International Politics

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 403–427

Forgetting and Denying: Iris Chang, the Holocaust and the Challenge of Nanking

  • David B MacDonald

DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.ip.8800111

Cite this article as:
MacDonald, D. Int Polit (2005) 42: 403. doi:10.1057/palgrave.ip.8800111


This article problematizes representations of Chinese victimization during World War II as a ‘Holocaust’ or ‘Forgotten Holocaust’. Literature on the Jewish Holocaust suggests that comparing other genocides to it benefits the non-Jewish group. Opinions differ as to whether Jewish history suffers, and whether such comparisons are justified. Using studies of the rape of Nanking in 1937 by Iris Chang and Chinese Diaspora groups, I argue that while using the Holocaust as a means of packaging Chinese suffering may initially stimulate interest, and help to highlight the problems of Japanese denialism, extending such parallels too far creates problems of representation. This includes distorting the roles of victimized and perpetrator nations, decontextualizing victims and events, while advancing a number of inaccurate comparisons with both Germans and Jews.


Holocaust Jews Chinese Nanking Diaspora World War II Japan 

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • David B MacDonald
    • 1
  1. 1.Political Studies DepartmentPO Box 56, University of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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