The Girl and the Picture

Historical Overview of the Nanjing Massacre

In December of 1937, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese military invaded Nanjing, China and engaged in a campaign of mass killing and sexual assault, later known as the Nanjing Massacre. USC Shoah Foundation partnered with the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in 2012 to preserve the testimonies of the last survivors of these atrocities, also known as the Rape of Nanjing, in which 300,000 civilians and unarmed soldiers were killed over the course of two months.

In late 2012, through the partnership, a dozen video testimonies of survivors of the 1937-38 Nanjing Massacre were recorded in Nanjing, China, all conducted in Mandarin. After being catalogued and indexed, the 12 testimonies were integrated into the Institute’s Visual History Archive in early 2014. The next 18 testimonies were recorded in the fall of 2014. As of January of 2015, the average interviewee age for the survivors was 85 years old; the oldest was 94. The testimonies in the Nanjing collection seek to establish full-life histories of the individuals, including their social and cultural life before and after the Nanjing Massacre.

With fewer than 200 survivors alive today, the need to preserve a significant collection of comprehensive video testimonies is urgent, and in 2017, USC Shoah Foundation located and interviewed what we believe to be the last of the survivors for whom an interview is possible, bringing the collection to 103. One such survivor was Madame Xia Shuqin, who 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 – Shuqin’s parents, grandparents, siblings and their neighbors. Only Shuqin and her four-year-old sister survived.

The Girl and The Picture serves as a monument to all those who have told their stories in the hope of allowing the past to be a teacher in the present.