These are the translations from Hampaprtzoum’s papers written from the 1970’s until the day he passed in 2003. He wrote all of these works in Western Armenian and then it was translated into English with the help of Seta Maronian and Levon Vermanian. Then Sara Chitjian validated the proper use of pronouns, names, events and places.
This collection of writings was inspired by Zaruhy’s students at Dixie Canyon elementary school.
Hampartzoum’s Legacy (383 pages) are available as a free download by clicking the “DOWNLOAD PDF” icon.
Highlights from Hampartzoum’s Legacy
Sara Chitjian selected these works to give a birds eye view of the total collection of Hampartzoum’s papers.
-This is one of the scenes that my dad told me. He cringed when he told this story. I always wanted to ask him about it but never wanted to press him to keep reliving such a memory. From the smell, he could distinguish one mountain of bodies from another. If the killings had been recent and ongoing, he was continually in danger. He was barely thirteen years old, trying to figure out how to survive.
Excerpt from “A Hair’s Breadth from Death” Chap 19, pg 111.
FRIGHTFUL OCCURRENCES. A few days later Korr-Mamoe wanted to visit his friend in the village of Khooshee. Halfway there, in the Mahlaheen Tsor (ravine) I went into complete shock by what my eyes confronted—the most atrocious scene a human being could ever encounter. Hundreds of Armenian bodies were slaughtered, disfigured in all possible heinous ways—men, women old and young…children and babies. No one was spared. Their bodies were scattered and strewn about or piled upon each other. The ravine and both banks of the Perri River were totally covered. The limbs of babies were sticking out here and there. Gradually, I became aware of the putrid odor of the decaying bodies. It was a relatively recent act of madness. My mind was beginning to shut down. I couldn’t absorb all that I was witnessing. If you have not witnessed such atrocities, your mind could never perceive that such savagery could be committed by human beings!
Suddenly I heard Korr-Mamoe calling me. Even though he couldn’t see what I was facing, the stench revealed the horrors to him. He quickly pulled my arm, “Come, let’s get out of here as fast as we can. Don’t look around!” No sooner had he spoken when I spotted my most beloved classmate, Kevork Noroian. The only feature remaining on his face was one eye. It was open and staring straight at me. It reflected the horror and terror he had experienced. His mouth, nose and other eye had been gouged out by a wild vicious beast or worse, a Turk! The pathetic remains of his body were sprawled among the others.
By now I couldn’t move—I wanted to vomit. I was barely fourteen. My innocent brain could not accept the depths of the cruel and horrific acts human beings are capable of inflicting upon others.
It had only been a matter of months when Kevork and I were sharing the happy friendship of two classmates growing up. Emotionally I was drained. I couldn’t shed a tear. I felt intense pain. And from within, my soul was crying fiercely, “Where is God?” Why? Why?
Again, I heard Korr-Mamoe calling out a second time for us to move on. We were already late. He tried to console me by saying, “May God punish those who were responsible for that heinous act.” Still in shock, we continued to walk on as we approached the bridge to cross over to Khooshee, again my eyes were accosted by a similar scene of carnage. This time I had to tell Korr-Mamoe why we couldn’t cross the bridge. There was a mountain of bodies from the top of the bridge to the bottom of the ravine. Again there were hundreds of bodies piled upon each other from one end of the bank of the river to the other—some headless, some with their guts hanging out… just try to forget this image! Akh, akh…
From the degree of decay I knew this was a more recent slaughter than the first we had witnessed. There was one pathetic difference here. There were many more remains of babies. That intensified my existing distress. And at the same moment it was dawning on me what had happened to all of the people of Perri—there were more than eight hundred Armenian families, but my mind was not ready to accept this heinous act. What happened to them? Was that their fate? They were innocent citizens—they were human beings! Why? Why?
Again Korr-Mamoe made us quickly move on. Because we were unable to cross over the bridge, again he was forced to take an alternate route. We continued to walk on until we finally reached his friend’s house. Korr-Mamoe went in to visit with his friend. It was not my place to enter, so I sat outside by the door. While waiting, I tried to cope with all that I had just witnessed. One’s mind has no way of comprehending such beastly acts.
Excerpt from “A Hair’s Breadth from Death” Chap 19, pg 113
The Story of the Kurd
[While waiting for Korr-Mamoe, after seeing the mountains of Armenian bodies from Perri near the river on the way to Khooshee,] I recalled an incident that I had heard about a couple of years earlier when I was in this vicinity.
