently worked in the Berlin headquarters of the company until the end of the war.
PostwarAfter the war, Rabe was arrested first by the Soviet NKVD and then by the British Army. Both, however, let him go after intense interrogation. He worked sporadically for Siemens, earning very little. He was later denounced for his Nazi Party membership by an acquaintance. He was stripped of the work permit that he had previously been given by the British Zone, and had to undergo a very lengthy de-nazification process (his first attempt was rejected and he had to appeal) in the hope of regaining the permission to work. He had to pay his own legal defense costs, which depleted his savings.
Unable to work to support his family and with the savings spent the family survived in a one room apartment by selling his Chinese art collection, but this did not provide enough to avoid malnutrition. He was formally declared "de-Nazified" by the British in June 3, 1946 but thereafter continued to live in poverty. The family lived on wild seeds that the children would eat with soup, and on dry bread until that was no longer available either.
In 1948, the citizens of Nanking learned of the very dire situation of the Rabe family in occupied Germany and they quickly raised a very large sum of money, equivalent to $US 2000 (US$ 19,000 in 2012). The city mayor himself went to Germany, via Switzerland where he bought a large amount of food for the Rabe family. From mid 1948 until the communist takeover the people of Nanking also sent a food package each month, for which Rabe in many letters expressed deep gratitude.
Death and legacy
January 5, 1950, Rabe died of a stroke. In 1997 his tombstone was moved from Berlin to Nanjing (as it is now) where it received a place of honor at the massacre memorial site.
In 2005, Rabe's former residence in Nanking (as it then was) was renovated and now accommodates the "John Rabe and International Safety Zone Memorial Hall", which opened in 2006. The Austrian Service Abroad has been invited to send a Peace Servant
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