President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that his administration is to honor two people who helped innocent Chinese and Jews during World War II and soldiers who fought in the Second Sino-Japanese War, when the Republic of China (ROC) holds a series of events next month to mark the 70th anniversary of the Allied victory.
The ROC’s eight-year fight against Japan (1937 to 1945) was a part of World War II, in which Japan and the other Axis Powers were defeated by the Allies.
As part of a series of commemorative events, Ma said that his administration is to honor German businessman John Rabe and ROC diplomat Ho Feng-shan (何鳳山) in recognition of their efforts to save the lives of many people during World War II.
Rabe is known for helping to create a safety zone in Nanjing in 1937 when that city — then the capital of China — fell to Japanese troops. The zone provided shelter for more than 200,000 civilians and prevented them from being slaughtered by the Japanese army.
The ROC government has invited Rabe’s grandson, who is a professor at Heidelberg University, to Taipei to receive a commendation on behalf of his grandfather, Ma said. John Rabe died in 1950.
“I will present a presidential citation in honor of him, which comes 70 years too late,” Ma said.
While receiving a group of Chinese at the Presidential Office in May, the president also praised Ho.
Ho was posted to Vienna, Austria, as consul-general by the ROC between 1938 and 1940. During that period, he issued visas to more than 2,000 Jews in Austria, when that country was annexed by Nazi Germany, enabling them to flee.
Ho earned the nickname the “Chinese Oskar Schindler,” the German businessman who saved the lives of more than 1,000 Jews during the Holocaust.
Noting that Ho died in 1997, Ma said his administration is to invite his daughter, Ho Manli (何曼禮), to Taipei to receive a commendation on his behalf.
Ma added the government is to grant medals to those who joined the ROC military to fight in the war against Japan in recognition of their efforts to protect the country.
The president said there are still about 400 living in Taiwan and that his administration would issue a medal to each of them.
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