John Rabe: A movie

I use to work in the medical field in China and Japan and my first foreign language was German. I am now refreshing my German for a month trip this summer to German with my son. Thus, the 2009 film “John Rabe” was at treat for me. Not only was it another film with a great redemptive theme, but I also got to listen to Chinese, German and Japanese in the same film.

More than this, the film taught me a part of the 1937 history of the rape of Nanjing that I never knew. In the 1980s I had many conversations with older Japanese business men who swore that the Nanjing massacre was a total myth. This continues: in May 1994, the Japanese Justice Minister, Shigeto Nagano, called the Nanjing Massacre a “fabrication”. And in February 2012 Takashi Kawamura, mayor of Nagoya, and Tokyo Governor Takashi Kawamura said the Rape of Nanjing “probably never happened”!

As always, reading a few articles while watching (and sometimes pausing) the film makes the experience incredibly deeper.

Some links:


Filed under Philosophy & Religion, Politics

3 responses to “John Rabe: A movie

  1. Hi Sabio

    Never heard about the man. But an interesting story. It also shows how difficult it is sometimes to come to differentiated picture of a man. Rabe as a NSDAP-Member saving lives and risking a lot – certainly not the general NSDAP-biografie. Thanks for the input. And – btw – if you come to Frankfurt, let me know.


  2. I hadn’t heard about this movie or story, but it does seem pretty interesting. I checked Netflix, and it is available for streaming, unlike Lola. 😦

    It is crazy that people would deny that this kind of thing happened (says the guy who denies that Jesus was born of a virgin, was part God, died for our sins, and was resurrected to sit at the right had of God). This type of war atrocity is unfortunately common (unlike God becoming man).

    In some ways, it makes sense too. In war, soldiers are told to kill people that they don’t even know, whereas such an act in times of peace would be inexcusably horrendous. When you walk out on such fundamental morals, it doesn’t exactly bread humane behavior.

    Anyway, I’ll check this flick out if the mood strikes with the opportunity.

  3. I enjoyed this film, and its many languages too. I thought that they did a good job portraying the complexities of Rabe’s mind. On one hand, starting off with the prevailing notion of the era that certain races were better or higher evolved than others, with Rabe talking about needing to identify a “good chinaman” from the mediocre ones, and his somewhat harsh treatment of the workers. Yet there was a underlying level of basic human dignity which he would not transgress, and ultimately spurred him into his saving actions.

    It is also an interesting study in how chance coincidence is sometimes difference between success and failure, and between life and death.

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