“This summer, I had the opportunity to meet with Haroutioun Andonian, a 101-year-old survivor of the Armenian Genocide living in our community,” Rep. Schiff said. “Today, I submitted his survival story into the Congressional Record, and I hope that it will contribute to a better understanding of the nature of the genocide, raise awareness of the issue, and help educate the Members of Congress on the imperative of recognizing the Armenian Genocide.”
The Armenian Genocide Congressional Record Project, pioneered by Rep. Schiff, is part of an ongoing effort to parallel H. Res. 252, the Congressional resolution he sponsored to recognize and commemorate the genocide carried out against Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923. Rep. Schiff continues to encourage survivors of the Genocide and their families from throughout the country to participate in the project by sending in the stories of what happened to their family during the Genocide.
Please send your family’s story to Mary Hovagimian in Rep. Schiff’s Pasadena office at [email protected]
Below please find the story submitted as included in the Congressional Record:
Hon. Adam Schiff
Thursday, June 15, 2010
Rep. Adam B. Schiff
Mr. SCHIFF. Madame Speaker, I rise today to memorialize and record a courageous story of survival of the Armenian Genocide. The Armenian Genocide, perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1923, resulted in the death of 1.5 million Armenian men, women, and children. As the U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire Henry Morgenthau documented at the time, it was a campaign of “race extermination.”
The campaign to annihilate the Armenian people failed, as illustrated by the proud Armenian nation and prosperous diaspora. It is difficult if not impossible to find an Armenian family not touched by the genocide, and while there are some survivors still with us, it is imperative that we record their stories. Through the Armenian Genocide Congressional Record Project, I hope to document the harrowing stories of the survivors in an effort to preserve their accounts and to help educate the Members of Congress now and in the future of the necessity of recognizing the Armenian Genocide.
This is one of those stories:
Submitted by Nareg Krumian, the grandson of Haroutioun Andonian:
“Haroutioun Andonian was born in Gurun Turkey in 1909 and grew up with his father, mother, grandmother and younger sister. At the age of 6, his father and mother were separated from him, his sister and his grandmother. His father was arrested by Turkish soldiers and his mother was taken away. He still remembers a line of people bound to each other at their wrists and being marched away from his village. Among them was Haroutioun’s father, whom he never saw afterwards. He never saw his mother again either. He was rounded up with his sister, grandmother and other neighbors by another group of soldiers and taken away to various cities and villages. By the time they reached Aintab (presently called Gaziantep), his sister and grandmother were too weak from hunger and the forced marches that they lost their lives as well.
“In Aintab, various Armenian, American and European aid workers tried to contain the situation of children left without family. The orphans were disbursed to various Armenian and Turkish homes throughout the villages of Aintab. Haroutioun remembers the name of Balaban Khoja, a teacher, who was instrumental in placing the orphans with families who wanted children. After going through several homes, Haroutioun lived with a lady who would later become his mother-in-law.
“Around the time he was 10 years old, American and Danish missionaries began taking the children to orphanages in Lebanon and the U.S. Haroutioun was sent to Jbeil, a city in northern Lebanon, where he stayed until around 1925 when he was sent to France through the aid of the American charity Near East Relief. For a few years, he worked on a farm and later went to Paris to work at the Renault factory where he was responsible for chroming metal components.
“In the early 1930s, Haroutioun found out that the lady who had cared for him last as a child in Aintab had herself been forced to evacuate her village with her family and was living in Aleppo, Syria. He went to Syria, began working in various fields such as trading in cloth and yarn, and managing Turkish baths that were still prevalent during that period. He also married his host mother’s daughter, Marie, with whom he had one daughter, Alice.
“Haroutioun and Marie left Syria for the last time in 1987 and came to Los Angeles to join their daughter and her family. In 2002, he became a US citizen and shared a letter with the judge presiding over the procedure that he had kept for over 70 years. The letter was from the Near East Relief thanking Haroutioun for paying back funds he had borrowed during his journey to France. Though not obligated to do so, Haroutioun had felt that re-paying into the fund would allow other unfortunate people with the opportunity to rebuild their lives. To this day, he maintains that the government of Turkey and its soldiers took away his ability to know what it was to have a family but that today, living in the United States at the age of 101 amid his two grandchildren and six great grandchildren, he has become a king who has everything.”