La bei ri ji (John Rabe) (2009)

 

 

 

Director:     Florian Gallenberger.

Starring:     Ulrich Tukur (John Rabe),  Daniel Brhl (Dr. Georg Rosen),  Steve Buscemi (Dr. Robert Wilson),  Anne Consigny (Valrie Dupres),  Dagmar Manzel (Dora Rabe),  Jingchu Zhang (Langshu),  Teruyuki Kagawa (Prince Asaka Yasuhiko),  Mathias Herrmann (Werner Flie),  Tetta Sugimoto (Nakajima Kesago),  Akira Emoto (Matsui Iwane),  Arata (Major Ose),   Shaun Lawton  (Rev. John Magee),  Christian Rodska (Dr. Lewis Smythe),  Gottfried John (Dr. Oskar Trautmann),  Fang Yu (Hsianglin Han).

a German businessman who saved more than 200,000 Chinese during the Nanjing massacre

 

Spoiler warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.

November 27, 1937.  John Rabe says:  "They say the Japanese razed Shanghai to the ground.  I just don't want to believe that.  Typical Chinese propaganda.  All is quiet here in Nanking (which is 171 miles northwest of Shanghai).  Except for a few who are running scared.  I hope our leaving doesn't make it seem like I'm backing out too.  But should I go around telling everyone I've been promoted to director?  And was called to Berlin?  Of course not."

December 1, 1937.  "A large Japanese force lies in wait, just 70 km off Nanking.  . . .  All the same, we're off in two days.  Japanese or no Japanese. Though it wouldn't be bad if Japan gained more influence in China.  After all, they are allies of the Reich."

Rabe's deputy Herr Han tells Rabe that Herr Fliess has arrived.  Fleiss will be Rabe's replacement.  With Han, Fleiss and Rabe take a tour of the electrical plant.  The plant provides enough electricity for the whole province of Jiangsu which is over 15 million people.  Fliess breaks the bad news that the Siemens company is not going to build a dam in Nanking because Siemens Nanking is being phased out.  This is a shock to Rabe and he is a bit disturbed. 

At night Rabe walks around the facilities.  He hears what sounds like airplanes heading over Nanking.  He sees the planes cross over him and then one buzzes him and he decides to get off the street. 

At Japanese headquarters plans are discussed for the advance on Nanking.  Major Ose will be leading the attack.  The major says they will surround Nanking on three sides and then they will join up in the city.  Ose's troops will join the 33rd Infantry on the northeast.  Lt. Yanagawa's Sixth Division will attack from the southeast.  This way there will be fewer Japanese loses.  Prince Yasuhiko Asaka, however, is less concerned about Japanese casualties.  He wants the major to be more assertive and go to the attack aggressively. 

Dora prepares husband John a nice cake and puts one lighted candle on top.  This is to honor his doing the best job a man could do here in Nanking. 

A group of Chinese girl students and the leader Valrie Dupres sing for Rabe:  "For he's a jolly good fellow."  Rabe thanks them.  A girl interested in photography takes a photo of the whole group together with John Rabe.

Herr Fleiss is now in his Nazi uniform with a Nazi arm band.  He is taken to a club where the guys meet to talk.  When Fleiss enters the room he sees the picture of a British King on the wall.  Fleiss is shocked and scandalized that they would meet together with such a picture in the room.  The men explain that they share the room with the English Veterans Club.  Fleiss is filled with righteous indignation at their low interest in Nazi symbols.  The picture is taken down and behind it is a picture of Adolf Hitler. 

Goulou Hospital, Nanking.  Dr. Robert Wilson orders more doctors to be present at the hospital and more beds be brought into the rooms.  He checks the supplies and findsthey are very low on key articles such as ether and morphine. 

