Armenian News Network / Groong


MEMOIR OF GENOCIDE - 1915 to 1920



NAHABED CHAKRIAN - (1904 - 1993)


Armenian News Network / Groong

January 5, 2022


by Abraham D. Krikorian and Eugene L. Taylor

Probing the Photographic Record





About Nahabed Chakrian




Memoir of Genocide: The Story of an Armenian Boy

Translated by Abraham Der Krikorian, Ph.D.  (with maps added)



Suggested Readings

Book:- Armenian Sebastia/Sivas and Lesser Armenia, ed. By Richard G. Hovannisian, UCLA Armenian History and Culture Series, Historic Armenian cities and provinces, No. 5.


About Nahabed Chakrian

By Florence Chakerian


Nahabed Chakrian was born November 15, 1906. His baptismal given name is from an ancient Armenian-Parthian loan word naha-pet, signifying chief of the people, patriarch or prince.  He survived the exile and massacre, was rescued, and at age fourteen began a new life in America.

In time Nahabed matured, bridged two cultures, learned trades and established a family. He was a formal man. In his relationships with family and friends he reflected his Armenian culture and heritage.  He was active and trim and, by temperament, a romantic.

In his memoir Nahabed Chakrian introduces his home, nearby villages and members of his extended family but adds little else about daily life.  What follows, at length, are episodes from his memory of exile.  Anecdotes of survival alternate with descriptions of trauma and death in the desert.  Near the end he summarizes life and family in the United States.

After immigration to Providence, Rhode Island and an initial adjustment, he moved with his father, stepmother, and stepsister to Bridgeport, Conn.  Nahabed did not have the opportunity for formal education, as was the case for many survivors. His son, Hagop, described his employment as a dishwasher at Bridgeport’s leading hotel which eventually led, fortuitously, to an apprenticeship with the hotel pastry chef.  When this training established him, he married Vartouhi Manoogian, seventeen, in 1925.  He was then nineteen years of age.  But a problem arose. Hagop explained that the policy of the hotel required all pastries to be baked fresh each day and the unsold discarded. When a hotel superior objected to Nahabed’s distribution of the day-old pastries to the staff, he resigned.

Employment elsewhere included a textile factory, the Rogers Silver Company and, during the Depression, the Works Progress Administration for the Merritt Parkway Project in Connecticut.

He was active in the Armenian Church of Bridgeport then being established. Hagop remembers his father in its drama group, “The roles were very dramatic.”   Nahabed’s one lost opportunity, perhaps to fame and fortune, was an invitation from Peter Paul Halajian and Calvin Kazanjian, candy makers, to contribute $300 towards the launching of Almond Joy and Mounds.  He just didn’t have the required sum.

Nahabed, self-educated and an ardent reader, ‘… was always writing-- pages and pages, including poetry,’ his daughters, Jean and Madeline, recall.  Hagop adds, “Always talking about politics and world problems.  He was stubborn, too, and unable to admit he could be wrong.”

His hobbies included reading, acting, singing, tavloo (backgammon), and cards.  He chose to believe that the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr.Watson were not fiction.

In 1929, with the onset of the Depression, when finding employment became a problem, Nahabed moved his family to New York City. Introduced by a life-long friend to a photoengraving firm, he completed training as a cameraman, continued working in this trade for a half-century, and retired only after a mild stroke.

Twenty years after the deaths of his father, Caloust, and his wife, Vartouhi, Nahabed moved to California to be near his daughter and relatives. Two years later, in February 1975, he married Mary (Maryam) Piligian, a widow with grown children, whose parents were originally from his home village in Sebastia. In his Memoir he described his last years enriched with loving appreciation and affection for her and her family, who were then added to his own.

All who knew him agree that Nahabed lived with impassioned intensity.  He believed it imperative to impress upon family, friends and the world, the exile, massacre and devastation of the Armenian nation and to expose those responsible.  With the passage of years he committed his testimonial to writing (now lost) and finally to cassette tapes beginning in 1988.

He surely would have realized some small satisfaction in the rising tide of discussion following the recent September 2005 controversial, first-ever conference in Istanbul by intrepid Turkish scholars exploring the history of the Genocide.

He had heart surgery followed a few years later by a final heart attack when living in the Ararat Nursing Home. He wife, Mary, had died. Nahabed Chakrian’s death was on December 24, 1993 five years after the death of his sister, Gulizar, January 29, 1988. They are buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills, in Los Angeles. Their families-- children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren—live today in New York, California and Yerevan, Armenia.

Shake Bedikian, in Los Angeles and David Joseph Hazarian, in New York are Gulizar Chakrian Hazarian’s surviving children.

Nahabed’s sons and daughters are Jean Zvart Derbabian, in Los Angeles, and Charles Hagop (“Jack”) Chakrian, Madeline Markarian, and Armand Chakrian, in New York.

Gulizar and Nahabed hold a special place in our hearts and minds.

Foreword to the Translated Memoir

By Abraham Der Krikorian, Ph.D.

An initial attempt at a translation of this memoir from Armenian to English was made by a native of what is today the independent Republic of Armenia, reared in the language of Eastern Armenia.  Baron (Mr., courtesy title) Nahabed Chakrian, however, uses for the most part Western Armenian, a language that today has both a different style of grammar and vocabulary.  In addition to Baron Nahabed’s taped memoir in western Armenian, even that is made somewhat distinctive since he learned Armenian as a boy, and then was successively exposed to provincial Ottoman Turkish, then Arabic (as spoken by Bedouins at that) and again Turkish, this time the Constantinople dialect, and later in America, English, of course!

The expansion of his vocabulary over the years, coupled with his life’s experience with a more learned form of Armenian (albeit self-taught), largely in his adult years, has resulted in a distinctive mix of rather eloquent, in some cases flowery language, including here and there, even a touch of Eastern Armenian!  In a few places he elects to use English words like “train” with an Armenian American accent, trehnn; in other places he uses the more formal Armenian.  In still another place he uses the English word balloon; in another he uses the word story to indicate level in a building.  In short, the way Baron Nahabed talks is a blend of how and where he grew up, where he was and what he experienced, and when and where he was as he read into a tape recorder what seems to be an account of his memories, expressly written for the memoir. 

Because Baron Nahabed’s language reflects in large measure the way Armenian immigrants to America spoke, it seems appropriate here to insert in transliteration, albeit in crude, phonetic form, some of the words or phrases used by him.  In this way any reader who is familiar with Armenian may be apprised of his rather free choice of language in any given situation.  Clearly, Baron Nahabed is not necessarily consistent in his choices; he often uses different words for the exact same purpose in different parts of his story.  It will further be appreciated as well that Armenian as spoken by villagers from Sebastia in the Sivas region had its own peculiarities.

The first translation into English of the tapes was, as it turned out upon vetting in mid 2005 by Dr. Krikorian of Belle Terre, Long Island, shown to be very incomplete and very often quite inaccurate, not just imprecise or incorrectly nuanced.  Moreover, all the tapes had apparently not been gone through, certainly not very carefully if they had been, and certainly had not all been translated.  This was due, in part, not only to time considerations, but also to the original translator’s lack of expertise in English. 

After a cursory assessment of the initial attempt at translation was made by Dr. Krikorian, it was decided that it would be best for him to undertake a fresh translation.  The translation, such as was done by Dr. Krikorian, a retired professor of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, at SUNY at Stony Brook, was facilitated to the extent that his Mother was a genocide survivor, a villager from Kerope, Körpe, in Kharpert province in eastern Turkey.  His father was a volunteer, gamavor, who served in the French Armenian Legion in Cilicia during the First World War.  Growing up in Worcester, Massachusetts amongst an Armenian immigrant community, largely villagers, who spoke what might be referred to as ‘pre-1915’ and ‘immediately post-1915 Armenian’, along with more than a smattering of Ottoman Turkish, he was exposed daily to conversational Armenian.  And, as so many offspring of immigrants did, he attended Saturday morning Armenian language classes.  Later in life, he undertook the study of the Armenian Genocide, indeed all things Armenian.  The Armenian he grew up with then turned out to be uniquely suited to undertaking the translation.  Indeed, that form of Armenian is justifiably viewed by some as rather dated today.  It verges on being unintelligible to those in the present-day Republic of Armenia.

At the same time as benefiting from the aforesaid advantages, the translation was made difficult on several other accounts-- perhaps it is best to describe them as technical reasons.  First, the tapes do not comprise, strictly speaking, a narration.  Rather they are a reading of what was clearly written down.  Whether it was written in its entirety or in the form of very detailed, rehearsed as it were, notes, is not discernible.  We guess it was written in its entirety.  (The text is not to be had and might have been inadvertently discarded after his death.)  It seems he did not destroy them since he states that any reader, rather than listener, should excuse him for any shortcomings.  Baron Nahabed reads at a fairly rapid pace most of the time.  In other sections, it appears that he, like so many of us, sometimes cannot read his own handwriting, and struggles to keep the flow of reading.  One can hear the pages turning.

For whatever reason, the level or intensity of the reading, even with the volume turned up to the full extent on a high quality audio tape player, was not uniform among the tapes, or even within a given tape.  This meant that in order to translate, one had to go through it virtually sentence, by sentence, first listening and getting the gist; then re-winding and listening again and translating, and then again rewinding and re-playing to make sure the translation was precise.  Adding to this tedium was that the several tapes made by Baron Nahabed (eight in all) were done at different times, and were not well labeled, and as luck would have it, there are long gaps and interruptions in the recordings.  It has taken far more effort and time than one might wish to admit to put them into what seems to be a final sequence. (Incidentally, and very understandably, the final ordering of the tapes by the first translator turned out to be incorrect, and this in turn was reflected in the occasional incoherent flow of the initial translation.)  But it was not just the lack of proper labeling; in some instances that has presented problems.  Baron Nahabed sometimes repeated a section, albeit on a different tape, perhaps thinking that he had forgotten to record that part.  In such cases, he clearly went back to his text or extended notes to read them, usually at a quicker pace than that of an earlier narration etc.

In the final analysis, these are all minor quibbles, but it gives a feeling for the kinds of problems that might be encountered in such efforts.  It is both fortunate and remarkable that this old gentleman, who had seen and gone through so much in his childhood and youth, had the ability to organize his thoughts and recollections so well, and furthermore, the determination to read them into a tape recorder in his advanced age.  What seems even more remarkable is that his recall was vivid.  We leave it to specialists to comment on how and why such vivid recall is the ‘norm’ rather than the exception among survivors of the Armenian Genocide.  (The translator’s Mother, friends and survivor-relatives uniformly related to him as a child that the memories of those horrible years were burned into their memories, readily admitting that their long-term memory was often better than their short-term memories in later life.  Indeed, the translator recalls vividly hearing their stories related in remarkable detail, equal to Baron Nahabed’s in the least.  His Godmother, now 98 years old, similarly has vivid memories even though she was a bit younger than Baron Nahabed.)

To continue this commentary and attempt at analysis, Baron Nahabed’s tapes are significant, not only for their content, but because of the interesting narrative style.  Baron Nahabed quickly ingratiates himself to the listener because of his style and the sincerity he projects.  He provides what might be viewed as an apologia at the very outset, pointing out that he is not endowed with any particular sagacity or scholarly skills etc.  Parenthetically, we think he is clearly being too modest.  Baron Nahabed is generally steady in his reading, breaking into distinct and heart wrenching sobs in only a very few instances.  And, he is generally quite restrained.  He is very glad to offer thanks and recognition to those who showed him and others he was with, any degree of kindness.  And, in some instances, he even sounds a bit like an Armenian priest, Der Hayr, or Protestant minister, Badveli, in the bestowing of praise and hagiological incantations upon those dear to him who had departed this world.  Only near the end of his reading does Baron Nahabed seem to express his anger, even fury, at the denial of the Genocide committed against the Armenians by the Ottoman Turks, by successive governments of Turkey.  He also gives a tongue thrashing to the Germans for their complicity, and even goes so far as to call the French [France] whores, pornig Frantsatsi, for having ‘sold out’ and abandoned the Armenians in Cilicia to the vengeance of the Kemalist Nationalist Turks, even though she had ‘promised’ the right of return and protection to Armenian survivor-refugees.

It goes without saying that there should be no doubt as to the veracity of what Baron Nahabed relates.  Baron Nahabed is totally credible.  In fact, one might call his style understated.  On a couple occasions he titillates those listeners who may choose to read lurid details on what he saw at Der Zor, and the other ‘killing fields’ of the Syrian Desert.  He gives details plenty enough, but also passes over some places and says that he does not wish to dwell on such and such a topic.  One can surmise that he knew that providing the additional gruesome details or bringing up long-suppressed memories would have been enervating in the extreme for him.

More than a few times he asks forgiveness on the part of the listener/reader for any of his shortcomings.  He deeply regrets not recalling the names of several whom he held in high regard, and to whom he would be grateful till the day he died for the help and kindness rendered him.  (In one case, he apparently woke up in the middle of the night and recalled names that he quickly wrote down, lest they escape him once more.)

In a few cases, such as one in which he relates the sexual exploitation of a young male friend of his by loosely imprisoned troops from British India, Baron Nahabed makes no bones of his boyhood naiveté, and failure to understand what was happening to his friend who was “used like a woman.” He seemingly smiles at himself for being so innocent.  Indeed, one can occasionally hear in a low tone, as if in the background, exclamations or chuckles.  He certainly seems to have had a good sense of humor.  Moreover, one can readily identify with him as he periodically shuffles his notes, and script, sometimes annoyed and exasperated, trying to find where he is or where he left off, saying, "Pssssshhhhh!' and even pausing in one place and exclaiming in English '"What the hell is this?"

Even as Baron Nahabed has asked, more than once in his tapes that he be excused for any shortcomings in his narration, the translator and editor, Abraham Der Krikorian, Ph.D., and editor Florence Chakerian, both ask that he forgive us for any shortcomings in these attempts to render his incredible, but all-too-typical story of Armenian Genocide survivors, into English.  His Badmiutun, his story, deserves to be told in its entirety and with as much faithfulness to the original narration as possible.  We hope that Baron Nahabed would approve of this concerted attempt to do the events justice

By Florence Chakerian

To the above by Dr. Kikorian, I add an immeasurable debt of gratitude for his many hours of thoughtful, literal translation. As explained above, he rescued the manuscript and my commitment to Nahabed’s family.


Dr. Krikorian can be reached at  Post Office Box 404

Port Jefferson, New York 11777-0404



Nahabed was my husband’s paternal first cousin. When I learned he had left his story of exile, on tape, in care of his family, I offered to transcribe and preserve them.

An agreement for the translation was arranged in Albuquerque with a person whose first language is Armenian, to be assisted in English by her husband, an American. Charles Hagop Chakrian, Nahabed’s son, paid a professional fee. We realized only later that the translation was very superficial, totally incomplete and quite unsatisfactory. By chance--and surely Providence--Dr. Krikorian learned of my problem and generously offered to help.

Dr. Richard Hovannisian, Professor of History and Armenian Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, in reply to our letter wrote, in part, on 7/21/2003: “We do not have an interview with Mr. Chakrian…the tapes should definitely be copied for preservation…probably someone would have to go over it to put into more readable and fluent English.  We would be thankful to receive a copy…”

The family recalls, however, that a student from UCLA did interview Nahabed “two or three times” at the Ararat Retirement and Nursing Home, in California, sometime between 1900 and 1993.  It may be that the student didn’t turn in the assignment.  I venture to guess the student may have been intimidated by the sheer volume and intensity Baron Nahabed offered as a subject!

I trust that the editing into established English syntax, though not always consistent, is acceptable and remains faithful to Baron Nahabed’s distinctive narration.

The original tapes, with added audio DVD disks duplicated by Dr. Krikorian, and the manuscript of the Memoir are for the family. Additional copies of the Memoir are available for related family members.

The tapes are duplicated, as recorded, and unedited for the time lapses, interruptions and other problems that Dr. Krikorian discusses in detail. His annotations throughout the text provide a glossary and illuminate Baron Nahabed’s use of language, custom, place-names, and events.

The translator and editor added the subheadings. Some information, though sought, is still missing. The variant spelling of names and places reflect historical and geographical changes since 1920.

Florence Chakerian

Albuquerque, New Mexico

December 14, 2005





Tape I, side 1




“This story is not a treatise, guk’t mi cheh.[1] (See Endnote1 at end of the Memoir Proper). I have neither special power, garoghutiun, nor do I have any special intellectual capacity, imatsanagutian, grace, shnorh, or imagination, yerevagayoutian.  Nevertheless, I attempt to undertake this story with these limitations. Before the deportations, deghapoghoutiuneruh, I received some schooling for a year and a half from Melikzadek Balumian of Zara village, Orghormiadz Hohkin.[2] Because I so wanted to study, I never forgot whatever I had learned from my lessons at that time. During my wanderings in the deserts of Arabia, I would, from time to time, find pages from the Holy Bible and Gospels that had been scattered about by the winds. I would keep them, and by burying them in the sand, I could retrieve and read them.  In that way, for a period of over four years, I read these pages over and over again, and never forgot my Armenian tongue, neither my reading nor writing.  After the war, when I found my father and we went to Bolis, [Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire,] I wanted to continue my schooling but my luck was that I could not.  Therefore, whatever I have wanted to learn through life has been self-taught.

“For these reasons, I wish to beg the pardon of all those who might read my notes in the future, and find errors—which I am certain they will find.[3] These writings and these memories have been written and recorded very many years after the events. But despite my age and possibly failing, memory, what I have recorded is the truth and not a single word has been superfluously added.  If I could only remember every detail of those four years in the past, of what I saw, what I heard, what I experienced, I would certainly be able to fill several volumes.  I am sure educated persons have already written volumes about similar experiences.  I myself have not read a single one of them.

“One group of exiles, gaghtorner, [euphemistically referred to by some as émigrés], went towards Baghdad, others were driven, kisheltsihn, towards Damascus and others in still different directions.

The exiled groups, gaghtorneru, who went these two routes [Baghdad and Damascus] were not slaughtered, godoras —they were tortured, charcahrvetsahn, and experienced different, zanazan, torments, danchank, but they were not slaughtered, godorasi chi eghahn.  Having said this, I once again beg your indulgence and request your forgiveness for any mistakes.  I, Nahabed Chakrian, offer this account, with respect, to honor all my descendants and those who might wish to learn.