With the supervision of a couple of teachers, Kaspar and I joined a group of schoolmates to help dig up headstones from the old abandoned Armenian cemetery that was on this same road to Khooshee. Because there were no living descendants of those buried there, the clergy from nearby villages were making use of those head stones. At the same time, our principal, Soghomon Effendi, also felt that since the stones were the right size and shape, they could easily be used in his plans to enlarge the school. Enrollment was increasing rapidly because the school no longer was a financial burden on the parents, and therefore additional classrooms were desperately needed. While we were selecting grave stones, we heard the tale about the wealthy Kurd, Darah Bahshee, who had two sons and owned a large piece of land in this area:
Since he was aging, he thought the right time had come for him to divide the land in half, giving each son one half. But he had a problem because there was only one source of water to irrigate the crops on both parcels. To solve his problem, Darah Bahshee devised a plan so each son would have equal access to the water on alternate days. He, himself, rejoiced with his solution because he felt certain the plan would prevent quarreling between the two boys. However, his greedy son decided to take advantage of the other. He found a way to completely stop the water from going to his brother’s land. When the second brother realized what had happened, he gathered a few of his friends to help him retaliate against his greedy brother. Together they captured his greedy brother and held his head down on a boulder while his friends crushed his brother’s skull with a large rock.
The villagers were outraged with the vicious brother who took revenge. They put him on a wagon and paraded him around so everyone would show their disgust by cursing upon him. The Turkish officials allowed the charade to take place because they knew that area was near the Armenian villages and this would be another way to create hostility between the Kurds and the Armenians.
And sure enough, when the wagon strolled through the Armenian communities, the people showed their disgust and horror upon the greedy brother for his beastly act. The condemned brother yelled out, “Don’t look at me like that! One day I will be set free, and I will slaughter all you Armenians!”
While I was waiting for Korr-Mamoe, I felt that the Kurd was finally getting his revenge against the Armenians. Only such a crazed mind could carry out such a fiendish retaliation that he took against his own brother.
On our way back home, Korr-Mamoe took another route hoping that I wouldn’t be subjected to those horrific incidents again. Korr-Mamoe was a Turk, but he was concerned about my feelings and he tried to protect me. I was always appreciative of that gesture. He too was disgusted with what his own superiors had done to the Armenians.
A few days later, we encountered another tragic incident revealing the Turks’ intention to torture and annihilate the Armenians. While Korr-Mamoe and I were on an errand, we were accosted with yet another incomprehensible sight.
Three Armenian men had been tied together at the waist and were left hanging by their ankles from a tree, their stiff headless bodies dangled. The gruesome sight was left for the sole purpose of terrorizing the few remaining Armenians. What did those butchers want? Why had they become so vicious toward the Armenians? Every time I saw one of those incidents, I was torn apart from within. My internal pains were aggravated and my hatred intensified.
During the time when I lived with Korr-Mamoe, these were a few incidents that affected me profoundly which have remained clear in my memory.
“I am not afraid of hell,
My life has passed through hell.
After suffering for so long,
I am only afraid of what is yet to come!”
-This last stanza was written by Hampartzoum when recording his memoirs. His apprehension of what would come next was with him until his last day.
Working With A Kurd
KURDS/KURDISH NEIGHBORS/ARMENIAN KURDISH
1977 Hampartzoum pg 47
They were Kurds… We went to their house. We told them what happened. Of course, in our anger we said that the major is supposed to help the nation, but instead he causes torment to the nation. In front of us he [the Kurd] began to talk, he sent the girl to his uncle with another man accompanying her…
So that she would go to Kharpert where Gulash Effendi was a government official, so that he would inform him about the dirty deeds of this major in the village. So he sent her there. He told me… He assigned another man to me. He said “go and be careful so that they [the Turkish soldiers] will not see you.” In the village where we lived… On one side in front there were houses and behind the houses they were next to the mountain… It was like a subterranean house dug into the earth with the stable… It was cut in half… There was a door in the back. I went in through there. I did not enter from the front of the house so that they would not catch me. As soon as I entered the stable I saw that a policeman was standing there. He said that they were looking for me and “it is good that we caught you.” In the stable there is a place where they burn large pieces of wood. There was also an iron rod there. He took one of the pieces of wood and began hitting me and I passed out.
[This Gulash Effendi, half Turkish and half Kurdish, eventually owned both upper and lower Itchmeh. What was once an Armenian village became privately owned. See HB/D Ch 21, pg 132.]
1977 Hampartzoum pg 44, FEAR, Kurds.
Hampartzoum wasn’t as afraid of the Kurds as he was the Turks. Kurdish chieftains dictated the clans involvement locally. As in Leon’s experience, Hampartzoum had to work with a Kurd. He never forgot this intense experience. See also Hampartzoum’s experience in Bayazid, HB/D Ch 29.
