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John Magee Film - Nanking Atrocities

WARNING:  THIS CLIP OF HISTORIC FILM FOOTAGE DEPICTS ATROCITIES COMMITTED AGAINST THE PEOPLE OF NANKING.  IT IS VERY DIFFICULT TO VIEW.  PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

This is a clip from the historic footage which John Magee, an American missionary working in Nanking (Nanjing), recorded during the weeks following the city's fall (to Japan) in December of 1937.  The physician, caring for the victims, is Dr. Robert O. Wilson.

How did Magee's film, documenting the Nanking atrocities, get out of the city?  George Fitch, an American missionary (and head of the YMCA in Nanking), smuggled the reels of footage in his coat as he journeyed to Shanghai on a Japanese military train.  He tells us how that happened:

A wire (by pre-arrangement) from Hollis Wilbur in Shanghai said, "Be in Shanghai before 23rd [that is, January 23, 1938]."  Armed with this I finally got my permit to leave again, and the following morning [18 January 1938] at 6:40 took the Japanese military train to Shanghai. 

I was crowded in with about as unsavory a crowd of soldiers as one could imagine in a third class coach, a bit nervous because sewed into the lining of my camel's-hair great-coat were eight reels of 16 mm. negative movie film of atrocity cases, most of which were taken in the University Hospital [in Nanking].  My baggage would undoubtedly be carefully examined by the military when we got to Shanghai.  What might happen if they discovered these films?

Fortunately, they weren't discovered, and as soon as I could after my arrival I took them to the Kodak office for processing.  Most of the exposures were made by John Magee, of the American Episcopal Mission, later Dean of St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington.  They were so terrible that they had to be seen to be believed.

The Kodak representative rushed through four sets for me and of course I was asked to show the film at the American Community Church and one or two other places.  (George Ashmore Fitch, quoted in Eyewitnesses to Massacre:  American Missionaries Bear Witness to Japanese Atrocities in Nanjing, by Kaiyuan Zhang - page 101.)

Two copies of the Magee film are now maintained at the U.S. National Archives.

See, also:

Image and Brief Bio:   John Rabe

Image and Brief Bio:   Dr. Robert O. Wilson


Media Credits

Clip of John Magee's historical footage included in the documentary film, "Nanking" (2007).

 

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"John Magee Film - Nanking Atrocities" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Jun 26, 2019.
       <http://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/John-Magee-Film-Nanking-Atrocities>.
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