“July 24, 1988.   Today, it is 74 years [actually 73 years] after the events of the exile, aksor, of all those Armenians born in Turkey, Dadjigastan, [land of the Turks, or Dadjigs,] towards Arabia, during the First World War and during which many lost their lives.  I am trying to relay to the best of my ability all that happened.  My sister, Gulizar, and I underwent the deportations and became exiles and survived that Great Tragedy, Medz Yeghernin, [eghern normally means crime and collective murder; but is used to designate that calamitous event of premeditated genocide].


“I will return now to my biographical background.  I was born in one of Sebastia’s villages in a place called Araksa, or Alakilise almost, qrete, fifty-five miles, mughon, from the capital.[4]  All the nearby villages were Armenian. Kayrat village [pronounced Kye-raht, emphasis on first syllable] consisted of about fifty or sixty Armenian families.  Tekelu [pronounced Tekeh-loo, emphasis on both syllables] forty houses.  Zara village, built in former times by the Armenian Queen Sara as a summer residence, became a village of both Armenians and Turks.  The village of Kharaboghaz, four miles away, was Armenian. [Note: Kharabogaz, despite it being a purely Armenian village had a Turkish name, meaning ‘Black Throat’].  I personally am not familiar with Kharaboghaz but according to my grandmother it was not a very big village.  She lived there when she went there as a young bride with her first husband.[5]

“Now, ayzhm, let’s turn our attention to our village and locale.  It consisted of approximately 450 houses or families and derived its name from the church, Alaksa, in Turkish, Alakiliseh.  My family surname, maganoun, is Chakrian.  I have not encountered this name, before or after—except in our family.[6]  My grandfather’s given name was Hovsep; my grandmother’s, Diruhi; my father’s, Caloust [var. Kaloust] and my mother’s, Varteni.  I had three sisters, Gulizar [equivalent of Full of Flowers or Flora], Giultana [equivalent of Rosina or Rosamond], and Tshkouhi [Queen or Queena, equivalent of Regina], and four brothers, each of whom lived no longer than a week or month. [Note: A brief statement or proverb in Turkish follows at this point but am unable to translate.  It seems to start with the Armenian word now, ayz’m and the Armenian phrase ‘let me turn’ to, dahrnahm, followed by Turkish…]

The Turkish Soldiers Arrive

“In 1914 my father was to be found in Bolis, the capital Constantinople.  At the beginning of the month of January 1915 some 1500 Turkish soldiers, zinvohrner, were brought to our village.  Half the people were ejected from their homes to make room for them, and the other half were interspersed among the families.  In that manner the soldiers were accommodated, haytatetehtsihn. For two months the villagers were obliged to provide meals for the soldiers every day.  How many families struggled to do so!  After two months the village became depleted.  When the soldiers finally left, the entire village was emptied of food. 

“My father was a miller, charghatsban, but as I mentioned, he was in Bolis at that time.  The mill in our village stayed closed and after providing the 1500 soldiers meals and bread for nearly two months, all the villagers were completely exasperated and without provisions.[7]  There were a couple of other villages that had mills but only one was open in a Turkish village named Adamfaki, [now called Adamfakizir] some four to five miles away.  The owner of the mill and village leader, kiughi beduh, one Ibrahim, was a friend of my father and for quite a few years my father had dealt with him.  So, my grandfather and three unrelated women decided to go to that mill to grind flour since there was no other choice.  They went, but on their way back, about two miles from the village, they were attacked by a couple of deserter soldiers, paraghtsakan zinvorneru, hiding in the mountains.  The four of them, including my grandfather, were brutally murdered, charachan spannuverayn, by the soldiers who then stole their flour and their donkeys, avanagneruh.

“The bodies were found within hours by a shepherd, hoviv, and very quickly the news reached the people in our village. Our village priest was concerned that the bodies be brought to the village cemetery so that they should be put to proper rest.  I was affected so much by the death of my grandfather that I became ill and confined to bed, angoghin,[8] the next day.


A week later, six policemen, ostiganer, came from Zara to our village announcing they were taking us there.  We would be allowed to take food with us for only three days since we would be returning after the third day.  Those who owned carts, saylo, [pronounced sigh-low] were able to get on their way in carts.  The rest went on donkeys or on foot.  Not much was taken since we were to return soon.

“In the village no young males, yeridasart dughamart, were left; they had already been conscripted into the army or killed.  Only the elderly and infirm men and the very young remained.

All the women of the village closed the doors to their homes.  Believing the soldiers, we set out on the road.  “I was in our cart lying in my grandmother’s lap.  Melkon, my aunt’s husband, was driving our cart.  My aunt, my mother and three sisters followed behind.  As we started on the road, at the doorway of our house, our faithful, havadari, dog, Akbash’s head appeared.[9]  I lifted my head from my grandmother’s lap and called the dog.  He ran towards us, leapt onto the cart and began to lick our faces and hands, and those of my grandmother.  He then leapt off the cart and ran away without looking back; he heeded neither my voice nor that of my grandmother.  He reached the house and remained there on the doorstep.  That dog, which had gone with my father to Erzeroum, Sebastia and villages and cities, seemed to understand human conversation.  He went out early in the morning with my father and awaited his return.  Now, the house where he was raised and where we fed him was where he stayed and, from fidelity, would not separate from it.

“The people of our village had been on the road for about an hour and a half when we reached a valley, tsorimi, Burnayeen [?]; we settled down there.  I don’t know why but the people of Kayrat village and the people of Tekelu joined us.  The next day was Easter.  They brought about 350 goats and sheep from our village for distribution among the people.  Easter day we started on the road under the escort of eight soldiers and police [zinvor and ostigan are the words used].  We continued traveling watched by eight Turkish soldiers.  Their leader was the killer, uchvagordz, Mayilbek, of Zara.

“In four or five days we reached the city of Divrig.  There they took away the carts from those who had them, and instead of payment in exchange, they gave us one donkey for the expropriated cart.  The elders who were not able to continue walking-- my grandmother was one-- had to be left by the roadside under the shade of tree, and in this way we separated.  For the first time in my life I experienced this kind of pain and sorrow.

“We exiles did not enter the city of Divrig.  We passed by it.  I don’t remember how long it took us to reach Arabkir but we didn’t enter the city.  Exiles remained in the garden areas, aikinneroo, outside the town.  We had never seen such a filthy place.  The next day they put us on the road again.  I don’t remember how many days it took us to reach Malatia.  There, too, we didn’t enter the city.  After spending one night there, we finally reached Kharpert [more precisely Mezireh, the lower twin town some three miles beneath the upper city of Kharpert], settling in a garden area.  That same night two armed men came on horses from the city and violated, purnapareetsihn, a young girl, aghchig, from our village.  The old men and youngsters were so frightened they did not interfere or voice an objection.  They were unable to dare doing anything. 

“In the morning, we set out again on the road and in two days reached a narrow mountainous place closed in by mountains on the left and right, a valley amidst rocky slopes.  The caravan, garavanuh, settled there.  On the right side of the valley was a red mill; ten to fifteen steps in front of the mill was a spring, aghpiur.  Behind the mill, was a mountain, lehrmuh, covered with trees, hibd dzarevno.  There we spent the night without any adverse happenings.

“The next day, near afternoon, my sister Gulizar and I went to the stream for water to make tahn from madzoon bought the day before from a Kurdish woman.  [Madzoon, Armenian, diluted with water, makes the refreshing drink tahn.]  As we approached, armed Kurds on guard at the spring appeared from behind the trees.  Terrified, we rushed back without any water.  Already the gendarmes, [pronounced genderhr-mehnneruh] had begun to separate the men and older boys, and were moving them towards the mill.  Till then the gendarmes had been sitting and had not been close by. 

“We tried to hide my Uncle Melkon under two small blankets, vermugs, while my sister Tshkouhi and I sat on him.  Three to four minutes passed.  But when my Uncle couldn’t breathe, he pushed us aside and thrust himself  out from beneath the blankets.  

“With a sad, dukhur, countenance, kissing my aunt and the rest of us, he reached into his pocket and took out his purse, kusag, pouring all the money, tirahmuh, into the lap of my sister Gulizar.  Sadly, he gave us his final departing words that to this day ring in my ears.  ‘My dear ones, more or less I cannot say…to go, there is, but there is no return--  Here his words remained incomplete, ges-hahd.  Two gendarmes had reached us.  One of them saying roughly, ‘Stop complaining!  Son of a pig! Mi dirdiral, Khinzer oglu khinzer.’  They pushed him towards the mill. Cries or shouting in those mountain gullies went unheard.  Ten to fifteen minutes later, the gendarmes had already finished their detestable, garshili, deeds.

“The leader of the gendarmes ordered the people be moved on their way with whips, kharazaner. We were again forced to embark upon the road.  It was the last we saw of our older boys and men.

“When we lost my Uncle Melkon, my sister Gulizar became the head of the family.  My aunt was a delicate woman; my mother weak; and my second sister, Giuldana, inexperienced, anvarzh.  My little sister Tshkouhi and I were helpless.  If my older sister had not been burdened, pergnavornadz, with a nine-month old baby girl, the situation might have been easier.

“As the days and weeks went on, the situation became more difficult to bear.  The cursed gendarmes delighted in making people take indirect mountainous routes, rather than more leisurely direct paths, and chased and drove the exiles to deliberately cut their number. I felt that I, too, would have this fate, vijaguss, of dying in childhood.  They had but one purpose, nbadag.  Day by day, the children and the elderly were becoming weaker.  Those with physical disabilities could endure little more.  We became concerned, mainly, with looking after ourselves.  Ninety-five out of a hundred had reached this state. 

“Eventually, after several days, we reached a mountainous place. On our left it was reminiscent of Sebastia, and on our right, a lake, lijovmi.  [Lake, most assuredly Lake Goeljuk]  We exiles settled down.  It was not yet mid-day.  The wind was a little strong and the lake a bit stormy, alegosial.

“What we saw, first, was hundreds of massacred bodies, face down in the water, their intestines fallen out like inflated balloons.[10]  I had never seen such a sight in my life.  The horror is still deep in my heart.  It is frozen permanently; I can’t forget it.

“Tens of people from our caravan, unable to tolerate more agony, threw themselves into the water.  It was there, you see, where my sister Gulizar, following the example of other women, raised her first-born baby daughter and threw her into the lake.[11]  My sister, Guildana, horrified, plunged in to get the child out.  But Gulizar grabbed [khulelov] the baby from her arms and again threw her-- further out, deeper, aveli khoruhnk-- into the lake.  Human feelings and parental love was weakening, dugaranah, and losing under the strain and stress.

An Example

“After that event, some five groups from different villages and cities joined us.  Our number, mer kanaguh, increased substantially.  One was a column, garkmi, from Chimisgedzek; another of Sebastatsi women; a group from Zeytoun and others from elsewhere.  Following several days on the road and one and a half days from Urfa, we settled somewhere in the mountains.  The sun was nearly set.

“Suddenly, the quiet was broken.  About a hundred feet from us, a man from Tekelu, who had survived thus far by dressing as a woman, was running.  They grabbed him and tied his hands behind his back.  They stripped him and suspended him head down from a tree.  They wanted to make an example of him, saying ‘Let it be known, and see what would happen to any coward who would attempt to deceive the Ottoman government.’  A sword was drawn, and the naked body, top to bottom, split in two.  The onlookers, fingers in their mouths, were horrified.  In that dreadful place we spent the night, but I don’t think anyone who had seen such a horrible thing was able to close his eyes and not recall what happened.  We had become somewhat accustomed to the numerous and various trials and tribulations happening on the road of exile in our convoys, but we had never, yerpek, seen a body cut asunder!

“The following morning at sunrise we were ordered on the road again.  We hadn’t been on the road for more than fifteen or twenty minutes when I saw those moving on ahead were being driven to the left.  They turned their heads and closed their eyes when passing by.  When our turn came, we saw on the left side of the road about eight or ten feet ahead, the naked body of a young man with shaggy black hair and a bloody, gaping bullet, kuntag, wound, some eight fingers in width.  This sight horrified and saddened the deportees.  It was as though a sign signaled our own future and fate.

Urfa, Biblical Edessa

“We reached Urfa the afternoon of the next day. Without going into the city, the first guesthouse on the right side of the road became filled with deportees. [Curiously, Baron Chakrian uses the word huiranots, rather than the more widely used Turkish word khan].  We, too, were to be found in that group but an hour later we were taken out and moved to the city into another ‘guesthouse’.  For the first time in the deportation, the people of villages and cities became separated-- mothers from their children, family members from family members, villagers from the same village, and city dwellers from the same city.  Out of a 100, some 98 of us never saw loved ones again.

“They located us quite close to the market, shugah.  By that time we had changed, as though half-animal, gess anasoonih, and unashamed [of our appearance; there are many photographs of the  pathetic condition of these exiles.]

Urfa was a clean, spacious and beautiful city.  In the center of the market there was a beautiful well-provided garden with trees [Note: Not able to distinguish whether the Armenian word for trees, dzar, or flowers, dzaghig, is used here] and a coffee house [Note: the Armenian suhrjahran rather than the Turkish word khayvakhaneh is used] where, in particular, the wealthy of the city would frequent.  I had the luck to go there twice—not to pass time or for amusement, but to beg.  Not once, though, did I find anyone who put his hand into his pocket, be he Armenian or Turk, to give me either five or ten paras. [Note: the copper Turkish coin, a para, was a fortieth of a piaster, about a ninth of a cent].  Every evening, however, before sunset the local gardeners, who had not sold their fruit, would distribute it to the beggars and the poor.  In that beautiful city we stayed two weeks.

“There were two kinds of ovens, purrehr, there to bake bread.  One was for unleavened bread and the other for yeast bread. [Note: the rather uncommon Armenian word for ‘yeasted’, tutkhvahdzin is used.]  Those unleavened breads have to be used without cooling or drying. Once dried, it hardens and becomes brittle, rock-like.

“In Urfa I met an Armenian passerby.  I don’t know what work he did.  Each evening before sunset, he shopped in the market and then took a little orphan, vorp, to his home.  His wife would be waiting and have a table ready. They had no children of their own. They seated the child, boy or girl, with them. In those two weeks I was fortunate enough to meet him twice and invited to be seated at the same table and treated as if I were theirs.  Even after 74 years since those days, I’ve never forgotten the kindness and benevolence of their hearts.  And I will never forget unto my own grave to ask the Lord God to bless his soul and to pray that this fully worthy man has been taken unto His Kingdom.

A Terrible Happening
“About two weeks later, about 4 o’clock, three or four Turkish gendarmes came to the khan and ordered us on the road.  Our past trials tribulations of deportation were not yet behind us.  We thought their intent was for the stragglers to be swept up for better control.

But those plotters, tavajanneru, had a different purpose.  Their plan was to separate and render us completely helpless.  After having moved the deportees on, half had been kept behind.  In that way, again, different things happened to different groups.  People became separated from one another-- mothers from children, sisters from brothers-- once more.  All the people ejected from the city, all the people who had been distributed amongst all the khans of the city when assembled and taken together, were about 35,000.

“We reached the desert.  There in the open we spent the night.  Next day, again at night after having traveled, we spent another sleepless night in the open.  I had a bad feeling that something was about to happen and it did.  That unforgettable tragedy I have never forgotten and shall not until my grave for it remains deep in my heart like a fixed piece of metal.  I had planned to take this secret to my grave if I had not decided to commit this crime, yegherkuh, to writing.

“ Around ten or ten thirty-two gendarmes came to where we were sleeping and took my sister, Gulizar, crying and screaming, away.  She was raped by six Turkish gendarmes.

The Railroad Train

“We reached a small village in the desert called Maljanaghad (?)  and spent the night on the outskirts about a mile away.  For the first time we could see the railroad, yergatoughi, and the train at a distance. I had heard about trains but never had seen one.  We stayed a day and a half.  My mother was craving something sour, tuttou.  That became a reason for me to go towards the train hoping to find it for her.  I hadn’t realized, however, I would be able to see it up close. When near I was amazed!  It seemed to have a soul, hoki.  Pshrrpsr, it was hissing and blowing.  Had I time and been able, I would have stayed the whole day, fascinated.  But, I had gone there to find something sour for my mother.  I found nothing but a bit of bitter lemon from the storekeeper.  That train was going to Haleb, Aleppo.

My Little Sister

“We were on the road again.  After a short while we reached a place with a creek or brook, arvagmi muh.  This had a narrow bridge, negh garmujov.  Only two people could closely pass or only one with a donkey.  It became very congested.  The exiles from other cities and towns that had not traveled through Kharpert, who thus were not worn out and decrepit, were uncertain how to cross through this narrow passage.  They went into the water uncertain of its depth; it was, however, only up to their waists.  [Note: Baron Chakrian is a bit hesitant here and seems to be struggling with his script.]

“Everyone was pushing.  Neither my two sisters nor my mother were near me.  My aunt and my younger sister remained on the donkey in the midst of all this confusion.  We waited nearly two and a half hours in order to cross that damned, anidzial, narrow bridge to get to the other side!  Tshkouhi, who was sitting as usual on the back of the donkey behind my aunt, succeeded in getting off the animal and stood waiting for a few moments with my hand in hers.  I don’t remember in what way or for how long we remained in that pushing and shoving crowd.

“Suddenly I felt that my sister was no longer near me.  I was surrounded [long, emotional break in the narration here] and, as much as I looked around, [it was as if] she had evaporated!  I couldn’t leave my aunt on that donkey to go looking for my sister.  And where would I look?  Finally, during that separation, I was able to somehow struggle across.  Crying, I didn’t know what to do.  My mother and two sisters were not around.  Then, I heard a cry, ‘Brother, Brother, Yeghpayr, Yeghpayr.’ Looking toward the sound, I saw Tshkouhi, sitting on the bank of the stream, waiting, her shoes off and her feet in the water.

“I have yet to understand, and probably never will, how the women and men in that great confusion had the courage and stamina to cross that bridge.

 “Meanwhile, we were yet in another area of water.  I’m not sure exactly what it was, whether a river, ked, or an, arvak, small river or stream, but it was not a lake, voch lij.  Here and there the running water had settled, widening into gullies, with standing water in the partitioned ditches.  Other places the running water entered into cracks and crevices.  I could see that by moving the donkey [next to a height] I might be able to help my sister.  We neared a wall and I helped her up and from there onto the donkey in back of my aunt.  But again, after another ten or fifteen steps, we came to a spot where the donkey had to jump, tsadgel.  When he jumped, my sister thrown off the rear of the small animal, tumbled into the water.  The donkey, with my aunt aboard, [long pause] ran away—braying, running rapidly, arak, arak, and joined the multitude.  

