China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
This paper analyzes Nanjing Massacre survivor testimony collected over four rounds of interviews that span some seventy years. It is a preliminary study of the psychological toll of the Nanjing Massacre. In the immediate aftermath of WWII, the Nationalist government obtained testimony written by survivors for use at the Nanjing War Crimes Tribunal. More interviews were conducted in 1986 and 2000 in response to Japanese Right-wing politicians’ denial of the Nanjing Massacre. In 2017, the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall and Nanjing University initiated a fourth round of interviews. I supplement these materials with the oral histories conducted by Japanese activist Tamaki Matsuoka, who has interviewed 120 survivors.
To what degree did interview content and interviewees’ sentiments stay similar or change over the course of interviews conducted in 1946, 1986, 2000, and 2017? To what extent did gender have an impact on the victim’s memory of violence and sexual assault? Preliminary results suggest that interview content did change according to the line of questioning, the interviewer’s status and goals, and changes in the interviewee’s age and living situation. There was less change in terms of sentiments; key words, such as fear, suffering, hatred of Japanese remained constant.