Armenian Genocide survivors tell their story

Armenian Genocide surviversOn April 5, the New York Armenian Home held its annual meeting at which two Armenian Genocide survivors spoke with the media to tell their story about the annihilation of the Armenian people almost 100 years ago, the Western Queens Gazette reports.

The interviews were given in conjunction with the upcoming 99th anniversary commemorating the Armenian Genocide that resulted in more than 1.5 million Armenians murdered by the Ottoman Empire during a deliberate and planned slaughter of men, women and children, because of their ethnicity.

“The Armenian Genocide, carried out by the leaders of the Ottoman Empire and continued by the Young Turks, was a motivation for Adolf Hitler and the German Third Reich to murder more than six million Jews and more than 11 million in total throughout Europe,” the author reminds.

The New York Armenian Home in Flushing is a senior nursing home like no other. Started in 1948, around the same time as the start of the United Nations, it provided a home for Armenian Genocide survivors who could no longer take care of themselves. At its height it served more than 90 survivors. Today there are about 45 residents of Armenian descent. The home receives no governmental funding. All support comes from private fundraising projects and the generosity of the survivors and their descendants.

One hundred and four year old Perouze Kalousdian and 99 year old Azniv Guiragossian told their harrowing stories with the assistance of translators. Both women have seen their share of atrocities against their families, as well as against the Armenian people. The atrocities included persecution, arrests, exile from their homes, confiscation of their homes and personal property, false arrests and ultimately death at the hands of Turkish death squads.

Both survivors were very young when chaos broke out around them.

They were both forced to leave their homes and were separated from their families. Kalousdian was six when she witnessed some of the atrocities during the Armenian Genocide. She reported that the Turks took males over the age of 15, including her two uncles, tied them up two by two and threw them from a bridge into the Euphrates River. She and her mother were forced to become servants for Turkish leaders.

Many of her fellow Armenian women were also forced to work without pay for the Turks. Many were raped, tortured and ultimately killed. Her grandfather smuggled her father out of the country. He fled to the United States and later returned to find her and her mother before bringing the family to America.

Guiragossian, born in Urfa, Turkey was made an orphan during the Armenian Genocide. Her daughter, Arpi Nardone and son Shahen Guiragossian, who accompanied their mother for the interview, explained that when they were growing up their mother constantly spoke about her childhood and feeling hungry, and cold after being separated from her parents. Their mother told them that she lived with a Turkish family after the death of her parents. She witnessed her mother giving birth to a child who died in the Syrian desert and the death of her mother, two months later. Guiragossian was sent to an Armenian orphanage, where she later met her husband and was married at age 16 in an arranged marriage, to a man twice her age (32).

Armenians worldwide will commemorate the 99th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide on Sunday, April 27. In New York City thousands of Armenians will gather in Times Square from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. to remember and tell the stories to the world about what happened to their people beginning Apr. 24, 1915. The genocide lasted from1915-1923, when 1.5 million Armenians were killed and more than 500,000 were exiled from the Ottoman Empire.

By the conclusion of 1923, the entire Armenian population of Anatolia and Western Armenia had been either killed, deported or became refugees in other countries.

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