“I looked around on all four sides, chorss gormuhss, no one remained near us.  My sister was seated in the water, crying.  As I helped her to the bank, a gendarme appeared.  He gave my back a couple of sharp blows with a whip, saying, ‘Khinzer oglu, khinzer! Ulu nerederi olsun, son of a pig…’ mounted his horse and left.  Scarcely two minutes later he returned with some young Arabs.  They were apparently twin brothers, yergvorgiag yeghpaynehrayn.  Striking me again with the whip, he grabbed my sister and handed her to those Arabs.  One, holding her by the right hand and the other by the left, they turned and took her slowly, slowly to the right, as if they were taking a young child learning to walk… [Note: Here is one of the few times that Baron Nahabed finishes his sentence with the ‘hallmark’ expression of many Sepastatis, ‘gor]… and moved into the distance.  Moments later, from amidst the crowd, my two sisters and my mother came into view.  I cried out, ‘Mother, Mother, look, look!  The gendarme took Tshkouhi from my hands and gave her to the Arabs!  Look, they took her away.’ 

“‘Aman, mercy… I am struggling with my tortured soul.  What can I do?’ ” my Mother said with a final, desperate resignation.

“When we joined the group again we saw the exiles were now surrounded by guards, bahaban, mounted police and native Arabs.  It seemed then that a new soul or spirit, nor hoki egav, came upon her. She began to cry, “ ‘My Tshkouhi, my Tshkouhi.’ ”

“It was the last we saw of my little sister.  What was to be the fate [literally what was written on her forehead] of my dear little sister?  Into what kind of peoples’ hands had she fallen, what kinds of trials and tribulations would she endure?  Would she grow up and marry a Muslim?  Would she turn Muslim and have Muslim children?  And lose knowledge of her Armenian birth and language in her new life?  I imagined and wondered all these things. I still yearn that this happened [and that she was not killed.]

Rakka, My Mother’s Death


[It seems appropriate to insert and include several maps of the region that show places along the Euphrates River and the situation of Rakka, Aleppo and Der Zor]




Description automatically generated
Fig. 1.

Enlargement from a map of

Western Asia from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean

showing the route of the University of Chicago Expedition of 1920.

From “James Henry Breasted, 1924” pg. 47.

James Henry Breasted (1865-1935) did an immense amount of work on the region for the University of Chicago. See especially “Pioneers to the Best American Archaeologists in the Middle East 1919-1920”, ed. by Geoff Emberling. The Oriental Museum Publication Number 30. The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago.




Diagram, engineering drawing

Description automatically generated
Fig. 2.


Full page reproduction of a map of Eastern Turkey in Asia, Map sheet number 44 of Deir ez Zor.

From”Maps of the Ottoman Empire. Eastern Turkey in Asia. Sheet 44. Deir ez Zor. Publisher: London: British War Office. Scale 1:250,000,

compiled by Intelligence Division War Office by Major F.R. Maunsell; derived from multiple expeditions 1839-1906.


Because the map is large and the page size relatively small (Fig. 2), making it difficult to examine, we have included an enlargement of the left hand side of the map (Fig. 3) and the right hand side (Fig. 4)




Diagram, engineering drawing

Description automatically generated
Fig. 3.




Description automatically generated
Fig. 4.







Chart, engineering drawing

Description automatically generated
Fig. 5.

Still further enlargement of map (Fig. 2)

starting with Rakka on the upper left to area below Halebie.

(For the view of the Euphrates Valley North from Halebie see Fig. 7 below.)





Description automatically generated
Fig. 6.

Enlargement of map to show Rakka especially – see at approximately 9 o’clock.




Diagram, text

Description automatically generated
Fig. 7.

View of the Euphrates looking North from the ruins of Halebie.

This is an enlargement from Fig. 4.





Description automatically generated
Fig. 8.

Fig. 8 is a Key for Figs. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.




Fig. 9.

Enlargement of the Library stamp providing information on the sources for the Deir ez Zor maps that we have copied and  provided for examination.



Four days later, we reached Rakka city and the deportees settled near the shore of the Euphrates River, Yeprad kedi yezerki.  We stayed three or four days.  We could go to the city to shop if one had money to spend.  And, even though I say “city”, kaghak, it now really was more of a small town rather than a village, but it consisted of once grand houses.  Years earlier it apparently was a rather important ‘royal’ city but it seems later that either Armenians or Assyrians, Assori, had settled there.  We stayed three days on the sand, avazi vrah of the riverbank. [Note: Baron Nahabed said three or four days above].

“On the third day my Mother died, mahatsav.  I don’t have the will to describe it in great detail since even after all these years, each time I remember, I am seized with intense grief, sastig guh huzvihm.  Amongst the Sebastia group settled on the banks were Gypsies.  [Note: the Armenian word kunchou is used rather than the Turkish word chingeneh or posha].  They were uncouth, ignorant and quarrelsome, gurvazan.  In fear of them we didn’t say anything about my Mother because, had they known, imanayin, they certainly would have taken the body from our hands and thrown her into the Euphrates.  Early the next morning my two sisters and I dug, as well as we could, a hole in the sand and buried her.  The same evening the local dogs from the scent uncovered the body, ate her, leaving only the bones.  We gathered these remains and threw them into the Yeprad, Euphrates.  In that way my poor Mother’s sorrows and pains finally came to an end—a remorseless fate, ankhuij jagadakir!

Hunger in the Desert

“The following day half the deportees on the road were moved, we among them.  After ten days our group now included Zeytountsik, people from Zeytoun, people from Sebastia, and others from a variety, darpehr, darpehr, of villages.  There were thirty-five women and three young adolescents, badaniner, [a rather archaic term], from our own village, I was one of them. They divided the group into subgroups near the Yeprad River where they had constructed enclosed and covered pits, poser, in the sand into which one could barely enter, haziv gurnayr mudnel.  [Note: It is not easy to picture this pos precisely.  It seems that it be best likened to a moat-like ditch which has been somehow covered, and has an entryway.  It must have been closer to a smallish trench, as in trench warfare?]  So narrow, that only by leaving the door open could 30 to 35 people be crowded into that close space--sleeping, crowded, sirar khirgadz, literally hugging, packed next to one another, feet to feet.  In the daytime, we passed the day begging.  They distributed about five pounds of flour to each of us [Note: he uses the English word “pound” here].  The following month it was the same.  Five pounds of flour was gone within two weeks; we then had to go to the Arabs in the desert and beg.  For two months we were given the flour, after that, there was none to be obtained other than by begging.  In the morning at sunrise we went into the desert where the Arabs lived under their tents, vuranneru dag, begging for food until sunset.  For our efforts I have to say that one might be able to get a bit of millet, goreg, or spoonful of flour.  Not to depreciate the amount given, there would be over 150 people each day standing outside a tent begging.  That situation was not just for a short period, one day, or one week, or one month but lasted months—three months!
A Donkey in its Death Throes
One day, early in the morning, I was on my way towards the deserts [again, Nahabed uses the word for desert, anabad, in its plural form anabadneruh].  I came to a place where I could see five or six tents.  As I neared, about twenty feet away I saw a donkey, lying down near death [Note: Nahabed uses the expression satgeloo vrah eh; satgel is generally applied to animals not humans].  I approached and sat near him like a hungry wolf waiting for him to die.  As long as he was alive the owner was not going to allow anyone to devour him, vorshadehn.  I saw the hour, endless hours, and the poor animal wouldn’t give up his soul and die.  There I was, seated at its head, until his last breath.  He finally settled back with a gasp and a jerk.  Only then did I realize I had nothing other than my teeth, adamneruss, with which to butcher him, usadeloo.  I had to return to our foxes’ lair… [Note, mehr aghvesee orchuh; aghvess=fox; vorch=lair] …and announce that good news.  I was certain from that moment it was not going to remain unnoticed.  I ran back towards our lair.  Breathlessly I whispered the good news into the ear of my sister, and she in turn whispered to our other sister; soon everybody realized something unexpected, anagngal, had happened.  This was especially so since my sister was looking for something like a knife.  Everyone got up and ran after us. I, in front, my two sisters behind.  We reached the place and like beasts, qazaneru numan, shortly, within ten to fifteen minutes that body, marminuh, of the dead donkey had been butchered and cut into pieces.
My Aunt’s Death

“We went back.  A few days later my Aunt closed her beautiful eyes for the last time.  We buried her body in the sands of Arabia close to our ‘lair’ where we lived.  What kind of a tragic fate! [Note: again he uses jagadaqir, literally signifying ‘writing on the forehead.]  She never had children; she dedicated herself to the children of her sister.  She was kind, unusually beautiful and lovable.  She was born in Kharaboghaz, grew up in Alaksa, and married at a very early age in the flower of her youth [Note: read rather rapidly as if reciting a hagiody].  Here in Arabia, Arabio metch, in the deserts she was to close her beautiful eyes… her heart of gold.  Bid rest and peace, khaghaghoutiun, to your tortured body, my sweet, noble, azniv, beautiful Aunt.  Peace upon your tortured sufferings.  What a troubled world, darabial ashkharh!  Her Mother-- my Grandmother-- we lost when we left her under a tree in Divrig.  Her husband was torturously killed, and her dear sister, my Mother, became food for beasts.  And she, here in the depths of Arabia, sealed her beautiful eyes in suffering.  Rest and peace upon you, my dear Aunt, your suffering and trials are at an end.

End of Tape I, side 1, Turn tape over to continue

Note: Although end of side one of Tape one was cut off, he apparently backed-up on the other side, realizing that he might have lost some narration. Nothing is lost.

A Thieving Guide

“Now, for more than four months we had been moving here and there without a home, without the head of a household, anderagan, and kept here in the Arabian desert, begging.

“A week after my Aunt’s death, the women decided, voroshel, that we return to Rakka.  We had reached that unfamiliar place, the Headquarters of the Gendarmes [Note: the Gendarmerie were the Para-military police of the Empire], and under the escort of gendarmes.  In what way did this decision get made?  But everyone knows female stubbornness, hamarutiunuh, and evidently it was the cause of it.  [Note: it hard to comprehend how the women could have ‘decided’ on their own to go to anywhere since they were under ‘escort’.  One wishes that Baron Nahabed had more precisely explained the situation.]  A day later, they found an Arab who spoke a little Turkish; he was barely intelligible.  He was to be our leader, arachnort, to Rakka.

“Early the next the morning we got on the road under the leadership of that rascal, surigal.  The weather was cloudy and dreary.  After one or two hours on the road, he stopped short, saying, ‘para, para,’ money, money, mousareer, mousareer (in Arabic), demanding money, all the while rubbing the fingers of his right hand.  The women put together a small amount and gave it to the rascal.  That day, as we traveled drearily, with feelings as dreary as the weather, that rascal halted ten to fifteen times until late at night demanding money. Early in the morning before we moved on again, an elder, a bearded Arab introduced himself as the authority, mukhtar, of that region, shurchan.  The women prostrated themselves, kissing his feet and hands and, crying, told him the story of their disaster.  Appearing kind and sympathetic, he turned to that rascal guide, and read him the riot act in a stern voice, khisd tsayn ovmuh, although we didn’t understand a word.  The rascal, reddening, took flight, khuysiguh turav.  The Arab, turning to the women, calmly told them not to worry, that no evil would befall them again.  ‘I will send my children to guide you all the way to the city.  May God be with you.’  Saying this, he left.  Shortly, two young boys came to serve as our guides.  A light rain had begun, and after getting on the road, we reached Rakka by the next afternoon, the place where four and a half months earlier we had dwelled in the desert.


We saw that the tiny city had changed substantially.  In that short time, much construction had occurred.  Before, there were only one or two stores, khanut; now twelve.  One oven for baking bread, now three.  Four nuravajar shops [nur means pomegranate; vajar means merchant or seller.  Whether the word was generically used for any kind of fruit not known.]  One pakalavaji, seller of paklava.  One shop for tel khadeyif, two tailors, and two shoe shops.  The whole central street of the place had changed, filled with newly arrived Armenian exiles from many places.  We paused in front of an Armenian tailor shop opposite a government building.  The two brother guides, having finished their business fully [Note: use of the archaic word liuli], turned and left.

“Half the day had passed chilly, now it turned cold and began to rain. We were trembling.  “Allah ashkinah”, [meaning “Dear God”-in Turkish; normally an Armenian might say, Asdvadz vehrehn var etchir, “God, please come down from above!]  The women and we three boys were crying.  Minutes later, out of the government building, descended a zaptieh [a Turkish policeman, pronounced by Nahabed as zaptiah].  He looked at us, turned, and went back in.  He was followed by a young man, who announced haughtily, gorozapar, ‘My name is Nishan. Follow me.’

“We walked in the heavy rain, leaving that heartless place, reaching an open space surrounded only by four walls that now served as a public toilet, artouarzart by the city folk.  ‘Stay here,’ he said and disappeared, anhaydatsav. This was no place to stay.  The stench was terrible.  We couldn’t remain there breathing that horrible smell.  Crying and moaning, voghpalov, we returned to the front of the government building.  A zaptieh [Turkish policeman, again pronounced zaptiah] emerged, saw our lamentable lot, said ‘Vagh, Allahan, vagh’…[all in Turkish, but Baron Nahabed repeats the Turkish in Armenian] ‘Dear, dear, Good God, dear, dear!  What sort of a lot is this?  Follow me!’

“Stepping into the city street, we turned right and paused in front of a door.  Two soldiers, zinvorhr, came to join him.  They opened the door and we saw twelve camels.  He directed the soldiers to remove them and took us all inside.  ‘Now wait here and I’ll be back.’  He returned shortly with the soldiers who carried two baskets, goghovnerov, of warm bread, fresh from the oven.  They distributed two to each of us and said we could stay until further decision, voroshoumn, from the authorities.  That place was for us like Paradise, Trakhd, spacious, layn, and warm.  I had not eaten bread for over four months.  At first, the bread remained in my throat, gogort, and I seemed to choke on it.  We stayed here for almost three months.

Forty Thousand Exiles on the Road to Der Zor

“Each morning, while there, we would go to the deserts to find fuel, varelaniut, for the ovens.  In the afternoon, we returned to the city with the load, pernerov.  They brought us all one or two loaves of bread in return.  One morning we went to the desert as usual, and as we were returning towards the city with our loads, we saw both sides of the road lined with soldiers, four by four, pasharvadz chors, chors.  They took our fuel, gave us each one or two loaves of bread, and led us to the banks of the Euphrates River where thousands of exiled people were waiting.  Within an hour or two, all the exiles found there, were moved to the right side of the Euphrates.

“Several hours later, in that multitude, ayd pasmutyunin mech, we found my two aunts, horakuirs—father’s sisters and Gulizar, the daughter of one of my aunts!  We waited several days as other exiles arrived joining our group.  Four days later forty thousand exiles were on the road toward Der Zor.

We reached Der Zor after traveling two weeks.  Here, to give a more detailed picture of our travel on the road to Der Zor, I am stubborn and will say no more.  I will only say that we didn’t enter the city; we passed by on the outskirts, al yezerken antsank.  At Der Zor there, the Euphrates River divides in two. [Note: I think this is incorrect.  It needs to be checked on a period map since the course and dimensions of the river have changed.]  The exiles settled in the desert some two miles distant from the river.  We stayed there three days.  Amidst the 40,000 exiles, only some seven or eight thousand had tents for protection from the sun.  The rest were scattered throughout the desert.

After Easter we were set on the road again. [How did they know the dates and Holy Days?]  The crowd began to sing.  [Mostly Turkish words of the song recited here but not translated into Armenian—the only words I can figure out are Zadig, Easter and chadrr, tent—I have consulted Dr. Verjine Svazlian’s “The Armenian Genocide in the Memoirs and Turkish-language Songs of the Eye-witness Survivors” Yerevan, 1999, but have found nothing suggestive.]

Towards Baghdad with a New Leader

“Now I only remember this much.  We were going to Baghdad.  The heat of the Der Zor Arabian desert was unbearable, andaneli, especially for the physically weak.  After a week on the road we reached Mudurluk [mudurlukmi, Baron Nahabed explains,  bashdonagan kiughmi, literally a functionary town - perhaps more properly a regional government center]… and there for three days in the desert we rested, tatar.  They distributed some flour to us.  On the fourth day, they put us on the road again.  But things were different.  The head gendarme was a 30-35 year old good-looking, tall, partsr hasagov, man.  

Before the sun had barely risen, he would get the exiles on the road, and by ten or ten-thirty when the sun was unbearable, he would find a spring, aghpiur, or a place with a stream, arvag for a place to rest.  I want to stress, vor sheshdem, this because it is very important: We had traveled twenty days under this man’s leadership.  He had beaten sixteen Arabs to death [?] who tried to rape, purnaparel, women or girls or kidnap, arevankel, children or to beat, dzedzelou, or otherwise attempted to rob, goghoptelu, or put a person through an ordeal or take to task, ports arelu.

“Two other incidents are imprinted in my mind, still clear.  The first, on one day late in the afternoon when stopping near the riverbank, we saw Arab women, Arabouhiner, and men, Arabner, wandering among the exiles.  The Arab women, freely speaking, ariman khoselov, were there for the purpose, midumo,v of selling bread, hahtz and tan, diluted yoghurt, but the males, dughamarti, came with another purpose.

“Suddenly we heard a woman scream.  The women and a few lads like myself ran in that direction and saw an Arab, twenty-five to thirty years old, pulling by her arm -- an eight or ten year old blonde-haired girl from the hands of her mother.  The head gendarme came in time with three helpers.  They grabbed the Arab, and presented him to the leader who took him to the edge of the stream, pulled off his white shirt, shabik, completely undressing him, bolor mergatsutsin.  They tied his feet and hands and whipped him.  With every blow, harvadz, he furiously demanded in Turkish ‘Ermeni?[not intelligible to me, other than the query pertaining to the Armenians, Ermeni?]  Beaten in this way, the breath was taken out of him, shi’nchanatz hanets.

Witness to yet Another Tragic Sight

“On another day a disturbance occurred, araq muh badahedtsav.  It remains deep in my heart.  We were settled on the banks of the river.  It was afternoon when uproar, aghmugmi, broke out; the attention of the people turned to where it was happening.  We saw a woman, about forty or fifty years old, her mouth bloody, lying trapped in the swift current with a donkey, his tail in her hand.  [Nahabed uses the Turkish word for donkey, ishoun, from the esh or donkey],  aboreli arartimi metch, niuyn avanagihn hed.