John puts in a call to Herr Lehmann to say now is not the time to pull out of China.  The boss hangs up on him.  John tells Dora that they are closing Siemens Nanking, which he build up from nothing.  They are not promoting him, but just kicking him upstairs.  He was hoping the dam would be his legacy, but now it won't even be built.  John refers to Fleiss as: "That awful little cretin."  Dora reminds her husband that this is their last night and she doesn't want anyone or anything spoiling their last evening. 

Dr. Wilson comes to the farewell party, but he tells his wife that he does not want to talk to Rabe.  He says he doesn't like Nazis and his wife says he is not a Nazi, just a member of the party.  Wilson says that means the guy is a Nazi. Japanese ambassador Fukuda is here and one of Rabe's friends doesn't want to talk to him.  Later Gen. Chiang Kai-shek gives a Hero of the Chinese People medal to Rabe for his great contributions to China.  At dinner Rabe starts to give a little thank you and goodbye speech at the party.  He starts, but there is a big explosion outside of the banquet room.  After a brief wait, he goes on with his speech saying that he has been in China for over 27 years.  And now a bigger explosion hits and the main chandelier collapses to the floor.  John is knocked down by the shock waves.  He gets up and tells everyone to get out of the banquet room:  "Raus!" 

John and Dora get into the back of the car, but the car can't go very fast because the street is filled with panicking people who work for Siemens.  The people demand that they open the gate and a guard finally comes and unlocks it.  It was Fleiss who ordered the gate closed because the people are their workers.  John says they will be killed and Fleiss says he cares more about the plant than the people.  Now Rabe starts directing people to the way out.  Fleiss warns him that he will regret this, but John replies:  "I'll be happy to regret this."  Dora is also helping to direct people to the way out. 

John now tells Han to get him the huge Nazi flag.  He does and John has a search light turned on it.  People help him unfurl the flag.  He then directs people to get under the flag. The Japanese planes fly low over the plant, but now they don't drop any bombs.  When the planes leave them in peace the people all cheer.  There are many fires all over the city and many people have been killed or wounded.  The Goulou Hospital quickly becomes overwhelmed by the numbers.  To make matters worse they run out of anesthetics. 

Herr Fleiss tries to run away from the area, but John orders that the gates be closed to stop him.  When Fleiss has to stop, Rabe asks him to get out of the car.  Fleiss tells him that he is now the boss.  Rabe asks him what are his plans?  To shut the factory down.  Rabe asks about the welfare of the workers.  Fleiss says when this is all over and the factory can start again, then they will notify the workers to come back.  Now Rabe tells him that officially Fleiss does not take over until tomorrow morning. 

Rabe tells Han that Fleiss will stay in the guest apartment and the staff will look after him.  Instead, Herr Fleiss picks up his one suitcase and walks out the gate. 

December 4, 1937.  Rabe writes in his diary that he is letting anyone who comes to him enter the plant area.  He even has Chinese people staying on the lawn of his house. 

The Japanese drop leaflets with a picture of a happy Japanese soldier carrying a Chinese youngster to safety.  The student photographer takes pictures and one of them is a photo of what she thinks is a  handsome man, Dr. Rosen. The doctor is a little surprised that a young Chinese girl would want to take a picture of him.   

A Chinese truck convoy approaches Nanking.  But it's all a trick, because now the Japanese spring their trap and start shelling the trucks on the road.  They all use machine guns to mow the Chinese soldiers down once they jump off the trucks. 

The prince tells the major congratulations, but he gave strict instructions that no prisoners are to be taken and yet the major has thousands of them.  Major Ose says it would be difficult to execute so many prisoners and the order is probably illegal.  The prince tells the major:  "I want no prisoner salive by tomorrow morning."  Moreover, they will shell the center of the city.  He adds:  "Nanking must experience the superiority of our troops." 

Rabe attends a meeting of western officials.  Dr. Rosen, who just arrived today, says Germany has recalled its military advisers from China.  So the more trained units are without the help of German military advisors.  Moreover, much of the elite Chinese troops have been wiped out.  Shanghai has become a bloodbath.  Valrie asks Rosen what they should do?  Rosen says they can't leave Nanking now because the Japanese have them surrounded.  He goes on to say that in Shanghai they set up a safety zone for unarmed civilians. 

