Kaloosdian’s Book on Tadem Continues to Receive Praise

Reviewed by USHMM Holocaust and Genocide Studies and Van Leer Jerusalem Institute Journal of Levantine Studies

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Armenian National Institute is pleased to announce that Robert Aram Kaloosdian’s book, Tadem: My Father’s Village Extinguished during the 1915 Armenian Genocide, was reviewed in the April 2017 issue of Holocaust and Genocide Studies,
the premier journal of the discipline published by Oxford University
Press on behalf of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. In his
review, Robert Melson, past president of the International Association
of Genocide Scholars, describes the book as a “significant contribution
to historical understanding” of the Armenian Genocide.

Dr.
Melson, also professor emeritus of political science at Purdue
University, writes: “A graduate of Boston University’s School of Law,
Kaloosdian is the founding chairman of the Armenian National Institute,
and one of the founders of the Armenian Assembly of America.  He relies
on a written chronicle of the village and on oral testimonies by elderly
survivors, among them members of his own family, including his father
Boghos.”

Melson
continues: “One of the historical questions that Kaloosdian helps to
clarify…is the role of locals in the mass violence…Kaloosdian’s
research demonstrates that a potential for violence against Armenians at
the local level existed even before the massacres of 1895-1896.”

In her review which appeared in the Winter 2015 issue of the Journal of Levantine Studies,
Dr. Nazan Maksudyan of Istanbul Kemerburgaz University wrote:
“Kaloosdian has made a lasting contribution in reconstructing the
experience of Tademtsis (people from Tadem) during and after the
genocide.”  Maksudyan added: “Robert Aram Kaloosdian’s Tadem, My Father’s Village: Extinguished during the 1915 Armenian Genocide is
an exceptionally rich local history of a rather small village, based
mostly on oral histories, but also on memoirs and other published
accounts. The book provides an almost complete picture of life before
the genocide, with detailed population figures, census-like data on each
family, socioeconomic background, and so on. Moreover, the book
meticulously records the different phases of the genocidal process by
presenting Tadem as a microcosm of the genocide.”

The Journal of Levantine Studies is
published by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, a center dedicated to
the interdisciplinary study and discussion of issues related to
philosophy, society, culture, and education.

While some
would rather we deny, forget, or ignore the reality of the Armenian
Genocide, the book serves as a countervailing force for truth and for
remembrance. It further clarifies with heartbreaking sincerity, what it
is that genocide entails. Because the book documents the tragedy at such
impressively granular tracking, not just a village or community but
also families and individuals, the reader is witness to the complex
pattern in which genocide unfolds – often decentralized, and with a
collection of differently motivated types of perpetrators. The message
is particularly poignant in light of the current turmoil in the same
region where slavery, forced marriages and conversions, and other forms
of exploitation are seen playing out against a background of
international inaction and apathy.

Kaloosdian stated the “voice that came forth in Tadem is
from those villagers of Tadem who no longer have a voice. They were
peaceful and agrarian, rich in culture but limited in resources,
certainly posing no threat to anyone. The ruin of Tadem never needed to
occur. They were not near a war zone. Tadem stands as a testament that religious hatred and racial prejudice are far more destructive than the weapons of war.”

Kaloosdian’s book had already received two awards in 2016. Tadem: My Father’s Village was
awarded an Independent Book Publishers Association’s (IBPA) Benjamin
Franklin Award as a Silver Winner in the Best New Voice Nonfiction
category. The IBPA describes the book as follows: “Drawing on accounts
from over a dozen witnesses, most never before published, the author
recounts the life and death of one village. With striking immediacy, the
author presents TADEM as a microcosm of
the Genocide and argues that the Turks used the outbreak of World War I
as a cover for atrocities motivated by religious hatred and greed.”

Tadem: My Father’’s Village also
received an “IPPY” Silver award in the category of World History. The
“IPPY” Awards, launched in 1996 and given out by the Independent
Publisher Book Awards, are designed to bring increased recognition to
the deserving but often unsung titles published by independent authors
and publishers.

Founded in
1997, the Armenian National Institute (ANI) is a 501©(3) educational
charity based in Washington, D.C., and is dedicated to the study,
research, and affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.

Elie Wiesel Remembered by Armenian National Institute

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Armenian National Institute (ANI) mourns the passing of human rights activist Elie Wiesel (1928-2016), and recalls one of the most vocal opponents of the crime of genocide. Holocaust survivor, author, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Wiesel evoked the compelling authority of a victim who triumphed over his oppressors by writing and speaking about the importance of remembrance and prevention.  His works became the voice of the millions of Jewish victims of Nazism and racism that raged across Europe when Wiesel was a young man and which destined him to a concentration camp.

