This Armenian kilim (flat-woven rug) represents the lost historic homeland in the region of Lake Van, modern-day Turkey. The repetition of the star-and-cross pattern is a symbol of fertility and protection, both common themes in traditional Armenian carpet weaving. Van has a significant place in Armenian mythology and is widely recognized as a birthplace of the Armenian people. In the Visual History Archive, 345 Armenian Genocide survivors speak about Van, their beloved history and lost homeland.
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This sturdy, traditional garment – Krama – is the national symbol in Cambodia. With many uses, the krama is worn by men, women and children, often doubling as protection from the sun. During the Cambodian Genocide, the symbolism of the krama was co-opted by the Khmer Rouge, but today, it has been reclaimed and restored as a unifying symbol of the Khmer spirit. USC Shoah Foundation has recorded five testimonies, now housed in the Visual History Archive, with witnesses to the Khmer Rouge’s evacuation of Phnom Penh in 1975, the forced marches that followed and forced labor under horrific conditions.
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This pattern is traditional in Chinese textile design and was chosen to represent the testimonies from survivors and witnesses of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, housed in USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive. In Chinese, the expression: “上善若水” (shang shan ruo shui) means “water is like charity, benefitting all things without struggle.” Water seeks harmony. It is versatile, it can be a solid, liquid, or gas, and “千变万化”(qian bian wan hua), always capable of evolution and transcendence. The flowers oating on the water represent our memories, sometimes moving forward and sometimes backward. We remember the past and look toward the future.
Learn more about the Nanjing Collection.
In the early 20th century, Josef Sochor and Paula Bauer established a textile print factory in Dvur Králové, Czechoslovakia. The company quickly became a world leader, pioneering new technologies, and by the 1930s employed over 2,000 people with branches worldwide. After the German occupation, the company was declared a Jewish company and was confiscated. Of Paula and Josef ’s five sons, only two survived. The Czech fabric in the Wagner Family Quiet Study, honors the important cultural and artistic tradition of printed cotton with floral patterns intricately sewn in Czech designs. The Visual History Archive contains more than 1,100 testimonies taken in what is now the Czech Republic.
Learn more about the collection of testimonies from Holocaust survivors and other witnesses.
This pattern by the artists of the Tejidos Cotzal Weaving Cooperative, many of whom are survivors of the Guatemalan Genocide, was chosen in collaboration with USC Shoah Foundation’s partner, the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation (FAFG). Working with FAFG, USC Shoah Foundation has launched a project to collect video testimonies of witnesses to the Guatemalan Genocide of the early 1980s.
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In 1784, a small textile company specializing in a blue-dyeing technique was founded by Jewish business-owner Ferenc Goldberger (1755–1834). Over generations, his small family workshop, grew into the Goldberger National Company, recognized for producing the novelty fabric Bemberg Parisette rayon. The German invasion in 1944 resulted in the Goldberger family being deported. Owner Dr. Leó Buday-Goldberger was taken to Mauthausen where he died the day before liberation. The Hungarian fabric in the Lieber Family Quiet Study, honors the legacy of the Goldberger factory as a blue-dying manufacturer, and the tradition of printed floral patterns in Hungarian design. The Visual History Archive features 811 testimonies taken with survivors in Hungary. This pattern was chosen by Ágnes Kun, a Holocaust survivor whose testimony is in the Visual History Archive.
From generation to generation, women in Rwanda have passed down by word of mouth the tradition of Imigongo, an indigenous art form, made using dried cow dung and organic paint. For hundreds of years, these colorful motifs adorned the interior walls of Rwandan homes. During the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis, many decorated houses were destroyed and many women of the tradition were killed. In the years that followed, survivors revived this art, which has since been adopted in contemporary Rwandan art to adorn basketry, woodwork, pottery and more. The Visual History Archive houses testimony from survivors and eyewitness accounts of the genocide that claimed as many as one million lives over the course of approximately 100 days.
Learn more about the Rwandan collection.