Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Asian History | Asian Studies | Catholic Studies | Chinese Studies | Christianity | East Asian Languages and Societies | History | Japanese Studies | Military History | Missions and World Christianity | Music | Religion


From the chapter's Introduction:
On 7 July 1937, Japanese forces based in Manchuria charged southward towards Beijing, invading north China and hence starting the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–45). On 7 December 1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, transforming the Second Sino-Japanese War into the Pacific War. As a result of Pearl Harbor, the status of Allied citizens living in China at the time changed from neutral to ‘enemy aliens’. These Allied citizens included individuals and their families who worked in China as government officials, executives, engineers and Christian missionaries. They were forced into internment camps under the watchful eyes of the Japanese. At the end of 1942, the Japanese authorities decided to concentrate all ‘enemy aliens’ into larger camps. The chosen site for one such camp in north China was a Presbyterian mission compound called Ledao yuan (Courtyard of the Happy Way) in Weihsien (now Weixian) in Shandong Province. The Japanese referred to this site as the Weihsien Civilian Assembly Centre. From March 1943 to October 1945, anywhere between 1,500 and 2,000 foreign nationals were imprisoned in the camp. After the war, dozens of internees shared their experiences of imprisonment at Weihsien in memoirs, (auto) biographies and oral histories. Over thirty such accounts have been published, and there are many more unpublished accounts. This chapter taps into the large number of resources collected by internees and published through a digital memorial.

This chapter examines the distinctive auditory environments and music cultures that arose within the Weihsien Internment Camp and argues that the Weihsien internees forged a sense of belonging and community through their creative engagement with music and sound. […] The wide range of music-making and creativity displayed at Weihsien Internment Camp was similar to that which emerged in Nazi-controlled ghettos and labour camps across wartime Europe which have been examined by scholars in the field of Holocaust studies. The music analysed in this chapter includes three types: missionary music of faith, secular music of resilience and internees’ music of resistance.