Archive for June, 2010
John Rabe (November 23, 1882 – January 5, 1950) was a German businessman who is best known for his efforts to stop the atrocities of the Japanese army during the Nanking Occupation and, failing in those efforts, his work to protect and succour Chinese civilians during the event. The Nanking Safety Zone, which he helped to establish, sheltered approximately 200,000 Chinese people from slaughter during the massacre …
The Nanking Massacre killed hundreds of thousands of people, while Rabe and his zone administrators tried frantically to stop the atrocities. His attempts to appeal to the Japanese by using his Nazi membership credentials only delayed them; but that delay allowed hundreds of refugees to escape. The documentary Nanking credited him for saving the lives of 250,000 Chinese civilians. It is said Rabe rescued between 200,000 – 250,000 Chinese people.
In his diary Rabe documented Japanese atrocities committed during the assault upon and occupation of the city. On December 13, 1937, he wrote:
It is not until we tour the city that we learn the extent of destruction. We come across corpses every 100 to 200 yards. The bodies of civilians that I examined had bullet holes in their backs. These people had been presumably fleeing and were shot from behind. The Japanese march through the city in groups of ten to twenty soldiers and loot the shops … I watched with my own eyes as they looted the café of our German baker Herr Kiessling. Hempel’s hotel was broken into as well, as almost every shop on Chung Shang and Taiping Road.
Chiune Sugihara (杉原 千畝, Sugihara Chiune, 1 January 1900 – 31 July 1986) was a Japanese diplomat, serving as Vice Consul for the Japanese Empire in Lithuania. During World War II, he helped several thousand Jews leave the country by issuing transit visas to Jewish refugees so that they could travel to Japan. Most of the Jews who escaped were refugees from German-occupied Poland or residents of Lithuania. Sugihara wrote travel visas that facilitated the escape of more than 6,000 Jewish refugees to Japanese territory, risking his career and his family’s life. In 1985, Israel honored him as Righteous Among the Nations for his actions …
After the Soviet takeover of Lithuania in 1940, many Jewish refugees from Poland (Polish Jews) as well as Lithuanian Jews tried to acquire exit visas. Without the visas, it was dangerous to travel and impossible to find countries willing to issue them. Hundreds of refugees came to the Japanese consulate in Kaunas, trying to get a visa to Japan … At the time, the Japanese government required that visas be issued only to those who had gone through appropriate immigration procedures and had enough funds. Most of the refugees did not fulfill these criteria. Sugihara dutifully contacted the Japanese Foreign Ministry three times for instructions. Each time, the Ministry responded that anybody granted a visa should have a visa to a third destination to exit Japan, with no exceptions.
From July 31 to August 28, 1940, aware that applicants were in danger if they stayed behind, Sugihara began to grant visas on his own initiative, after consulting with his family. He ignored the requirements and arranged the Jews with a ten-day visa to transit through Japan, in direct violation of his orders. Given his inferior post and the culture of the Japanese Foreign Service bureaucracy, this was an extraordinary act of disobedience. He spoke to Soviet officials who agreed to let the Jews travel through the country via the Trans-Siberian railway at five times the standard ticket price.
Source: Derek Sivers
Since 14, I was determined to be a great singer. But my pitch was bad, my tone was bad, and everyone said I was just not a singer.
At 17, I started taking voice lessons, and practicing two hours every night. I’d go into a soundproof room for two hours of long-tones, scales, arpeggios, and practicing specific song phrases over and over.
At 18, I started touring, doing two to four shows a week, always as the lead singer. Often they were outdoor shows, sometimes with no PA system at all, so I really had to learn how to project to be heard.
At 19, I was still practicing two hours a night, but still having a problem with pitch. People kept telling me I was just not a singer – that I should give it up, and find a real singer.
Both of these events happened to the same person.
My sister was about 7. We were at a huge, crowded water park on one of those big water slides that you ride down in a tube. There was a pool at the top where all the people line up to get pushed down the slide.
My sister was floating in her tube in the pool at the top when the people started logjamming up at the mouth of the slide… kids and adults, piling up slowly on top of my sister and forcing her underwater. She would have drowned for sure.
My dad worked hard labor from the time he was old enough to walk. He was born in 1950 into a very poor rural family, one of 12 children. As soon as he could walk, he was pulling tobacco. For several years, he actually had to draw water from a well. If he wanted flour, he walked to the flour mill (driven by a water wheel) and bought it. Industrial progress in some rural parts of the US, even after WWII, was slower than many realize.
I was on my way to a temporary interview. A woman has a flat tire on the freeway.
I stop and change it, refuse payment. Show up at interview with wet pants and jacket. Oil on my coat.
Woman conducting interview walks in and without pausing said “You’ve got the job.”
Woman I changed the tire for.