Gulizar Has a Plan

“Twenty days further on the road as we followed the curving river bank, we settled and rested.  On the third day I saw my sister Gulizar whispering with a woman about the same age, hasagagits, from our village.  With the curiosity of a young kid, yerakhayutian hedakurkirants, I began to listen.  They were planning to go to the desert to beg among the Arabs.  They stood up, wandering off like the [Arab] women who would come and stroll among the deportees, and thus they distanced themselves.  How many times did my sister turn around and try to make me go back?  But, I stubbornly persisted, following at a distance, and after we had gone quite away from the caravan she coolly relented.  One hour later, passing a hilly area, we lost the deportees from our view.  From a distance we saw ten or twelve tents in the desert and headed towards them.  From the first tent we reached, a young man emerged.  He examined us coolly and signaled us to go inside.  With her hand our female companion warned us to back off.  But we went ahead and that was the last we saw of her. 

“His elderly mother was seated under the tent scrutinizing us closely.  It was near sunset.  When we tried to leave the tent, she prevented us with a hand movement, and said some things, none of which we understood.  We spent the night, with heavy heart, in the tent.  Next morning another Arab woman, about forty years old, came.  From her appearance, the way she was dressed and the respect she was given, it was apparent she was the wife, dirouhi, of the chief of those tents.  The young fellow and his mother showed her much deference and attention.  They did not appear to contradict whatever she was saying.  We were unable to understand one word. From her actions and attitude it became apparent that she wanted to take my sister with her.  I began to really cry.  She gave me a careful look, and the same to my sister, but it was clear.  She turned to speak to the old woman and her son; they listened with heads bowed.  Turning to my sister and me, she signed for us to follow her. 

“Now, I cannot remember her name, and I hurt very much over that.  From seven in the morning I would take the lambs, garmougneruh to pasture, arod.  The first week she came with me.  After staying for about half an hour, she went back to the tent.  At nine thirty or ten I would hear her calling, ‘Hehd, Ali, hehd! Here, Ali, Here!’  They had given me the name Ali.  She would come and take me back to the tent.  Nam, Ali, nam’ she would say.  She would take her hands and place them on her face to indicate that she meant me to sleep.  [Note: Baron Nahabed says nap, instead of nam.  It is clearly a slip of the tongue.]  She would say ‘Ali, rest and take a sleep.’ She took care of me like a, harazad, mother or grandmother.  I will never forget that when I began to count from one to ten in Arabic she was as happy and proud as a grandmother whose grandchild, tornig, had taken the first steps in walking or first syllables, vanguh.  She enjoyed every correct word I learned in Arabic and left the tent to tell the other Arab women.  I want to offer my gratitude and respect to her and her family.  Even though I have, unfortunately, forgotten their names, I will never forget the way they treated me and will always be forever grateful.

An Important Change

“We remained about five weeks at that place.  Later her two sons, zavagneruh, came and made preparations to move all the sheep and goats, and all else needed, to be integrated into their own group.  As luck would have it, the village where we had gone to beg was located on the left bank of the river and the exiles were now settled on the opposite side.  After having taken care of all the preparations, the older son took me on his back, and swimming, we crossed to the left side.  The following day, the remainder of the people came, bringing my sister, Gulizar, with them.

That family was the head family of Shoun [?] village [sounds like shoun kiuighi].  They had three male offspring, two married, the youngest still a bachelor, amouri.  Our family’s Village Headman, Kiughaderuh, ten or twelve years older than his wife, was kind, respectful, and worthy of her.  He gave me the business of grazing the lambs in their summer pastures, yaila, summer dwelling place, [note from the designation yaila it is clear that these were nomadic or semi-nomadic Arabs].


We Leave

“The sun was setting and we had been away from the village for a month at several yaila-s, summer pastures.  When I returned with the lambs, my sister whispered to me that a gendarme, accompanied by a military physician, had come to say if we wanted to leave with them they could take us to Shaddadieh.  They added that if there were other Armenians in the area who wished to come with us, they would kindly take them as well.  My sister believed them.  In that area there were five or six Armenian adolescents.  I explained the situation to them.  Five of them agreed to come in a half hour to join us.  But when the time came to get on the road, not one of them showed up.  In the evening at six o’clock we started on the road.  Neither the head of the household or anyone in the family opened their mouths to say a word.

“The guides on their horses and we walking, reached Shaddadiyeh in six and a half hours.  We were barefoot, bobig, in the desert picking up thorns and prickles, poushereh, from the bushes on our feet.  There were some thirty or thirty-five houses but that night we saw nothing –everything was dark and obscure, mut yev khavar.  After passing a dry canyon, tsor, we soon saw high on a hill, the light of candles glowing from a government building.  We reached it. 

“Now, you see, they already knew about the time of our arrival.  A fifty to fifty- five year-old man came out with a servant and beckoned his two guests to enter, directed us to the attention of another servant and left to join his guests.  The servant, holding a candle, signaled us to follow him.  We were led to a tiny cell, khoutsmuh, [pronounced ‘koohtsmuh’] bare and only covered with a mat, khusir.  ‘Sleep here tonight,’ he said roughly and went out leaving us in the dark.  

“Thirsty, hungry and exhausted, we lay down on the floor of the cell and in a few moments we were in the world of dreams.  When we awoke in the morning we saw sunshine through the narrow window.  Minutes passed.  What were we to do?  Then, a nine or ten year old boy came introducing himself in Armenian as Hagop.  The master, Efendi, had instructed him to take us to his [i.e. Hagop’s] sister’s where she was to feed us.  We followed him entering a clean kitchen, makour khoharanotsmuh, where his sister, smiling, introduced herself as Untziag…[not absolutely sure if it is –Utsiah or Utsiag,  or Untsiah, etc. but U[n]tzag—signifying tiger or leopard, is a girl’s name, albeit uncommon] … She gave no last name.

  “‘We are Urfatsis’ ” [from the city of Urfa] she said with a smile on her face, zhup’d eress.  She added that seven or eight months earlier Baron Mudur [I cannot be sure of the name yet since in Turkish the word mudur can signify a precise position or office of responsibility, as a chief, ---we’ll see hopefully if he is the mudur and hence referred to with the title of respect Mr. or Baron or really a Mr. Mudur, pronounced by Nahabed miudurr or mew-durr]… had taken them out of the hands of the Arabs and brought here.

“‘I do the cleaning and cooking of the meals.  Other than that we have no reason to be here.’ ”

“With fresh lavash [lavash is an Armenian flatbread, tarm lavashov] and preparing tea [Armenian word tay rather than Turkish word chai] she fed us.  Then in the afternoon, Hassan [Hassan has not been hitherto mentioned, does Nahabed mean Hagop?] came and took us to the village where there were four Armenian women in a small public house or inn, icovanimuh mech.  [Note that Nahabed uses an archaic term for inn].  He told them that Baron Muidur was sending us to stay with them; he dropped us off and left.

“One of the women was from Marash, another from Kharpert, and I have forgotten where the others were from.  Ninety out of a hundred of the population, punagchoutianuh, in that village were Armenian Assyrians who had come from Mardin [he pronounces it Mehrdihn.  Also Baron Nahabed clearly says Hai Assorinayn, viz. Armenian Assyrians.  He does not say Hai yev Assori, yev meaning ‘and’. Exactly what an “Armenian Assyrian” is escapes this translator.  Perhaps Nahabed means Armenian-speaking Assyrians, rather than Turkish, Arabic or Persian-speaking Assyrians.  Mardin, was a sanjak (subprovince or county) of Diarbekir Vilayet.  Assyrians, as Christians, were also deported by the Turks.]

“My sister went daily from door to door looking for work.  In this way about two weeks passed.  One day I got the idea [literally, blew into my mind, khelkuss putchess] that I should go to Muduirluk to see Hagop.  But he was not there at the time, bahoun. While I was talking to his sister, Muidur Ali came to the kitchen, in his hand a Turkish coffee pot, a jezveh, which was covered with dried coffee grounds turned to gravel from years of use.

‘I thought Hagop was here,’ he said. “ ‘I wanted him to take this jezveh and to try to clean it a bit if he can.’ ” 

Miudur Efendi, [Mr. Mew-door], I will take this and try to clean it to the best of my ability.”  I was blushing.

“‘Takk eh...oghlum,’ ” my boy, and passed it to me.  I took it from his hands, shaking with excitement and embarrassment. At the river- bank I began to scrub with all my might using water and sand.  I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw what was beneath the surface!  It began to shine like copper, bughintsi behss.  After an hour of even more vigorous rubbing and rubbing that coffee pot, surj amanuh, began to shine like gold.  I left, happy, hoping that that he might be pleased enough to give me a gift.  When he saw my pleasure with the shining coffee pot, he asked my name.  I told him.

“ ‘Dughass,’ my boy, he said, in Armenian, “‘From today I am going to call you Buzdig, Little One. That word, buzdig, is Armenian isn’t it?’ ”

“Yes, sir,” I said, blushing again.

“You’re going to be my coffee maker, ihm kheyvajiss, and you are going to stay here.’ ”

He turned to Hagop’s sister, “ ‘Teach “Buzdig” how to make coffee.’ ” With that he left us.

“I immediately ran to my sister to tell her the good news knowing it would make her happy. Now she would have less worry about my care.  From that day I stayed there.  I learned to make coffee and my name remained Buzdig.

An Accident

“After returning to Baron Muidurs’s, several days passed and on the fifth, an Arab shaykh with his wives came to visit, aytseloutyan.  He was sitting upright on a beautiful saddle, netsoug.  After the initial courtesies and greetings, and before going in, Miudur gave me the bridle, santsuh of the horse. “ ‘Buzdig, take the horse aside and mix some barley, qari, and grain-feed and give it to him.’ ”  I obediently took the bridle, and was leading him on the left side, when suddenly the horse, without falling or jumping, pushed and stepped on two of my left toes squashing them and taking off the skin.  Passing the bridle to Gutsiag [Hagop’s sister] they immediately took me inside and seated me on a chair.  They brought in a lambskin and wrapped my entire foot. [Note: I have heard from Kharpertsis, the use of freshly killed lambskin being used to treat wounds and severe fractures, especially those that have penetrated the skin, with great success—even in the USA when all else failed with orthodox medicine.  It must have been a standard treatment.]

“Shaking his head from side to side, he said to me, ‘Buzdig, my boy, do not walk much on this for several days.’  He left to join his guest.  In three or four days I could get down onto the flat floor and go to the water’s edge to soak my foot.  A week later my foot was better and the pain was gone.

“A month later Miudur sent for one of the officers, usbanneruh, under his authority, with instructions that he not forget what had been conveyed to him.  After a few hours, the officer came back with a twenty to twenty-two year old Armenian village woman from Aintab and her brother who looked my age.  They were Turkish speakers and didn’t understand Armenian.  Her name was Mariam and the brother was Garabed.  Now we were three males working at Miudur’sHagop, Buzdig and Garabed.  Afternoons we went to the desert to collect fuel.  The ‘toilet’ dung, literally ardaknadz turikuh of cows and oxen served very well for burning.  [Note: It is surprising that Baron Nahabed does not use the Turkish word tezek or the Armenian word teshkur anywhere in his description of finding dung for use in making fuel.  Generally treeless areas had long been reduced to using prepared dung pats for fuel.] In this fashion, two or three weeks more passed.]

Irregular Horsemen

“One day three hundred irregular horsemen came to Shaddadiyeh, and after an hour’s rest, they assembled and left towards Der Zor.  Each individual, anhad, were given orders and they left in ranks.  A week passed and the columns returned.  In another twelve days they went back, but this time there were only one hundred fifty passing by.

“A week later they exiled Miudur [aksoretsihn] with his family.  This must have been at the order of the nahabed, the headman, of Der Zor.  Before he left he complimented my sister and the rest of us for how hardworking we all were.  In this way our contacts with Miudur Ali ended.  It was a good passage.  May he be looked upon by God favorably, and be given peace.

“He took with him his new wife; her brother; Gutziag and Hagop.  I do not know when and exactly from where they had emigrated in Turkey.  They were Circassian.  Anyone in their presence could immediately perceive they were emigré Cherkesses, except for their language, parparuh, which was different.  They were well-mannered,  courteous, respectful, aveli harkanknerov ayn.  

“Their chief was Suleiman Bek who had a brother, Omer, but he was under the command of Suleiman.  My sister and I entered into their service, anonts dzarayoutian .  My sister’s job was to bake lavash, flat bread, every day for one hundred fifty people and to prepare five to six lambs, sheep, or goats.  My job was to supply fuel from the desert, to bring water from the river for the animals and to pour water into leather bags and hang them in their tents.  Within a few hours the water in the bags cooled by evaporation.

A Thief

“One day I was on my way to the desert to collect fuel.  I used the front of my white Arab shirt as an apron, filled it with whatever I found, then added it to the spot, kharar, for fuel storage.  I was some distance from the river and saw on my right side a young Arab who was working in the fields.  He began to shout in Arabic —not a word of which I understood.  Leaving him behind, I climbed a small hill and picked dung until my apron was full and turned to go back.  Then I saw that that young Arab, swimming to the right side had taken my collection from the kharrar.  From fright, I dropped my collection.  He took the shirt off my back, yanking it all away rendering me naked, mergatsoudts.  My shirt on his head and taking my fuel, he jumped into the river.  Crying, I ran back to the Chechens’ tent.  They were sitting under the tent, but upon seeing me, they stood up immediately.  Suleiman Bek saying, in Turkish, ‘… [Cannot translate].  Crying, I gave my story.

“Immediately, fifty people got on their horses, headed by Suleiman Bek, and rode towards the river.  Scarcely a half hour passed when they returned with this thief of a fellow—wearing my shirt and with my collection.  They had tied his arms, and after giving him a good thrashing they threw him on the ground.  Giving me the whip, mudrag,  Suleiman Beg said, ‘Oghlum Buzdig, ….’ In Turkish [unable to translate other than My boy, Buzdig, …].  I avidly took the whip, and whipped the young fellow with as much nerve as I could muster.  They detained him for the whole of two days.  On the third day, three old Arabs came with four sheep and three goats with which to secure his release.  Had he known I worked for them, he would never have taken a stone from me.  After a long refined, parag, talk, they were able to untie and free him, azagetsihn.


“By the next week, 25,000 deportees arrived in Shaddadiyeh.  One day, before sunset, it was announced that all males were to be separated out to work on the railroad tracks.  They were taken to the desert where hundreds of Arabs were waiting.  Their hands were tied behind them, they were searched for money and valuables, and then given to the lap of an Arab to examine again.  And if they found anything wearable, or of value, they were killed with daggers, tashouyn or axes, gatsin-nerov.  The Cherkesses were not restrained… [Note: literally not kept with their hands tied]… throughout this catastrophe, yeghernihn.] 

“Early in the morning before sunrise, those criminals, vojakordzneruh, returned and this time they took women, diknaik, an archaic word based on ek and children, manougdneruh to the desert and they would meet the same fate.  Once a week or every few weeks the exiles would come-- 15,000, 20,000 -- sometimes more, sometimes less.

“In three centers, gentron-neroo metch, Shaddadiyeh, Hassijeh, and Suvari, they would for the first time be confronted by 300 Chechens from Der Zor, about 150 from Shaddadieyeh, 75 at Suvari and the other 75 at Hassijeh.  To these three centers, exiles came from various provinces in Turkey, nahanqnereh Dajikastani, and were gathered like sacrificial lambs, voghc’abess garmougner for the sacrifice.  In four or five months a million and a half Armenians were sacrificed, voghc’agetz yeghan in these three places.

“I suppose, gardzehm, that it was some three months later, that one evening, 20,000 deportees-- males, who had been first taken two days earlier, were sacrificed, nahadagz eyn, and the following day by women, ginereh and children manougnereh.

A Bloody Incident
“There was only one boat.  In order to go from one side of the river to the other, they had raised, amparoutsadz eyn, a high rope, baranmuh.  At that place the river current, hosankuh, was strong, and on both sides there was no elevated spot, except for where that rope had been tied.  For ten to fifteen feet, there was an opening to get out from it—and from there, flat desert, daparag anabad.  [Note: Baron Nahabed hesitates and is not very clear here.  The literal translation is given but does not make total sense.  Ferry-type boats of the region did have a back door which could be lowered to allow loading of people, animals etc.]

“This particular day, as luck would have it, in order to gather dung for burning, I wanted to go to that side.  The boatman was a dirty and ugly Arab, and he knew that I served, guh dzarayay, those Chechens… [Note: Baron Nahabed says Chechens, not Cherkesses here.  Perhaps he is using the terms interchangeably and even though they are ethnically similar, they are different.] “… He did not say or do anything when I jumped on the boat.  The first thing I saw stunned me.  The people on the boat were bloody!  You see, these poor people, supposedly being moved to the other side, had been slashed and daggered, tashuyn aradz ayn, and many in that condition had been thrown into the river.

“My heart heaved as we reached the other side.  I leaped out of the boat into the desert.  After about twenty or thirty steps I heard the sound of a child, yerakha.  Turning, I saw a three or four year old blonde-haired little girl.  I don’t know how she had been left there.  Had her mother been killed, or had she not been able to take her with her?  There, under a bush, tupi’muh, she had been left, and because of the obscurity she was not seen by the boatmen.  I approached her.  She did not know Armenian.  I started to talk to her in Turkish.  From the other side of the river, at a distance, a Chechen who was looking all around, saw that I was talking to a little one.  He shouted to the boatman and ordered her to be thrown into the river.  The little girl said that her mother was Antaptsi [from Aintab] and our conversation stopped.  In order to carry out his orders, the guy came and with one hand picked her up with a swipe, puhshqehlov, from the back of her clothing, took her toward the river, and without any hesitation, arants dadamseloo threw her in.  The poor little girl’s body got lost in the water, her face emerged with her mouth open to get air, and then the current of the water took her away from my view.  Completing my necessary work, I returned to my place, my heart broken, and quite depressed, pavagan suzvadz.  After that I never went to the right side of the river.

“For four and half months that same crime, niun yeghernuh was carried out without remorse, ankhuij.  And with the blood of a million and a half Armenians the plains of Arabia, Arabio dashteruh, were stained.  Curse that heartless Germany, nuzov, ansirt Germaniaov who gave that ass or donkey Turk, avanag Turkihn, that idea, qaghaparuh.  Curse that heartless Turk, anesk ansirt Turkihn, who executed remorselessly, ankhuij qorsatrets zany. [Baron Nahabed hesitates a lot and is having great trouble reading his handwriting].

