WASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier this week, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) co-sponsored a book presentation of Forced into Genocide: Memoirs of an Armenian Soldier in the Ottoman Turkish Army, written by Yervant Edward Alexanian, an eye-witness to the massacre and dislocation of his family and countrymen in Ottoman Turkey during the Armenian Genocide. Adrienne G. Alexanian, Yervant’s daughter, has spent years preparing her father’s manuscript for publication, which she presented at St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church in Washington, D.C on Sunday. The Assembly co-sponsored the event with St. Mary Armenian Apostolic Church, Knights and Daughters of Vartan, and the Armenian National Committee of America.
Born in Sivas, Turkey, Yervant survived the Hamidian massacres as an infant to later fight for survival as a conscript in the Ottoman Turkish Army during the 1915 Genocide. Despite everything he went through and witnessed, “he was prepared to die” instead of saving his own life by converting to Islam. He fled to America in 1920, where he spent his life advocating for justice for his people. There are no other books or comparable account which exists in Armenian literature on this aspect of the Genocide.
Yervant passed away in 1983, leaving behind many documents and pictures discovered by his daughter. Adrienne explained that the memoirs came to light by chance while she was going through her father’s belongings. He did not share stories of the Armenian Genocide with his daughter, wishing to not burden his family. Instead, he wrote down his memoirs as a form of therapy that would later live on through Adrienne’s efforts.
Award winning Middle East journalist Robert Fisk highlighted Yervant’s memoirs in one of his articles on Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide in The Independent on March 22, 2017. “Forced into Genocide is Yervant Alexanian’s own frightful account of his people’s suffering, with unimpeachable documentation – in vast enough amounts to prevent the usual Turkish ‘genocide deniers’ (twins of the European ‘deniers’ of the Jewish Holocaust) of denouncing the book as a forgery,” Fisk wrote. “It is a story which Erdogan should be reading – and publicising – right now, for it involves more ‘Nazi practices’ than the new Sultan of Istanbul would ever want to acknowledge,” he added.
The Assembly also co-sponsored a book presentation with Adrienne Alexanian last month in Boston, MA with the Armenian Museum of America, the Armenia Cultural Foundation, the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) New England District, Project SAVE Armenian Photograph Archives, and the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR).
“On behalf of the Armenian Assembly of America, I commend Adrienne for her perseverance and tenacity in bringing this compelling account and heroic journey to light. It is truly remarkable and we greatly appreciate Adrienne’s enthusiastic presentation,” Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny stated.
Adrienne Alexanian is an Armenian Assembly Fellow Trustee and, along with her mother Grace, generously provided an endowment to the Assembly toward advocacy for Genocide recognition in memory of her father in 1993. As an NGO representative at the United Nations for both the Armenian Diocese and the AGBU, Adrienne initiated, organized, and moderated numerous forums promoting all aspects of Armeniaâ€™s agenda. She is also an educator and a 2010 recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a 501©(3) tax-exempt membership organization.