Nanjing Massacre Survivor Films Interview for New Dimensions in Testimony

Fri, 10/28/2016 - 5:00pm

Madame Xia Shuqin, child survivor of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, traveled from Nanjing, China, to Los Angeles this week to film an interview for USC Shoah Foundation’s New Dimensions in Testimony (NDT) project. It is the first NDT interview in a language other than English and with a survivor other than the Holocaust.

The Tianfu Bank and Tianfu Group are generously funding the collection of this NDT testimony.

Xia was eight years old when Japanese soldiers stormed into her family’s home on the morning of December 13, 1937, and murdered 11 of the 13 people in the house – Xia’s parents, grandparents and siblings and their neighbors. Only Xia and her four-year-old sister survived. About 300,000 civilians and unarmed soldiers were killed over the course of two months during the 1937 Nanjing Massacre, also known as the Rape of Nanjing.

In collaboration with the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in China, Xia filmed her testimony for USC Shoah Foundation’s Nanjing Massacre Collection in 2012 at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial in Nanjing. Her Mandarin-language testimony, along with 29 other Nanjing survivors’ testimonies, is already preserved and subtitled in English in USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive. An additional 70 testimonies of survivors of the Nanjing Massacre and expert witness interviews will become available in late 2017.

Over a dozen Holocaust survivors have been interviewed for NDT, a concept conceived by Conscience Display. Each interview lasts five days and is filmed on the 360-degree “light stage” at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies. High definition cameras and lights capture the interview from all angles as the survivor answers anywhere between 500 to over 1,000 questions about his or her life before, during and after genocide or crimes against humanity.

NDT then uses groundbreaking natural language software to allow audiences to interact with the recorded image of the survivor, who responds to questions in real time, powered by complex algorithms providing realistic conversation.

USC Shoah Foundation partnered with the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in China to coordinate the interview, which will be in Mandarin, and develop a list of over 400 questions.  The interview is being conducted by USC Shoah Foundation researcher and USC graduate Cheng Fang. Dr. Yanming Lu, senior researcher from Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, and Gong Chen, researcher and production coordinator, traveled with Xia to Los Angeles along with her daughter-in-law and granddaughter to help conduct the interview and assist her during the trip. It is only her second time visiting the United States.

Xia and the rest of the group visited the USC Shoah Foundation office on Friday, Oct. 21, to meet staff and tour the facility where the physical Visual History Archive is located and where testimonies are digitized and preserved.

Once Xia’s NDT interview is finished with the post-production process, it will be displayed at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in China.