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City of War: The Story of John Rabe (2009)
"John Rabe" (original title)

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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 4,918 users   Metascore: 57/100
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A true-story account of a German businessman who saved more than 200,000 Chinese during the Nanjing massacre in 1937-38.

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Title: City of War: The Story of John Rabe (2009)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Valérie Dupres
Dagmar Manzel ...
Dora Rabe
Prince Asaka Yasuhiko
Mathias Herrmann ...
Werner Fließ
Tetta Sugimoto ...
Nakajima Kesago
Akira Emoto ...
Matsui Iwane
Arata Iura ...
Major Ose (as Arata)
Dr. Lewis Smythe
Dr. Oskar Trautmann
Fang Yu ...
Hsianglin Han


After 28 years building and managing a vast Siemens plant in Nanking, John Rabe is ordered by the new Nazi regime to close it down. Before he can pack, the Japanese army, lead unofficially by a bloodthirsty imperial uncle, lays siege to the city. Rabe accepts, as prominent representative of Japans' major European ally, to head the Western ex-pats society's plan to start and run an international zone, like worked in Shangai. Rabe however wants it to save his workers and their close ones, over 200,000, and sacrifices all his personal interests. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


History needs extraordinary heroes.


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Parents Guide:




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Release Date:

2 April 2009 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

City of War: The Story of John Rabe  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$5,199 (USA) (28 May 2010)


$67,255 (USA) (8 October 2010)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Fortuitously, a lot of 30s style housing was earmarked for demolition by the Shanghai authorities to make way for new skyscrapers. The production was able to use these leveled areas to represent the aftermath of bombing raids. See more »


When the safety zone is being established, a banner is being hung over the portal. The mis-spelled inscription reads "INTERNATIONAL SAFTY ZONE". See more »


Colonel Nakajima Kesago: He disobeyed the rules by not staying in the car.
John Rabe: He didn't stay in the car? His head was cut off!
Colonel Nakajima Kesago: It was an honorable death. A contest between two officers. Very popular in Japan.
John Rabe: What contest?
Colonel Nakajima Kesago: Who decapitates the most enemies.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

An important movie that must be watched...
2 January 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

An important movie that must be watched. John Rabe was a hero to the Chinese people. He saved 200,000 men, women, and children from certain hardship, probable torture, and likely death. Yet after the war, he was condemned by his country, and lived a life of poverty, slipping into obscurity until his death. There has been too little written about this man. "The Rape of Nanjing" by Iris Chang does cover him in good detail in parts of the book. It's certainly about time for a piece to have been done about his efforts in Nanjing, about his life.

The movie is masterfully paced, poignant, and at times devastatingly sad - only able to hint at the atrocities the people of Nanjing must have faced. Yet the movie is ultimately a tribute to the power of few to change the lives of many, to the ultimate goodness of humans.

26 of 28 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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