My Father was an Artisan
My father was an artisan — a chitji, who performed the difficult job of printing and decorating fabric. We, brothers, gladly helped him out. There was a lot of fabric. We used to take them to the river, which wasn’t very far, and then washed, tinted and dried them. The chore of making food fell on my mother, while my aunts and sisters took care of our clothing needs. Where we
were, there was very little fabric or cloth that came from the outside. Most households performed every step locally: to purchase cotton, to spin in order to make threads, to weave cloth, to cut and sew clothes and linen. Similarly, we spun wool for socks and sweaters. My aunt performed all the following chores: washing, bathing others, cleaning the house. They only bought fabric (from abroad) to make clothes for the women. There was so little of it that they took great care so that the clothes didn’t wear out fast.
We had an orchard where we dried mulberries and made syrups and dried-preserves (bastekh) with them. Similarly, we made raisins and wine from the grapes. My elder brothers took care of the vineyard — and after they were gone, I did. We had a Tonir (hole-in-the-earth oven) at home. They used to bake bread for two days. Whenever a client came, it was customary to lay out a table full of bread, yogurt, tahn, etc. And when the guest came at night, they used to give them a bed, and if he were wet, they used to dry him. There was no tradition of restaurants. They consider the guest the pride of the home.
The Positions Taken by Armenian Leaders and our Suffering: 1915 to 1917, it’s the same.
It is my sister Zaruhy who reminded me of this story. She had recounted it to a Peretzi whom I knew, and she in her turn related it to me in the Hokedoun (caravanserai) in Haleb. They had tortured, and beaten my father to a pulp in the Turkish jail for three weeks. He had come out of jail and knocked at our door. When we opened the door — oh, what a scene! Was this the grace of the mythical false God, the Christ, and the faith of the false “With Faith I Confess?” My father used to say “not a single leaf could move without the command of God.”
Listen, believe, and forget (this faith) because it is of no use.
My exhausted father was not able to say anything more. All I heard was that he was going to take the four of us boys to the Turks. And I and my twin brother Kaspar, and Kerop and Nishan, followed him without anyone saying a word. He took us to the Turkish school. They took us in, and he went away without looking back.
(According to my sister), my father then went home and told his sister Aghavni to marry Bulud Ebo’s son. Then, himself, my (step) mother and my three sisters, Sultan, Yeranuhi, Zaruhy joined the other Peretzis and reached the river. My father tells my 16-year-old sister Sultan to throw herself into the river. She complies and the River Yeprad swallows her. They cross the river and stop to rest near Hoshe. My step-mother was beautiful. A Turk grabs her, but my father resists. They cut off his ears. This is how our story ends.
(After recalling this story), my sister fainted and fell to the floor in the (Hokedoun) caravanserai.
To be a slave of a Turk is a fate worse than hell.
To believe in the hypocritical Jesus is a sign of mental weakness.
The Meaning of this Monument
The meaning of this monument is that it arouses memories of a sad past.
(In response to Governor Deukmejian’s letter severing his ties with the Armenian National Committee for supporting Clinton’s candidacy and not Bob Dole’s, Hampartzoum writes:)
“That’s all we needed. In my advanced old age, should I believe this or not? I wish I were blind and never saw it and read it. Unbelievable but true.
I have been present at this monument every April 24, from the time they started building it to today. Over ten thousand Armenians have gathered, but with cold hearts and in a splintered state.
Party members, clergy, neutral ones, and well-known personalities scream against the Turks seeking revenge. But their voices have not been heard in any other languages, and they haven’t achieved anything. The Turkish proverb says: Armenians pass their days screaming “lakh, lakh” like storks. Another proverb says: The dog barks but the caravan never deviates and proceeds on its path… and for me, they were right.
I used to return home in a sad mood.
Although there wasn’t a big crowd this year, I had the opportunity to hear the voice of the spouse of the honorable Bob Dole. It was like the whole world was given to me. With a loud voice she shouted that only Bob Dole would present the wishes of the Armenians to the world. The hope given by the great Congressperson regarding the genocide was like the voice of God. I became so raptured that at the end of the event, I approached the honorable angel, Mrs. Dole, and told her that I was a ninety-five-year-old survivor. She shook my hand. I turned away and after walking a few feet, one of the Armenian scouts said to me that she wanted to see me again. She grabbed me and hugged me. Never in my life had I experienced such an occurrence. God was with me.
The Conduct of the Virtuous Armenian Family
The Conduct of the Virtuous Armenian Family
There is solidarity, love, respect, diligence and the fear of God in the Armenian family.
There is also a grandfather and grandmother, who, with a heart full of tender loving care, observe their children and grandchildren as they grow up, multiply and replace them: and also watch them so that they love their nation and homeland, and preserve their language. They should share their estate and wealth with every member.
Everyone has mutual love and respect in their hearts for each other. They perform the duties assigned to them with joy.
The compassion of the father and the love of the mother permeate the pleasant lifestyle of the home.