Rabe naively says that he thinks the Japanese are going to try to cut down on the bloodletting.  After all, they dropped these leaflets all over the city.  Robert Wilson comes in splattered with blood.  He says he just watched 17 children die.  Robert starts criticizing John Rabe saying things like how much of the city will Rabe and the Germans get?  Valrie Dupres tells the doctor that is unfair.  The doctor wants Rabe to prove his good intentions by doing something.  Rabe says he will gladly do anything to help, but what is there to do.  Valrie Dupres tells Rabe to stay in Nanking and help build a safety zone.  She gets up and asks how many in the room would support a safety zone?  They are reluctant to raise their hand, so Valrie asks them would they rather sit around and do nothing? Now she takes another vote and the motion has a clear majority.  Then Valrie asks that they put John Rabe in charge of the safety zone.  Dr. Wilson doesn't like this and says they might as well be turning the safety zone over to the Japanese. Valrie disagrees saying that John knows the city better than anyone and being German, he is a natural choice to be a negotiator with the Japanese.  John Rabe is elected by the group.  He seems hesitant to take the position and gets more criticism from Dr. Wilson.  Rabe now says he accepts the position.

Dr. Wilson starts storming out of the room, when Rabe asks him to wait.  Wilson stops with his back to the group.  Rabe nominates Dr. Robert Wilson to be the deputy chairman.  Wilson is elected and he accepts.  Now he continues walking out of the room. 

The Japanese tell the Chinese prisoners that they are now going to eat.  But instead, a truck comes by and a machine gun on the truck shoots all the Chinese prisoners.   Those still alive are shot dead by pistol. 

December 5, 1937.  John wonders how he will break the news to Dora?  He plays the piano.  Dora gets out of bed and asks him what is he thinking about that he can't sleep?  John says he is thinking about those poor devils outside.  What will become of them?  Dora says those outside are less worried about their future than he is.  When they both climb back in bed John asks her does she remember what they promised each other when they were 19 and to be wed?  She does.  It's:  "Now and forever, come what may."  He asks her if she still believes that and she says yes.  They hug and kiss. 

At the first meeting of the safety zone people, Rabe is late.  Dr. Wilson insists that the man isn't coming.  And how does he know this?  Because he and his wife's names are on the passenger list of those leaving on the last ship out of Nanking. Valrie says she is tired of all Wilson's grumbling and his cynicism.  She says:  "I won't believe it until I see it." 

It looks like the Rabes are running to get on the ship. Committee members Valrie, Dr. Rosen and the priest drive down to where the ship is docked.  They see Dora and John running for the ship. Valrie comments:  "Let's hope they go down with the ship."  Dora runs up the plank.  Rabe stops at the top of the plank.  Dora realizes that he's not going with her.  He turns around and back down the plank he goes.  He waves goodbye to Dora from the dock.  He yells:  "I'll come later."

Japanese planes come over them and the Chinese guards start shooting at them.  The planes rush over to the last ship out and bomb it.  John shouts out:  "Dora!  Dora!"  The ship deck is hard to see because of all the thick smoke.

Air raid sirens sound off and sounds of war can be heard.  And now Rabe gets to work on the safety zone.  The committee goes to see the Japanese ambassador to China.  They tell him that the safety zone will have five entrances.  Japanese soldiers are not permitted to enter the zone.  No soldiers will be harbored in the zone.  The zone will include the embassies, the hospital, the Ginling Girls's college and the Siemens compound.  Chinese soldiers will be disarmed and then held in a special area until the Japanese take them as prisoners.          

 December 11, 1937.  Thousands of Chinese are flooding through the gates of the safety zone.  Mr. Fukuda gives his approval for the safety zone.  The zone was made to handle 100,000 refugees.  The zone received 23,000 on its first day.  Should they limit entrance after they have reached 100,000?  Some say yes, some say no.  Rabe uses the figure of 200,000 refugees in the zone.

