Astrid Aghajanian survived the Armenian Genocide

June 14, 2012

When we focus on the number, 1,500,000 massacred in the Armenian Genocide, it is easy to lose sight of the individual lives touched by this man-made tragedy. Learning the stories of individuals is a meaningful way to come to know history.

The UK’s Independent published this powerful obituary which honors the life of Helen Astrid ‘Astghig’ Aghajanian, nee Gaidzakian:

Astrid Aghajanian: Survivor of the Armenian genocide who narrowly escaped death
June 14, 2012 |

Helen (Astghig/Astrid) Gaidzakian was born in Albistan, Turkey, March 28, 1913. She survived the deportation and massacre of the Armenians during the Armenian Genocide in Turkey. In 1942, she married Gaspar Aghajanian. The Aghajanians had two daughters. Widowed in 2007, Mrs. Aghajanian died in Gloucester May 11, 2012. Read about her life.

97th Anniversary Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide: Times Square — April 22, 2012

February 28, 2012

Click link for details:

97th Anniversary Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide to Be Held in Times Square, Sunday, April 22, 2-4 pm
Theme “Turkey Is Guilty of Genocide: Denying the Undeniable Is a Crime”; Armenian Genocide experts and survivors available for interviews
Wall Street Journal Market Watch | February 6, 2012

Armenian Genocide 96th Anniversary Commemoration — Times Square — Sunday, May 1, 2011

April 4, 2011


(February 25, 2011) NY, NY–For the 26th year, thousands of Armenian Americans and their supporters will gather in Times Square (43rd St. & Broadway) to commemorate the first genocide of the 20th Century: The Armenian Genocide. To be held on Sunday, May 1, 2011 from 2-4 PM, this historic event will pay tribute to the 1.5 million Armenians who were annihilated by the Young Turk Government of the Ottoman Empire. The Commemoration will also celebrate the survival and spirit of the Armenian people, their rich heritage and global contributions.

Presenters will include civic, religious, humanitarian, educational, cultural leaders and performing artists. This event is free and open to the public.

Armenian Genocide experts Dennis R. Papazian, PhD, National Grand Commander of Knights of Vartan, Dr. Arthur Kubikian, former Chairman of the Armenian Genocide Commemoration in Times Square (1999 and 2006) and Dr. Raffi A. Hovanessian, active in Armenian affairs and Vice Chair of the Diocesan Council in N.Y., are available for media interviews via phone and in-person. Armenian Genocide Survivors are also available (with translators) to discuss their eyewitness accounts as refugees from the Armenian Genocide. Their painful accounts of the horrendous horrors and mass destruction they witnessed and lived through are critical contributions to world history.

Dr. Papazian comments, “There is no question that when genocide goes unpunished, it makes other perpetrators discount the possibility of being punished for their transgressions. The Turkish government to this day continues to deny the reality of the first genocide of the 20th Century, the Armenian Genocide, which opened the door to all the genocides of the 20th and 21st centuries including the Holocaust, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda and Darfur. In fact, when Hitler sent his Death Heads troops into Poland at the beginning of World War II, he said, “Go. Kill without mercy. Who today remembers the extermination of the Armenians?”

Armenian Genocide experts and survivors available for interviews

Issues to explore with experts:

  • Why do the Armenians and supporters commemorate the Armenian Genocide?
  • What is the historical evidence to support the Armenian Genocide?
  • Why is the Turkish government denying the Armenian Genocide and what would be the outcomes if the Turkish government acknowledged the Genocide?
  • What major world historical events have taken place in the 20th and 21st centuries because of the denial of the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish Ottoman Empire and other nations?
  • What are the consequences of countries recognizing the Armenian Genocide?

The Experts

Dennis R. Papazian, PhD, is the National Grand Commander of Knights of Vartan and founding Director of the Armenian Research Center at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, where from 1971-2006, he held the position of Professor of History. He also served four years as Executive Director of the Armenian Assembly of America in Washington, D.C. In addition, Dr. Papazian was on the Board of Trustees of the American Diocese of the Armenian Church (Eastern), Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the St. Nersess Armenian Theological Seminary, President of the Society for Armenian Studies and Editor of the Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies. He is listed in Who’s Who in America and resides in N.J. with his wife, Mary, who is Senior Vice President of Lehman College, CUNY.