Here’s an example from my dynasty:
14 members of a family living under one roof: My grandfather was 90. He had command of the household. He was healthy, jovial and full of jokes. We all loved him. Because of the respect my father showed him, he lived a long and happy life. My father used to bow and just to sit on his side of the hearth. Although my father smoked a great deal, he never did so in front of his father.
My mother, who after all bore nine children, was equally respectful of my grandfather. She never had conversations with him and continued to act as if she was still a new bride.
We were six brothers and three sisters. We also had two aunts.
The rules inside our household were so good that one could rarely find it in other families: In a Christian and a loving way, where everyone performed their chores willingly and not because it was mandatory.
It was customary to wake up everyone before sunrise. They considered waking up before sunrise sacred. To still be asleep after sunrise was considered a sin. Or they used to say the person is lazy or weak.
As soon as we got out of bed, we had to wash up. One of us would pour water over the hands of my father and (in turn) another over the hands of my grandfather so that they would wash up (hands and face). And this is when we used to hear their prayers. They used to go to church, and we (together the males only) would go to school. In the evening we too went to church regularly. We would put on vestments of altar boys and pray.
In the evenings, after dinner, by the light of the fire we used to do our homework. Around eight or nine, my grandfather, father and six brothers would gather around the fire, with my mother and sisters standing behind us, and would recite the 24 verses of “With Faith I confess.” Each one of us would recite a verse. We would then go down on our knees and sing “Lord, take pity on us … Lord, grant peace to the world, and healing to the sick.
(Side A is similar to others. The collage in the back is interesting. Here is the translation.)
This house is still there…
My memory is still fresh. When I entered the house after midnight 1923, I found the piece of my heart Kaspar, (and also) Mihran, and Maritza. When I woke up on the first morning, I saw in the room the first child, beautiful Azad. Two days later, Verkin, Nishan, and Sam were in the same house: five brothers, 2 brides, and two boys… They are no more.
A Story Of My Escape From Hell
From Kharpert to Persia
For two and a half months eating raw fish and grass and drinking plenty of water; plenty of will power and plenty of miserable nights.
In 1921, Kurdish refugees in Kharpert were returning back to Van, Bitlis, Erzurum, etc. A good Kurdish family living in our neighborhood, told me that if I wanted it, they could take me to Armenia or Persia. I had already heard that several Armenians had trusted the Kurds and had gone with them, and that letters had been received from them. I believed the Kurd and spent 10 yellow gold coins on the trip.
Listen to another story from my painful life.
On the first night we reached the town of Itchmeh, a place I had previously visited. I went to the cool fountain to drink some water and wash up. When I noticed another boy standing next to me, he asked me in a low voice, ՛՛Are you Armenian?՛՛. I said, ՛՛Yes.՛՛ We were happy to meet each other. He said that he was the son of the brother of Mezreh’s Reverend Yeghoyan, and his name was Avedis. He said another cousin of Yeghoyan was also there, whose name was Nazaret. They were from the village Khulakuigh. Each of them had paid 8 gold coins to the Kurds, just like me. And thus, the next day we reached the city of Palu to stay for the night, and on the day after we reached the village of Djabaghchour. 15-20 of the Kurdish elders gathered under a big Princh tree, and they called us to interrogate about how much we had paid the Kurd for the journey so that they could demand their share. At that moment, we saw that there were also 10-12 Armenian girls who like us wanted to escape. After thorough examinations, they decided to put us under guard like captives. The same they did to the girls. They called on those Kurds who wanted a woman: one went to Hasan, another went to Msdo…When the girls realized what’s going to happen to them, they started shouting to us, ՛՛Brother, brother!՛՛ The Kurds held the girls by the hand and led them to the gorges…There you have it, the saintly girls of a disunited nation. Where are they now? Ask the one who created you.
What happened to us?
It’s because of experiencing so many difficult days that I hate all the elements of our disunited nation: whether they be clergy or party leaders, who sow seeds of hatred within the people.
The Turkish enemy flattened us with a lawn mower; they cut all the grass from the root.
From that day on, we had to stand guard at nights, as captives, over the grazing animals: the donkeys, cows, sheep. During the day they walked, and at night we had to let them eat grass and guard them so that the peasants from adjacent villages would not steal them. And this is how 3 days later we reached the village Aintab Doudagh, near Keghi (the village of Komk and Rahan).
Avedis was the eldest one of us three boys, who had served as a Turkish soldier. At that time, a Turk had raped his wife. The poor woman was infected with a very bad disease called ՛՛bel so-oughi՛՛. After Avedis had deserted from the army, he had returned to his wife and got infected himself. He had sought help from Dr. Michael, the father of our dear Michael Hagopian. He was cured and was advised not to eat water animals.
