Miner Searle Bates

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Miner Searle Bates (born 1897, Newark, Ohio; d.1978) was educated at numerous, prestigious institutions such as the University of Oxford, Yale University, and Hiram College. He worked with the YMCA in India and Mesopotamia before finally beginning work at Nanking University from 1920-1950.[1]

His father was a minister who became president of Hiram College.


Bates received his B.A. from Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio 1916. He was awareded a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford University in England. When the United States entered World War I, Bates joined the YMCA and served in Mesopotamia until the end of the war. After the war, he returned to Oxford to finish his B.A. In 1920, he was commissioned by the United Christian Missionary Society to teach at the University of Nanking . In 1934-35, Bates returned to the U.S. to study the Japanese and Russian languages at Harvard University as a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow. In 1935, he was awarded a Ph.D. in Chinese history by Yale University. Bates then returned to his post as a professor of history at Nanking University.

World War II[edit]

In the summer of 1937, Bates travelled with his family to Japan, returning to Nanjing alone. He was thus present in Nanjing during the Battle of Nanking and in the subsequent period known as the Rape of Nanking.[2] During this time, he became one of the leaders of the International Committee for the Nanking Safety Zone and worked to secure the safety of the remaining population of Nanking who were mostly those who were too poor to evacuate in advance of the Japanese assault on the city. This task was dangerous and his life was put at risk on many occasions, most notably when he was shoved down a flight of stairs by Japanese military police after inquiring about the fate of a student who had been abducted by Japanese soldiers.[3] Bates pulled soldiers off women that they were molesting, and on several occasions, had pistols held to his head.[4]

Only two days after the fall of Nanking, Bates wrote his first letter to the Japanese Embassy, protesting atrocities that had been committed by members of the Japanese military against Chinese POWs and civilians.

Bates was a major moving spirit behind H. J. Timperley's book, Japanese Terror in China (New York, June 1938). Bates was appointed Vice President of Nanjing University on January 13, 1938.

After the war, he was summoned as a witness at the Tokyo Trials and subsequent Chinese trials for war criminals. Bates is portrayed by Graham Sibley in the HBO film Nanking. He is quoted as having stated the following,

"Religious faith is believing that good things are worth doing for their own sake even in a world that seems overpoweringly evil. I remain assured in hard experience that neither by national guns nor by national gods will mankind be saved, but only by the genuine regard for all members of the human family."


  1. ^ Bates, Miner Searle, Nanjing (Nanking), China, United Christian Missionary Society
  2. ^ Iris Chang, The Rape of Nanking (Penguin Putnam Inc.: New York, 1998), p. 99.
  3. ^ Chang, 139.
  4. ^ Bright Parales, Heidi (2008-01-09). "Nanjing mourns 1937 massacre; honors missionaries for heroism". Retrieved 2009-04-19. [dead link]

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