Arthur H. Kubikian, DDS, is the former Chairman of the Armenian Genocide Commemoration in Times Square (1999 and 2006) and is an active member of the Knights of Vartan.  He resides in Long Island, N.Y.

Raffi A. Hovanessian, MD, has been active in Armenian affairs throughout his life and is presently Vice Chair of the Diocesan Council in N.Y.  He has served on the boards of the Armenian Assembly, AGBU, St. Nersess Seminary and the American University of Armenia and is an active member of the Knights of Vartan.  He resides in N.J.

The 96th Commemoration is organized by the Mid-Atlantic chapters of Knights & Daughters of Vartan, a U.S. fraternal organization of Armenian-Americans, and co-sponsored by the Armenian General Benevolent Union, Armenian Assembly of America, Armenian National Committee of America, Armenian Council of America and ADL-Ramgavars.

Participating Organizations: Diocese of the Armenian Church, Prelacy of the Armenian Church, Armenian Missionary Association of America, Armenian Catholic Eparchy for US and Canada, Mid-Atlantic ACYOA, AYF, Armenian Youth Organizations, Armenian University and College Clubs.


Hear Armenian Genocide Survivor Oral Histories on

March 31, 2011

Armenian oral history recordings are available on (If you create a free account, you can listen to the oral histories on your computer.)

Search the four names below and listen to each individual tell their stories in their own voices of surviving the Armenian Genocide and thriving in America. There are approximately 50 Armenian interviewees included in the Ellis Island oral history interview collection. Each interview is about 1 hour in length.

  1. Vetzigian
  2. Babaian
  3. Tellalian
  4. Hartunian

About New York City, Ellis Island Oral Histories, 1892-1976

This collection contains some 2,000 oral histories collected by the Ellis Island Oral History Program through the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Begun in 1973, the project aims to collect first-hand information about immigrant experiences from everyday life in their country of origin, family history, reasons for coming to America, the journey to the port, experiences on the ship, arrival, processing at Ellis Island, and adjustment to life in the U.S. Most interviewees are chosen from submitted questionnaires, range in age from 46 to 106, though the average age is late eighties, and are from many countries.

Ellis Island was in operation from 1892 until 1954 and processed 12 million immigrants. Upon arrival 29 questions were asked including name, occupation, and the amount of money carried. Immigrants were quickly looked over for any medical problems and 2 percent were deported back to their home countries for chronic contagious disease, criminal background, or insanity. In 1924 immigration was restricted and the only immigrants to pass through the Ellis Island station were displaced persons or war refugees.

Request the names of more Armenian interviews via email or post a comment.

Congress is reconvening Wed – Vote for HR 252, Armenian Genocide Resolution, possible

December 21, 2010

If you do not follow the politics concerning the United States Government’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide, you may not realize the news reported by Asbarez is a significant development (see link below). Despite threats from Turkey, President Obama is not actively pressuring Congress to dismiss the resolution. Past administrations have buckled to Turkey’s demands for political purposes, for decades. However, when President Obama was a senator, he made his views clear that he knows a genocide was committed by the Turkish Government at the beginning of the 20th century.

When you begin to learn about the history surrounding the Armenian Genocide, the eyewitness accounts and records locked in the government archives of the United States, France, and Germany, offer overwhelming evidence that genocide was committed by Turkey. Non-Armenian government diplomats, missionaries, doctors, and nurses, are among the individuals who recorded what they witnessed in letters, cables (telegraphs), photographs, and memoirs. The New York Times, National Geographic and other periodicals of the time also documented what journalists saw happening in Turkey.

Armenians all over the world can tell you some of what their grandparents and great grandparents told them. But, like my grandfather, most of what happened to the survivors remained burned into their memories and souls without ever being fully shared with anyone. Tonight, Armenians across America have hope that tomorrow the few remaining Armenian Genocide survivors may live to know that our government finally publicly will recognize the Armenian Genocide. Please read some of the other pages on this blog to learn more.