An Earlier Episode

“In the last caravan, two weeks before the slaughter, verchin garavani godormani ergu shapat arach, by order of instructions from Zekkri Bey, I went with a friend to his village and house to deliver some necessary things.  He assured us he was certain that everything would be finished within a couple of weeks and that he was going to return and bring my sister back.  [Not clear here.]  After one and half days we reached the village, which had the name of Suvari—all Chechens.  Zekkri Bey’s house, punagaranuh, was prosperous and built well.  They lived in one story [uses English word, mi story mi mech]

End of Tape I, side 2.   This cut-off mid-sentence.  It picks up on Tape II, side 1. However, the ‘proper continuation’ of this tape starts on side ‘B’ [not the expected A].  He has written on it in Armenian “This is side 2” but he has crossed it out and thus will be ignored here. 

Even though the narration at the end of tape 1. is cut off, it is not lost since Baron Nahabed backs up, as it were, and picks up on the following tape.  However, here he reads his text considerably more quickly [and the recording is rougher here, as is the soundtrack—it also sounds like a much more nasal and raspy voice; perhaps he has a cold?].  He picks up the part that they reach the village in one and a half days---all Chechen and the

Balance served as a hotel, huiranots.  End of Tape I, side 2.

This cut-off mid-sentence.  Note it is not absolutely clear that the use of the English word ‘hotel’ is precise here.  In large Turkish homes, it was usual to have a large room for receiving guests etc., ‘holding court’ as it were etc.  This was the divan room.  Whether Baron Nahabed is talking of a ‘real’ hotel, or a divan room is not fully clear.  It could well be a guest-receiving room since the ending of ‘notz’ [signifying place] is used rather than ‘dun’ [house]. This note is added to indicate that it is not easy to always be certain.]


“And in a large room, [along] with a hotel, spent the entire day.  His mother slept in the hotel.  There they cooked, and there they ate and passed the day.  In this section, there was another room divided into two sections; in one, he and his wife, gunochuh, in one part and the two children in the other would sleep at night.  They also had a building, shenk, divided into two parts.  One part was for the goats, and the other for twenty-five sheep.  Five or six short steps further on was his brother’s house, where I recall [curiously he uses word ‘stress’ here, sheshdadz ehm], his three children-- two sons and one daughter lived.


“There they changed my name, and called me Ibrahim.  My job was to take care of the horses, and their waste, geghd.  I had to feed and water the chickens and geese, haveruh yev saqueruh, bring water from the river, and take care of their manure.  I had to fill four large storage pots made of clay, gaveh shinvadz poghokner.  I also took take care of two little girls when needed.  Additionally, I milked the sheep and goats, once a day.  This was an everyday routine.


“When Zekkri Bey sent me to his village, he told me that there were two Armenians living there.  He said to expel them, vurundeh usav, two or three times.  It was true that there was a middle aged Armenian couple, zuq mi Haeri, mart yev gin, micahasad, an Armenian man and his wife there when we arrived.  But at the time I had neither the heart nor did I agree to do so, voch ahl hamartsaynotiunuh, and they remained in the service of their head for two more weeks.  One day, our neighbor Rashid came from Shaddadiyeh, and seeing them there, took the Armenians away towards Rus-ul-Ayn.  There, off the roadside, he struck and killed them.  He returned boasting about the brave work done, yev bardzetsav ihr eradz kacakordtsutiunuh .  No matter how much they had pleaded and fallen to his feet, begging to spare their lives, khunayeh ints gyanhkuh, he carried out his orders.

Events During the Year

“I remained in the village a year.  I am only going to mention some of the important things that happened during this time.

“I’ve mentioned milking the sheep, and the goats, and delivering them to a shepherd for pasture outside the village in a flock, hodimuh mech.  One early morning I was waiting for the shepherd and saw a mounted man leading two horses to the river.  He looked at me and stopped about fifty steps away, shouting, ‘There are arbid here—be careful, be careful!’  In Arabia, arbid is the name of a very poisonous snake, touynavor ots mun eh, whose venom is not always fatal, mishd maghanatsuts cheh.  [Note: I have been unable to verify this snake despite contact with scientists fluent in Arabic.  It is probably Bedouin Arabic dialect.]  As a country boy, I was not afraid of snakes.  As if he was my father, on his saying that, I dropped the milk pail, gatih amanuh, and ran toward it.  When I got there, I looked around and saw a snake.  [Baron Nahabed corrects himself here, and says he did not see any snake, or anything like one.].  I looked around in all directions and all I saw was a black rope, coiled.  When I moved to pick it up, the horseman, whipping the horse, rushed toward me.  From the sound of the hooves that black imagined ‘rope’ raised its head and positioned itself [literally ‘planted’ himself, dungavetsav, half-way up, with a hiss! 

“At that moment, a shepherd arrived with other people, and within ten to fifteen moments we made a circle and threw stones to kill it.  We had to be careful that any stick or stone, tsubuh gam karuh, thrown was at a distance so that it would not hit anyone on the opposite side.  At the same time, it was important that the person on the other side be able to grab the stone and throw it again, in the event we missed.  The snake would turn its head, half-raised, hissing and jump, attempting to strike whoever was closest to him, but he was unable reach anyone.  We had him surrounded.  This lasted about five or six minutes.  One woman chucked a rock, missed the snake and the rock rolled away landing about fifteen steps distant.

“Forgetting caution, and since the rock had fallen closest to me and as I had already thrown the stick in my hand, without thinking I ignorantly, anuskheli jumped to that side to retrieve the rock.  The viper, izhuh, [Note: I think it is a generic term, not a zoological one] at the same moment, turned its head suddenly and seeing that I was closest, leapt towards me in a raised position.  He fell five or six feet away with a hiss.  Meanwhile I had turned to stone, unable to move from my place, my mouth open.  The shepherd, who was closest to where I was, swiftly, as if by flying, sword in hand, rushed and like a guardian angel with one blow slashed it in two.  I sat down on the ground breathless, with weak knees, happy that I had survived.  That became my first trial of being saved.

“Almost a year later, I encountered my second trial.  With a shepherd in the employ of one of Zekkri Bey’s brother’s children, we went to the desert to gather wood.  We started to collect in a rocky place sticks and brush for fuel.  The weather was warm.  Some five or six feet from me, a viper, izhmuh, hissing, came cutting my path.  It had gone on some ten or fifteen feet, and I, as soon as he crossed, bent over and grabbing a stone threw it at him.  The stone missed him, vuribetsav, but the snake turned back hissing and it seemed that it was after me.  The experience that I had gained the year before had been a lesson.  But the snake was not the same kind of snake.  And the mere throwing of a cold stone at him was not going to cause him any danger, especially since the stone had not touched him.  It was good that the place was flat and stony.  When he turned back towards me, I took flight and by looking back I could see where he was.  Because of the stony ground it could not immediately catch up.  I was always some ten and fifteen feet ahead of him and could stop, pick up a rock and throw it.  

“The Arab woman with me, mortified and petrified, stayed put under a bush, tupi muh dag.  This situation continued for some 15 to 20 minutes.  At each of my turns, I would gain some twenty feet or twenty-five feet, and each time I bent down for a stone to throw, we could be even.  Finally, exhausted and sweating, my strength cut, and with the hope of a final effort, I bent for a rock and threw it at him.  Luckily, it hit him right in the head, and he began to writhe.  With new strength, I jumped and grabbed that damned thing’s neck with my hands, and finding a sizable stone and putting his head on the ground, I killed it.  Exhausted and half-dead I fell to the ground.  I don’t know how long I stayed in that position, tirki mech, until Nahoneh [?] [The Arab woman], dressed in her Arab clothes, came with her apron moistened from the stream, and rubbed my face to revive me, ushki perelu.  After this second encounter I had nothing further to do with snakes, nor do I ever want to have anything to do with them!

“I had yet another trial.  One night I was sleeping soundly when awakened by Zekkri Bey.  He said one of the goats was having trouble giving birth.  I had to call the shepherd for help but he was located outside the village [Note, Nahabed uses the term nujjerissuh for shepherd.  This is an archaic word.  The Turkish word choban was more commonly used to designate a shepherd.  Nahabed talks also about a hoviv, a male shepherd, rather than a hovivouhi, a female shepherd, or shepherdess. Yet, somewhere in this narration he mentions hoviv when he clearly is taking about a woman.  No matter, this is yet another example of Nahabed’s rich vocabulary and his tendency to use many alternatives for the same thing.]  There was only one road to go there and on that road there were four or five houses with vicious dogs, gadkhur shooner oonayn...[Note: the word gadkhur literally means ‘mad’ or ‘enraged’] so much so that people were afraid to pass by, especially at night.

“That night was dark and moonless.  There was another way to leave town from the other end of the village, but that involved turning through the desert.  It would have taken too long; I decided that I would take the road past the houses and dogs.  As I neared the houses with those dogs, I began to walk quietly, quietly not making noise.  After passing the second or third house, the dog, awakened, barked and reached me.  In a moment five angry dogs surrounded me.  With a staff, qavazan, in my hand I tried to protect myself as I walked and chased them off as much as I could.  Trying to escape, my feet gave way under me and I fell into a deep ditch.  When I opened my eyes I saw their blue fiery eyes.  All five ferocious dogs with their heads down were looking at me.  As long as I stayed there, and I did not dare try to get out, the dogs remained.  After a long wait, the dogs ‘cooled off,’ usahadadz, dropped the matter of the ditch and returned to their own homes.  And after waiting an additional half hour, pushing myself, slowly, slowly on my knees, I managed to get out.

“ I looked around carefully to see if I was free of those beasts but something was missing.  I rubbed my head with my hand and the ‘secret’ emerged.  When I fell into the ditch, I had lost my hat, my Cherkess hat made of lambskin.  I returned in the dark to look for it, groping, hoping to find it.  Trying to find a black hat in a pitch-black pit was impossible.  I did finally find it and emerged out of the pit.  On my belly I crawled slowly away until I felt that I was free and safe enough to get on my feet.  I reached the shepherd’s tent, and awakening him, told him what happened.  We quickly got on the road.  By the time we got to the place where the dogs were, it was dawn and those damned beasts recognized him.  When we reached home, the goat had already given birth.  My difficulties, my fear and my tribulations, darabankus, remained with me.


“Several weeks later, one of our neighbors gave a feast but only for the men, minag dughamartosts hamar.  About sixty or seventy men, with eight, nine or ten of them sitting cross-legged, dzalabadig on the floor, were waiting.  The meal consisted of boiled lamb or mutton.  In five or six pans, tuyleru mech, [Note: normally a tuyl would be more of a bucket than a pan but pan makes better sense] lavash, flat bread, which had been readied ‘ovened’, hurvadz, was waiting [to be eaten].  They did not have to wait too long for the lamb; the meat was ready as well. In every bucket there was lamb meat with broth.  Among the men in that group the eldest was at the head of the table, seghanabed, host.  Saying [in Arabic] Bismillah ir-Rahman ar-Rahim’ [In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate] with his ‘hungry’ arms, teveruh sovkadz, and mixing pieces of lamb with the lavash he became the first to take a piece to begin eating.  Then every other diner followed him doing the same.

“I, who was turning about in that group, saw a Kurdish woman, a beggar.  When I went and spoke to her, I knew that she was disguising her identity under a Kurdish costume.  To give her lavash and meat, I bent down to tear off a piece. At that moment someone pulled me up by my two ears, hit me in the face with a couple of slaps, and shouted, at me ‘eretsveh.’[Not sure here of the exact word.  Sounds like this.  Fortunately, Nahabed translates into Armenian, anoti shoun, hungry dog]  “ ‘Know your place!  Who leaves you hungry?’ ”  It was a brother of Zekkri Bey’s wife.

“I ran home crying with a bloody nose and mouth.  Zekkri Bey’s mother and wife, seeing me in that state became very upset.  They asked who denied me the possibility of eating some of that meal.  I explained who it was and why.  And, hearing about the Kurdish woman and understanding that a wrong had been done, his wife went the next day to explain the misunderstanding that had led to my being beaten.  A day later, Zekkri Bey’s brother-in-law came to ask forgiveness from his Grandmother, Medz Mamayi.  It seemed that for my part, I had taken an ungracious step, and behaved like a hungry wolf, and the honor, badivuh, of the family had been compromised.  Thus it ended in this fashion.  The woman who had come was Armenian, dressed as a Kurd wandering through the nearby villages, until my sister and me, finding out, pampuss duhvink, we gave our word. We left for the place where my sister was, Ras-ul-Ayn.

Finding Gulizar

“I found my sister one day when riding to Ras-ul-Ain on a donkey to take wheat for milling.  There was, fortunately, a mill beside a small lake where the water worked the millwheel.  On that day, my sister had come with two women to the mill near the lake.  I saw her by happy accident.  We had been apart for over four months.  In astonishment and tears of happiness, we held one another with wrapped arms. My sister related her story that after the slaughter had finished, godorasuh verchatsadz er, and before the Chechens had turned to go back, they gave her to an Arab man.  But six months later she ran away, entering into the household of a rich Chechen as a servant, spashuhi.  The house belonged to the richest Chechen in Ras-ul-Ain, a prince by the name of Rashid Bey.  To my sister I said if I had the opportunity, I would run away and join her. “ ‘If you run away and get here, you will be free’ ”, my sister said, attentively, ushatirelov. “ ‘No one hesitates, hamartzager, to come for help at this household.’ ” We kissed goodbye and separated; I went back to Suvari.  Four months passed. 


“My first opportunity, badehoutioun-us, came when my neighbor Ahmed asked his mother, Mama’in, to give me permission, to bring his horse back from the pasture, arodihn.  The horse was chained, shighta i zarguvadz er, [literally struck with chains], at the leg so he could not go very far from the pasture.  [Note: it is not certain from this if the horse was hobbled.]  The mother gave permission for me to fetch the horse.  When Ahmed gave me the key for the lock, he said, ‘Don’t be afraid; he is very gentle shad hez eh.’

“After inquiring where in the pasture the horse was, and thanking the Mother, I left. 

“ ‘Be careful, be careful,’ ” ikawem, in Arabic, said the old mother, kindly.  [Note:“resist” viz. resist temptation, kawem means resist]  “‘You have no need for freedom.’ ” 

“Taking leave, I departed, in my heart agitated, alegosial, unsure of what these steps would hold in store for me.  I had made my decision.  The consequences, hedevank, were in the hands of God.  When I left the village I changed my route and took the path to Ras-ul-Ain.  My heart was still uneasy about the future, and I began to run.  Finally, without mishap, I reached Ras-ul-Ain and the house my sister had pointed out to me. 

“My sister graciously acknowledged my arrival and introduced me to the lady of the house, dan dirouhi, “ ‘This is my brother, on whose behalf I spoke.’ ”  The lady of the household greeting me with a smile, z’ubidovmi, and turning to my sister, said, “ ‘Do not worry my girl, anhok eghir agchigus, no harm will befall his head here.  Take him and feed him, he will be hungry!’ ”  

“A week had passed since my coming to Ras-ul-Ain when that damned Zekkri Bey’s brother’s son, ‘planted himself plumply’ in our yard, chacur dunguvedzav mer pagihn mech.  [Note the colorful imagery].  My heart began to pound, my mouth fell open; I was tongue-tied.  Knowing very well what an elevated state his heartlessness could rise to, I was certain that if I passed by him, I would not reach Suvari alive!  To my great surprise he only threw a cold look at me, unzi bagh agnargmi nedets, and then, after talking respectfully with the lady of the house for five minutes before politely taking leave, he again gave me a cold look and departed.  That was the last I saw of him.

“Some two months after what I just related, my sister and I ran away from Ras-ul-Ain, and joined a workers’ camp, gordsavohrnerou panagihn.  They were working like slaves, keri-bes, dropping railroad tracks.  The Germans were building a railroad line from Haleb to Baghdad.  We joined them.

“No longer was there fear.  News began to circulate that the Headman of Der-Zor, Der Zorihn Nahanakbeduh, had issued a new order, widely distributed, that any family harboring an Armenian, male or female, would be severely punished if the government was not notified.  Families were found who ignored that order and because of the potential punishment involved, it was the reason we had fled from Ras-ul-Ain.  We heard that workers under German supervision were free from the punishment of the order.


“Now that I was together with my sister, I wanted to understand what took place when we were apart after the Chechens had ‘adopted’ me and sent me to their village, ortakrelov yev ihr kiughuh khurgets, during the time I had beensaved’.  

“She began her account by saying that about a couple of weeks later, some 50,000 exiles came to Shaddadiyeh.  Four days later, before sunrise, six or seven Chechens went to where the exiles were, to say that upon new orders, males would be separated and taken with them to build a new road for railroad tracks.  But this time, that dirty trick did not work, geghdzubadi khapvankuh cheh qordzehr.  None of the exiles moved.  The Chechens, infuriated, took out their pistols, adurjanagnikn hanelov, cursing and firing shots into the air, hayhoyelov, and oghodzalo.   But this time [as well] there was a different quality, hanqamank, to the operation [viz. there was some opposition].  Among those exiles there were some Zeituntsis, of whom three or four, had been able to keep hidden in their pockets, always at hand, some old guns, hin huratsanner.  When the Chechens began to attack and shoot, it seems that those Zeituntsis had an agreement as to their fate, ‘If we are going to die, let us die with our families.’  They fired and killed [uses the word satkel here] three beasts, yerek gazaner, [i.e. Chechens.]  The other four ran away, and went back, joining up with the other 147.

“Nearly a hundred Chechens on horses had gone out in the desert and were all over.  It was getting dark, my sister said, beginning to cry, and two or three hours later they left.  It was not apparent what they had gone for, or where they had gone.  When dawn came, it became clear what was happening.  The entire exile population in the desert was interspersed with thousands of Arabs, armed with guns and sabers, zenkerov yev turerov.  As I have described before, some ten to fifteen feet distant from a Chechen tent there was the dry tsor, [called a wadi in Arabic (and English), i.e. a dry river bed] which joined the river in the middle [here Nahabed uses the Turkish word ortahnan].  On the right side of the river, there was the village, where on the outskirts the Arabs armed with swords and guns were scattered.

“The exiles had nowhere else to go.  Arabs in the rear, Arabs on the right side, Arabs on the left side; and if they went forward, only the middle of the river and a narrow side opposite, to the right of which were some three hundred Chechens.  [Not certain of the layout that Nahabed is trying to describe.  He hesitates considerably in his reading, stumbles on a few words critical to understanding etc.  It would be good to try to draw a map of the options the Armenians had or did not have.  See below]

“‘The Arabs opened fire on the encampment of exiles on three sides with an attack, yerek gormihn grahgetsin hartsagoum ov mee,’ said my sister, much saddened. “ ‘The Armenians had nowhere else to go,’ ” she continued, crying.

