Hampartzoum Chitjian (1901 – 2003)
“UNITY – All parties must be respected in a productive manner to achieve our goal!”
My Father was a “Chitji”
The same tradition of block printing on textiles continues today as seen in these photos taken by Sara in Iran circa 1973
textile block printing example #2
Portraits of Hampartzoum
Hampartzoum’s Mexican Visa
Early portrait of Hampartzoum
Hampartzoum was strong in his senior years
Portrait of Hampartzoum by Ara Oshagon
Last portrait of Hampartzoum.
This is how I know my father. p. 1 Thursday, February 25, 16
A man who never forgot what transpired.
A humble man who never forgot the pain of losing his identity: his family, his homeland, the interaction with his community. He internalized his pain, not projecting it on others. Soft-spoken but at the same time very resolute in his feelings of sorrow and injustice, repeatedly asking for resolution for crime of genocide, both in words and deeds. His soul will not be at rest until justice has been done.
Hampartzoum Chitjian was born in 1901 in Ismael and at the age of two the family moved to Perri, a small village in the Ottoman Empire, adjacent to the Dersim. It was a modest family. The family trade was that of a chitji, a block printer, hence the last name Chitjian. It was an extended family of thirteen. By 1915, two of Hampartzoum’s brothers were living in Chicago.
By early spring of 1915, he and his father had gone to the vineyard to cultivate the vines for the following year, when abruptly a villager ran by to warn his father not to return to his house. Shortly after, Hampartzoum and his three brothers were surrendered to the Turkish authorities. Within a month, he was taken as a slave by a blind villager. A year later he escaped and that began a series of experiences, living alternately as an Armenian in the household of Dr. Mikhail and as an incognito Turk in various Turkish households. His father, mother, youngest brother, and three sisters all perished during the genocide. These six years Hampartzoum described his experiences as “living a dog’s life,” hoping someone to let him in for shelter and food. Unfortunately, as he grew older and his disguise was no longer sufficient, he realized he had to escape out of Turkey. He had no other choice.
This led him on a whole different odyssey. Three months while still within the borders of Turkey, eating grasses and raw fish, traveling at night on foot, to the point of total exhaustion. He was lucky enough to walk over the border to Iran, realizing he was a free man. At the site of a spring, Hampartzoum took a handful of mud and rubbed it across his forehead exclaiming, “This is not Turkish sun, this is not Turkish soil, and this is not Turkish air!” He prayed to thank God for the sun, the light, and the hope.
Hampartzoum’s odyssey continued as he tried to connect with his brothers in America, now in Los Angeles. From Kelisi Kand to Magoo, to Khoy, to Tabriz in Iran, where he was able to contact them through letters, he alerted them that he was still alive and of his whereabouts. Then to Khazbeen, Hamadan, Kermanshaw, Karatoot, Baghdad, Mosul, Der-Zor, Halab, Beirut, Marseilles. And then from Marseilles to Vera Cruz and Mexico City, Tijuana, and Los Angeles. After two years, Hampartzoum returned to Mexico City, establishing himself with a palateria, marrying and starting a family with a boy and a girl. In 1935 Hampartzoum emigrated to Los Angeles with his family and reuniting with his four surviving brothers.
Although for the rest of his life he was in a safe haven, Hampartzoum was haunted with the brutal and painful tragedy of his family, their way of life, and the Armenian people who had been subjugated on those lands for more than 600 years. Scattered all over the world on every continent, Armenians scrambled for refuge, thus creating a diaspora. Armenians are now integrating and establishing a new life, contributing to each society where they live. Hampartzoum’s hope was that the new generation would not be burdened with his deep, personal sorrows but for them to hear and understand the totality of this type of brutality, destruction, and loss of family.
The visual impact of the iWitness Genocide Commemoration attains an aspect of awareness, a segment what transpired in 1915.
Hampartzoum is like a student, he began writing his memoirs in the mid 1970’s.
Hampartzoum’s Family Tree
Hampartzoum Chitjian’s school Teachers in Perri
Hampartzoum’s teacher Baron Eoksouzian was very strict, he made sure we learned! Hampartzoum sat in the front row which is where the A students were assigned seats. He had this teacher from the age of 8 to 13 and then the Armenian Genocide of 1915 began and this teacher would be one of the first to be killed. This would be the end of Hampartzoum’s formal education. In 1985 Hampartzoum would go with his wife and daughter Sara to a 75th Armenian Genocide Anniversary event in Washington D.C. and would reunite with the daughter of this teacher as seen in the photo above.
The full story is available on page # 74 in Hampartzoum’s memoir, “A Hair’s Breadth From Death”.
Hampartzoum adored his math teacher Anahit Rahanian and always looked forward to her classes. During the Genocide her husband was killed and she was taken and tattoo’s were made on her face, a sign of slave ownership by a Turk. Nothing is known of what happened to her son however Hampartzoum recalled feeling sorrow when seeing what they did to his teacher.
The full story is available on page # 74 in Hampartzoum’s memoir, “A Hair’s Breadth From Death”.
Hampartzoum Visits Sara’s Class
Hampartzoum was very proud of Sara’s work as a school teacher. She was the first to introduce Armenian Ethnic studies to The Los Angeles Unified School District and she also raised Armenian Genocide awareness by teaching it in her classroom.
Hampartzoum reflects on Sara’s students.
Hampartzoum and Ovsanna visit Sara on her last day of school after 34 years of teaching.
Hampartzoum’s final word to Sara’s students.
David Chalokian Saves Hampartzoum’s life in circa 1920
David Chalokian with his wife.
