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.

Kaloosdian Hits Home with ‘Tadem’ Book

By Tom
Vartabedian

August 20,
2015

BELMONT, MA
– Somehow, a photo of Robert Aram Kaloosdian standing before Mount Ararat
answers a definable cause.

‘Tadem,’ the
focal point of Atty. Robert Aram Kaloosdian’s next book.

It’s as if
he were built into the infrastructure, following a lifetime of public service
to the Greater Boston Armenian community and the diaspora at large.

He’s
practiced law for more than 50 years and has devoted much of his life to the
recognition and study of the Armenian Genocide.

Add the fact
he was founding chairman of the Armenian National Institute and a founder of
the Armenian National Assembly, and you may not have even scratched the
surface. Maybe touched it.

Of
particular note in this Centennial year, Kaloosdian participated in defending a
school curriculum guide against genocide deniers in federal court. If it wasn’t
the genocide, it’s been his connections with Armenian independence, the
Apostolic Church of America and many, many ties with the political elite both
here and in Washington.

Finally,
after all these years, go ahead and add “author” to his resume. His one and
only book is a remarkable and proud testament to his father’s village in
Ottoman Turkey, called Tadem.

It’s a place
that bore the brunt of massacre and hardship during the 1915 assault by the
Ottoman gendarmes. The book has been a mission in waiting, ever since
Kaloosdian’s younger days. He wanted to share the truth with his world, but
more important, to give closure to that moment in his dad’s history and the 270
others who were butchered inside this locality.

“It is
difficult to understand the extent of the horror that befell such a small
farming village by not only its government but also by its neighbors and
friends who unquestionably obeyed their government and religious leaders,”
Kaloosdian points out.

In all, 250
Armenian homes were burned, leaving another 100 wounded. His two trips to Tadem
have remained etched in his mind. Pathetic yet poignant.

A
grandfather of five, Kaloosdian documented the collective memory of anyone and
everyone he could reach who lived in this specific region.

“The example
that Tadem presents teaches us what a destructive weapon religious hatred and
prejudice can be,” he says. “The destruction of a people does not rely on
orders coming from a central authority.”

In his
research, Kaloosdian discovers there were people who jumped at the opportunity
to terrorize and murder the Armenians of Tadem. He found the origin of the
“Armenian problem” not to be the sultan alone—but, rather, the locals who were
given positive cover by the Ottoman authorities to subjugate the Armenian
population.

The author
tells the individual stories of these Tadem villagers and their extraordinary
efforts to survive the genocide that exterminated the majority of this
community.

Through
descriptions of his father’s arduous journey from his ancestral homeland across
Siberia to Japan, then to Seattle and America’s East Coast, Kaloosdian
describes in detail individual choices made by his father as well as other
Armenians, Turks, and Kurds.

In doing so,
Kaloosdian effectively clarifies what genocide actually details. It’s a book
anyone who knows or doesn’t know Armenia’s history would get to appreciate.

The jacket
pulls the reader inside, showing the village of Tadem in remarkable clarity,
done in color. A mere look would entice any reader to consider a possible
visit.

Over the
next 300 pages, you get an overview of life in this town, its people and its
history. It is not Erzurum or Van, Bitlis or Dikranagert. It is Tadem, and you
may not have heard about this place had it not been for Kaloosdian’s dad
Boghos. He dedicated this work to his beloved “Hairig.”

Covered
inside the contents is a rich repository of information that puts the reader
right into the thrust of history, beginning with a Tadem childhood to its
Educational Society, the deportation of women in this village, and the massacre
of remnants.

It continues
with Boghos’s journey to America, a retreat through chaos and revolution, and
hits upon life in America—the early days, the foundry where he worked, the club
he frequented and the people he befriended.

You’re about
to revisit that devastating hurricane in 1938 that uprooted Watertown where he
lived, and finally, a postscript of the destinies of Tadem survivors.

It’s a crossover
between East and West—immigrant to citizen. Maps, testaments, and interviews
make this a poignant read. It’s a work that probably wrote itself with Aram’s
initiative.

One striking
section of the book is about the women who survived the July 1915 deportation.
I was particularly enamored by the immigration struggle; they were like so many
others who came to America and cultivated a dream.

Out of it
came a son named Robert Aram who was encouraged to get an education and found
his way to law school and ultimately success. We owe our survivors a debt of
gratitude for their sacrifice, foresight, and resilience. Education was their
mantra.

We owe the
Boghoses of the world our survival, our success. This book is about Tadem. In
fact, it’s about any village facing a cloud of despair and seeing the sun shine
through on a tragic history that has since turned notable.

We applaud
such an inspiring book.