man hand in glove touching Book on glass table top (l) Man speaking with glove on in front of shelf of books and small items (c) open book with photographs in black and white of French troops (r)

@pawn.man/TikTok

TikTok pawnbroker claims to have found unseen ‘Rape of Nanking’ photos—but doubts raised (updated)

He said the pictures were too disturbing to show, but released some on Twitter

 

Camryn Garza

Tech

Posted on Sep 1, 2022   Updated on Sep 6, 2022, 5:49 pm CDT

On his TikTok account yesterday, the @pawn.man, Evan Kail, said he may have discovered answers about one of the most controversial events in history. 

“There are people that deny the Rape of Nanking,” said Kail in the video. “Part of their argument for that is ‘well there’s such little evidence.’ Guess who just found some?”

@pawn.man PLEASE HELP ME #nankingmassacre #historicalphotos #worldwar2 #pawnman #museumtreasure ♬ original sound – Pawn Master Kail

The video shows Kail turning the pages of what seems to be a scrapbook made by a World War II soldier just prior to the start of the war. Kail then goes on to show photographs taken by the soldier in China. As the timeline progresses, and as the photos get more “war-related,” according to Kail, what was documented in the book made him “scream.”

“Somehow that guy who took those photos was present for the Rape of Nanking,” Kail said in the video. “He took about 30 photographs that are unknown to history, that are worse than anything I’ve seen on the internet.”

But as the video gained popularity, a number of people began their own research on the topic.

According to the Twitter account @fakehistoryhunt, the TikTok is either a hoax by the host or a pawnbroker who got accidentally duped.

@fakehistoryhunt went on to explain how this one-of-a-kind scrapbook Kail stumbled upon was actually mass-produced.

The book was a souvenir album bought by many sailors at the time of the war, and while there was space to add their own photos, the pictures in the book presented by Kail are not unique.

According to the Twitter thread, the photos in the book Kail has can be found elsewhere online.

The Daily Dot has reached out to Kail but has not yet received a response.

The Nanking Massacre was and continues to be one of the worst human atrocities known to the world. Beginning in 1937, over six weeks an estimated 200,000 people including prisoners of war and civilians were massacred by Japanese troops in the city of Nanjing, China.

Between 20,000 to 80,000 women were estimated to have been raped or sexually assaulted during it,

Despite evidence, Japanese officials have denied either the severity of the massacre and even whether the massacre occurred.

While there have been some photos of the massacre released, Kail said in the video that when he majored in Japanese Studies in college, his professors told him that much of the photographic evidence had been destroyed by the Japanese government. 

“This guy took photos of things that I’ve read about in books that I didn’t even realize anybody had ever documented before,” he said in the video.

His hype of it, however dubious, made it go viral. In under 24 hours, the video got over 1.3 million views.

On Instagram last night, Kail posted a story to his account telling people that he would get back to their inquiries at a later time. He did tell viewers to stop asking for pictures of the photos from the scrapbook, saying that he would be “risking” his account if he posted them online due to TikTok’s strict safety policy.

Earlier today, Kail then went on to post pictures from the book onto his Twitter account. One was posted with the caption: “Some photos from the TikTok about the Rape of Nanjing that I could not publish on that platform.” 

At the end of his video, Kail said that “the simple fact is that a museum needs to take” the scrapbook.

Whether one will want it if it’s part of a viral stunt though, remains to be seen.

Update 5:47pm CT, Sept. 6: In an interview with the Daily Dot, Kail said that he is in the process of getting the book authenticated.

Kail runs a gold and silver business where he buys used goods and shares them with his followers online. In addition to jewelry and coins, however, Kail said he purchases other things too, like the World War II book.

“We buy just about anything,” Kail said during the interview. “I do anything about history. I love stuff, all things controversial.”

In response to the controversy, Kail said it appeared to him that the person who took the photos in the book may have done so at a “different angle” from the photos that are surfacing online and that he believes the photos he has are genuine.

According to Kail though, the authenticity doesn’t matter to him so much as the history behind the massacre itself. He said that if anything comes of this at all, he just hopes the video is able to educate people on the event he believes is underrepresented in history.

“Even if it does turn out that these are all fake, at least we’re talking about this,” Kail said. “There’s a lesson to be learned here and that is that history repeats itself. That’s why we have to talk about these things today.”

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*First Published: Sep 1, 2022, 11:13 am CDT