David Chalokian with his sister left of him, wife to his right
About David and the third Ovsanna
Learning more about the 3rd Ovsanna
The three Ovsanna’s
Scroll down to learn more about the three Ovsanna’s.
A TRUE FRIEND (Arriving in Tabriz)
One day as I was standing under a wall, I fought to keep myself from falling down. I was extremely terrified that I would be dumped in the back of a truck among the corpses if I crumbled to the ground. My nose started to bleed. A tall and handsome boy approached me. His name was David-he was a Buzmehshentzeef as I later found out. He saw what was happening to me and said, “Come with me, let’s go home!” There were eight other boys in that room. They were Kharpertzees, Chemeeshgahtzahtzees and Buzmehshentzees. Two of the Kharpertzees were from Soorsooree Village, Yeghia Zadourian and Minas Keyahian, whose brothers were in Fresno, California. Just like me, all they had were the clothes on their backs. Now, we became nine friends who looked out for each other. For the most part, we were on our own during the day. I don’t know where they went when they left the house.
The very next day David took off his undershirt and pants, and washed them well. When they were dry, he told me to accompany him. As soon as we got outside, he started to shout out that he had an undershirt and a pair of pants for t ? J’I,, sale. Within a few minutes he had a buyer. He sold his garments for one khron, – (worth a quarter). With that coin in hand we walked stfaight to the fohroon (bread bakery). There was a restless crowd-many people had their hand stretched out trying to buy bread. David did the same. As he handed the cashier his one khron-
and brought his hand down, he had a piece of bread and the coin was still in his palm! He quickly slipped the coin to me. I, in turn, stretched out my hand and gave the coin to the clerk who gave me a piece of bread too. David and I quickly walked away with the two pieces of bread, trembling with fear we might be caught. Had we played a trick or was it pure luck? Was God watching? Did He finally feel sorry and decided to give us a helping hand? Who knows? We went straight home. Much to our delight, no one else was there, so we didn’t have to feel guilty about not sharing the bread with the other boys. David was aware how hungry I had been and was really concerned about my survival. After eating the whole piece, I felt I hadn’t eaten a thing. I was still so terribly hungry and severely malnourished. How much longer could I go on? I wondered which was worse-the fear of torture and brutal death by the Turks if I had been caught, or the hunger and starvation I was now experiencing in Tabriz! To make matters worse, Armenians were restricted to two main areas in Tabriz where there were only two main streets. One area was Khalahtah Tagh (district) the other area was Keeleeseh Tagh. Armenians were forbidden to go elsewhere in the city, seemingly an extension of the muhrrdahl decree that prevented all nine of us from going out to look for work in other areas. The situation became intolerable for me. I felt trapped and thought that I really had no chance to survive, even though I had come so far by managing to find a way to survive out of the inferno. Because of my inability to find a means to get food, I was weakening, both physically and emotionally. I was in a foreign land,· completely cut off from my brothers and not allowed to work. While I never stopped writing to them, I still couldn’t understand why I hadn’t received at least one letter from them. I knew no one, I was completely alone! I was losing all hope … *
No one knew where I was, or if I had died, where and how I died .. Out of sheer desperation I sat down and wrote a note on a small piece of paper. I wrote about myself, who I was, and where I had come from; and about my unbearable situation and fear of starving to death. I took the note, went to an affluent Armenian home, and knocked on the door. A young girl answered and I handed the note to her. I remained on the doorstep. Within a few minutes, she returned with five tumahns. That was charity! … I needed a job! During all of my wretched experiences in Turkey, I had never begged. I had always found work, and that provided me with enough food to get by. I was in Iran, starving and couldn’t find a job-I was absolutely desperate. That was the first and last time I would ever ask for money. The five tumahns lasted for five days for the nine of us. After that was gone our hunger returned. I never did find out where the other boys got their money.
What we know about David
Written by Sara Chitjian, PAge 1
Written by Sara Chitjian, PAge 2
Der Garabedian Saves Hampartzoum’s Life on his escape out of Turkey
Der Garabedian with his wife
Same Place Same time, different survivor. Sara discovers that the memoirs of many survivors describe the exact same scenarios.
Sara’s Writing on Der Garabedian
A DIFFICULT DECISION
On the fourth day, unexpectedly a dear classmate and neighbor, Hampartzoum Der Garabedian, took me by surprise when he approached our room. Korr-Mamoe and I were quietly sitting on the floor. Without a word or sound, Hampartzoum motioned for me to go outside. Korr-Mamoe did not seem to notice as I slipped away. Hampartzoum had been living in that village with his Kurdish master for some time and had learned to speak Kurdish. The Kurd was one of the farmers who had stayed to protect his small plot of land and animals when the Turkish soldiers filtered in. Hampartzoum had spotted me when we first arrived and told his master about me, how we were dose classmates and neighbors in Perri. They talked about the hazards I would face if I fled with the Turks under these circumstances. The Kurd felt I would have a hard time escaping death ifl remained with Korr-Mamoe. He assured Hampartzoum he would figure out a way to remove me from this dangerous predicament.
