Institute News

Twenty New Testimonies Recorded for Nanjing Massacre Collection

USC Shoah Foundation staff are currently in Nanjing, China, to record about 20 more testimonies of Nanjing Massacre survivors.

Cheng Fang, research specialist for the Nanjing Massacre collection, and Zach Goode, video archive and post-production supervisor, are in Nanjing for two weeks to record the testimonies. Yanming Lu of the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall is once again helping coordinate and conduct the interviews.

Thirty Nanjing testimonies are already integrated into the Visual History Archive and another 20 were recorded in December 2015. At the time, there were about 100 Nanjing Massacre survivors still living who had yet to be interviewed by USC Shoah Foundation. The average age of the interviewees in the collection is 85.

One of the first survivors the team interviewed during this trip was Jing Zhizhen on June 1. Born in 1928, she and her family fled to the safety zone before Japanese broke into the city. Japanese soldiers killed one of her uncles who stayed in the countryside, which led to her grandmother's madness. Japanese arrested her father with the charge of helping communist guerrillas. He died later in prison.

On June 3, Cheng, Goode and Lu recorded the testimony of Zhou Zhilin. Zhou was born in 1923 to a farming family. When Japanese soldiers began killing everyone on the streets of his village Luo Jia Biann, he pretended to be dead and survived, though his uncle who was with him was stabbed to death. The family fled to Xixia Temple and the monks there cared for thousands of refugees; Zhou is the first survivor interviewed for the Nanjing Massacre collection who was in this particular camp.

The family left the overcrowded camp and went to another refugee camp, Jiangnan Cement Plant, where Zhou remembers seeing Sindborg and Karl Gunther, the two “very tall Westerners” who ran the factory. Zhou is the second survivor USC Shoah Foundation has interviewed who went to this camp.

Zhou’s wife is also a survivor and appeared with their son on camera during the testimony.

Chen Guangshun was also interviewed on June 3. He was born in 1924 and almost never left his village Xi Gangtou. He and his family heard the news that the Japanese were coming so most of the family members fled to another village. His father had serious knee problems and couldn't walk, so his father and mother were hiding in the forest near the village. Chen stayed at home to cook for them and bring food to the forest everyday.

One day Japanese soldiers came to the village and took all 23 people who remained to a playground and shot them all with machine guns. His third brother, who had just returned from the forest checking on their parents, was among the dead. Chen witnessed the killing but was spared, he thinks, because he was young and gave all his food to the Japanese soldiers. 

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