This smart Avedis told us that night that we wouldn’t be able to live a good life with these people, so we would better escape eastward: this way we could reach either Persia or Russia. In the middle of the night we took off and escaped. We walked quite a bit and at dawn we rested on a hill. Although on the first night we were very frightened, we weren’t caught. But we had courage and were not short of food. On that morning we considered ourselves happy and brave-hearted.
Avedis said that we should be watchful and stay away from inhabited houses. We should travel only at night for a few hours, and rest during the day. The next day the fear was still there, and it was more difficult to walk. Because of a lack of food, we started to eat mountain grass. By that time the Russians had destroyed many villages which were now deserted. During the day we could see smoke rising from some of them, and at night we could see the lights. This way, after a week we became exhausted. We reduced the frequency of walking during the night. I had a small holy book with me. I still have it with me. I would never exchange it for all the scriptures of the world. I used to read that book with great comprehension and pray to God to save us. We saw a large number of war instruments on our way, especially a few bundles of barbed wire, small boats. There was also sweet grass there. They were not harmful but we got bored of them and turned into skeletons. One day we noticed the River of Palu. We went fishing. If you muddy up the water, the fish jump out of the river. We couldn’t set a fire as we would be caught because of the smoke. Therefore, we began eating raw fish, which was a little better than grass. We put it under the sun for a little while, so that the hot sun would sort of bake it and change the taste. But it didn’t work out. It became like mucus. We travelled quite a bit by the banks of the river.
One day Avedis said that many parts of his body were infected with pus, and that his disease had returned. That made us very discouraged. Whenever I saw those war instruments, I prayed to God to take us to the place that had built them.
One day I looked at my friends’ faces and saw that they looked like skeletons with long black hair and sunken eyes. I began crying. I was asked why I was crying. I said that they looked anything but human. Avedis said that he wished we had a mirror so that I could see my own face. This way we continued walking. The wounds of Avedis got worse. He now wanted us to walk during the day and look for inhabited areas because perhaps we could reach a good place with friendly people. And in this way, we took the road and walked during the day. We wanted to meet a human being, when we saw someone with a donkey approaching us. At first, we were quite frightened, but then we realized he was a Kurd. He knew Turkish and told us that the nearby town was Bayazid, and that it was still under the Turkish rule. He said, ՛՛You are deserted Turkish soldiers. I will take care of you, and you will work for me.՛՛ And thus, he took us to his house. He ordered his other workers to change our clothes and take them to the hot spring – a place where hot water was coming out of the ground, and cold water was coming out a little further away. We took a bath and washed our clothes. Our food was yoghurt and a lot of bread. And thus, we recovered quite a bit within 3-4 days. We asked a Kurdish boy where that place was, and he said, “If you go in this direction, you will reach the Araks River, on the other side you will meet the Armenians, and if you walk for 2 hours in the opposite direction, you’ll reach Ajemisdan (Persia). In that territory one would find only 5-6-foot tall grass. The Kurds would cut and dry the grass and then they would take them to Bayazid to sell. They made their living that way. I suggested Avedis that we should cross over to Persia because there were too many soldiers near the Armenian side. The pain of Avedis’ wounds had subsided after he ate some food, but his body was still covered with pus. He said to me, “Not now. If you want, you can go by yourself.” And I did exactly like that.
At night, I took off for Persia, all alone. Although I was used to walking at night, I had never done that alone. When I was walking through the tall grass, the wind was blowing, and the terrifying sounds were making me tremble. It was supposed to be a 2-hour walk, but I walked all night and from exhaustion I fell down and lost consciousness. I woke up and saw a Kurd poking me with a stick, “Asker Feelaree” “a deserted soldier՛՛, – he said and took me to his house. He asked me, “Where are you from? ” I replied, “From Konya”. He asked, “What’s your profession?” I said, “I’m a shoemaker”. He said, “OK”. He added that his uncle had leather, and he would like me to saw it up. The next day he went and brought the material. The shoes were in the “Yemeni” style from Yergeer. The top half had already been sewn and the leather at the bottom had already been cut. The only thing left for me was to sew them together. They had stolen them from the Armenians, and they didn’t know how to do that. I had learnt how to do that from my uncles – they were shoemakers. I told the Kurd that if he managed to find the tools I would do the work. That village was called Bashkent, and I was told that two-hour’s walk away, on the Persian side, there was a place called Kilisseh Kant, where there was an Armenian man who made those tools. And the next day he took me with him to Persia. On the border we were caught by the Turkish guards-soldiers. The Kurd promised them a share of the shoes. And they let us go. We reached Persia. How lucky and happy we were! I looked up. God had saved me. When we sat down near the stream to eat a piece of bread, I picked up some earth and rubbed it against my face, ՛՛This is not Turkish soil, the water and the sky aren’t either.՛՛ We went to the Armenian master’s shop in Kilisseh Kant, where 5-6 Armenian men were making brandy and also doing ironworks. ՛՛Hey, people՛՛- said the Kurd, ՛՛where is your master?՛՛ The workers said that he had gone to the Armenian cemetery located a little distance away. They showed us where the place was, and we went there. He was a quite an old man with gray-hair, saint of saints, Persian Armenian with a little girl next to him. The Kurd asked him how much he would ask for the shoemaking tools. He said, ՛՛20 khrans՛՛. The Kurd considered the price too high and looked at me. I asked him with a very low voice to walk away so that I could negotiate with the man and arrange it at a lower price. When the Kurd went to the tea house, I stood in front of that angelic Armenian man, greeted him with my hand and said, ՛՛Father, I am Armenian. Can you protect me?՛՛ At first, without looking at me, he sat down on the ground and then with a short stick he began to dig out the earth covering the writings on the tombstones. He stood up and said, ՛՛Ari yedeves, knank՛՛ (Get behind me, let’s go). I had previously heard those Russian-Armenian words – ՛՛Ari knanq՛՛ (Let’s go), but the person who said ՛՛Ari՛՛ (Come)…What a miracle! Silently, we reached their underground house, and he knocked on the door. When a woman opened the door, he told her, ՛՛Here is your son. I have found him and brought him to you.՛՛ What a paradise! What a heaven! What happy days!