As I went outside with Hampartzoum, we didn’t dare embrace or show much / emotion for fear we would draw attention to ourselves. Quickly but quietly, I went with him to his master’s house. It was a small house with a small stable that was half filled with his cows, sheep, and a mule. The other half was filled with people. His master’s wife had delivered their first baby a couple of days earlier. It was suggested I”stay there for the night. Struggling with my fears and confusion about what was happening, I agreed to remain there to learn more about what the Kurd had to say regarding my situation. The next day a couple of Turkish women, who had noticed I had left KorrMamoe and moved in with the Kurd, immediately informed Korr-Mamoe of my whereabouts. In no time Korr-Mamoe, accompanied with two Turkish soldiers, came angrily knocking on the door. There was no place for me to hide, so the Kurd quickly hid me under the covers in his wife’s bed. He was certain that the soldiers wouldn’t look there. Harboring a male in a female’s bed was against Moslem law. The Kurd assumed the risk and hid me under the covers! I was trembling with fear; I didn’t know what to do. It was very hard for me to keep as still as possible not to be noticed. I could hear Korr-Mamoe calling my name and from his voice I knew he was angry, “I know you are in there!” When I didn’t go out, he sat on the ground and called out again, “My son, Rooshdee, come out voluntarily from wherever you are hiding. If you don’t, we will search the house and cut you up into small pieces.” I had no other choice; I believed what he said. I got out from under the covers and went outside. For the first time since I had known him, he yelled at me, “Phew, aren’t you ashamed for getting next to a woman who has just given birth? Shame!” That was considerecl a nahmah hahrahm (punishable crime). We quietly returned to our quarters. With tears running down his cheeks, once again he tried to comfort me. “You didn’t do anything wrong, wanting to go there because we haven’t had food for a couple of days. It is still your duty and obligation to take care of me. God is powerful and one day we will return to our house.” A few hours later, Hampartzoum quietly approached our quarters again. He silently beckoned me with his hand to go with him. Without hesitating, I told Korr-Mamoe I was going out to fetch him some water. As before, he did not suspect I might not return and said nothing as I left carrying a jug. I agreed to go with Hampartzoum, but felt very sad that I was abandoning Korr-Mamoe. He had done so much for me and treated me so very well. All the while I lived with him, he wished the best for me. Now I was leaving him when he needed my help. I felt very sorry for him. I was worried if he would be able to survive the ordeal on his own? Would he ever go back to Perri? However, we were now both in the same situation. If I stayed, he no longer was in the position to protect or save my life. If I were caught, being an Armenian, I would surely be slaughtered. The Turks knew there were Armenians mingled in with Turkish civilians and the Kurds. Under these circumstances they would never allow an Armenian to get away. My gui: feeling told me I had to get away from there as soon as possible, yet there was a part of me that didn’t want to abandon Korr-Mamoe when he needed me. Within a few minutes, I had decided to take Hampartzoum’s advice. I had no other alternative but to leave Korr-Mamoe. Almost a year had passed since my father left us at the Turkish .. I first encountered Korr-Mamoe. Now
my situation had worsened. I had no idea where my three brothers were or anything about their health or welfare. I was completely alone and left on my own means to survive. I was so afraid and so confused. … How .J:h,… “”I wished, if only I were a will never know if Korr-Ma moe went searching for me the second time. I have always hoped no harm came to him and wished the best for him. He was a good who treated me like a son. To this day, I am appreciative of his care and protection. if Again, I have to repeat that had the Armenians united with the Kurdish forces at that time and put up a united front against the Turks, thousands of Armenian lives would have been saved!
It was Hagop Holopikian who reunited Hampartzoum with his brother Kerop at Dr. Mikael’s house in Mezreh. When Hampartzoum is asked to come to the door to meet the boy, the child’s face was facing down so Hampartzoum asked who is he? Hagop says “Why dont you lift up his face and see who he is”. Hamaprtzoum does this and upon realizing that it is his brother who he had not seen for a few years, he collapses. It was the shock that his brother was still alive!
To read the full testimonial of Hagop Holopikian, click here and scroll to the bottom of the page.
Photo of Holopikian in his 70’s
A short testimonial by Holopikian
Hampartzoum’s Travel Papers & Escaping False Accusations.
Hampartzoum pretends that he is born in Salmast when applying for his travel papers so that if he is deported, he will be returned to Persia, not Turkey.
Excerpt from “A Hair’s Breadth from Death” p.254
“From Kermahnshaw the bus rolled on to the Iraqi border city of Karatoot. At this stop we were transferred from the bus to a train. As we boarded the train, we had to show our passports. Once again I was singled out and instructed to step aside. This time I was taken inside a tent and told to wait a while. For some reason, I thought I was going to be treated well—maybe because I now knew my passport was stamped with a Kalbahlah seal.
However, what I didn’t know was that the news was out that an Armenian priest had been killed in Tabriz. Since I was coming from Tabriz, I was considered a suspect. To make matters worse, the suspect was a Dashnag and my passport bore the official Dashnag seal!
When a considerable amount of time passed and no one came back into the tent, I got scared. I didn’t know why I was being held. Suddenly, I felt and ominous feeling and began to cry. I couldn’t figure out a way to proect myself. I could hear the engine of the train preparing to depart. Yet no one had returned to the tent to tell me why I was being detained.
Finally two Asorie (Assyrian) men came to interrogate me. Noticing that a man in his twenties was crying, they sympathized with me. After asking me a few questions, I heard one man tell the other, ‘He doesn’t seem to know anything.’ They let me go.”
The second time Hampartzoum would be accused of murder was of a priest who was assassinated by a radical “Dashnag”. Hampartzoum had just escaped to Mexico and was considered a suspect because of once again the “Dashnag” stamp found on his travels documents.
Hampartzoums Journey out of Genocide: Turkey – Syria – France – Mexico (ticket was $31 and would take 31 days. Had to sleep in the cargo level for that price.) On the way to Mexico they stop in Spain and change ships there. At this point they were able to get fresh air on the deck while at dock. From Spain they would travel to Cuba and from Cuba they went to Vera Cruz, Mexico. The final portion of the trip was to get to Mexico City from Vera Cruz by train.
