Taiwan’s wartime history must not be forgotten, academics and civic organization leaders said yesterday, as they invited the public to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the “Taipei Air Raid” (台北大空襲) with live music and a photography exhibition on Sunday.
Hosted by the Taiwan Nation Alliance (TNA) and Northern Taiwan Society, the commemoration event is to begin at 7pm in front of the Presidential Office Building on Taipei’s Ketagalan Boulevard, with musical performances, video presentations and other activities.
Organizers said the event is to remember an important chapter in Taiwan’s history, which many Taiwanese have little knowledge about, adding that wartime memories and lessons must not be forgotten.
It is also to pay tribute to and remember the more than 3,000 Taipei residents who died during the air raid by US bombers over the city on May 31, 1945, during the final phase of World War II.
On that day, the US’ 5th Air Force sent 117 B-24 bombers to carry out the largest air raid ever on Taiwan. According to historians, the US bombers dropped 3,800 bombs on government buildings and military targets in Taipei, causing large-scale destruction to important facilities and civilian quarters, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths, with tens of thousands wounded or left homeless.
At yesterday’s press briefing, Northern Taiwan Society chairman Chang Yeh-shen (張葉森) said the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) has over the past seven decades tried to eradicate the memories and historical records of this event, because it wanted to erase Taiwanese history and impose the KMT’s version of a Chinese-centric history.
In conjunction with the event, a special exhibition on the Taipei Air Raid will be held for two weeks at the Taipei 228 Memorial Museum, showcasing photographs from the US National Archives in Washington, many of which will be on display in Taiwan for the first time.
“Many Taiwanese do not know about the air raid; even the older generation has mostly forgotten about it, because of the postwar rewriting of history by the KMT and its willful suppression to wipe out Taiwanese collective memory,” TNA deputy convener Chou Fu-nan (周福南) said.
Chou said the Taipei Air Raid was carried out by the US’ 5th Air Force, but the objective of the event is not to place a burden or seek responsibility for the fatalities and destruction, but to hold a commemoration “for Taiwanese to remember the past.”
“We must not forget our own wartime history,” Chou said.
Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Deputy Secretary-General Liu Yi-te (劉一德) said the event is also to counter the KMT’s claim of victory over Japan in World War II.
He said the victory was an overall Allied effort of many nations, and the Pacific Theater was won chiefly on the dominant military might of the US.
During the Taipei Air Raid, the Office of the Japanese Governor-General of Taiwan (which later became the Presidential Office Building) was bombed and suffered damage.
The Army Headquarters, Taihoku (Taipei) Imperial University, Taipei Railway Station, Bank of Taiwan, Taipei High Court, Taipei Park and other important facilities were also hit.
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