University of Minnesota
Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies


Experience of an Eight-Year-Old

Images of Murder Captured by a Courageous German Medic

PhotographsArmin T. Wegner, an eye witness, took many of the photographs during the massacres.

Armin T. Wegner

Most of the photographs used in this catalog were taken by Armin T. Wegner in 1915. Wegner, a German nurse, traveled to Ottoman Turkey when he heard rumors about massacres. Knowing it was illegal to take photographs, he wrote, "So I have kept these images of terror and accusation tied under my belt. At camps of Meskene and Aleppo, I was given many letters and petitions which I keep hidden in my knapsack to take to the American Embassy in Constantinople, as they would be intercepted in the post. I am aware that in so doing, I am committing an act of high treason, yet at the same time the awareness of having contributed in a small way to helping these poor folks fills me with a greater joy than that caused by any other action."

1915 Massacre Experiences of an Eight-Year-Old

Hagop A. Tellalian was born in 1913 and arrived at Ellis Island in 1921. This 1993 interview is taken from the Ellis Island Oral History Program archives.

"...Part of the Genocide was to get rid of the males. So once a month a man with an oxen-driven cart picked up all the boys ...He said, 'We're going to send them to school,'...on that pretext. When the neighbors saw this, even the Turkish neighbors, they would come and tell my mother, 'The man is coming around to collect the boys again!' ...We had a dry well and Mama used to say to me, 'The man is coming to take you away. Keep quiet, Don't say anything. Just hide down there.' I put the cover on and I was down there .... for an hour.

(In the June, 2000 issue of The Journal of Genocide Research, Volume 2, Number 2, Adam Jones describes the mass  killing of males in an article that helps explain this horrow, "Gendercide and Genocide." pp.185-212.

...My grandfather said, 'Sixty-five years old and I'm not going to change my religion. I was born a Christian. I'm going to die a Christian.' So he refused. If he had accepted the Turkish religion as his own, he could have stayed in his own shop and run his tinplating business... 'No,' he said, 'I want no part of being Turkish...' So they said to him, 'We're going to take you to a warm place, a warm climate.' They took him to the deserts of Iraq and the poor man perished there ...

Turk passers-by ignore starving Armenian orphans along the deportation road, 1915 (Censored).
After the 1918 Armistice, Armenians who were massacred on February 28, 1919 in Aleppo, were laid out in front of the Armenian Relief Hospital (The Independent, March 27, 1920).
Defending themselves for fifty-three days against attacking Turkish forces in Musa Dagh, 4000 Christians were rescued, after their Red Cross flag was noticed by a passing French naval cruiser. (See boat rescue.)
Driven out of their village, a mother bearing her child on her back flees towards the desert.
Constantly in fear of being beaten and violated, incapable of protecting themselves or their children, Armenian mothers trudge through the hot desert toward Syria, 1915.
At every railroad station of the Transcaucasus, the workers of the Near East Relief came upon starving Armenian children.
Children waiting in the snow for admission into "Orphan City."
Deportation road from Harpoot, 1915. (Censored)
Post-Armistice Turkish invasions of Transcaucasia released a new flood of Armenian refugees fleeing Turkey, 1918-1920.  (Censored)
Armenians being led away by armed guards from Harpoot, where the educated and the influential of the city were selected to be massacred at the nearest suitable site, May 1915.

A Child Pleads For Rest

Arousiag Dadian Boyajian was born in 1905 and came to Ellis Island in 1921. This 1993 Interview is taken from the Ellis Island Oral History Program Archives.

"I told my mother, 'I cannot walk.' Anyway, before we got there I told many times to my mother, 'Please, leave me here. I want to stay here. I can't walk anymore.' And she used to drag me. One day all the group went and just me and my mother were left, 'I'm not coming, you go.' So the gendarme came back from the group and he came and hit my mother with the rifle, you know with the sword. And I was hollering, she was hollering ...He said, `Come on, walk.' So we walked."

"Ravished Armenia" Poster

This silent movie, the first about the Armenian Genocide, was based on the stage play, "The Auction of Souls," produced by the Near East Relief.  The movie opened up in 1919 staming Aurora (Arshaloys) Mardiganian, who authored and personally experienced the deportations.  Proceeds from the movie supported the relief efforts.

Movie posters show Armenians who were drafted into the Turkish Army's Labor Battalions to construct housing and roads for Turkish troops.  (See Turks with Compassion P. 41)

Kill All The Orphans

Arshalous Norhadian Kebabjian was born in 1909 and arrived at Ellis Island in 1920.  This 1993 interview is taken from the Ellis Island Oral History Program Archives.

"One day they tried to kill all the orphans. We have a song on that.  I used to sing and I used to cry about that.  "They wanted to take everything they had in the house there and they want to, oh, kill all the orphans' ...Every day the orphans sang and they used to cry, especially persons like, you know, some persons have no feelings.  But some of them, they feel it in their hearts.  They start to cry like rivers."