Updated: Jun 30, 2021
(armenianassemblyinternship) - By Edward Barsoumian, Armenian Assembly of America Intern
On July 6, Dr. Rouben Adalian, Armenian National Institute (ANI) Director, gave a lecture to the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) interns about the First Deportation of the Armenian Genocide that covered the story of the town of Zeytun and the deportations of its Armenian population to Konya, and back again, into the desolate Der Zor desert. The exhibit that Dr. Adalian had prepared included powerful images of ancient Armenia from a time when our cultural traditions, churches, castles, and citadels remained intact. He displayed panoramic photos of the Zeytun region before its homes, cities, and towns were demolished and paved over.
Nadya Movsisyan, an Assembly intern from Belgium, felt that “Dr. Rouben Adalian’s presentation reminded me of other examples of heroic resistance, particularly in the community residing in Musa Dagh, which had preserved its strong Armenian identity.”
Out of the photographs shown by Dr. Adalian, the most compelling were images of Turkish guards standing in the shade while they rounded up Armenians for deportation. The Armenians were placed without food or water and had their clothes, valuables, and hope stripped from them. Interestingly enough, the images also showed the trains at the station of Konya, which was constructed shortly before the genocide, and where many Armenians were transported from northwestern Anatolia southward. These Armenians died en masse within days.
The deportations began soon after Turkey entered World War I. According to Dr. Adalian, this suggests that Turkey entered World War I as a cover to carry out the Armenian Genocide as it implies that the plans existed before the First World War. With the eyes and ears of the international community focused elsewhere, Ottoman Turkey could destroy an entire people without resistance or foreign intervention.
Germany took inspiration from the Armenian Genocide, which was famously known from Adolf Hitler’s speech in 1939: “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” As Dr. Adalian pointed out, this was not the first instance of acknowledgement in Germany. He showed the interns photographs in which key figures from the German military can be seen greeting Turkish Minister of War Ismail Enver Pasha at a train station where Armenians were deported. Last month, the German Parliament passed a resolution affirming the Armenian Genocide, that reads: “The Bundestag regrets the inglorious role of the German Reich, which as military ally of the Ottoman Empire did nothing to stop these crimes against humanity despite receiving clear information from German missionaries and diplomats about the organized deportation and annihilation of Armenians.”
The mission of ANI is to research and gather the lost stories, to carry the torch of our history for many years to come. Each year, Dr. Adalian speaks with the Assembly intern class and hosts lectures and discussions on the Armenian Genocide to ensure the history is known.