Hampartzoum’s 10 Years in Mexico before settling in the U.S.A.
Hampartzoum often referred to his time living in Mexico as the Ten happiest Years of his life. Mexico was the country that excepted him as an immigrant escaping from the genocide taking place in his homeland, Ottoman Turkey. His journey would take him from Aleppo to Bolis and then by boat to Marseilles, France and from there an other boat to Mexico. Hampartzoum met his wife Ovsanna and married her in Mexico and both Sara and Mardig were both born in Mexico.
Hampartzoum had an entrepreneurial spirit, his first business was an ice cream shop (Paleteria) which did very well. Then he explored making crystal objects which he realized was not the field for him and after that he tried his luck by opening a shoe store which he operated shortly as their papers were now ready to enter California.
Ovsanna and a friend adapting to the Mexican culture
The Dervishian’s were family friends who owned this shoe store in Tijuana, Mexico and were an integral part of the Armenian Community growing in Mexico post The Armenian Genocide.
The 10 happiest years of my life
Hampartzoum’s and Kerop’s First Entry to Los Angeles from Mexico
Hampartzoum and Kerop accompanied each other with these registry of entry documents for The United States in 1925. They originally entered the U.S. in 1923 illegally but left Los Angeles and returned to Mexico in order to acquire proper legal documents of entry which were these.
Hampartzoum and Kerop had arranged to be picked up by their brother Mihran just over the border at a diner. They had not seen Mihran since 1913 before the Armenian Genocide. Mihran had left for America to avoid being drafted into the Turkish military. They were expecting to see a tall and husky man but instead he was short and skinny. Mihran was also shocked to see Hampartzoum and Kerop, it had been many traumatic years of separation.
The diner where Mihran reunites with Hampartzoum and Kerop.
Kerop’s registry of entry documents
Kerop’s registry of entry documents
Hampartzoum’s registry of entry documents
Hampartzoum’s registry of entry documents
Hampartzoum’s Arrival to the United States.
Hampartzoum went from Mexico City to Tijuana, snuck over the border and hitchhiked to Los Angeles to meet his brothers who lived at this house. While living at this house for two years and working at the brothers market across the street, he heard over the radio that any illegal aliens would be shipped back to their original countries. Immediately he got on a bus and went back to Mexico City for fear that he would be sent back Turkey. Hampartzoum would live in Mexico for 10 more years, married Ovsanna and both children were born there. He would eventually file for a visa and return to the United States with his family to live there legally.
As World War 2 became more serious, Hampartzoum and the family was very concerned that he would be drafted into the Army even though the family was not American citizens yet. Then the draft card arrived to the house and upon opening it, there was a big sigh of relief to find out her was being deferred due to the fact that he had flat feet.
Hampartzoum’s brothers lived here in 1923
The cross street where the Chitjian’s lived and had their market.
After 5 years of living in America, rationing became a part of daily life in L.A. due to the 2nd World War, including gasoline, sugar, chocolate, shoes, etc. These things could only be acquired with special coupon books. This sort of rationing has not been implemented by the government since.
Hampartzoum and his Supermarkets
Hampartzoum’s first business when he arrived in America in the 1920’s was to follow in the footsteps of his 3 brothers who already had their markets. His first market was at Bonnie Beach and Whittier how ever it would get destroyed in a fire. His second market would be located 2 miles away. His 3rd Market was located in Boyle Hights however Hampartzoum realized that he did not want to be working this way anymore. He contemplated opening an ice cream store, then a furniture store but the lightbulb would go off when he sees a billboard advertising a real Estate opportunity. Although Hampartzoum did not speak English very well, he could speak Spanish and helps translate a conversation with the realtor and client. Hampartzoum starts working for a realtor and because Hampartzoum convinced a couple to buy a house next to a cemetery, the realtor gave him a $100 commission. Hampartzoum realized this could be a great business and takes the test and eventually gets his real estate license. He would finally get the freedom to spend the day as he wished which was often outside in his garden tending to his plants. Real Estate would become a lucrative endeavor because he was not pinned down, had good intuition and was personable. Hampartzoum would do many of his own repairs on the properties and would come home happy and did this for the rest of his life.
Refer to page 285 in the book for more details.
Exterior View of Hampartzoum’s second Market.
Exterior View of Hampartzoum’s second Market in 2017.
Hampartzoum’s 3rd Market in 2017
Interior view with Hampartzoum and Ovsanna
Hampartzoum and Music
Below is the only song Hampartzoum taught his children. In the 1940’s he would practice driving in the Hollywood Hills at night and would sing this song. Both Mardig and Zaroug ( Sara’s nick name) would go driving with him after work in the nearby Monterey Hills. They were the only car on the road and everyone would start singing. It was a happy experience for them and Hampartzoum reflected that he had finally made it, being established and not worried anymore. The market was doing well and he had a car, so it was happy times. As the father would pick up the tempo of the song, it would become difficult to keep up, a tongue twister. By the end of the song everyone was out of breath and laughing. Hampartzoum had a good voice and Zaroug admits that she was never able to complete the song as the tempo increased each cycle.
To learn more and listen to Hampartzoum’s music collection, Click Here
Hampartzoum’s only Song
Clara Barton (1821 – 1912)
Clara Barton, founder and chairperson of the U.S. Red Cross, was born in 1821 in Oxford, Massachusetts. Clara Barton because of her humanitarian activities, became known as the “Angel of the Battlefield” during the Civil War in the U.S.
