French docu-comic keeps the memory of the Armenian genocide alive

A bracing graphic novel released this year explores a horror that cannot be forgotten – the Armenian genocide, Euronews reports.

With ‘Une Histoire du Génocide des Arméniens’ (‘A History of the Armenian Genocide’), French comic book writer Jean-Blaise Djian (Djian) and French press editor, film producer and scriptwriter Gorune Aprikian have merged fiction and archival material in a docu-comic. It is an essential artwork that aims for the reader to better understand the complex history of the Armenian genocide and, above all, to keep its memory alive.

By presenting the daily life of an Armenian family shattered by the deportations, this unique comic book addresses one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century. Through documentary pages, illustrated with archive photographs, it shows how, from 1915 to 1923, the Ottoman Empire massacred and deported at least 1.5 million Armenians in what is now Turkey.

“There was the feeling that this was a topic that had yet to be treated,” Gorune Aprikian tells Euronews Culture.

“It’s important that the denialism regarding the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide is addressed in classrooms, and we felt that there was a need to give pupils, but also teachers and adults, a tool to better understand the issues at stake in this matter.”

Set in 1915, ‘Une Histoire du Génocide des Arméniens’ follows the Hagopian family.

Although the political situation in the Ottoman Empire has been tense for many years, the Turkish and Armenian populations live in cordial harmony in Dendil, a small mountain village where the Hagopian family lives. But while the European powers are fighting in the trenches, a general extermination plan of the Armenians is put in place by the Ottoman government.

The father, Arakel, like all Armenians in the village, is falsely mobilized to take part in the war and will be shot by the Ottomans. The remainder of the family is forced to be deported.

The focus shifts to Mikael, the Hagopian’s teenage son, who has to hide for four long years in Dendil to try to escape the deportation and find his family.

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