We entered the room. With some excitement and with some joy, I told them who I was. That woman was a Turkish Armenian. The Turks had killed her husband and son, and since my physical height resembled her son’s, they accepted me as their son. A little while later, the Kurd came to the master’s house looking for me. He asked whether the master was going to make the tools and informed him that he was looking for me. This precious Armenian replied, “He is Armenian and he will stay here.” At first the Kurd did not believe him but when the Armenian shouted, he left. This Armenian man showed his guns to me and said, “If any Turk comes here, we will empty these bullets on them, and the last ones on us. Don’t be afraid, the Persians are with us, they are our good friends.”
My life in this man’s house. The customs house. The Arab with two elephants. My letter writing. My finding of Nazareth. With Salari Hmayun in Tavriz, and my life there.
My life in Tavriz; my suffering; telegram to my brothers; David. My going to Baghdad, Der Zor and Haleb. My life and my finding Kerop.
When I wrote this letter in 1921
When I wrote this letter in 1921, there was no God. 3
I am very rich. I have many head-ache-inducing letters which reveal my torment. From 1914-15 they were in Armenian; from 1917-21 in Turkish. I had the Turkish name of Rooshdi, and Kaspar was Rashid. These letters would kill your appetite. They are worth reading. From 1921- 23 they are in Armenian, starting in Tavriz, Persia, Baghdad and Mosul in Iraq, from Der-Zor to Haleb. From France, Cuba, Mexico City. All (addressed to) my twin brother Kaspar, from 1918- 20, before coming to America. They reveal his ordeal. I will give them to those who want to read them.
3 By 1921, Hampartzoum was under such duress after surviving numerous escapes “a hair’s breadth from death,” that he embarked upon an escape out of Turkey on foot!
There is also The Present
There is also the present. Look at Armenia. Although it is still a child, it surpasses not only Turkey but also Europe in lifestyle and splendid developments. If you haven’t seen it yet, go see it. It’s worth seeing it before you die. You will be satisfied. The Armenians have the praiseworthy adjective: “hard-working.”
The Armenian language has tasty and fragrant words. The letters are plenty and they surpass the alphabet of any nation on earth.
It is wise to learn another language
You make friends when you speak their language
It is preferable that Armenian be the primary language The Armenian language is full of sacred Mesrobian letters It is easy to get accustomed to the Armenian language.
To My Dear Reader
TO MY DEAR READER
Because I am 101 years old, and because of the pain of losing my wife, who was my life-mate for 69 years, I am facing great difficulties and am suffering greatly to complete and finish my book with all the proofs that it presents.
I present my last request to you, so that my candle remains always lit, until the unspeakable violence the Turks perpetrated against the Armenians reaches the World Court, and we once again become the owners of our ancestors’ lands and Ararat.
If you read this book of my memories, which I have shared with you, I am certain that you too would understand what happened in 1915, and why the consequences of breaking the collective power of the Armenians is so important.
Please accept my gratitude and appreciation for the time you spent and for understanding me.
Over 50 years later there was a World Court Hearing
These papers were either written by Hampartzoum in Armenian, the language he felt most free to express himself. Sometimes because his handwritting declined with his age Seta would rewrite clearly his writings in the same language to retain the original feel and poetic meaning that he intended and is often lost in translation.
Hampaertzoum’s Arbitrary Papers Translated
Hampartzoum Citjian’s writings have been translated in English which can be read below these original documents.
