Monday, July 29, 2013

Possibly the best war museum I've seen - Nanjing, China

300000 victims in just one city 
We get off the train at Nanjing central station, take a quick look at Google Maps and get on the subway to Yunjinlu station. After misinterpreting the station area map we end up at the Silk and brocade museum. We understand straight away that we've made a mistake, nonetheless we take a jolly little walk among silkworms, looms and robes. At the end of it we get out again under the Central-Eastern China scorching sun and enter the right museum, the Nanking massacre one. The structure spreads over a number of air-conditioned halls and an outdoor area (more suffering, it would've been much better to come here in spring). The visitors can walk among commemorative sculptures and installations, reconstructions, bunkers, authentic (and rather grim) mass graves unearthed many years after the events took place and an amazing photo exhibition that I recommend you leave as the last part of your visit. 
Obviously, in order to focus on the real value of the exhibition, one has to scratch the inevitable bombast glaze that coats the whole thing and overlook for a few hours the Chinese government exploitation of the historical events (and the subsequent hatred against the Japanese) for slimy regional supremacy purposes. Beautiful sentences of the "forgivable, but not forgettable" type can sound rather shallow in this context. 
This is no doubt one of the best war museums I've seen though. Those in Hanoi and Saigon can also sport first class exhibits but the buildings that house them and the general care for details are definitely of a much lower level. At the Nanjing museum quality encompasses a number of different aspects: architectural, artistic, historical and documentary. And if that were not enough the admission is totally free, for everyone. If you happen to be anywhere in Eastern China (especially in Shanghai or the surrounding region) I strongly recommend you pay a visit to it

A few more photos:

This reminds me of the sad sculpture in Bangkok
Photo exhibition/0 - Threatening message for the city's population
Photo exhibition/1 - Prisoners 
Photo exhibition/2 - Killing for fun 
Just a lot of beautiful words/0
Just a lot of beautiful words/1
A drop falls every 12 seconds, the average time elapsed between two consecutive killings during the massacre
This huge archive only contains the files of a small portion of the massacre victims

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