December 13, 1937.  The committee is transporting imported rice to Nanking, along with many other supplies.  They try to get as much in as possible, before the Japanese arrive.   

The Japanese general asks Major Ose why has he ended the siege and switched over to an attack on the city?   The prince ordered it so.  The general asks the prince for his reasons.  The prince says that his nephew the emperor wants to have a quick, decisive victory to show Japan's great superiorly over other nations.  They attack Nanking tonight. 

At night the Japanese start their attack.  They cut the telephone lines.  Rabe says they must find a line and tell the world that Nanking has fallen.  In the morning the Japanese are standing up for pictures as they shout:  "Banzai!  Banzai!  Banzai!"  (which means long life or hurrah). 

More wounded come into the hospital.  A soldier is brought into the hospital and Wilson tells the stretcher bearers that there are no soldiers allowed.  This is the safety zone.  One of the Chinese doctors says it's his son.  So Dr. Wilson says okay.  The Japanese soldiers come looking for the Chinese soldier.  Wilson tells them that there is no soldier in the hospital.  He gives the officer a tour of the hospital, saying over and over "no soldier".  But shots are heard.  Wilson and the officer rush out and the Japanese soldiers say they found the Chinese soldier.  The officer turns to Wilson and sarcastically says:  "No soldier."  They leave.  Now Wilson checks the operating room.  Everyone who had been in that room has been killed, including 2 doctors and 3 nurses. 

Rabe and Valrie are waiting to bring a truck full of supplies into the safety zone.  Dr. Rosen tries to talk to the guards, but they say Rabe will have to pay some ridiculously high sum of money to them.  So Rabe goes to speak with them. 

December 15, 1937.  Rabe writes that each day it gets harder trying to feed 200,000 people.  And their requests for more rice have not yet been answered by the Japanese. Rabe finds Dr. Wilson alone and drunk.  Wilson came to tell him about what the Japanese did to his staff today.  Rabe says he should have never allowed the soldier in, even if he was the son of one of the doctors.  The result is that 6 lives were lost instead of 1.  The two men insult each other and then have a toast.  They have a great time singing a song critical of Hitler and his boys.

The Japanese are moving the prisoners out, all tied to long ropes. Valrie asks how many prisoners were turned over to the Japanese?  153.  The officer wants to take 20 of their girls with him. No. Valrie says never in all her days has she ever heard a more sickening proposition.  The officer tells her:  "You will regret this."  The translator asks if Dupres has lost her mind?  Machine guns open up on the prisoners.  All are killed.  Dupres and the student photographer go down to see and photograph.

December 19, 1937.  "Bodies lie in piles before the gates.  The Japanese won't touch them. And we aren't allowed to do so."  Rabe writes that the executions happen every day.  The Europeans are shocked by all this violence.  Now he writes a letter to Hitler saying that the Japanese army took Nanking on December 12, 1937.  Since then, he has witnessed countless atrocities committed by the Japanese.  He asks Hitler to help end this catastrophe.   

The committee views film of just a few of the many atrocities committed by the Japanese on the people of Nanking.  Rabe has to ask the projectionist to turn it off. 

The girls at the girls' college have their hair cut very short probably to pass as boys. 

Rabe goes to the Japanese embassy.  He was told not to, but when he meets the bastard prince, he holds out his hand.  The prince looks shocked at first, but does shake hands with Rabe.  The men sit at a conference table to talk.  The prince says that the bombing of the last ship out of Nanking was a tragic misunderstanding.  The prince knows that Rabes's wife has survived, but he keeps this news from the German.  Rabe tells the prince that in many cases the Japanese soldiers do not respect the security zone and engage in murder, plunder and rape.  There have also been mass executions of both civilian and military persons handed over to the Japanese.  These comments are making the Japanese leaders very angry.