“Either to go forward and end up in the middle of the river, or where there were three hundred Chechens, or to the ten to fifteen feet deep dry wadi, or to the other side of the dry tsori [wadi] where the three hundred armed Chechens and close to one hundred fifty Arabs were waiting, armed, for the slaughter. Behind them the sword and the bullet, in front of them the same.  One side, the river, if they could reach it, before them the dry wadi where there were four hundred armed Chechens and Arabs waiting. 

“The screams arose, vynasoonuh purtadz ehr.  Behind them the sword and the bullet; in front of them the same.  On one side the river, if they could reach it; in front of them the dry tsor, wadi, where 400 armed Chechens and Arabs were waiting.  The firing and screams of the suffering had begun vynasoonuh yev graghuh uskhutsadz ehr. The exiles had no alternative but to go back or forward or left.  From three sides the Arabs were approaching with swords and daggers, surov yev tashouynerov, and killed with bullets all they encountered.  In front of them 450 people were approaching.  Indiscriminately and ruthlessly they fired upon them.  An hour later the sun was obscured from the gunpowder smoke, varot mukhen.

“‘But the suffering screams and massacre had not finished vynasunuh yev chartuh cherr verchatsadz,’” said my sister again bitterly.

“ ‘ The gun-powder smoke was such that one could not see anything but only hear the screams of the victims filling the air. For nearly three hours this went on, and finally stopped,’ said my sister. “‘It took about an hour for the sky to be cleared of the smoke, and for anything to be distinguished, uskusetzahn zanazanvil,’  [as to what had happened].

“‘The first thing that struck my eyes was that the dry tsor, wadi before us, as far as they eye could see, was full of endless dead.  As far as one could see the desert was covered with the dead.  From the 50,000 exiles, only about 650 people were left on their feet, all of them wounded to one degree or other.

“ ‘When the gun smoke finally cleared, and the air brightened, then a crier, mounedigmi, with a loud voice began to shout and announce if anyone at fault was still alive, he would be forgiven, antsahnkuh asor heduh nerial eh.  And, that to those who could endure walking to a populated village, bread would be given.  [Note the phrase, an geghadz deghuh gurnah timel, is not absolutely clear.  Nevertheless, that the few wounded survivors would be “forgiven” and given bread is incredible!]

“Hearing that news, those who had fallen under bodies, pushed them aside and rose up, yielding an additional 150 people.  It became the task of the Arabs and anyone among the agonized Armenians, orhashadz Hyerun, who could pick up a body with help, to collect the dead into piles.  The corpses were stripped of their clothing and examined before the eyes of a Chechen.  If money was found, the Cherkesses took it.  The Arabs took the wearable clothing.  Bodies were heaped by the thousands.  This took many hours, and when finally done, fuel was poured on the mounds, varelaniut tapetzin, [something liquid like kerosene] and set on fire.  The air became foul.  When all were thoroughly incinerated, upon orders of Suleiman Bey, screens, magher, were brought, and the ashes screened to recover any swallowed gold coins.

“This chore took a day and a half, and after that, the executioners’ work, tahij inelou qordzuh, of the Chechens was complete.

“In that bloody fashion, on the orders of the beastly Turks, nearly one and one-half million innocent Armenians, ameghuh hayeruh zohetsin, were sacrificed, without shame, without remorse for that heartless design from the unChristian, unpitying, anqout, heartless Germany.

The Workers’ Camp

“Now, let us return to where my sister and I escaped.  From Ras- ul-Ain we went to join the workers’ camp on the railroad tracks for the Germans.  After two changes of trains, we reached a farm-like place, aqaragimuh numahn deghmuh, on the right a roadway for a distance of a mile or more.  There were mountains on each side.  From one side to the other, in the middle, was a dry tsor, wadi.  A week had hardly gone by, when a Kurd Beg [Kurdish Chief or notable] came, and after talking with him for fifteen or twenty minutes, a German came and informed us that we were to go to that Kurd Beg’s farm to work.  The Kurd was about thirty-five to forty years of age, a well-built individual. 

“His farm was on the right hand side of the wadi, towards Hisuss [not sure, it sounds like this].  There were four Armenians.  Two brothers, Dortyoltsi, from Dörtyol, and two men from Marash, Marashtsis, the aykin, orchard manager, and his helpers.  We joined them.  After we had been working there for two weeks, one afternoon the weather changed and with dark clouds the sky ‘closed up’, gohtsvetsav.  When we went to sleep, angoghin gatsink, literally ‘went to bed on the quilts,’ that night, the rain had already begun, and soon became more intense. 

“We arose in the morning and saw that no one was left in the tsori.  Miraculously, hrashkov, one member of an Armenian family out of seven hundred workers remained alive!  His name was Vartan.  He was a thirty-five to forty year old fellow.  His story I’ll relate.

“In the evening the rain had started when they were already sleeping in the open, protected only to the extent possible.  A bit later they feel the water beneath them.  Waking up, they see the water quickly rising.  In the dark he and his wife, looking around, see at a distance, a telegraph pole, heraqireli pyedu.  The water had already reached their knees[The exact word for pole Nahabed earlier used payd, wood].  Already screams had broken out, and people were trying to find something safe to hold onto.  Closest to him was the telegraph pole, some fifty steps away.  His wife, holding the youngest child, with great difficulty was trying to reach it. The water had now reached up to their waists.  She reached it and began to climb up, gusgusti maqlelstil.  Because the boy was so young, he was unable to hang onto his mother.  She tried to hang onto the child with one hand, even as she hung onto her husband’s neck with her other arm.  The water steadily rose.  The poor man realized that he would have to climb still higher.  He gave her permission to drop the child; he fell into the current of rushing water.  And she, after remaining there for over an hour hanging on to her husband, also fell into the water and drowned.  The poor man, unencumbered, then climbed up further, staying on top, qaqatuh, until morning.  By then the rain lightened and the floodwaters began to recede.  He jumped down.  The entire place was in ruins.” 

End of Tape II –first side, i.e. side “B”—Note: the part starting with the rains siding and flood receding and being able to look about and see that no one was around is also repeated on Tape 4 of 4 Begun July 24 1988 # 4 of 4.  This tape label is light blue and has hand printing on it in black ink. ] Turn over tape from side ‘B’ to side with light blue label labeled Begun July 24 199 #2 of 4”

“When the weather improved, we were able to go out and saw the dry tsor was destroyed.  There was no one left.  All were dead; 650 people drowned, except for that man who had miraculously been saved.  Unfortunately he was unable to save his wife and child.  They remained unburied. 

“After four or five weeks in the same location, the workers were again all mixed up in the camp and we went in this fashion from one station to another station, gayaneh gayan, going forward towards Baghdad.  Stopping here and there, staying for shorter times or longer periods, we moved on getting closer.  I remember only three names --Hassijeh, Tell Avaff  [Terhavat?] and Mussayebin. [Note: I have located this on a map of the railway system—but under the name Nusaybin; also spelled Nissibin.  It certainly sounds like Baron Nahabed is saying an ‘m’ rather than an ‘n’, however.  I have a pretty good run-down on the railroads of Turkey published mainly in German but a quick look does not reveal the other two stations.  This needs more research.]

“The Germans were attempting to lay railroad tracks to Baghdad but the dream never was realized and Nusaybin became their last station.  When the war was over and we reached Nusaybin, passing by the station, it looked like a city was under construction in the desert.

“There were many workers there laboring on various tasks under the supervision and direction of the Germans.  There, on that day, we spent the night on the ground in the open air.  The next morning, early, the rain began.  There were about forty to fifty Armenians in our group including three boys my age, and we tried to find shelter under an old tent made of hair [Note: probably of so-called keche, goat-hair felt].  I was so hungry and cold that I began to cry.  A stranger, medium height with long mustache and with an authoritative demeanor came asking in Armenian of my sister, ‘What is your name?”’  My sister bashfully answered, Luzaderim, [not sure what this means—sounds more Turkish than Armenian but it might be a title of respect like ‘Illustrious Sir’, lusader, and pointing to me, said, ‘This is my brother.  His name is Nahabed.’  He turned around, saying, ‘Come with me.’  In fifty or sixty steps we reached his large tent, ihr untatrsag vuranuh.  Inside we found a young woman whose name I’ve now forgotten.  Giving us her name, she told us to do whatever we needed --dry our clothing, fill our stomachs, rest, and she left the tent.  Lo! Many years have passed and I have forgotten many names of peoples and places but am ever grateful for kindnesses shown.

Daily Ration

“We spent two weeks under this tent.  Each morning we went to work doing the tasks assigned to us.  We started work at seven o’clock and had an hour break at noon.  At that time we were entitled to receive a piece of bread about the size of a hand.  We worked until five o’clock.  In the winter season, dzumervan yeghanag, it didn’t snow but it would get very cold at night.  And if, in addition, it rained, the waters would “hold the cold” until morning before warming by the sun. 

“If you worked, no matter what job you did, you would be given a daily ration of food.  A two- centimeter black metal tag with a number stamped on it was issued.  You didn’t have a name, only a number.  Each afternoon we waited our turn in a row, and upon showing our number we received our portion of bread.  Even today, after the passage of seventy-four years, it seems as if it was yesterday that I had to wait my turn every afternoon to get bread issued by the number on the metal tag.  There were about two hundred people waiting in a line to get the small piece of bread every afternoon.  Little by little, small fellows like me would go forward, pushing bit by bit.  One day when my turn came to get the bread, I realized that I lost that damned small tag.  I looked for naught through the pockets of my tattered clothing until the German distributing the bread ordered me to move aside so that the others could get theirs.  After giving bread to ten to fifteen people, he came out of his place, grabbed me and began to slap me until I fell down, my nose and mouth bloody.  He kicked me in the ribs until I lost consciousness.  That damn number remains on my mind engraved like it was today, number seventy-two, (72).

Murad Agha

“About five or six weeks later, a big argument occurred between the stranger, named Murad Agha, and the woman in the tent.  I don’t know what it was over.  But she left and we never saw her again.  A week hadn’t passed when one Sunday; Murad Agha summoned us to his tent and explained that he needed someone to keep the tent clean and to cook daily meals.  If my sister agreed, then neither of us would have any need to work for the Germans for our daily bread.  My sister happily accepted the offer.  

“Now I want to say a few words of explanation about Murad Agha and his occupation.  He had three brothers, Samuel, the eldest; the second himself, Murad Agha; the third, Kurken; and the fourth, Ohannes, the youngest.  Though Samuel was the eldest brother, Murad was the head of the family.  His job was to provide wood from the hills for the locomotives because at that time they didn’t use coal.  The steam, generated by burning wood, operated the train.  He received this responsible position through the help of his brother Kurken, who had gone to school in Germany.  When War broke out, Kurken, who had graduated from military school and knew five languages, returned to his home country, Hairenik.  Because he was born in Turkey, his qualifications and connections led to the responsible position of supplying the wood, a job he undertook with his brothers.  I only saw him once.  He was a very smart and attractive man.

“Murad Agha had fifty-five employees under his command.  Forty-one Armenians, nine Arabs, four Kurds and one Cherkess.  Every morning, except Sunday, at sunrise we went to the mountains with mules, choreenerov, to collect wood and returned before sunset with the loads.  There were two young Armenians among them who liked to gamble, with my boy’s mindset.  One was from Dikranagert, Dikrangertsi, Armo, and apparently short for Aramkehr [?]; the other was from Adana, Adanatsi, and named Khoren.  This latter one in particular could be seen gambling with people with every opportunity in the evening.  You could see them seated in the street on Sundays at sunset under some shelter or roof or by a wall, wherever there was some protection, with two or three or four male companions playing some game of chance, bakhdakhaghi metch.

“What was the game of chance that they played? [Something that I cannot decipher—sounds like a two syllable name for the game---phiss bast] One would have cards in his hand and would ask the other to request a specific card to be drawn.  ‘Which of the fifty-two cards do you want [me to draw]?’  Or, ‘Which card are you looking for, ‘girl’ or ‘boy’ [presumably King or Queen etc.], a ‘ten’ or a ‘one.’  The choice is yours.’  Upon shuffling the cards, and distributing them, ‘one for you, one for me’, if the card you have selected falls on you, then you win; if the selected card falls on the person running the game, then he wins.  Whatever happens to be the case.

“One Sunday, my friend, Karnig and I went for a stroll, around afternoon.  After walking for a short time, we saw Khoren sitting against the wall with four Indian prisoners.  We went near them and took a seat at Khoren’s side.  Soon after, every time Khoren would begin the game of chance, he would lay the cards on the ground so we could see as well, and join in with five or ten para coins.  About half an hour later, the Indians had put about five ‘golds’ [referred to as oskis in Armenian; altuns in Turkish] on the ‘table’ [ground], and had every intention of playing until either they won and increased their winnings or had exhausted their money supply.  I was seated on the right side with Karnig, and every time he waged a five or ten khurush I too would put down five or ten luma [curiously Nahabed uses a currency that applies to the Armenian Republic; it seems much more likely that he means Turkish paras]… in the hope that I might win the five ‘golds’ piece.  At the least we hoped we could win one or two khurush.

“Suddenly, from behind, a man pulled me up by my ears, slapped my face, dropping me to the ground.

“With a stern look, he yelled, “‘you naughty kid, Dzo ambidan.  What influence have I had on you so that I now see you with disreputable ner-do-wells, khaydaragneru hed.  If I ever see you again in a situation like this gambling I will really let you have it.  I’ll kill you.  Go on! Get lost!’ ”

“ Lowering his voice, he added, “ ‘Starting this week I am going to increase your pay by two khurushes.  Now, go on get lost!  And don’t let me see you ever again in an unlawful, aboreni, place like this!’ ”

“I ran away, my face red from the slap.  Now, this young man was from Adana and his name was Yeprem; he worked for Murad Agha.  He was his accountant, hashvabah, and kept track of all expenses.  That first slap, at a time when I needed it in my youth from a big brother, had shown me my error.  But had he only given me a slap, I would probably have continued on the sly.  By explaining and giving me more wages, it taught me at a critical time, and I was saved from the bad habit of gambling.  I am ever grateful to Yeprem for what he did.  I am sure he is long departed from this earth and wish him rest and peace forever.


“Next to our tent, almost ‘glued’ to it, pagadz, there was another tent where there were Indian prisoners.  Some time earlier, they adopted an Armenian boy and we saw every day that they took good care of him, bathing him and clothing him nicely.  A few weeks later, I became friendly with him.

“One day I met him in the street and spoke to him saying ‘Hagop, you are very fortunate that you chanced upon these wonderful, kind men, who it seems look upon you as their own real child.’  He had a smile on his face but soon that smile turned to tears and sobbing.  ‘Why are you crying?’ I asked.  ‘What did I say that upset you?’

He answered, “‘Do you know why they take care of me and bathe me every day?’” He was crying.

“‘How could I know?  Most certainly they had children before and since many years have passed being away from them, and they adopted you because you probably resemble one of their children.  How should I know?’ ”
“He had a bit of a smile on his face.  I asked, “What are you laughing at?”    

“‘Can I tell you a secret?’” he said with a dour face. “‘But once I tell you must never tell anyone else.’”

“‘Fine, shad lav, I’ll never tell anyone.’”

“‘You must swear by God that you will never tell anyone about this secret.’ ”

Vay Babam, Vay! [Turkish exclamation, something like ‘Good Father!’ or ‘Ye gads’] “ ‘What kind of a ‘super secret’, soskali qaghnikeh, is it that you give so much importance to it?’ ” I said with a laugh.  But when I saw the tears running down his face, the smile on my face dried up.  What could that secret be?  So much that it saddened him so much? 

“‘Very good, I swear to you that your secret will always be with me, until Kingdom Come.’ ” 

“After some deep thought he began, ‘Do you know why they take care of me, look after me and bathe me?’ 

“Without thinking I again gave my answer. He in turn responded with a sad face.

‘Every night, either one or the other, uses me like a woman.’

“I did not immediately understand that explanation.  And I answered, “How much can you work in the evening?  And what kind of work can you do?  Certainly your work cannot be that heavy.” 

“Again, that look, on his face.  And he explained again, ‘Like a woman they use me from behind-- one or the other uses me every night.’  Crying and asking that I must never reveal that secret,  They will kill me afterwards [Note: ensee verchuh guh satkenetsehn, again Baron Nahabed uses the term for killing animals]… if they ever suspected that I told you,’ he said, tears in his eyes.

“Be assured that I will never tell anyone,” I comforted him, all the while believing what I had said.

“Many months passed, and the secret remained a secret with me.  One day Murad Agha leaving his work in the care of his brother Samuel, went to Haleb [Aleppo] for a couple of weeks.  I don’t know for what reason.  He returned with six boxes of oranges [dup is the word he uses for box or crate].  He placed them just outside where I slept every evening.  And I, never having eaten an orange in my life, several nights later was visited by the Devil who entered my stomach [Note the colorful metaphor, satana poruss mudav] urging me to try one and to see its taste.  The boxes were stacked one on the other right outside where I slept, right at my head.  The fragrance was emanating sweetly, sweetly, right at my head.  My nostrils were filled.  For a full week I struggled with my soul and I could not sleep for many nights wondering about their taste.  In our country, Sebastia, I had never seen or eaten an orange.  What do they taste like?  Are they sweet, anoush eh, bitter, legh ehi, or sour, tutou eh?

“After a week of struggling, I couldn’t resist any longer or prevent myself from not eating one.  I stuck my hand out and felt that the box was made of thin wood.  I carefully inserted my hand into one of the spaces/cracks, jeghkuh, between one of the slats of the wooden box and after that my task became easier.  I finally retrieved one orange and ate it.  After that I threw two or three pieces of peel behind the neighboring tent.  After having had an orange for the first time, and seeing that it was so sweet and delicious, I was unable to resist.  I would eat one orange every night without thinking that I would get into trouble if Murad Agha discovered what I had done.  I threw the orange peels over to the tent behind where the Indians lived.  This happened until there were no oranges.  And when it came to the last box, they were all empty.

“The Indians, poking about one day, saw the pile of peels.  Nothing else was left.  The Indians never gave much thought to it all and did not view it as being particularly important.  But two of the Indians were apprehended and brought to Murad Agha’s tent.  Their shoes were removed, and they were subjected to the falaka until they fainted. [Note: this punishment was common in the Orient and more usually known in Europe as the bastinado.  The feet were beaten with a rod, sometimes so severely that they swelled and even ‘burst’ from the oedema.]  There was no concern when the Indians repeatedly said they had no idea where the orange peels had come from.  I was happy; I wanted to see them punished.  I felt I couldn’t keep the secret any longer. 

