© 2022 WSIU Public Radio
WSIU Public Broadcasting
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Undaunted Women of Nanking

Blanket Fort Radio Theater presents "The Undaunted Women of Nanking: The Wartime Diaries of Minnie Vautrin and Tsen Shui-fang" from SIU Press. In the first episode we learn about Illinois native Minnie Vautrin and Tsen Shui-fang as they provide shelter to thousands of women and children in the aftermath of the 1937 Japanese occupation of Nanking, China.

  • In this first episode we learn about Illinois native Minnie Vautrin and Tsen Shui-fang as they provide shelter to thousands of women and children in the aftermath of the 1937 Japanese occupation of Nanking, China.
  • We are introduced to Tsen Shui-fang, a nurse and administrator of Ginling College during the Japanese occupation of Nanking. While other college and government officials fled the city, she remained at her post, opening the college campus to refugees and assisting humanitarian Minnie Vautrin in caring for thousands of women and children.
  • We hear from both Minnie Vautrin and Tsen Shui-fang in the days leading up to the Japanese occupation of Nanking. Overwhelmed by refugees, they must adapt their original plans for the camp at Ginling College under the constant threat of artillery. As the city burns around them, they care for wounded refugees and fortify their camp against the encroaching enemy army.
  • Nanking has fallen and Japanese soldiers invade the city, looting and burning as they go. At Ginling College in the safety zone, communications with the outside world are limited. Tsen Shui-fang receives yet more refugees who have been forced out of their homes, while Minnie Vautrin attempts to guard the gates of Ginling against growing numbers of Japanese soldiers searching for young women to abduct.
  • The days following the fall of Nanking see the the city become a shell of its former self. Japanese soldiers enter the safety zone and conduct a thorough search of Ginling College campus under the pretext of searching for Chinese army deserters. Despite the best efforts of Minnie Vautrin and Tsen Shui-fang, the soldiers take food, money, and clothing from the refugees, and abduct several young women.
  • We hear Tsen Shui-fang’s account of the previous episode’s events. Having failed to prevent the assault of Ginling College by the Japanese soldiers, she and Minnie Vautrin take stock of the camp in the aftermath. They hope to expand the camp to make more room for the overcrowded refugees as the Japanese soldiers abduct yet more women.
  • Food scarcity, looting, and daily incursions on Ginling College by the Japanese soldiers and military police enrage and demoralize Minnie Vautrin and Tsen Shui-fang as they attempt to protect their refugees and resources. Minnie Vautrin meets with the Japanese consul and shows him the inhumane conditions in the Ginling camp.
  • Minnie Vautrin describes the horrors she witnesses on the streets of Nanking as she continues to report the atrocities of the soldiers to the Japanese consulate. She and Tsen Shui-fang attempt to restore some order in the Ginling camp, which now holds thousands of refugees and remains without a method of communication with the outside world.
  • As Christmas approaches, the atrocities continue and food becomes more and more scarce. We learn of Minnie Vautrin’s harrowing experience during the Nanking Incident in 1926 and her role in the preservation of Ginling College.
  • Minnie negotiates with the Japanese military advisor, on Christmas Eve, about the ongoing abductions of women from the refugee camp. While the numbers of soldiers invading Ginling is slightly reduced, communications are still impossible and the growing cold worsens living conditions. Minnie finds a sliver of hope on Christmas Day.