In the Hell
A year of mourning
Photo 1 – ՛՛Remember me՛՛, my twin brother, a piece of my heart, Kaspar
Photo 2 – Altun and her daughter, me and my brother, Kerob Mouratskan
Photo 3 – Kerob, Hemayag, my cousin
Photo 4 – My aunt Aghavni
Our father gave us to the evil Turks and never came back. Yes, it was painful. When we entered the Turkish school there were 200-300 Armenian boys who were shouting loudly in Armenian, ՛՛I want my mom! I won’t stay here!՛՛ The Turks would hit them with thin and long sticks. The boys would stop shouting out of desperation. The Turks would fill rice and pilaf with worms and would make the boys eat that food.
We were taken to Protestant Church which was very large. We had to learn about their nation and religion. The teacher came and changed our names; he named me Rooshdee, Kaspar was named Rasheed, Kerob was named Hamdee and our little brother Nshan was named Naim. Hemayag was named Mustafa.
The next day, the boys who were taller than others, were ordered to break into 600 Armenian houses, steal their property and bring the goods to church and school. Two months later the Turks started separating boys according to their size and put the older and larger boys in a separate room. I immediately yelled out, ՛՛My brother is among the little boys. I’m his twin, we are the same age!”. Mihran Mirakian, a tall and large boy, stopped me saying, ՛՛They’re going to kill you. Let your twin brother survive՛՛․ He was right. A Turkish guard bolted the door not to let us escape. Mihran had a small knife with him. He managed to pull out the bars of the window. Then he hoisted the boys on his shoulder and helped them jump out of the window. I too jumped and ran away. I noticed the boys running down towards the river. I didn’t want to go in the same direction. God helped me and I decided to run towards the shops of the town. I approached the rock called Moosehleh Dahsh. It’s a place where Turkish people brought dead bodies to pray on them before the burial. I suddenly spotted my aunt’s father-in-law. In 1896 he converted and became a Turk. His Armenian name was Hagop and his Turkish name was Ibrahim. People called him Ago-Ibo. He was an Armenian with Armenians and a Turk with Turks. He noticed me too and motioned to me with his hand to stop and stand still. There was a blind man standing next to him. He has been blind since his childhood. Pointing his cane in my direction, this blind man called out, ՛՛Chitjian’s son, come to me!՛՛․
He loved me very much. He was like a father to me. However, he used to break into the gardens of Armenians and steal their property. He would take me with him too. One day he asked me, ՛՛Why are you crying at night? Do you want to see your brothers?՛՛ The next night he wrapped up some food in a bundle and we went to Protestant Church. What a miserable picture! My little brother Kerob, age 9, was sitting on the floor. Nshan, age 6, had his head on Kerob’s lap, as he was not feeling well. Where was the Lord at that time? Soon the blind man called out my name saying that it was time to leave. He said, ՛՛Tell you brothers that we will visit them again՛՛․ I asked Kerob, ՛՛Where is Kaspar?՛՛ Kerob answered, ՛՛A Turk took him away yesterday՛՛․ Korr-Mamoe told me, ՛՛Tell your brothers that they can come to our garden to see you՛՛․ The next day my brothers visited me. We spent a few hours together talking and eating fruit. We kissed each other and I asked them to visit me tomorrow too. The next day they came again. There was a peach tree in our garden planted by an Armenian. I took one peach, cut it into halves and gave them to my brothers. They said, ՛՛Tomorrow they will send us to our fathers՛՛․ I have never seen them again. All young boys were taken away from the orphanage.
I lived with Korr-Mamoe for about a year. He was a very good man. I own him my life. We had 5 huge crocks filled with honey. One night, when I was left alone in the house, I started secretly eating the honey. Suddenly he knocked on the door. What could I do? I rushed to the door brushing my sticky hands against the pillars. He walked in and brushed this pillar with one of his hands. He put his finger into his mouth and realized it was honey. He walked towards the fireplace and called me, ՛՛Rooshdee, my son, come and sit next to me՛՛․ I thought he was going to choke me. However, he put his hands on his head and said, ՛՛God gave me a lesson. The fact that you stole was my fault. Never steal anything and never lie. If my eyes could see, I too would not be a thief. Wherever you go, always keep yourself warm; whatever country you may go, always eat a few cloves of garlic as it’s good for your blood․՛՛
One day I met my brother Kaspar in the street. He was going back home from the bakery holding a tray with pakhlava. His Effendi was a Government official. When I told Korr-Mamoe that I had met my brother, he ordered me not to go there anymore. He said, ՛՛If you want to live, stay away from each other՛՛․
Almost one year after the massacre the Kurds from Dersim started killing the Turks. The Turks had little power in those days. A week later I went to the fountain to bring water. Korr-Mamaoe’s relative noticed me there and told me, ՛՛Forget the water, go straight home and tell Korr-Mamoe to rush down to the river. The Kurds will be here in an hour՛՛․ I came home and told Korr-Mamoe the news. We rushed to the bank of the river. All the Turks living in Perri were there. They were trying to cross the river with their small ships. Many were thrown off their ships. I noticed Kaspar’s Effendi and Kaspar with his Khanum. I approached Kaspar and whispered to him to ask his Effendi if he would take me too. When Kaspar asked his Effendi, he received a slap on his face. His Effendi said, ՛՛You must be grateful that you are escaping and you can’t ask for more.՛՛ Kaspar turned towards me and waved me goodbye. (You can see my twin brother Kaspar on the photo – he says, ՛՛Remember me՛՛․) They crossed the river. Korr-Mamoe and I walked down to the point where the water was shallow. However, we noticed that there were small slippery stones in the river. We crossed the river with difficulty. Our clothes were wet and frozen. We found a place where there was a bit sunshine and stayed there for a few hours. We reached a Kurdish-inhabited village called Chalkhadan.