Wiesel’s powerful denunciation of denial as a form of double killing of the victim introduced a critical concept in understanding the problem and legacy of genocide and played a major role in appreciating the dilemma of Armenian Genocide survivors and their descendants who were confronted with the implacable policy of the Turkish government. By challenging denial and upholding the importance of memory, Wiesel created new bridges between the Jewish and Armenian communities in the United States, France, and elsewhere.

Wiesel, who served as the first chairman of the United States Holocaust Council appointed by President Jimmy Carter, approved the recommendation to include reference to the Armenian Genocide in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. He was among the 126 prominent signatories, all Holocaust scholars, holders of academic chairs, and directors of Holocaust research and studies centers, who in 2000 “signed a statement affirming that the World War I Armenian Genocide is an incontestable historical fact and accordingly urge the governments of Western democracies to likewise recognize it as such. The petitioners, among whom is Nobel Laureate for Peace Elie Wiesel, who was the keynote speaker at the conference, also asked the Western Democracies to urge the Government and Parliament of Turkey to finally come to terms with a dark chapter of Ottoman-Turkish history and to recognize the Armenian Genocide.”

In 2000, Wiesel voiced his strong support for the Armenian Genocide resolution during the 106th Congress. In a letter to then International Relations Subcommittee on Human Rights and International Operations Chair Chris Smith (R-NJ), Wiesel stated: “It is my hope that the House will go on record calling upon the President to make sure that all U.S. officials dealing with human rights are educated about the memory of the Armenian Genocide.” Wiesel explained that the hate which drove the Ottoman Empire to kill Armenians and the Nazis to murder Jews is still present in today’s world. “Violence is the language of those who can no longer express themselves with words,” Wiesel added.

In 2007, the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity issued a statement signed by 53 Nobel Prize laureates that called for the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border, civil society cooperation, increased official contacts, and an improvement in basic freedoms, noting that “Turkey should end discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities…Turks and Armenians have a huge gap in perceptions over the Armenian Genocide.” To address this gap, we refer to the 2003 “Legal Analysis on the Applicability of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide to Events which Occurred During the Early Twentieth Century,” corroborating findings of the International Association of Genocide Scholars.

More recently Mr. Wiesel joined as co-chair with actor George Clooney for the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity Selection Committee. The new award annually bestowed in Yerevan, Armenia, “on behalf of the survivors of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to their saviors is granted to individuals whose actions have had an exceptional impact on preserving human life and advancing humanitarian causes.”

Perhaps Elie Wiesel’s most important legacy in Armenian-Jewish relations is located in the vital leadership role he played in persuading major Jewish organizations to step forward in support of Armenian Genocide recognition. After consulting with Wiesel, who had long bewailed governments remaining silent in the face of genocide, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) dropped its hesitation in 2007. In 2016, ADL’s CEO spoke forcefully, stating:

We have a similar responsibility to talk more broadly and recall that in our own lifetime the world did not stand up against the horrors happening in Cambodia, Bosnia and Rwanda. Too often, the response to genocide has been global silence.

So, let me be crystal clear: the first genocide of the 20th century is no different. What happened in the Ottoman Empire to the Armenians beginning in 1915 was genocide. The genocide began with the ruling government arresting and executing several hundred Armenian intellectuals. After that, Armenian families were removed from their homes and sent on death marches. The Armenian people were subjected to deportation, expropriation, abduction, torture, massacre and starvation.

What happened to the Armenian people was unequivocally genocide.

The Romanian-born Wiesel who wrote in French contributed a preface to the 1986 French edition of Franz Werfel’s Forty Days of Musa Dagh that had served as a source of inspiration to Jewish fighters to resist certain death during the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.  Wiesel said: “This novel is a masterpiece…This Armenian community became very close to me.  Written before the coming of Hitler, this novel seems to foretell the future.  How did Franz Werfel know the vocabulary and the mechanism of the Holocaust before the Holocaust – artistic intuition or historic memory?”

In 2013 Elie Wiesel, who had been Professor of Humanities at Boston University since 1976, sat with Richard Hovannisian, Professor Emeritus of History at UCLA, for an encounter at Chapman University in California that was billed as a “Conversation” between the two eminent educators to discuss the moral obligation of mankind to honor and preserve the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide and the Jewish Holocaust. With the unresolved case of the Armenian survivors in mind, Hovannisian, who also served as founding chairman of ANI, posed the question whether there can ever be real justice for Holocaust victims, to which Wiesel responded with a single word: No.

In his acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, Elie Wiesel, reflecting upon his own commitment to standing witness to himself, a young man who was sent to die in Auschwitz and Buchenwald, said:

And then I explain to him how naive we were, that the world did know and remained silent. And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.

Founded in 1997, the Armenian National Institute (ANI) is a 501©(3) educational charity based in Washington, DC, and is dedicated to the study, research, and affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.

Photo Caption: Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel and UCLA Professor Emeritus of History Richard Hovannisian at Chapman University in 2013.