Saturday, April 24, 2010



We already had been deported once, in 1915, sent towards Der-Zor. But, my uncle’s friend had connections in the government and he had us ordered back to Izmir. Orders came again that everyone must gather in front of the Armenian church to be deported. My father refused to go and told us not to worry. He didn’t think the Turkish government would do anything to him since he was a government employee himself. Twelve Turkish soldiers and an official came very early the next morning. We were still asleep. They dragged us out in our nightgowns and lined us up against the living room wall. Then the official ordered my father to lie down on the ground… they are, dirty the Turks… very dirty… I can’t say what they did to him. They raped him! Raped! Just like that. Right in front of us. And that official made us watch. He whipped us if we turned away. My mother lost consciousness and fell to the floor. Afterwards, we couldn’t find our father. My mother looked for him frantically. He was in the attic, trying to hang himself. Fortunately, my mother found him before it was too late. My father did eventually kill himself-later, after we escaped.

Kristine Hagopian b. 1906, Smyrna

They took us from Hüsenig, to Mezre, to Kharpert to Malatia and then, after a couple of days walk, to the shores of the Euphrates River. It was around noon when we got there and we camped. For a while, we were left alone. Sometime later, Turkish gendarmes came over and grabbed all the boys from 5 to 10 years old. I wasa bout 7 or 8. They grabbed me too. They threw us all into a pile on the sandy beach and started jabbing us with their swords and bayonets. I must’ve been in the center because only one sword got me…nipped my cheek… here, my cheek. But, I couldn’t cry. I was covered with blood from the other bodies on top of me, but I couldn’t cry. If had, I would not be here today.When it was getting dark, my grandmother found me. She picked me up and consoled me. It hurt so much. I was crying and she put me on her shoulder and walked around. Then, some of the other parents came looking for their children. They mostly found dead bodies. The river bank there was very sandy. Some of them dug graves with their bare hands, shallow graves and tried to bury their children in them. Others, just pushed them into the river, they pushed them into the Euphrates. Their little bodies floated away.

Sam Kadorian b. 1907, Hüsenig, Kharpert

There was a girl, a girl whom I had befriended on the road earlier. Her name was Satenig. I remember her very well. She was not too strong. I saw her again in that basement. In the basement of the school where they had thrown us. She was there. She had a little bit of money and she gave it to me. “Don’t let them takeme,” she said. “Don’t let them take me.” They would come around everyday and take whomever was dead or very weak. She was not in good shape, she was very weak. I stood her up and leaned on her. Held her up, so. They came. I was holding her up, leaning her up against the wall. But they saw her and took her… took her…

Edward Bedikian b. 1902, Sepasdia

When the massacres began, I was 12 years old. I remember, they first took all the men of our village and killed them. The rest of us were deported. I don’t know how many hundreds we were. Everyone according to his ability rented a donkey or a horse and we left. We went from Albistan to Zeitun to Marash to Aintab. We camped on a farm behind Aintab College, near some newly dug foundations for houses. They were simply large holes in the ground. You understand? An epidemic had broken out in our caravan and people were dying all around us. They started filling those foundations with their dead bodies. Two, three, four, five bodies on top of each other. From Aintab, orders came that everyone over the age of 12 was to be sent to Der-Zor. A friend of mine and I escaped, but we were caught later and this time they sent us to Bizib and then toward Biredjig. Biredjig is on the shores of the Euphrates. You understand? It is on the other side of the river. We stayed in a khan (an inn) on this side. Caravans would come through there and be sent off toward the desert, hundreds and hundreds of Armenians. We used to see dead, bloated bodies floating in the river.

Bedros Bahadourian b. 1902, Gürün

The crowds were huge in Meskeneh. We were in the middle of a vast sandy area and the Armenians there were from all over, not only from Marash. We had no water and gendarmes would not give us any. There were only two gendarmes for that huge crowd. Just two. Wasn’t there a single man among us who could have killed them? We were going to die anyway. Why did we obey those two gendarmes so sheepishly? The word was that from Meskeneh, we were going to be deported to Der-Zor. My father had brought along a tent that was black on one side and white on the other. Each time gendarmes approached us to send another group to Der-Zor, my father would move the tent. He would pitch it on the other side of the crowd—as far awayas possible. We were constantly moving. He bought us quite a bit of time that way. Eventually, we crossed the Euphrates River to Rakka where we found an abandoned house—with no doors or windows—and we squatted there. But we still had no food. We used to eatgrass. We used to pick grains from animal waste, wash them and then in tin cans frythem to eat. We used to say: “Oh, mommy, if we ever go back to Marash, just give us fried wheat and it will be enough.

Sion Abajian b. 1908, Marash

More eye witness stories ....


  1. These stories are horrifying, but it's so great that they are being told.

  2. I agree, they are horrible, I could not stop reading. Maybe one day you could write a book. I am always amazed by the struggles and hardships that so many have gone through. It makes me realize that I have no right to complain about anything ever. Thank you for sharing.

  3. oh how sad and horrifying yet beautiful in their dignity those photographs (and stories) are! today a friend - born in 1915 - is celebrating his 95th birthday, being anglo-irish he was deported with his single mum (dad died one month after his birth) and two older sisters from ireland. he only came back with 90 to live in the place where he spent his first 6 years.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing their stories and for providing the link too. It amazes me when some are able to write down such terrible experiences and are willing to share them. They are a part of history - such a painful history. So often the photos of whole families are destroyed and no one speaks of the past.

    Thank you again. I always learn something new when coming to your blog. I'm grateful that you share. ~ Conny