The dirty Turks gained control
Desecration of the cross.
Every time we had difficulties with the Turks they would call us ՛՛gavur՛՛ and use other swear words.
You might often be asked, ՛՛Is there anything Armenian left in you?՛՛․
They would make you take your cross and throw it on the ground. Then they would make you urinate on the cross or desecrate it any other way.
Here is a story. An Armenian man was walking with his wife. The man started boasting, ՛՛I will always protect you and no one will dare to offend you՛՛․ Suddenly a Turkish man stopped them and ordered the young man, ՛՛Stay with my horse and hold the reins tightly՛՛․ Then he grabbed the young man’s wife and took her aside. He raped her and came back. He gave the woman back to her husband. The woman asked her husband in anger, ՛՛Why did you let him do that to me?՛՛ And the man replied, ՛՛You don’t know what I did. I taught him a good lesson. He ordered me to hold the horse reins tightly but I was holding them very gently՛՛․
I Found Markar
Hampartzoum Citjian’s writings have been translated in English which can be read below these original documents.
I found Markar
During the difficult days of 1918
Thanks to American missionaries we obtained some freedom and killings stopped. In Kharpert I heard that one of our relatives, Altoon Bahgee, lived on the upper part of the town. I went there to find her and her daughter Margaret, who is in Fresno now. Altoon Bahgee told me that she could find a good job for me. Though she was a very active woman, she had lost her 19-year-old son, who died of hunger. She started taking care of me like she would take care of her own son. My job was to bring water for our house and for some of our neighbors from a faraway place. Altoon Bahgee would sew and wash women clothes and do household chores. We lived well enough.
I remember watching butchers taking slaughtered sheep to shops for selling purposes. Altoon Bahgee, with a pitiful voice, would ask the butchers to give her a slice of sheep fat. The butchers would cut a little fat and give it to her. She would bring the fat home and after melting the fat she would add some bulghur and cracked wheat over it. The soup was ready. One cold day Altoon Bahgee told me that she had found a good and well-paid job for me. The toilet of the houses built on the upper part of the town was just like our cesspool; the dirt was gathered in one place. In winters the dirt was taken out with the help of ՛՛chekechek՛՛, as we call it here ՛՛hoe՛՛. The pay was 4 mejid for working 5-6 days. That was good.
Begging is more dirty than doing dirty work.
That work was very dirty and the smell was terrible. With the intention to comfort me, Altoon Bahgee used to say, ՛՛It’s better to make a living with this dirty work, than beg people for money.՛՛ I continued working. I had already taken the dirt out from two cesspools and only half of the dirt from the third one. Suddenly I noticed someone standing on the road and watching me from afar with no intention to leave. One or two seconds later I looked at him again and recognized Markar, Dickran amu’s (amu-something like uncle or Mr.) son. His clothes were dirty and torn. He used tree thorns for his clothes to cover his body. He looked
so weak and thin, one could think he had tuberculosis. Anyway, there was a smile on his face. I stopped working and took him home.
Altoon Bahgee was a very clean woman and she kept me clean too. Every time I came home she would bathe me in the hot water she had prepared in advance, then she would put some clean clothes on me and only after that she would let me in. Very often we would visit other families. Many of them had lice. When we came home Altoon Bahgee would always remove and kill the lice from our bodies. Only after that we would go to bed.
So when Markar came, she didn’t let him come in as he was very dirty and sick. We tried to change her mind for a very long time but in vain. Agitated, I announced that if she didn’t want to let Markar in, I would go with him. I demanded that she gave all the money I had earned cleaning cesspools. She gave me only 4 mejid (money for only one cesspool). In the middle of the night we went to a hotel. We woke up at night as our bodies were covered with lice.
In the morning we went to Mezre. It was cold but the day was sunny. We removed the lice from our bodies and continued walking towards the village Perchenj. A Turkish family gave us a shelter.