Becoming aware of the wholesale massacres perpetuated against Armenians in 1895 – 1896. Clara Barton arrived in Constantinople in 1896 and for about a year coordinated the efforts of providing material aid to the suffering homeles people. Thanks to C. Barton’s efforts Armenian survivors of the massacres were provided with shelter, food, medecine and clothing. Due to many obstacles created by the Ottoman authorities C. Barton was forced to leave to the U.S.
By the end of 1897 Clara Barton together with a number of her colleagues published a special report on their humanitarian activities in the Ottoman Empire, detailing the events of the Armenian Massacres.
History of Clara Barton page 1
History of Clara Barton page 2
Portrait Clara Barton
Token of Gratitude given to Sara Chitjian for her support.
A Dedicated Nurse Most respected by Hampartzoum
Ovsanna Harutounian was the nurse in Mezreh with one glass eye that cared for Hampartzoum when he was stricken with typhoid fever. He spent a few months in the hospital and he never met a more compassionate nurse. It was the first time he had ever slept in a bed as he was used to sleeping on floors or the hay in stables. She said to him, “It was her duty to see that Hampartzoum recovers and it was our duty to serve and protect our nation when we were released from the hospital”. She was mentioned in a book written by Isabel Kaprielian-Churchill entitled, “
Portrait of Ovsanna Harutounian as a young woman
The book focuses on the role of Armenian nurses in Western-run medical institutions in the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East before and after World War I.
These nurses where located at the American Hospital in Mezreh. Circa 1915
The Three Ovsanna’s
The Three Ovsannas. Ovsanna Harutunian, Ovsanna Cholakian Emerzian, Ovsanna Sarkis Piloyan.
“Ovsanna, Ovsanna” is the hymn that is remembered during the Easter holidays.
A professor who had written about the nurses in Kharpert, had read “A Hair’s Breadth from Death.” She would teach a class or two at Fresno State, becoming friendly with Rose Dervishian, a friend of mine. She thought that she came across the Ovsanna that was mentioned in my dad’s memoirs, since she was in Kharpert and had a glass eye.
Ovsanna Cholaian Emerzian was the sister of David Cholakian. There was a survivor couple who lived two or three miles away from our house and we used to visit them from time to time. I was a child, and because they had no children, I remember thinking that these visits were boring. One time, years later at a Protestant picnic at Crystal Springs in Griffith Park, I overheard a woman say that her daughter, Saliba, had moved to Fresno.
Hampartzoum as an Activist
“Who will carry the torch after I am gone?” – Hampartzoum Chitjian
Armenian Genocide Walk to City Hall – 1975
Hampartzoum and family are in the second row from the left
Meeting fellow Genocide Survivors during the 1985 Genocide Conference in Washington D.C.
Pamphlet from the 1985 event in washington
“Hampartzoum wanted Truth, Justice and restitution for the crimes of Genocide” – Sara Chitjian
Hampartzoum and Ovsanna Chitjian showing their support, they never skipped an occasion.
Hampartzoum became a voice in the press as a genocide survivor.
The BBC had written a letter requesting an interview with Hampartzoum Chitjian. The night before the interview, the BBC calls the Chitjian’s to confirm the meeting the following day. The BBC never showed up and offered no explanation. What happened, who was the watch Dog? Were they pressured, Turkey or the U.S.?
Hampartzoum writes a scathing reply to Editor of L.A. Times
As of October 12, 2017 the original Los Angeles Times article “Anguish and Policy” seems to have been removed from the internet. However The Chitjian Foundation has provided a copy for research purposes. Many of the critical responses to this article by other readers can still be found however when doing a search within the L.A. Times site database.
Anguish & Policy – L.A. Times Article
Hampartzoum’s reply to the editor of “Anguish and Policy article
Hampartzoum and Ovsanna Chitjian posing next to Uniformed Armenians Finally.
Hampartzoum recounted his childhood fears of when the Turkish gendarme whose clacking sound from the boots terrified both he and Ovsanna. Perhaps it is not unlike the feeling of a contemporary young black man in America today (2017). Hampartzoum felt pride and comfort standing next to Armenians in uniform as he had once only experienced Armenians in despair.
Visiting Soviet Armenia in 1969
Hampartzoum Visits Washinton in 1977 to see The Shah of Iran
Hampartzoum wanted to honor the Shah of Iran because the of gracious humanitarian support Hampartzoum had received as a young man when escaping the Armenian Genocide in Turkey. Hampartzoum travels to Washington with Family friend Khoren Papazian from Malatyia.
Hampartzoum had a green thumb
Throughout Hampartzoum’s life after the Genocide he respected dating daily circumstances. Sara now sees the wisdom of her dad’s insistence of dating photos.
Hampartzoum Holding one of his Many Signs
Hampartzoum annually harvested squash in his back yard.
Hampartzoum’s Collages & Posters
It was rare for hampartzoum to draw. One of the only drawings Hampartzoum ever did was created when he was 101 years old. It was a depiction of his father, an image that haunted him thru out his life. However Hampartzoum did create many collages and posters, to view the complete collection: Click Here.
One example of Hampartzoum’s many posters.
Hampartzoum’s drawing of his father.
Chitjian Family and Friends Life
From the 1960’s thru the 1980’s The Chitjian family social life included reminiscing with other Genocide survivors, mingling the past with the present, with tears and laughter. A typical Saturday night was socializing over a game of Scamble. A joyful time to relax and enjoy themselves with laughter even though often times they were re hashing the same stories over and over. Regulars included Arous and Aram Jamgochian, Mable and John Aharonian. With these two couples, Genocide issues were not discussed because they had not directly experienced the atrocities as they were already Americanized at the time of the 1915 Genocide.
Hampartzoum with his friends, Walter Karabian the Democratic State Assemblyman from California is in the middle.