“I told Armo what ‘soup’ those Indians ‘were eating’ [i.e. the reason for their punishment.]  I related what poor Izmirtsi Hagop had told me while crying, and what had happened to him.  I explained that I had been sworn to secrecy to never tell.  Armo told me not to worry, and that I had done the right thing.  ‘You wait here. I will now go and tell Murad Agha what you have related.  Murad Agha knows very well how to deal with such shameful people.’  And shaking his head, he went to Murad Agha, talking with him in a low voice.  I saw from Murad Agha’s face how angry he became.  He took a rod, shook his head, and said, ‘I’ll give those cursed…[expletive]…a lesson that they will never forget as long as they live.’  He beat them [i.e. the Indians] and they were marched to the police station, oskidanadun.  Because he was held in high regard and respect by both the damned Germans and the cursed Turks, they were arrested.  The two scoundrels, sriganeruh, entered into custody and I never saw them again.


“A word about Armos’s bravery.  In the evening, all the mules and horses would remain tied with one sentinel, meg bahag ov.  Each night a different worker was selected for guard duty.  One evening when it was Armo’s turn, I was awakened by a loud noise.  Running out of my tent I saw, by moonlight, Armo riding off on a horse.  He was gone.  Everyone was awake.  Some were not sure who the sentinel on duty had been.  A half- hour passed, but Armo hadn’t re-appeared.  When he finally did come into sight in the moonlight, with him were three horses.  He explained that two Cherkess thieves, interrupted by Armo while stealing the horses, began a struggle, recognized they were in trouble, and fled to save their lives.  He followed them. After that, in the eyes of Murad Agha and all the workers, Armo became elevated to the status of a hero.

An Accident

“Murad Agha, had, in addition to those horses, a riding horse, neezuyq, which he had bought from an Arab for 50 gold coins, voski, each.  One day when he was busy with something or other, he said to me, ‘Nahabed, take the horse to the river and water him.’  Saying, ‘Fine, shad lav,’ I took the horse and started towards the river.  I had gone fairly far when I moved the horse toward higher ground rose up and jumped on him.  We rode toward the river.  Reaching it I wanted to go over the bridge to the other side.

“The bridge was made of wood, about five or six feet in width, in order to accommodate the width of the railroad tracks.  Because the support for the tracks of the railway from one side to the other switched from wood to metal, of half a centimeter thickness, and a foot and a half width; the middle was closed but not secured either with bolts or nails.  It was covered with soil.  The soil had fallen through in places and in between the river below could be seen.  [Note:  All this is a bit confusing.  Nahabed is not very clear, and hesitates and struggles with his reading.  He seems to be talking about the support system for the bridge.  It seems likely that there was wooden scaffolding even as they were erecting metal supports.  It may also have to do with the gauge of the tracks changing a bit as well.  Fortunately it does not matter too much.]

“ I, seated on the horse, had never gone across that bridge, and crossing about halfway, the horse began to jump sideways, left to right.  A moment later as a result of this jumping, the metal in the middle gave way, and the horse swayed toward the river.  He tried again to get up toward the bridge without success, and before we knew it in a moment we fell into the river and became submerged in the depths of the water.  When I surfaced, I saw that the horse had reached dry land, tsamag. I swam and also reached dry land.  Approaching the horse, I saw he was badly injured.  On his right leg up and down, ach srunki veren vrah, from beneath his stomach there was the start of a gaping wound about two fingers in width.  I was frightened to death and I quickly closed the crack with soil… [more likely a clay-like soil] and powdery dust, poshi, could mean ash but not likely here]… and grabbing the bridle I began to lead him back across the river.  Half way across it began to occur to me what a mess I was in.  What kind of explanation would I be able to give to justify crossing the river?  What was I going to say to Murad Agha?  Until I reached the tent, I struggled to find an explanation.  When back I took the horse and tied him in his place.

“A half hour later, the workers, upon seeing the horse, ran and told Murad Agha. The storm broke loose, potoriguh purtav!  Murad Agh called me when he saw the horse’s condition.  I had to come up with an open and believable--at least half-believable-- explanation near to the truth!  I said that on the way the dogs were barking and attacking us and the horse got away from me and ran off.  Jumping over thorny shrubs he became injured.  As for me, as a result of running after him I fell and broke a tooth.  And from fear, I had said nothing.  If you look, the wound has been closed with soil/clay.  The first person seeing the horse upon our return told Murad Agha that it was quite likely or probable, shad havanagan eh.  Murad Agha knew quite a lot about that horse’s disposition and behavior; he believed the story.  In that lucky way I got out the dilemma.  And, after three or four weeks, the horse’s leg wound had healed.

“Several months later, one evening my broken tooth began to ache.  I woke up from the pain. I couldn’t go back to sleep.  When Armo returned, I went to him crying from the pain.  “‘Why are you crying?’ ” I explained, and he said smiling, “‘it’s nothing.’ ”

[Note: a long psssshhhh sound of exasperation from Baron Nahabed.  And an indication that he is confused.  And with an “Ehhh” he turns off the machine!].  LONG BREAK IN RECORDING, then a little bit of music sound and then again SILENCE!  Again a bit of music and a LONG SILENCE until the end of the tape.

Next tape labeled Nahabed Chakrian Original II ?  Baby Blue label.

[Note: This is where the confusion begins to reign supreme.  The more I think about it, I cannot figure out the proper sequence of the tapes.  He starts off talking about after having left Mussayeen [spelling?] they went to five or six station camps.  And he talks of finding a little girl and keeping her for about a month, and going to the desert to play with her one Sunday for a couple of hours.  This seems to be a brief repeat of what has been related much earlier.  He follows this with a bit on the Germans separating out some two hundred workers from their GROUP AND putting them on a train and taking them to Tell Havaf.  He says very calmly, “My sister was separated and put into that group.”  No further explanation is given.  He appears quite matter of fact (stoic?) about it.  LONG BREAK.

Then it appears that Baron Nahabed is looking for his sister from whom he seems to have been temporarily separated.  He sets off on a train journey as a free-loader and eventually finds his sister Gulizar.  So, against this brief commentary we begin what is probably the best reconstruction—at least until such time a better one becomes apparent.]

Looking for Gulizar

“In this way, two weeks passed during which I was waiting for an opportunity, aritimee.  Then, a train arrived from Tell Havev which was to make the return journey.  I had decided to get on that train and reunite with my sister.  I looked all around and saw that there was no one there—not a single man.  In one section of one of the wagons [cars] there was a place for the conductor [Note: Nahabed uses the English word for conductor, albeit with an accent, conductuhrihn vyruh gar.]  I got up and took a seat, praying that no one would see me before we got on our way.  Hardly a half hour had passed when the Conductor came to the spot I had found.  Upon seeing me, he gave me a good slap to my face [literally ‘pasted’ my face with a slap, abdagmi paktsoots eressiss,] and asked who told me to get on the train and where was I going?  Crying, I explained my predicament to him.  He gave it some thought, crossed his arms seemingly bewildered, and then shaking his forefinger at me, warned, “ ‘Don’t you ever eat this soup again, ays abouruh chi udess,’ ” [Meaning, ‘Don’t you ever dare do this again.  You’ll be sorry!’]  He added that when we reached our destination, I should quickly get off the train and get lost so no one would see me.  We arrived.  I jumped off and ran away. 

“But where was my sister?  Where was I going to look for her?  All the workers after finishing their labor had gone back to their places.  In that cold, [presumably it is winter?] where would I go, where would I look?  I decided to spend the night under a wall, and the following morning I would [long break here, one can hear pages turning] go from group to group of workers leaving to differing jobs.  I had to find her in one of the groups.

“It was a moonless night.  It was quite cold; I sat down under a wall, tired and hungry.   At sunrise I woke up to dogs barking. The air was still cold.   On my feet, rubbing my eyes, I could see the streets were virtually deserted.  I started to walk to warm up.   Some time passed before the call began, yerouzeruh uskusetz, the workers, group by group, were leaving with their leaders.  Three groups went by, with heads hung low, like prisoners, but I didn’t see my sister.  When the fourth group drew closer, I did see my sister Gulizar walking, her head lowered and with a very sad face, pis dukhour.  “Sister! Sister!” I shouted.  Hearing my voice, she raised her head not believing her ears.   Seeing me   [there is a noisome background interruption here that precludes understanding what might have been said.  It appears moreover, that the continuation of the sound track is not completely logical.  This is followed with garble and some noise.  The sound continues.  Note that I do not say that the story picks up.  It does not, or so it seems to me.] Temptation

“I saw an Armenian man whose name I have since forgotten.  He was about fifty-five and had a daughter about my age.  Once or twice a week I would go to their tent.  One evening in order to entertain us, he would tell us a small story, pokr batmutiuynmi.  Seeing that I was very engrossed in these tales, he asked, ‘My boy, you live in Murad Agha’s tent, do you not?’  ‘Yes,’ I explained, turning red.  Some days later I saw a stranger [a Turk] carrying boxes to Murad Agha’s tent.  I turned and asked him what was in the boxes.  The Turk told me the boxes contained smoking tobacco, tsukhakhod, literally ‘weed for smoking’ for Murad Agha.  He turned and, cogitating a bit, asked me, ‘You live in Murad Agha’s tent, along with your sister, no?’ I answered yes.  He said, ‘Very good my boy.  I see that you are an intelligent fellow, and that you like stories very much.  Murad Agha has quite a lot of smoking tobacco.’ He then paused. ‘If you bring a packet of smoking tobacco, I promise that I will tell you a beautiful story, hekiatmi, fairy tale.’ [Note: the reader will note that Baron Nahabed is inconsistent here.  In the first instance, the story-teller is Armenian; later, the story-teller is a Turk.  Since it is the same story, one or other must be the right one.]

“Two days later, upon entering the tent, I saw that it was empty.  And recalling the offer of a few days before, I got on my knees, and I pulled out the box.  Putting it under my sleeping quilt, yorghan, I took out a handful of tobacco and put it in a rag, kurchi mi mech duree, and stuck it in my breast.  The same evening when I reminded the man of what he had said a few days earlier, his face beamed.  He put the tobacco to his nose and said.  ‘Good for you my boy, aferim dughass, [the term aferim is Ottoman Turkish and signifies a term of praise or encouragement.  Dugha is one of several words in Armenian for boy]… you clearly appear very intelligent to my eyes.  If, from time to time, you bring me some of this smoking tobacco, I am going to relate some very beautiful fairy tales to you.’  And in this way, I began to do this for three or four months.

“One day, as usual, I was in the tent on my knees getting a handful of smoking tobacco.  I had put it in the rag when I saw the shadow of a man in the front of the tent before me.  There I was, turned to stone with the smoking tobacco in my hand.  A moment later, turning my head, I saw Murad Agha, watching me, silently, motionless.  And when he saw me startled, with my mouth open, he turned around and left the tent—all without a sound.  I don’t remember how long I stayed turned to stone in that position.  I pushed back the tobacco that was in my hand into the box, under the sleeping quilt.  And, distressed, ashamed and crying I left the tent.  I saw that Murad Agha, some twenty to twenty-five feet away was sitting on a big stone, smoking.  I ended up falling at his feet, asking for forgiveness.  Now, dropping the cigarette [Note he uses the English word cigarette.  Apparently Murad Agha rolled his own cigarettes from the loose tobacco], he took my shoulders with both hands, raised me up, and said very sweetly, “ ‘Nahabed, my little boy, manchuguss,…[ diminutive for manch, boy, son]… I am not going to ask you to whom you were going to take the tobacco.  I do not want any retribution to emanate from my hand on that account.  Whoever, it is, that man cannot be a good man.  I am telling you now that you better stay away from men like that.  He has taken advantage of your inexperience and has taught you to steal.  Stay far away from men like that.  And do not take bad advice from men like that.  You are still an inexperienced young man, and should not take lessons from the likes of them.’ ” 

“Putting his hand in his pocket and taking out his purse, he took out some coins and put them in my hand. “ ‘You like raisins.  Go buy some raisins.  But stay far away men who give you this sort of bad advice.’ ” 

Saying this, he dismissed me.  After sixty-eight years, I still recall this as if it had just happened the day before.  I will never forget the kindness and the good advice he gave me, and still hear his kind voice in my ears.  Recall that I had forgotten the name and particulars of Murad Agha.  The particulars have, however, just shone in my mind and I now remember.  I hasten to relate them in this connecting aside, changel, before…[Note: Nahabed uses a Turkish word for latch, accessory note or appendix might be a good equivalent]… I forget them again. Indeed, these last couple of years my recall for such things is continuously diminishing.  Murad Agha came from Iskanderun, and his family name was Aivazian.

“I will return again [later] to Murad Agha and try to relate what happened the last four or five months.

Finding Family

“One afternoon some Kurd émigrés, Kurt gaghtakaneru, came to our place.  I wanted to find out who these newly arrived émigrés were so I wandered around to see what was what among them.  Suddenly, I heard my name.  As I was looking, one of them hugged me from behind, crying and calling my name, ‘Nahabed, Nahabed.’  She wrapped herself around my neck, crying.  She was so close I couldn’t see her face.  I heard another voice calling ‘Shushan, Shushan!’  Finally, turning my head, I saw a short woman in rags hugging me.  Shusan stopped kissing, hugging and crying, and turning aside to the other woman, said ‘Ovsana, it’s Nahabed, it’s Nahabed!’  Ovsana Tsarugian wrapped herself around me, crying.  I took them to my sister and there was more hugging and kissing, more happiness and tears.

“They asked so many questions about the past three years.  Questions and answers about what happened; they went from one to another exchanging stories.  Unlike us, they had not reached Baghdad.  As they passed through Kurdish territory, their caravan was taken in by a village where they lived for two and a half years.  When they learned the British army was nearing their village, becoming fearful, they left living a nomadic life like us, taparagan mezi bess.  They had been driven away, finally ending up in the place where we were.  [Note: the word here translated as ‘driven’ is qushpeovl.  The connotation is more of a transitive verb signifying “to chase away or shoo away.”]  They hoped to find work along the train tracks.

“With the help of Murad Agha the two of them found jobs in a flourmill, and stayed until the declaration of the tashnakrutiunuh. [Note: The word literally signifies the writing of the Allies.  It seems to be an archaic and obsolete word for cessation of hostilities.] 

“One Sunday it blew into my mind, midkuss putchetz, that I should go to Mussayebin city, [Nisibin?] a mile away.  It was a small city, much more like a village than a city.  It had three shops.  A general store, a shoemaker, and a tailor.  You could walk from one end of town to the other in about twenty to twenty-five minutes.  Wandering about, I eventually came to a very small store, almost toy-like, with an open front, before which was a man—blind in one eye—roasting bishoo in oil, [although Nahabed uses the term khorovadz, more accurately ‘roast’ it is better to use the term frying, which is more usually but not exclusively referred to as dabgel, a dough rolled into a three centimeter circle.  He had them lined up on a wooden board like a table.  I asked him in Turkish, ‘Baba, Father, how much do they cost each?  Baba, Kac paraldur?’  ‘Two for five para, Boy,’ he answered, turning to me.  [Nahabed repeats in Armenian, ‘Hyrig (Father), how much does one cost?’  ‘Two cost five para.’ I took from my pocket ten para, a coin the size of a ten-cent piece, and put it in his hand.  And passing to his right, the side with his blind eye, and where the fried fritters were piled.  I took one and put it in my mouth.  And with repeat performance of two additional turns, I took an extra one into my mouth and thus ended up having twelve.  [Note: I am not sure what the fried dough is called.  It is not enunciated clearly.  There are a number of such fritters in the Near East and none, unfortunately, sounds like the word Nahabed uses.] 

“After all that, thirsty, I took a long walk to the river for water.  But in order to get there, I had to pass by several ditches thick with growing plants.  I wandered.  Feeling in my pockets I found a lemon drop in an empty box of guntakhod wood.  I added some water and began to drink the combination, until full and fell asleep on the riverbank.  When I awoke the afternoon had essentially passed.  I got up quickly, rushing back to our tent.  My sister was in a panic because of my absence.  She had worried for hours without news.  ‘Where were you all this time without telling me?  Where did you go?  I was sick with worry,’ she shouted angrily, giving me a slap on the face.  I cried, walked out of the tent and sat on a rock.


Farewell from Murad Agha

“News began to circulate from mouth to mouth that the German armies had been defeated and the English armies were very close to Baghdad.  Who could believe that the Germans were going to lose the War?  It was just a rumor that was going around.  More weeks passed.  One day Murad Agha, with a sad face, summoned me. Sitting on a little mound, he turned to me as I approached and gently said the situation was turning for the worse and dangerous.  ‘Two of my brothers have already escaped, and I will probably do the same this evening, if I am able.  God only knows what our future will be.’  Reaching into his pocket he took out five red ‘golds’ coins, garmir oskinerov, saying, ‘Keep these carefully so you don’t lose them.  I don’t know what the future holds for us.  It may be that we will not see each other again.  I didn’t want to say anything to you just yet.  Tomorrow or the next day, when I have gone away, you give my final regards to all.’  He had a large package in his hand with two guns---one a small English gun


[Turn over to side with no label.]


“And the other was a rather large rifle, zenkmun er.  ‘Take these, and if you are in need, try to sell them,’ he said.  ‘Come on my little boy, Hydeh, Manchuguss, go now.  May God be with you and may he keep and protect you.’

“He became emotional; and for me, too, it was a very emotional moment.  I fell to his feet with tearful eyes.  Bending down, he lifted me up with both hands, set me down, all the while holding me close.  ‘Go, my little Boy. Go. God be with you all.’  That was the last we saw of each other.  The following morning Murad Agha had gone.  I have never forgotten his generosity, kindness and gentleness.

End of the War

“Now all the Germans were scrambling.  Not one German could be found in our place.  A week later, Tashnakrutiunuh was declared. Four years had passed in all.  It was announced that all exiles should go to the government building to register their names.  The government was to return them to their birthplace, wherever that was.  What a miracle, eench hurask!  The War was over.  We were now free to go back to where we were born.  That night I couldn’t sleep for hours, and a thousand and one dreams passed in my mind of all sorts of beautiful things.  I was very happy with the idea that we were finally going back to the village.  All the views and panoramas were engrained in my mind and heart, the village, the mountains,… [Baron Nahabed mentions both ler and sar, each of the words are the same, perhaps sar is a bit more ice capped?]…the summer pasture, yaylan, where we went every year for two or three months to prepare butter and cheese. All these came and went in lists and lists, sharan sharan, before my eyes, and thus I stayed awake.

