Very little is know in the west about WWII in China except for the fact that it really started before anywhere else.One could argue that the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War at July 1937 was really the start of WWII in Asia.
One could also argue that the first mass atrocities of WWII started at the Nanking Massacre or Nanjing Massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanking or Rape of Nanjing, was an episode during the Second Sino-Japanese War of mass murder and mass rape by Japanese troops against the residents of Nanjing (then spelled Nanking), then capital of the Republic of China. The massacre occurred over six weeks starting December 13, 1937, the day that the Japanese captured Nanjing. During this period, soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army murdered Chinese civilians and disarmed combatants numbering an estimated 40,000 to over 300,000, and perpetrated widespread rape and looting.
One of the worst affected cities in China was Chongqing ( formerlyChungking )a major city in Southwest China and one of the five national central cities in China. Administratively, it is one of China’s four direct-controlled municipalities (the other three are Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin), and the only such municipality in inland China.
The Chinese Air Force was unprepared at the outbreak of the war. The Japanese air attacks went essentially unopposed.
Between February 18, 1938 – August 23, 1943 a total of 268 air raids were conducted against Chongqing, with more than 11,500, mainly incendiary, bombs dropped. The targets were usually residential areas, business areas, schools, hospitals and other non-military targets. These bombings were probably aimed at cowing the Chinese government, or as part of the planned Sichuan invasion.
The worst one was probably the bombing which happened today 81 years ago.
On June 5, 1941, bombing in China’s former capital sent thousands of residents fleeing to a bomb shelter, where they suffocated. The Chongqing massacre and other Japanese attacks would sour Sino-Japanese relations for decades.
At the start of the second Sino-Japanese War in 1938, the Japanese began bombing China’s new capital city of Chongqing (Chungking). During the five-year campaign, the Japanese killed an estimated 11,889 people, wounded 14,100 and destroyed 17,608 buildings, according to the Chongqing Municipal Government.
Chongqing had grown four times its pre-war size after becoming the new capital of China in 1938, but when the bombing began, many of the nearly 1 million citizens, unable to defend themselves, were forced into hiding as the only refuge from constant Japanese bombardment.
The bombing lasted more than three hours. More than 2,500 Chongqing residents fled to shelter in one of the town center’s tunnels, the Jiaochangkou Tunnel. There they suffocated as they waited for the end of the assault.Others died during the mass panic that ensued.
Many people died, both in the bombings and also in the air-raid shelters, especially babies, from heat and exhaustion and diarrhea.
.The Japanese attack on Chongqing came three years after the massacre at Nanjing. Events like the “Rape of Nanjing” and the bombing of Chongqing set the stage for Japanese brutality and dominance over China, and caused decades of Sino-Japanese hostility.
It is not very clear how many people died on the 5th of June 1941, some records say 2,500 others say 4,000.The only thing that is certain is that these were all civilians and civilians had been the specific target of the Japanese air force.
Three-thousand tons of bombs were dropped on the city between 1939 and 1943.According to photographer Carl Mydans, the spring 1941 bombings were “the most destructive shelling ever made on a city”, although by comparison 2,300 tons of bombs were dropped by Allied bombers on Berlin in a single night during the Battle of Berlin. A total of 268 air raids were conducted against Chongqing.
In March 2006, 40 Chinese who were wounded or lost family members during the bombings sued the Japanese government demanding 10,000,000 yen (628,973 yuan) each and asked for apologies. “By filing a lawsuit, we want the Japanese people to know about Chongqing bombings,” said a victim.
Unfortunately they lost the law suit.