After the meeting is over, Dr. Rosen scolds both Wilson and Rabe, saying they know nothing about diplomacy. He goes on to say they are going to have to work with the prince, regardless of what they may think of him.  Wilson and Rabe are not in a compromising mood.  Rosen walks away from them saying they both are just too damn stubborn.  Rabe yells for his car driver, but he has been grabbed by the Japanese on a charge that he did not take his hat off to a Japanese officer and would not get in the car when ordered to do so.  (This is probably retribution for Rabe's criticism of the Japanese leaders.)

Rabe is told that his driver started a fight.  And now he is in the prisoner's camp. 

Rabe goes to the prison and looks through the cracks of a wood fence.  Prisoner after prisoner is being beheaded.  He sees his driver beheaded.  He complains to a Japanese officer and this baboon has the nerve to say that it was an honorable death.  He takes Rabe inside the prison.  The Japanese are having a contest to see who can kill the most men with their sword.  Rabe sees the rows of beheaded heads lined up in front of the men involved in the contest.  They are proud of what they have done and they get their photos taken. 

To compensate Rabe for his loss, Rabe asks for 20 Chinese prisoners.  The number is 20 because his driver who spoke German was 20 times as useful as any other Chinese servant, so he wants 20.  The Chinese prisoners are asked who speaks German?  One fellow raises his hand and he is instructed to come up to the front.  The Japanese officer tells Rabe to speak in German to the prisoner to make sure he really can speak German.  Rabe quickly finds out that the prisoner doesn't speak any German at all.  So the Japanese officer lets Rabe select 20 prisoners to take with him.  Rabe makes the choices. 

When Rabe gets back home he rests on his bed.  At the next committee meeting John tells everyone that he wrote to Hitler.  Wilson scoffs at the very idea, but Rabe insists that once Hitler is aware of the situation he will stop the atrocities.  Everyone agrees that something needs to be done.  There is only enough food for three days for the safety zone and their money has also ran out.  Internal squabbling starts, but Rabe quickly puts a stop to that.   

One day Valrie shows the Chinese prisoners she has hidden in the girls' college to John.  Rabe says he can't have this.  It puts everyone in the safety zone in danger of being shot.  Valrie tells John that she thought that she could trust him.  She hardens her voice and says the Japanese will be able to take these prisoners only over her dead body.  She locks the door and leaves. 

December 21, 1937.  Rabe says that they are cut off from all communication with the outside world.  John has a problem of diabetes and he has to have daily injections of insulin.  He gives it to himself. 

Valrie sees one of her students, the photographer, go out of the college to an apartment.  Two Japanese soldiers also see the girl and they follow her.  She goes in the apartment where her father and brother are sleeping.  She passes by her father and brings food first to her little brother.   All of a sudden the two soldiers burst through the front door.  Father gets up to try and shield his children, but he is immediately shot down.  Now the soldiers grab the girl and start raping her.  With their attentions focused on the girl, her brother grabs a pistol and shoots the man nearest to him and then the other. 

Rabe and Reston see the Japanese taking a group of young women to serve as prostitutes for the soldiers.  Rabe puts up a great protest and the officer puts his gun in Rabe's face.  Rabe quickly reminds the officer that he is a German citizen.  He does the whole bit of raising his stretched out right arm and saying:  "Seig, heil!"  He then asks Reston to do the same to reinforce the message, but Reston is very hesitant.  Rabe has to insist that he do it and he finally complies, but not enthusiastically. 

After the incident is over Rabe says he was not pleased that Reston did not respond to his request immediately.  Reston says his father was persecuted in German, merely because his grandfather had a little Jewish blood in him.  His father died in China and not in his beloved Germany.  He hates the Nazis. 

The Chinese photographer has put on a Japanese uniform in order to burn her father's body deep in the forest.  Her little brother goes with her. 