Typical evening with friends at the Chitjian house
The 5 Chitjian Brothers. Kerop, Kaspar, Hampartzoum, Mihran and Bedros
Hampartzoum’s conflict with priests, not the Church
Ancient Scroll of Hymns
This is a scroll of hyms that was sang in church while Hampartzoum was a quire boy at the age of 7. He remembers wearing a white “Shabic”
Unfortunately, It Still Goes On.
Quote from Hampartzoum’s father, Mardiros Chitjian. “If They Don’t Unite, They are going to eat our heads”. (The first “they” refers to the priests and the second “they” refers to the Turks.
Hampartzoum reflects on the clergy
Hampartzoum learned how to make baskets when he was 10 years old. They would go to collect mulberries and grapes in the vineyards on the mountains of Perri. He never forgot how to make these baskets as he was still making them in his 80’s using vines from the ivy on the fence of his back yard in Los Angeles.
Hampartzoum making a basket from vines in his back yard while Ovsanna observes.
Hampartzoum with his baskets in his backyard
A few of Hampartzoum’s many baskets that he would make by hand.
Sara shows this photo of weaving accomplished by fiber artists in Southern California who are implementing the same technique as her father used 100 years earlier.
Hampartzoum’s House in Perri
(Excerpts from “A Hair’s Breadth From Death”.)
Our house was fenced off from the street by a thick wall about ten feet high and fifteen inches wide. All of the houses on our street, as well as the houses across from us, had these walls. AB you walked down our street, all you saw were the walls. Homes were completely hidden behind these walls. Along the wall, in front of each house, was a wooden door that led into the torrtah (courtyard). AB you entered our torrtah, the right half was enclosed on three sides. Immediately to the right of the door was the toilet. The toilet, a small enclosed area, was placed close to the outside wall and above the channel running under the street. On that side of the torrtah, we had a hearth that was used to heat water in bighintz (copper) tubs used for our bathing, washing clothes andguhdavs (muslin). Several empty tubs used for household needs were stored along the opposite wall under the windows. Two of the largest tubs filled with water for this purpose were also placed along this same wall. It was my responsibility to make sure those tubs were always filled with water. We stored firewood along the wall, adjacent to the goldsmith’s house next to the hearth. The women were able to work in that area of the torrtah throughout the year, because it was enclosed on three sides. The left half of the torrtah facing the toeneer doon was the open courtyard. There wasn’t a wall between the torrtah and the toeneer doon-it was open. In the left corner of the toeneer doon, a ladder lead up to the rooftop. The toeneer was behind the ladder. It was a large under,-ground clay pit made especially for baking bread. Every house had a toeneer. Sitting mats were placed on the floor along the wall adjacent to Varteeg Bahgee’ s house in the toeneer doon. Whenever we had guests, we sat in that area. Further in towards the rear of the toeneer doon was my father’s work area. There was ample room for his work-a table, benches, tubs for the dyes, tools and the guhdavs. Behind his work area was the akhor (stable) which was closed off with a wall. It had a door facing the toeneer doon. To my recollection, we only used the stable to house one hen. The eggs ?ere primarily for my grandfather. When fried in butter, they were easy for him to eat-he had lost all of his teeth. There was something like a box where the hen would perch, and in my younger years, I liked to sit next to it and g?ntly pet the hen’s head. As I recited:
FloorPlan of Hampartzoum’s House in Perri
This is what the Toenner Doon – bread making area looked like in the home
The prayer Hampartzoum said every night with his family before they ate dinner.
Floorplan drawn by Sara as her father at age 98 describes the layout with impeccable detail, his memory was extraordinary. The circles with an x inside are 12 poles made from trees to hold the roof up.
This is Hampartzoum’s block in Perri drawn from his recollection in 1908. Recent visitors in mid 2000 looked at this map and has said it is accurate.
Town of Perri
Perri is one of the major villages located within the county of Charsanjack. Hampartzoum moved to Perri from Ismael at the age of 2 and lived there until 1915.
“Perri as it was in 1915 before the big tragedy”
Artist rendering of the small village Hosche that was across from Perri.
Map of Perri
Perri after the Kurdish rebellian.
Hampartzoum’s school teacher in Perri (1912)
Hampartzoum reuniting with the daughter of his school teacher (she is seen on the left in the photo from 1912.
Gahmarr Aghpiur Water fountain in Perri built during the Roman Era.
A list of Hampartzoum’s neighbor’s in Perri
About Perri Page 1
About Perri Page 2
About Perri Page 3
About Perri Page 4
Meeting other survivors from Perri who knew common acquaintances.
Hampartzoum meeting a fellow 110 year old survivor from Perri who also knew Altoon Bahji. The man standing behind him is his son.
Hampartzoum writes a letter to the 110 year old survivor.
Altoon Bahji is the older woman seated second from left. Hampartzoum is on the far right with Kerop to his left. Rahan is Hampartzoum’s great cousin, standing behind Altoon. Margaritte is to the far left and is Altoon’s daughter.
Akabi Der Melbandian
Her father was the caretaker of the vineyard in Hampartzoum’s village
The Story of Akabi
Hampartzoum’s recollection of Kharpert – Veri Kaghak (Upper City) and Mezreh
It took 8 days to walk here from Perri. The post office is still there however with renovations. The main central dirt road has been replaced with houses. (map drawn by Sara from her father’s description.)
Map of Kharpert City before the Armenian Genocide
Map created by book publisher.
Key to Kharpert Map on left
Map of Husenig provided for reference since there is little info remaining about this area.
Photos of Kharpert before The Genocide
The original sketch for the map of Kharpert created by Sara based on Hampartzoum’s dictations.
