USC-based project aims to keep memory of Nanjing massacre alive

(From Los Angeles Times)

By Violet Law

Nearly 80 years later, Liu Suzhen could still recall her ordeal. And when she did, her ruddy cheeks burned. She shielded her face with chapped, swollen fingers as though Japanese bombers were zooming down as she spoke.

Bodies at Rape of Nanjing

Bodies at Rape of Nanjing

“My neighborhood was among the last to fall. When the sirens sounded, my aunt and I’d run and duck inside the bunker,” said Liu, now 84, leaning on her dragon-head walking stick. “This is the history that my granddaughter has been passing on to her son.”

Liu is determined that people other than her descendants know the history of the Nanjing massacre, the bloodiest episode in the Chinese theater during World War II. After neatly printing her name, the widow consigned her memories of how she survived the siege to the archive of the Shoah Institute for Visual History and Education at the University of Southern California.

“This is probably the last time we can interview the survivors directly,” said Karen Jungblut, the foundation’s director of research and documentation, who tried to connect with and console Liu across the language barrier. “The least we can do is let them know the world is interested in them.”

Established in 1994 by director Steven Spielberg to record survivors of the Holocaust (called the Shoah in Hebrew), the foundation has since branched out to delve into more recent genocides, in Cambodia and Rwanda.

In China, the task of documentation is made all the more challenging by the time lapse — nearly 80 years, during which the massacre came to be called the “forgotten” holocaust. The two-month rampage by Japanese soldiers in 1937-38 was also known as the Rape of Nanking.

China puts the death toll at 300,000; some Japanese historians claim much lower figures. Read more



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