Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster


Episode 247 – Edokko

This week, we’re very lucky to have a chance to speak with Mr. Isaac Shapiro. Mr. Shapiro grew up in wartime Japan, and shares his experiences here with us today. You can check out his book,¬†Edokko: Growing Up a Foreigner in Wartime Japan¬†on Amazon!


The Shapiro family in Japan. Standing, left to right are the Shapiro siblings: Isaac, Jacob, Ariel, and Joseph. Sitting, left to right, are: Lydia (his mother), Michael, Constantine (his father), and Ms. Vaisman, their caretaker.

Isaac Shapiro in 1950. By this point, he had already emigrated to the United States.

Isaac Shapiro today.

Episode 142 – Nanjing, Part 1

NOTE: Though there is substantial photographic evidence of the massacre, I am not going to post it directly on the site. If you want to see what things looked like on the ground, you can do so via websites like this one, curated by Yale University. However, I know not everybody wants to see those images, so I will not post those images directly.

On a related note, this episode contains graphic discussion of murder and rape. Listener discretion is advised.



This week, we look at the events of the Nanjing Massacre. Just what happened in China’s capital city in December, 1937?


Listen to the episode here.


Yoshida, Takashi. The Making of the Rape of Nanking.

Lu, Suping. They Were In Nanjing: The Nanjing Massacre as Witnessed by American and British Nationals.

Fogel, Joshua. The Nanjing Massacre in History and Historiography.



Chinese defenders of the National Revolutionary Army (Chiang Kaishek’s elite forces) defending Shanghai, 1937. The Battle of Shanghai was supposed to be a Japanese walkover, but ended up lasting more than a month.


General Matsui Iwane, commander of the forces which entered Nanjing. Ironically, he was chosen for his position because of his supposed Pan-Asianist views and rapport with the Chinese.


Matsui entering Nanjing, December 13, 1937.


Prince Asaka Yasuhiko, the nominal commander of the Central China Area Army. A fascist to the core, Asaka was sent to China to get him out of the way.


The rough area of the Nanjing Safety Zone about 2 sq. miles total.


Refugees waiting for aid in the Nanjing Safety Zone. Courtesy of Yale University.


Chinese children huddled in the safety zone. Courtesy of Yale University.


John Rabe, the Nazi Party member who led the Safety Zone committee. Rabe was chosen because of the close relations between Germany and Japan, which might facilitate Japanese respect for the zone.


Minnie Vautrin, an American who taught at Ginling College and who tried to protect Chinese women on its campus.


Vautrin with her students, c. 1934. She is sitting in the second row, ninth from the right.

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