By Edward Barsoumian
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.