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Wartime museum serves as grim reminder of atrocities

2019-08-16 05:05:45     来源:中新网     责任编辑:刘欣

Wartime museum serves as grim reminder of atrocities


Students examine veterans' handprints during a visit to the Museum of the War of Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression in Beijing's Fengtai district last month.[Photo by WANG JING/CHINA DAILY]

A facility in the suburbs of Beijing provides a bridge to the past and holds evidence of crimes committed by invading troops. Zhao Lei reports.

Ouyang Min, a senior member of staff with the international cooperation team at the Museum of the War of Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression in Beijing, said she is proud of her job because it gives her an opportunity to tell people outside China about what happened to her country just a few generations ago during World War II.

"During an exhibition we held at the Belarusian State Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War in Minsk, a family from Russia told me that the only reason they had travelled to Minsk was to see our exhibition," Ouyang said. "They said they were very interested in the history of the war, but couldn't find sufficient materials in Russia."

Wartime museum serves as grim reminder of atrocities


Exhibits at the museum.[Photo by WANG JING/CHINA DAILY]

Ouyang added that the parents told her that few people in Russia really knew the details of the Chinese people's fight against the Japanese, and expressed the hope that Ouyang's museum would bring such meaningful exhibitions to their country.

She recalled that when the museum organized an exhibition in the United States, the locals asked many questions about the war and spent a long time speaking with the Chinese guides.

"Some of them seemed to doubt what they had seen at the exhibition and the things our guides had told them. We agreed to disagree. At least they got to learn something they hadn't known, or started to think about things they hadn't thought about before. Some may even have tried to find more materials to check if we were telling the truth," she said.

Wartime museum serves as grim reminder of atrocities


People visit an exhibition about Chinese battlefields of World War II at the Belarusian State Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War in Minsk. [Photo/Xinhua]

Exchanges

In addition to direct communication with ordinary visitors, Ouyang's museum uses an international platform to promote communication and exchanges, she said, referring to the International World War II Museum Association.

Under arrangements made by the association, which was initiated in 2015 by the Chinese museum and the Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Moscow, sister museums are encouraged to exchange replicas of their exhibits and to host exhibitions at each other's premises.

Moreover, employees from the association's member museums can take part in exchange programs that usually last several months.

Ouyang said the exchange arrangements have allowed a number of employees of foreign museums to work at the museum in Beijing.

"They came here and stayed with us for three to four months. They became involved in many aspects of the museum, such as historical research and organizing exhibitions or symposiums," she said.

"They seemed to have three roles during their stays here: student, researcher and staff member."

She added that the exchange programs have proved beneficial to both the participants and their hosts.

"When their exchange program ended, we asked them for their thoughts," she recalled.

"A common response was that the programs allowed them to gain deeper, more comprehensive knowledge about the history of the Chinese people's resistance against the Japanese invaders."

The visitors said they knew little about China's role during World War II. However, after spending several months at the museum, they became more familiar with the history, and could name key figures and events on Chinese battlefields.

In addition, they could take that knowledge back to their home countries to enlighten more people, according to Ouyang.

"The foreign staff members said they appreciated China's efforts to memorialize and commemorate the war via our vast museum system. They said the exchange programs had allowed them to gain a better understanding that China's diplomatic policies are aimed at pursuing and safeguarding world peace and development," she said.

Ouyang said she and her colleagues have also gained a deeper understanding of the things their foreign peers' countries endured during WWII, as well as many other aspects of the global resistance to fascism.

"In the past, inadequate communication meant we might have had poor knowledge about or misunderstanding of their histories, politics or customs. Now, we have the chance to learn from each other and understand the differences between us," she said.

"Working and talking with the exchange employees also helps our work because we can see and understand their strongest suits in museum management and operation."

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