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Nanjing Massacre of 1937: Preserving Survivors' Testimonies

USC Shoah Foundation and Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall Collaborate To Expand Visual History Archive

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 13, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- USC Shoah Foundation - The Institute for Visual History and Education and Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall have embarked on a historic effort to preserve the testimonies of the last survivors of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanjing. Testimonies in the new Nanjing collection seek to establish full-life histories of the individuals, including their social and cultural life before and after the Nanjing Massacre. On December 13, 1937, the Japanese army captured what was then China's capital city, Nanjing, and killed as many as 300,000 civilians and numerous unarmed Chinese soldiers over the course of two months.


These testimonies will add new perspectives and knowledge to the history of the Nanjing Massacre and will be integrated into the Institute's Visual History Archive in February 2014. The interview procedure was informed by the Institute's experience in having gathered testimony from survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust, and survivors and witnesses to both the Cambodian and Rwandan Tutsi genocides. This new collection is additive to the existing collections of the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, which currently holds around 4,000 testimonies collected mainly in a written form over the last twenty years, as well as a smaller number of audio-visual testimonies that were filmed in the 1990s.

The Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall will play an essential role throughout its international collaboration with USC Shoah Foundation, from survivor outreach to providing their expertise in supporting the interview methodology and process – acting as the crucial link to the Nanjing survivor community and providing expertise in this historical chapter. A local team, whose services were donated by Beijing-based Long Legacy International Communications, a company specializing in large-scale events, filmed the testimonies. A staff researcher of the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall conducted the interviews. The Siezen Foundation has provided funding for the Nanjing collection.

"The collaborative project between Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall and USC Shoah Foundation has surpassed any ordinary archival collection or media report on the experiences of Nanjing Massacre witnesses. Through objective and standardized research with historical significance and practical value, it is an insight into both living conditions and psychological conditions of survivors. It will reveal how traumatic memories, tragedy culture and historical ruins may impact on the progress of civilization," said Zhu Chenshan, Director of Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall.

"So many Holocaust survivors have told us that it's not enough to say 'never again' and ignore the suffering of others," said Stephen D. Smith, Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation. "The effort to preserve memories of survivors of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre is not only a natural step for the USC Shoah Foundation, it's a responsibility that we all share together."

President of the Siezen Foundation, Cecilia Chan, said, "All human beings belong to one race, the human race. People need to learn from atrocities such as the Holocaust, the Nanjing Massacre, and other horrific acts of violence. By enabling students to know history through studies of survivors' testimonies, we can create sustainable behavioral changes in individuals as well as increase positive outcome in the world. The work of the USC Shoah Foundation is vitally important and very worthy of global support."

With approximately 200 survivors alive today, the need to preserve a significant collection of comprehensive video testimonies has become urgent. The goal is to record up to 100 testimonies with survivors, scholars and experts on video for the Visual History Archive. In addition to being available through the Visual History Archive, the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall will receive a full copy of the completed collection.

As the Nanjing testimonies are integrated into the Visual History Archive, they will be made available as a distinct collection within the archive alongside collections of eyewitnesses to other genocides that the Institute has collected from Armenia, Cambodia and Rwanda. The Institute has long identified the need to preserve memories of other genocides as each collection provides context for the others, enabling scholars to study eyewitness experiences across time, locations, cultures, and socio-political circumstances.

About the USC Shoah Foundation
USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education ( is dedicated to making audio-visual interviews with survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides, a compelling voice for education and action. The Institute's current collection of nearly 52,00 eyewitness testimonies contained within its Visual History Archive preserves history as told by the people who lived it and lived through it. Housed at the University of Southern California within the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, the Institute works with partners around the world to advance scholarship and research, to provide resources and online tools for educators, and to disseminate the testimonies for educational purposes.

About the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall
The Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders was built in 1985 with funding by the Nanjing municipal government. It is a world-renowned national museum and the first WWII history museum in Mainland China. With its prestigious reputation among Chinese museums, the Memorial Hall plays an important role in international people-to-people diplomacy and peace studies through telling the story and in honoring the memory of the Nanjing Massacre. The Memorial Hall occupies an area of about 74,000 square meters with four functional sections, including an exhibition hall that displays historical records and objects. Since its inception, the Memorial Hall has collected more than 4,000 testimonies for its oral history archive.

Contact: Anne Marie Stein / Josh Grossberg, USC Shoah Foundation, 213.740.6036 / 213.740.6065, [email protected] / [email protected]; Dr. Yanming Lu, Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall Museum, +86 25 86612230

SOURCE USC Shoah Foundation Institute

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