The Japanese are filling holes in the streets.  They start filling a bomb crater and are using the corpses of the Chinese dead to fill the crater.  Rosen is outraged and he demands that the officer stop this.  The Japanese soldier in charge of the detail doesn't care what Rosen is concerned about.  Rosen sees what is really the photographer dressed as a Japanese officer coming towards them.  He runs over to the officer and starts protesting about using corpses to fill up bomb craters when he realizes that it the photographer girl.  He stops protesting, but now the Japanese soldier in charge comes over and says that Rosen is interfering with his efforts to fill the crater.  The girl doesn't know what to do, so she just starts running.  The soldiers now start chasing the girl and her brother.  After awhile, the two of them split up so the boy can hide and survive. 

The photographer runs into the girls' college and upstairs into her dormitory room where sleeps a lot of her fellow students.  She has a friend throw the uniform into the open heater while she dresses in her standard pajamas.  When the Japanese officer inspects the place he forces the girls all to strip.  Valrie has to give the order to them to do it.  (some nudity)  The officer thinks that the person he is searching for is male.  He walks down the aisle inspecting the girls, but cannot find any male or anyone suspicious looking.  He gets disgusted and gives up.  He leaves. 

Rabe is running out of insulin and now he has a bout of the shakes.  Meanwhile, Valrie, the photographer and Reston go looking for little brother.  Reston finds him and sister and brother are reunited. 

December 23, 1937.  Rabe comments that they can't maintain the safety zone for much longer.  So he decides to take out his personal savings.  He will give this money to the committee anonymously.  But he does take some of it and hands it out to some of the zone residents. 

Rosen gives the photographer a dress she can wear.  She puts it on and then comes in to talk with Rosen.  Rosen tells her the dress looks beautiful on her.  She sits down and they are soon looking at some old family pictures he has kept.  She sees a naked baby picture of him and asks him if she can have it.  She then takes from her sleeve a photo of Rosen.  She asks him if he remembers her taking the photo when he first came?  He says yes. 

The committee is celebrating Christmas Eve.  The priest comes in saying someone left $50,000 dollars on the church altar.  The committee members are very happy to hear that.  They talk about the diplomats coming back to China.  The Japanese have also delivered some mail after a long stop.  Rabe opens up a container with some type of food in it that Dora used to make him.  He realizes suddenly that Dora is alive.  He faints.  Dr. Wilson examines him and says that this man need insulin or he will fall into a coma.  They are out of insulin.  Wilson searches for insulin in Rabe's bathroom and discovers many empty vials of insulin. 

Major Ose overhears the top brass discussing their plans.  Through questioning some of the girls at the girls' college, they have found out that there are Chinese prisoners being harbored there.  So it is decided that the safety zone must be cleared before the diplomats and the press arrive or else all the world will know about the Japanese atrocities.  They are determined just to get rid of the safety zone.  Prince Asaka leaves the room.  He doesn't look pleased when he sees Major Ose right outside the door. 

Wilson and Rosen arrive at the headquarters building and ask a doctor for some insulin.  A Japanese doctor gives them some insulin.  Rosen waits in the driver's seat for Wilson to come out.  Major Ose comes up to Rosen and tells him that the top brass have found out about the Chinese prisoners being sheltered at the girls' college and they have decided to get rid of the safety zone. 

When the committee members are all together again, Rosen balls out Valrie for endangering all 200,000+ zone residents.  He tells her that certainly Rabe would be angry at her for not telling him.  Valrie says Rabe did know.  Rosen finds that hard to believe.  Rabe gets up out of bed to find out what's all the fuss about.  The members make him get back into bed and then tell him what has happened.  About his strategy, Rabe says to them:  "It's all or nothing." (meaning they are all will be saved or they all will be killed)  Rabe tells the members to get hold of the three sirens so they can  notify everyone when the diplomats and the press have arrived.

