Two massacres in 1937

There were two infamous massacres in 1937, one in the West, one in the East: the bombing by the Luftwaffe of Guernica in Spain [more information here] and the rampage by the Japanese in Nanjing in China [more information here].
The death toll in both events is disputed. At the time, the Basque government reported that 1,654 people were killed in the bombing of Guernica, but modern research suggests between 200 to 400 civilians died. The International Military Tribunal of the Far East estimates that there were 260,000 casualties at Nanjing; China’s official estimate is 300,000 casualties; Japanese historians estimate a lower death toll, in the vicinity of 100,000–200,000.
Now everyone in the West has heard of Guernica: it was seen as a foretaste of the total war unleashed by the Nazis on the rest of Europe a couple of years later and Picasso produced a famous painting on the incident. But I am surprised how few people in the West have heard of the massacre in Nanjing, even though the death toll was around 650 times higher.
This thought occurred to me as this week as I finished a novel with the title “Guernica” [my review here]. I have never been to Guernica but I have visited Nanjing [my account here].


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