Cao Zhikun in his Nanjing home. Having barely escaped death with his family during the Japanese occupation, he struggled for decades with both physical and mental scars.
Cao holds the only photograph of himself, his mother and two siblings, taken only two weeks before the Nanjing Massacre began. Although many members of his extended family were murdered during the occupation, his immediate family survived after escaping to a rural area outside of the city.
Standing by his bedroom window is his Nanjing apartment, Cao's memories of the massacre are as vivid as the present, however he speaks only with hope for peace between nations.
Cao displays his wound where Japanese troops shot him with a dum-dum bullet. It entered the inside of his left thigh, blowing out the other side of his leg. Too poor for medical care, it took three years for the wound to heal without any treatment, and 52 years before he had bone fragments removed by a doctor. They were taken by the Massacre Memorial Organization to be displayed in the museum.
Li Gaoshan is one of the three remaining military troops that were in Nanjing during Japanese occupation. An orphan, he joined the military at 13 under a deserter's identity. He miraculously survived multiple traumatizing murder attempts by the Japanese, and was even taken as a POW to be used as a stableboy.
Li's home is modest, adorned with family photos and a golden plaque from the Massacre Memorial Organization.
Li sits with his wife, also a orphan and massacre survivor. After the war ended, they married and gave birth to a son. They have lived a peaceful and happy life together in Nanjing, supporting each other in coping with their traumatic pasts.
During the Nanjing Massacre, Li Jun, his family, and 600 others took refuge in John Rabe's yard. John Rabe, a German businessman for Siemens and Nazi party member, established the International Safety Zone in Nanjing, which saved the lives of over 250,000 Chinese.
Li holds a plaque of John Rabe's house. Rabe's home was only rediscovered in the 1980s, right before it's planned demolition. It was rescued and turned into the John Rabe House Museum.
Li sits in his home with his wife, also a survivor of the Nanjing Massacre. She was protected at a women's college within the International Safety Zone by Minnie Vautrin, an American teacher who joined John Rabe in his efforts that saved 250,000 Chinese civilians.
Images are displayed throughout Li's home of peace meetings he attended at the John Rabe House Museum with Rabe's grandson, Thomas Rabe. Thomas, a German doctor, works not only to preserve his grandfather's legacy of heroism, but to carry the torch for peace between nations in his footsteps.
92 year old Cheng Yun, one of the three remaining military troops that were on the forefront of defending the city during the massacre, stands outside of his one-room home in a Nanjing slum. He was stripped of all military merit after the Communists gained power of China, and spent years in a reeducation camp due to his KMT association and decision to not pledge allegiance to the Communist party. With no help from the Massacre Memorial Organization, he makes public appearances as a survivor in hopes of one day meeting an official that could help restore his proper military pension.
Cheng bears scars on his legs of Japanese gunfire during the massacre.
Stripped of all merits due to his KMT association and decision to not pledge allegiance to the Communist party, Cheng surrounds the foot of his bed with photographs of his military days and awards of his forgotten achievements, as a constant reminder to keep fighting for his own justice.
In December 1937, Japanese forces first entered the city at Zhongshan Gate, the strongest point of defense in the old city walls of Nanjing.
Once a neighborhood for the wealthy prior to Japanese invasion in 1937, this home is now part of a dense, low-income area. Nanjing's demographics shifted greatly during the massacre. Most of the upper and middle class could afford to flee as the Japanese approached, leaving vacant homes to be reclaimed by the lower class that was left behind.
A man views the vast wall of files in the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, each for one of the 300,000 victims of the massacre.
Groups of students travel from all corners of China to visit the vast grounds of the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall.
Under a section of Xiuqui Park, a bustling park at the north of the city along the old city wall, lies a mass informal grave of 15,100 Chinese civilians and soldiers. These bodies have not been exhumed (as most of the 300,000 were not), and life carries on above.
People's Liberation Army and Naval troops stand with youth and thousands of others in Nanjing during an anniversary-related ceremony.
A wall illuminated the images of hundreds of survivors at the Memorial Hall in Nanjing. As of 2012 - 75 years late - less than 200 survivors remain.
Citizens cross the Yangtze River via ferry from the Zhongshan Wharf. This stretch of river and embankment holds an estimated 150,000 bodies from the massacre. Japanese soldiers committed mass executions along the Yangtze's banks, and used the river as a disposal method.
A man views human remains at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall.
An officer of the People's Liberation Army stands guard at Memorial Hall, a multi-million dollar architectural feat. Although the Memorial Hall is technically an independent organization, those who run it are prominent governmental figures.
A Japanese choir attends the 75th anniversary commemoration. Although Japanese officials has yet to formally offer an apology, a minority of citizens have.
A statue stands of the late Iris Chang, a researcher and justice advocate who passed away in 2004. Chang was the author of "The Rape of Nanjing: The Forgotten Genocide", and was the driving force that began investigations and research on the Massacre in the 1990s.
Doves are released in memory of over 300,000 lives lost during the six week massacre.