Street life in Kharpert
Family Photo in Kharpert depicting the fashion of the times.
GodFather & Freedom Fighter
Avedis Kazanjian “Mehshedee Avedoe” (Ismiel, 1868 – 1915) was the Godfather to Hampartzoum and Kaspar and he was also a celebrated Freedom Fighter. He was born in Ismael and came to Perri when he was 2 years old.
Avedis Kazanjian “Mehshedee Avedoe” (Ismiel, 1868 – 1915)
Hampartzoum’s Escape to Aleppo
The only item Hampartzoum escaped out of Turkey with was this prayer book which he purchased from a Kurdish boy with one coin that could buy a loaf of bread. Hampartzoum believed that he would not have survived his escape without it. He would read it during the day while they were hiding and they ran during the night.
Photo of drowned Armenians 1915
Photo taken by a German photographer
Reverend Assadour Neegoghosian and his wife who were murdered. This was the first killing of many that Hampartzoum would witness
Hampartzoum escapes to Aleppo and encounters a woman also from Perri at the Vezir Khan Hotel who knew the fate of his father. As she describes to him what happened, she faints as she described that they first cut off his ears, then she collapses as she feels the anguish from the horrid memories.
Hampartzoum’s escape route out of Turkey
Typical site seen when walking around Kharpert and surrounding villages in 1915
Map of Hampartzoum’s Escape
Kerop finds Hampartzoum in Aleppo
Piloyan’s route from Malatya to Haleb (Aleppo) in 1923. They stayed in Haleb for 2 years and then left for Mexico in 1925.
Hampartzoum often said ” I am Kunta Kinte” because during the Armenian Genocide he lived like a slave for 6 years.
“Black Americans know the power of Unity: Without Unity there will never be success! – H.C.
Hampartzoum identified with Kunta Kinte.
Hampartzoum writes a letter to Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles.
A Tale in Tabriz
During Hampartzoum’s escape out of Turkey, finding food or a job to buy food was a constant effort. One day while in Tabriz looking for a job, two Armenian young men approached him with a job offer. Hampartzoum became excited and continued with them to hear of the opportunity. As they walked together the proposal for a job became clear, they wanted Hampartzoum to kill an other Armenian! They offer to draw straws but Hampartzoum would have no part of this political conflict between the Tashnags and the Bolshevicks. Hampartzoum said, “I could never kill an Armenian! I cannot kill anyone! I have seen so many hideous acts of killings, innocent Armenians slaughtered.”
To read more about this story, see page 247 in Hampartzoum’s memoir. Click Here
A Raft Then and Now
After 100 years, little has changed…
Hampartzoum reflects on the raft that he used to escape the Armenian Genocide.
Photo taken by Sara Chitjian in 2008 while visiting Turkey of a home made raft. Hampartzoum used a raft like this at one point during his escape to get across a river. Instead of a tire inner tube, the raft from his time was made with inner tubes sewn from animal skins that were blown up like a balloon.
Typical Scenes Hampartzoum Witnessed
Typical Scenes Hampartzoum Witnessed: The dead, the dying and the helpless. Hampartzoum did not want to become one of these, thus he had to find a way not to sleep outside. If he could not find work on any given day with a place to stay, he would find a Shepard with a flock and ask if he could sleep in the stable with the animals.
While Hampartzoum was traveling to Haleb (Aleppo) he had a confrontation with an other Armenian who was trying to steal some coins from him, then an Arab intervened and said to them “let me show you something” and you will become friends. The Arab man takes the young men to a pile of Armenian bones in Der Zor. And sure enough Hampartzoum and the other Armenian became friends after witnessing such a sight. They would end up helping each other to survive and get to Aleppo which was a safe zone for many Armenians trying to escape the genocide occurring in Ottoman Turkey.
The full story can be read in Hampartzoum’s memoir on page #257-263
Intimidation And Demoralizing Tactics
Many Armenians were living incognito as Turks in order to survive the massacres. Many Ottoman Turks were aware of this and would use intimidation tactics to root them out, such as severe punishment for any Turk harboring an Armenian. Sara’s parents would often say, If there were not any “good Turks” we would not have survived. Turks and Kurds were our neighbors before the massacres began.
Some of what Hampartzoum recollected
Sample messages Hampartzoum recollects that local Turks would walk thru villages reciting out loud while holding the poster.
Sample messages Hampartzoum recollects that local Turks would walk thru villages reciting out loud while holding the poster.
Sample messages Hampartzoum recollects that local Turks would walk thru villages reciting out loud while holding the poster.
Armenian, Kurdish and Turkish words Hampartzoum used
Changing Names To Survive
In the Magtab (Turkish School) the teachers would force conversion and the only real way to survive was to go incognito as a Turk. Hampartzoum learned the Ottoman script from a neighbor and took the name of Rushdie, a Turkish name. Kaspar changed his name to Rashid and Kerop changed his to Hamdie. To survive you had to be smart, strategic and cool headed. You had to be “JarBig” – Clever!, On your feet!
Armenian child died from Exhaustion
In order for Armenian children to survive they had to change their identity and become Turks.
The Magtab was very aggressive in conversion process.
Converting everyone to the Islamic faith and actively change the national history.
1915 – Those were the days of Turkification
1915 – Those were the days of Turkification #1.