December 25.  A lot of Chinese people outside the zone have heard about the plans to eliminate the safety zone.  A large group of them stand in front of the gate as a shield against the Japanese. The people hold arms and are not moving.  Tanks are brought up to sit behind the rows of Japanese soldiers.  The officer in charge orders his men to load their weapons.  He has them get into a firing position.  The first row sits with one knee on the ground.  Just as the Japanese are about to fire, Rabe and the other committee members open the gates and walk out to talk with the Japanese officer.  The officer tells Rabe to just simply hand over the Chinese prisoners.  Rabe says if they want to carry out another massacre, they may as well shoot the committee members as well. 

The three sirens sound off.  The ship the Cricket has just docked.  Prince Asaka comes over and asks why those sirens are sounding off?  Rabe says the Cricket has arrived with the diplomats and the press aboard it.  He suggests that there may not be time enough for another Japanese massacre of Chinese men, women and children.  Prince Asaka has the soldiers "stand down".  After the soldiers leave, the people literally shout for joy. Everyone says they have won a great victory. 

December 29, 1937.  Prince Asaka talks sweetly to the arriving diplomats.  Rabe comments that their victory has now led to their end.  The safety committee was forced to step down; to hand over most of the photos and film of Japanese atrocities; and Rabe himself has to leave China.  Moreover, the Japanese themselves will be running the safety zone.  In fact, the Japanese chose that horrible Nazi Fleiss to be the chief administrator of the zone.  Rabe is sad about leaving, but he is happy about seeing his Dora again.  He says his personal struggle is over. 

Rabe sees part of the committee along the way to his ship.  They sing "for he's a jolly good fellow" for him.  Rabe continues walking with his two-man Japanese escort.  Rosen runs to catch up with Rabe.  He tells Rabe:  "Thank you."  Now up comes the photographer in her nice dress accompanied by her brother.  The three of them stand there until Rabe disappears from sight.

As Rabe approaches his ship, he finds a huge crowd of Chinese people there for his send-off.   They all loudly cheer for Rabe treating him as the hero he is.  Then they all start chanting: "Rabe! Rabe!"  Nearing the ship he suddenly finds his way open and he sees Dora rushing to him.  They embrace each other. 

The safety zone saved some 200,000 Chinese people.  The Japanese killed or massacred more than 300,000 Chinese in Nanking. 

"Until the present day the Japanese government has refused to officially acknowledge the dimension of the Rape of Nanking.  On his return to Germany, John Rabe was arrested as a suspected collaborator of the Chinese.  He was forbidden to report on his experiences in Nanking.  His evidence and his diaries were confiscated and did not resurface until years later.  After the war John Rabe was at first refused "de-Nazification" by the Allies.  Forgotten and impoverished he died in Berlin in 1950."

 

Excellent film of a German Nazi businessman who became a real war hero by helping to save around 200,000 Chinese from annihilation at the hand of the Japanese invaders in 1937.  He did this in spite of being a Nazi and believing in Adolf Hitler.  He was absolutely devoted to saving as many Chinese lives as he could.  And he constantly faced death, because the Japanese were absolutely brutal and when Rabe intervened on the behalf of the weak, many an officer put his pistol in Rabe's face and threatened to shoot him. 

I am very thankful that the film did not show up close the brutality of the Japanese.  I have watched other films where it is a sickening to watch what the Japanese did to men, women and children.  If you want the gore, there are movies which show it.  The Japanese, beside killing so many innocent people, raped thousand of Chinese women.  In fact, they would send squads into the safety zone to grab women to work as prostitutes satisfying the sexual desires of the Japanese soldiers and officers.  (And many of these "prostitutes" were brutally killed after servicing many men.  There are some really nasty photos of some of these killings.)  For sport, the Japanese held contests of who could cut off the most Chinese heads with their sword in a given time.  These were sick men from a sick society all stemming from Japanese fascism. 

Ulrich Tukur (as John Rabe) was terrific in the film.  I also enjoyed seeing Steve Buscemi (as Dr. Robert Wilson) who I have seen in so many films.  Mathias Herrmann (as Werner Flie) was good at playing a nasty, vicious Nazi. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 

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