White House Indifferent on Genocide Resolution | December 21, 2010

The following outstanding documentary and books are highly recommended:

  • ‘Aghet: Armenian Genocide‘ an award-winning documentary by Germany’s ARD Television and Eric Friedler
  • ‘A Shameful Act’, one of the definitive books about the Armenian Genocide written by Turkish scholar Taner Akcam
  • ‘Armenian Golgotha’ by Grigoris Balakian, an Armenian priest’s devastating eyewitness account of the Armenian Genocide
  • Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story‘ by Henry I. Morgenthau, the American Ambassador at Constantinople from 1913-1916
  • If you haven’t called your Congressional representative and the House Majority Leader, it will take you less than one minute to make these calls. All you need to know is your zip code: MAKE THE CALL TO VOTE YES FOR HOUSE RESOLUTION 252

    Read the full text of House Resolution 252

    It’s not too late to submit Armenian Genocide testimony for Congressional Record

    May 26, 2010

    Schiff submits Armenian Genocide Survival Stories into Congressional Record | May 26, 2010

    Reflections upon the Armenian Genocide on a Windy Night and Mother’s Day

    May 9, 2010

    Last night, I accompanied two of my mom’s friends to a screening of Hove, The Wind, a short film about the Armenian Genocide. We all thought the movie was very well done. (It stars Olympia Dukakis and Shirleyann Kaladjian.)

    Incredibly, it was an unusually windy night in New York (so windy, that fallen trees closed off main roads and caused power outages throughout the area). The coincidence of the windy night was only one of two during our evening together. The other incident occurred during dinner. About midway through our meal, the American waitress serving us asked if we speak Armenian. She had been listening to our conversation about the genocide and told us her grandmother is also an Armenian Genocide survivor. As we continued talking with her, she revealed that she is fluent speaking, reading and writing both Armenian and Classic Armenian. When I told her about the book project I’m developing about the Armenian Genocide, she offered to help with translating Armenian for me. These events are just two of the wonderful examples of the signs encouraging me to press forward with my work writing the stories of Armenian Genocide survivors.

    As today is Mother’s Day in the US, I also thought about how proud my grandfather’s mother, Mary Mesrobian Kalpakian, would be if she could have lived to see her son’s accomplishments and his contributions to the Armenian community in New York area. As I’ve immersed myself in Armenian Genocide literature, including oral histories and scholarly research, I find myself day-dreaming about what my grandfather witnessed and having nightmares about his mother’s and sisters’ fates. This blog and my intended book are in honor of the memory of my great-grandmother and her daughters, my grandfather, and every Armenian who suffered in the Armenian Genocide and its aftermath.

    Surpouhi Torosian — Grandma Suzi: An American from the heartland shares his late mother-in-law’s Armenian Genocide legacy

    May 7, 2010

    David Cartter: Ancestor survived Armenian genocide
    Wisconsin State Journal | May 6, 2010

    Survivors Remember Armenian Genocide

    March 24, 2010

    Oronik Eminian, Arsalo Dadir and Charlotte Kechejian spoke at the New York Armenian Home, in Flushing, on March 21, 2010 about their experiences during the Armenian Genocide. [Graphic content]

    Survivors Remember Armenian Genocide
    The Queens Gazette | March 24, 2010

    No, dear prime minister, don’t touch the Armenians, protect them

    March 18, 2010

    As I interview adult children of Armenian Genocide survivors, I am struck by how many of them tell me their parents spoke Turkish and listened to Turkish music at home. Some of the children (mostly American born) also know at least a few Turkish words and sayings. I am amused by the number of Armenians who admit that they secretly like to dine at Turkish restaurants “because it is our food, too”.

    In some ways, Armenians coming from Turkey have more of a connection to Turkey than to present-day Armenia, because what is now Turkey was their ancestral homeland. Ninety-five years ago, Armenians lived side-by-side with Turks and still counted some of their Turkish neighbors as friends. Yet, they knew to always be on their guard, because ‘every 20 years’ there would be massacres—the Turkish authorities regarded Armenians as giavours (infidels or animals). Western minds, including many Turks today, can’t conceive of the indignities Armenians endured under the rule of the Ottoman Turks.

    Another voice from inside Turkey:

    No, dear prime minister, don’t touch the Armenians, protect them
    Hurriyet Daily News | March 17, 2010

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