1915 – Those were the days of Turkification #2
1915 – Those were the days of Turkification #3
1915 – Those were the days of Turkification #4
Hampartzoum Rescues Fahtmah Khanum
Fahtmah Khanum (Anna Kapriellian) was an Armenian who had been taken forcibly as a wife by a Turkish man and when she meets Hampartzoum, she would call him the derogatory term “Gavour” to demonstrate to her husband that she had no longer any affinity towards her Armenian heritage. This would hurt Hampartzoum’s heart deeply every time she spoke such words to him. Ironically it would be Hampartzoum who would return to save her and help her escape by taking her to Khoud Mheketarian’s church in Mehzreh. Khoud was saving orphans and women and would take them to Aleppo where they would be safe. Anna Kaprillian and Hampartzoum would eventually reunite in California and Kerop (Hampartzoum’s brother) would marry her daughter.
Fahtmah Khanum is the one seated. Photo taken in Aleppo, 1922
Official U.S. Immigration Document
The Mishmishian Family
Zaruhy Mishmishian was Hampartzoum’s only relative on his mother’s side.
Zaruhy Mishmishian was the great aunt of Hampartzoum Chitjian and had treated him very well in his youth. However due to traditions that the girl of the family belongs to her husbands family when married, her story and family ties to the Chitjian’s was hardly remembered. It was Sara Chitjian’s research in the late 1990’s that uncovered the family ties while editing the book.
This illustrates the custom that more emphasis is placed on the boys because they are the family and the girls become someone else’s family. The Mishmeeshian brothers were remembered and the sister, who married Toros, was completely forgotten. Likewise, Hampartzoum’s own mother went almost unnoticed in her own household. Nothing of Turfanda’s family is known.
The Mishmishian Family
Finding Levon & Olga
Mishmishian’s tell the same story
Article showing similarities between survivors experiences.
To view all the papers and translated documents regarding the Mishmishian Family, CLICK HERE
Hampartzoum’s stories of survival Match other survivors experiences!
Miran Gopoyan’s memoir
For more info about these memoir’s click here
“History of The Armenians of Charsanjak
For more info about these memoir’s click here
Levon Mishmishion’s story of survival.
The Dervishian Brothers
The Dervishian Brothers were from Sako Malase, an area in Anatolia where many Armenians took up shelter in the ruins of old village homes, usually in process of escaping the Genocide. Hampartzoum Chitjian met the Dervishian brothers here and would later reunite with them 15 years later when he discovers that they had survived and relocated to Fresno, CA.
The Dervishian Brothers in Fresno in the early 1940’s
Mrs. Dervishian with her daughter Rose and Ovsanna Chitjian and Zaruhy and Mardiros, Bonnie Beach, Los Angeles in the late 1930’s.
The Chitjians with the Dervishian Family at their ranch in Fresno in the early 1940’s.
Geography of Dersim – The Walk for Red Dye
Map of Armenia as defined by President Wilson in 1918
Hampartzoum’s father was a block printer and made his own dyes. Black dye was made from the rust of horseshoes. A solution made from Leaves and buds from the suhmagh plant was used to clean the muslin and set the fabric from further shrinkage. Green and yellow dyes came from the same tree. The clearish resin from trees was put in dyes so the color would not fade. When Mardiros or his father needed the red dye, they had to walk 4 days to Petag and then 4 more days to Mezreh.
Korr Mamoe and Mulberries Helped Hampartzoum Survive The Genocide
Life with Korr Mamoe
Armenian, Kurdish and Turkish words and phrases used by Hampartzoum Chitjian
Portraits of Hampartzoum by Artists
Portrait of Hampartzoum CHitjian created by the celebrated Armenian artist Kazarian. Interestingly, the artist drew this portrait on the back side of a record. He was known for using power microscopes to aid in sight while he sculpted portraits like Charlie Chaplain, landscapes and caravans in the eye of a needle. He visited Los Angeles for one night from Soviet Armenia for the opening of his solo exhibition which is where the Chitjian;s had the chance to meet him.
Portrait of Hampartzoum Chitjian by Aram Mnatsakanyan
Hampartzoum’s Most Painful Experience
It was the betrayal by Dikran that hurt Hampartzoum’s heart the most in his life. The brothers Mihran and bedros were sending money from America to save Hampartzoum and Kerop however Dikran takes the money and instead of saving the boys, Dikran saves his own son who was with Hampartzoum. Hampartzoum could not believe that Dikran would steal the money that Hampartzoum’s brothers had sent for him and instead save Markar (Dikran’s on) leaving Hampartzoum behind to die. Such a betrayal by a relative would be Hampartzoum’s greatest suffering of his heart.
Dikran Chitjian in the center
Letter from Dikran to Hampartzoum
How I found Markar
Hampartzoum Kept writing until his last days of Life
Here are some samples of Hampartzoum’s writing in his last years of life. One can notice the shakiness of his hands with the decline of his penmanship.
Hampartzoum’s last thoughts
Hampartzoum was proud of Governor George Deukmejian and Mayor Tom Bradley
Mayor Tom Bradley
Hampartzoum And Governor Deukmejian
Collage of Governor Deukmejian by Hampartzoum
Hampartzoum reflects on Governor Deukmejian
Senators Bob Dole and Poochigian Honor Hampartzoum Chitjian’s 100th Birthday
Bob Dole Honors Hampartzoum
Poochigian honors Hampartzoum
The State Senate sends their Sympathy for Hampartzoum’s passing.
Hampartzoum’s Final Thoughts
Hampartzoum’s Last words
Hampartzoum’s Final Wish
Hampartzoum wrote these words for his tombstone.
Hampartzoum Chitjian’s last written words before he passed away.
Writing from the last days
One of Hampartzoum’s last drawings
Funeral of Hampartzoum Chitjian
A Tribute To Hampartzoum
Hampartzoum recited this prayer every night before he went to sleep as a child.