“Suddenly everything changed.  I realized that there would be no one left there—my Grandfather, my Grandmother, my beautiful, dear Aunt, my two sisters, my father, all had gone in exile, zork gatatz ayn.  They were no longer!  All these people who were beloved by me, that place that I loved would be very different.  All this seized me.  I realized that even if I did get there, there was no one, no family or friends I cared about left.  Then I recalled, midkus ungav, [literally, fell into my mind] … “that my father was in Bolis, [Constantinople] when the War broke out.  In the dark a light came on-- Bolis! In our country! [Note that Baron Nahabed viewed Bolis as in his country.  That is one of the many tragedies of the Armenian genocide.  The destruction of the Armenians was a matter of the destruction of ‘subjects’ [‘citizens’ (if we are to stretch it more than a bit) of the Ottoman Empire!].  I cogitated for a number of hours.  Why shouldn’t I go to Bolis if the government wants to send me where I want to go?  The more I thought about it, the stronger became my conviction for this goal.

“Up in the morning the first thing I did was to tell my sister what I was thinking.  My sister thought a while, and then said, ‘My dear, aghvoruss,’ she smiled, ‘Bolis is a big city; how are we going to find him?’

‘Surely someone must know him, no?  Hargav, meg muh zain guh jashnah  [Note: hargav means ‘necessarily’ and is used to connote a positive stance, or certainty.] ‘Is it not true that he has lived there more than five years?’  My sister shook her head, saying no more.  Shushan [Susan, anglicized] who was sitting with Ovsanna [Hosannah, anglicized], chimed in, khosk arav, adding a word, because when the War broke out her husband was in Bolis.]  ‘If we go the village, what are we going to do there if there is no one left.  Is this not so, Ovsanna?’ she said, stroking her head.  Ovsanna gave no response, other than to nod her head in agreement. 

“The following morning, the decision made, I went to the designated place and registered our four names for return to Bolis.  Four or five days later an English general, zoravar, came with a column of troops.  And by the following afternoon, they were augmented by an additional force of soldiers, panagmuh zinvohrner. There was no more fear.  The War had ended.  There was no fear of evil to oneself or hesitation to go from place to place.  No fear of German cruelty, or bullies who would shout in your face ‘Sacramento!’  [Note: I am not sure what this expression means or refers to.]

“I believe that four days had passed after the English liberation when ten to fifteen Turkish [?] soldiers came to our place.  Under the authority of a standard order, one of them began to read the names of all those who were grouped there.  Those whose names were read were motioned to step to one side.  In this way about a hundred people were separated.  They took all whose names were called to the station where a train, trenmuh, was waiting.  They placed us in an orderly fashion into two cars, closed the doors, and after a little while, the train set out.  The cars were normally filled up with animals, but for people like us, mer bess anhadneru hamar, it seemed a kingdom, arkayutiun mi ner, we who had walked for hours and days, hungry and thirsty.  There was only one problem.  We couldn’t see out.  The doors were closed; there were no windows.  Only by looking through the cracks in the cars could we see a little.

“The train stopped at many places and there were many delays; it took a week to reach Haleb city [Aleppo]. We didn’t see a thing because it was at night.  Neither were we allowed to get off, nor did they tell us where we were.  After three hours we reached a station in a place whose name I’ve now forgotten. It was between two mountains near the city of Aintab… [pronounced by Nahabed as Antep]…where the Germans had built a beautiful, large building, with three or four rooms and a large hall, now empty.  But I recall that it was impossible to see the walls and ceiling, because they were covered with huge flies, khoshorr khosshorr janjerov.

“We stayed at that place for three days, I don’t know why or for what purpose.  About a half mile from the train station there was a small village populated by Turks, now with about 150 Turkish soldiers living there.  We moved and in the evening reached another train station where we remained till morning.  At sunrise, the doors of the wagons were opened and we saw before us six clean, well-dressed men.  The leader gave his name in Armenian; I’ve now forgotten it.  He announced they had come officially on behalf of the [Armenian] National Committee, Azkayin Miyutianihn gormehn yegadz ehn.  Further, he said, now that the tracks to Ankara were closed because of snow we were unable to continue by train.  The Azkayin Miyutiunuh would take us to the city and advise us when travel by railroad would again be possible in the spring after the snows melted.  The Askayin Miyutyunuh would take responsibility for our future travel to our designated sites.

“We were taken to the American College in Adana.  Another group was taken elsewhere.  Two days later, forty people, including the four of us, were taken to the Apkarian Vajarani Getronuh, the Apkarian Central School.  We were gathered in a large room with many people from different, zanazan, villages and cities-- from Sebastia, Gesaria, [Caesaria, Kayseri,] Ayvaz [I am not familiar with this place], and two from Kharpert.  The Miyutyunuh Azkayin fed us. 

“About a month later, the closed Armenian Church of Haleb was re-opened.  The Armenian Cemetery outside of town was blessed.  Some weeks later the French force came to Adana.  There were many Armenian volunteers from America among them.  At the same time, there was news that the Allies, Tashnagitsneruh, had spoken about giving Giligia [Cilicia] to the Armenians.  It had once been the capital of the Armenian King Levon VI.

“During the re-opening of the mother Armenian Church in Haleb, and the blessing of the Armenian Cemetery, the majority of the Ottoman Turks with their white head wrappings didn’t dare appear in public.  They lost any desire to go out.  A week later the English force arrived, and there are some circumstances, baraka, here that I do not want to go into.  [Why does he not go into detail?]

The Armenian Legion Volunteers

“When the Armenian army, The Armenian Legion or Légion d’Orient, under the command of the French, arrived, they settled in a barracks, zoranotsmuh, near the Black Seyhun River, Sevoolig Serhun Kedee modh, outside the city near the train station.  The news spread that they came from the USA as volunteers, vorbess gamavohr.  As soon as I head that, I immediately thought that perhaps my Uncle, Horyeghpayr, father’s brother, and my other Uncle’s son, Mirijan, who were in America, might be among the volunteers.

“That day, being very close to the station, I ran to the garrison, the first to get there.  The metal gates to the barracks were closed and the whole enclosed with high metals bars.  I climbed up the metal fence,  [shimmying up?].  Two volunteers ran over asking where I was from.  Without hesitation, arants varanov, I said, ‘I am a Sebastatsi’.  One volunteer, hands to his mouth, called out, ‘Sebastatsis, over here!’   But there was no response.  Then I added, ‘I do not live in Sebastia.  I am Zaratsi, from near Sebastia.  Again, with his hands cuffed towards his mouth and a still louder voice, he shouted ‘Zaratsiner, Zaratsiner!’  Four men came running.  The first question from all was, ‘Whose son?’  What was my last name? 

“I am not a Zaratsi! I am Alaksatsi. I am Caloust Chakrian’s son,  I said, feeling a bit ashamed.  I had said Zaratsi thinking no one would know the name of our village.

“‘Why, boy, he is the son of our khunamee’s brother,’ ” they said laughing simultaneously! [khunamee, signifying in-law, or related through marriage.]  After a short talk, I gave them the name of the school where we were living and its location.  They promised to visit me as I left. 

“Two days later four Zaratsis did come to the Apkarian Varjaran to visit us.  They had all enlisted as soldiers from the American city of Providence.  They knew my Uncle very well because my uncle’s daughter, Iskouhi, was married to Harutiun Minasian from Zara.  I myself had never seen my Uncle--her father--for he had moved to America before I was born.  Several years later he asked my father to send his wife and daughter, Iskouhi, to America from the yergir, the home country.  My father sent them on their way.  She was about ten years of age [actually 14] when she and her mother joined her father in the USA [in 1908.]

“I am now to give the names of the four compatriots: the first, Kevork Yeghiayan, the second Avedis Yeghiayan, my Uncle’s son. [Is Nahabed confused here?  Were not Yeghiayans related only by marriage?  Is he using ‘Uncle’ as a courtesy title?] The third, Soghomon Darbinian, and the fourth, Setrag Balumian.  That visit lasted almost an hour and a half with many questions and answers.  The volunteer, Balumian, was the paternal cousin of Melikzadek Balumian, my teacher in our village!  One or another of our new compatriots came to see us until they were moved to another barracks in the lower part of the city.

“Everything changed after the English army arrived about a week later.  Those Turks who were hiding like mice in their holes, came out again, mugerou numahn dzageruh mudadzayn dours elahn, wearing their white head wrappings.  The Armenian soldiers were able to wander about the town as they wished, but without arms or weapons.  After several weeks the soldiers were taken out of the garrison to yet another place.

A Letter to My Father

Changel [i.e., a connecting aside], one day when I returned to the school, I saw a young soldier in Turkish military uniform talking with my sister.  He was a complete stranger to me.  My sister explained that this man, Phillip, is from our village.  After his mother died, his father had remained a widower because there was no one of appropriate age.  He then went to Erzerum, found a new wife and brought her back to the village.  There were two children in the family, a girl and a boy from the first marriage.  When problems [within the family] became difficult, Phillip took his sister and moved away from our village to Erzerum.  After a few years, his sister married and he, feeling freer, left for Bolis, and was there until the outbreak of the War.  Before the War Phillip served a doctor and did so until the end of the War.  Nor did he wish to move too far away from his sister.

“Phillip offered to take my sister, Gulizar, to Bolis but she declined.  I wrote a letter to my father saying that from our family my sister and I remained alive and with us was Ovsanna Dzarugian and Diggin, Mrs., Shushan.  I have forgotten her last name now but in those days I remembered it well.

“If you find our father alive, give this letter to him,” we said to Phillip as we left.

Great News

“Returning to the Armenian volunteers:  While they were still at the barracks, in my school room was a red-haired lad, garmir badani, and the same height as myself.  We became friends.  One day we decided to go to the barracks early in the morning to stay around until their mealtime.  We figured they would offer us something to eat.


End of the unlabeled side of the tape.


Appendix ? “V”.


“It was too early and the place was closed.  The sun was not up, the weather still cold.  We sat huddled near a wall.  When the sun finally shone, made brave by that, we decided to play verk …[Not sure of the name, sounds like verk or some such.  Bone games are ancient] … knowing that it was probably getting near time for breakfast, nakhajashu vray ehr.  Surely they would give us something!  Beneath the wall we began to play verk with a piece of bone from the leg of a goat or sheep.  Throwing it in the air like a ball, and allowing it to land with both sides upright, you are the winner.  We played about a half hour when we heard the noise of spoons and knives.  The time was getting close.  We cast anticipatory and eager glances.  Then I heard my name from a distance, but looking around I saw no one.  The whole area was completely unfamiliar to me.  I knew no one there nor did anyone know me.  I thought I must be mistaken and continued to play again with my friend.  A moment later we heard the voice again.  My name was repeated—this time much clearer and much louder.  But how could this be?  Who in this place recognized me?  It seemed that I was ‘cracking up’, gardzess tsindoradz ehm.  Either that or there was someone nearby with the same name.  If that was so, he was not visible.  But then a man waving both hands was running towards us, yelling, ‘meejdeh, meejdeh [or some such—I do not recognize the word and am not sure of the sound, it could be veejdeh or even leejdeh.  Baron Nahabed does not enunciate here and there is a lot of paper rustling in this passage.]  It was Hagop Eminian who lived with us in the same room.  ‘Your father has come!  Your father has come!  I want my leejdeh,’ he announced happily.  [Note: Baron Nahabed enters into a garrulous rendition of his reaction to the news.  It is long and drawn out.]

“To explain about Hagop Eminian: it happened that now and then I would go to a bakery nearby and buy eight or ten loaves of bread.  If I could sell them in the downtown market, shuga, while they were still warm, that was good.  If not sold, they were leftovers.  Hagop Eminian…[Baron Nahabed is having trouble reading his handwriting again!] frequently worked in the gardens.  And whenever he had work he would buy a loaf from me.  If working, he would pay me for the bread.  If he had no work, he would still take a loaf, and so a twenty to twenty five year old would be in my debt.  Hearing this news [i.e. that my father had come], I asked him ‘Have you seen my father?  Where is he?’

‘No, I did not see him.  But you have a mother, and a sister, who are in Bolis, along with Shushan and her husband.’  That same Shushan we had one week earlier seen off for Bolis!  Since he had not seen my father, I asked again, “ ‘Where is my father?’ ”

“ ‘He is at the train station,’ ”  he answered.  When I heard the name of the station, the question became all the more doubtful, gasgastseli.  This was because, once every two weeks, my sister would boil our clothes often infested with ochils, lice, [note that Baron Nahabed calls them ochils, not vochil].  I went regularly to the train station for a chunk of wood for heating water to boil all the clothing contaminated with the fleas and lice, luilnerov yev ochilnerov.  If failing to go to the station to filch a piece of wood, I deserved a whipping.

“ ‘Good, lav,’ I said ‘Hagop, friend, [actually Baron Nahabed reads Hovsep by mistake] if you are telling me a fib to make me go there [i.e. the station], I won’t talk to you again.’ ”

“‘My boy’ he said, ‘Have I ever spoken an untruth to you?’ ”

“ ‘If it turns out what you tell me is true, and my father has come, then what you owe me for the bread is now paid for.’ ”


“We set off and reached Mur Vaghadan.  As we neared the station, my emotions rose.  I saw my sister Gulizar, Diggin Ovsanna and a group of men.  I ran and upon joining them a large woman took me into her arms and gave me a kiss.

“ ‘I am your Mother, and this girl is your step-sister.’ ”

“I asked, ‘Where is my Father?’

“‘Your Father is at the station.’ ” I had no time for patience and turned to run to the station.  Diggin Ovsanna calling, ‘Wait up a bit so I can come too!’  

“We reached where the street turned right, and with an additional twenty to thirty steps to the left, reached the station.

“There at the side of the road was a ditch about two or three feet deep and fifty feet wide--now filled with the water from the winter’s snow and rain and covered with a thin layer of ice, sar gabvadz.  Opposite there were twenty- five wooden houses for soldiers, now all apparently empty.  As I approached, perhaps the tenth one, I heard a voice call my name and saw hands waving.  I immediately jumped into the ‘lake, lij, where the water reached above my knees, and as the Turks say “Apak topal, kor topal”,  [topal, lame, kör, blind] …and half swimming, soaked, I reached the other side, where a man bending down lifted me up and [a more than brief break here with an echoing noise, and we are apparently to miss out on the reunion with his father, Caloust, in any great detail despite the long ‘introduction.’].

My father had come with Alexan [hard to discern who he is/was—it is garbled] and Shushan’s husband, Garabed, and another man from our village whose name I don’t now remember.

“We were hearing that Giligia [Cilicia, with its main city, Adana] was to be given to the Armenians.  For that reason, my father, and many Armenians had come to Giligia.  What deception!  Inch khaphvank.  For my father and many other Armenians, it became a total lie.  The whore French and English, pornig Fransatsi yev Angliatsi went back on their word and sold out Giligia for their own profit, leaving it to the Turks.  That, too, was an added black fate for the Armenians, ayd uhl egav Hyeroon sev baghtuh! 

“My father had rented a house on the right side of the Seyhan River in a small village called Gavurköy, Infidel Village.  How did it come about that my father got my letter?  He had not written me anything.  I should say a few lines, kani muh doghmee on that matter. [Here Baron Nahabed explains the circumstances.  We shall simplify the somewhat complicated explanation, as follows: Shushan’s husband, Garabed, was with Caloust.  The surviving, displaced men of Eastern Turkey who were single, or widowers, or who believed their wives had perished, sought to marry to escape conscription in the Turkish Army.  Baron Nahabed says his father, Caloust, had remarried for this reason and had received his son’s letter from Diggin Shushan, (the woman our narrator had seen off to Bolis) on the very day her husband, Garabed, was to marry for the above stated reason in the village of Tey Koz, Sev Tzov.]

Baron Nahabed continues, “He had married again earlier but his wife died in childbirth and after an interval he arranged to remarry.  That exact day, as luck would have it, my father receives my letter.  And knowing well that Garabed’s marriage was for that very day at a village, he arrives just as the ceremony is about to take place.  My father showed him the letter that says that Garabed’s wife Shushan is alive and where she is to be found.  The ceremony is cancelled.  He sent money for his wife to join him.  Since my father wanted to go to Giligia, he joined him and came to Adana—from which place Shushan had left five days earlier!  After spending a week with us, he went back to Bolis. 

“I will return to my father and the letter that I had written him.  My father, wanting to send us word he was coming to Adana to join us, wrote a letter addressed to the Armenian Church.  The letter he wrote had a return address, and despite my regular visits to church every Sunday, neither the priest, nor the jamgotch, sexton,[sometimes referred to anglizided by Armenians as ‘warden’] or anyone else I knew said anything about a letter sent in care of the church.  Outside, in the church garden, bardez, posted on a blackboard, karudaghdai, were the names of letters received.  I received no such information. My father finally resolved the problem by visiting the Church. At the time Diggin Shushan had received no word about my father.

“Four or five months passed while we were still in that Infidel Village when my father decided that we would return to Bolis.  Two weeks later, we were ready at the station where, after passing a satisfactory examination, we were given our written permits, ardonats’qriruh qrirehtsints, from the Armenian Military authority, and were on our way.  After two days on the road we reached Bolis.  We ended up in Kedekuigh, Kadeköy, [today Kadiköy, the ancient city of Chalcedon, of Ecumenical Council fame].

“After about six months, we moved to Uzvunjukh section [Note: not certain.  The enunciation is poor.  Not sure if it is Oozvun or Oozlun or Oozun, usun, means long in Turkish.]  There, with one of our compatriot friends, my father opened a bathhouse, baghnik, for men and women.  The hours for the men were from eight in the morning to one o’clock in the afternoon, and for the women from one to four thirty, and again, the men until nine o’clock.  We stayed there almost a year.  Then a problem arose between my father and his partner whose brother had joined him.  The partner, Khatchig, really did not understand much about operating the bath but he had contributed three quarters of the money.  The situation was such that he said, “You give us our share and we will go out, or you take your share and you leave!”  My father had expended quite a lot of money when he undertook going to Giligia from Bolis, and returning with us.  He was certainly in no position to ‘buy out’ the bath from the brothers, so he took his share and left.

“ From there we went to Samatia city, a Bolis community that had Armenians and where Mother’s [i.e Nahabed’s step-mother, he is calling her Mayrig.] mother and father and two brothers resided.  Mother’s elder brother’s name, Karnig; his wife’s name was Mayram [Mariam but Nahabed pronounces it Myrahm].  They had two sons, manch zavag, the first, Hagop, the second, Jirayr, the little brother’s name.  Garabed was now about twenty to twenty-two years old, and Kapriel [Gabriel, not sure here.  Lots of hesitation reading] was his son.  Mother’s mother’s brother’s name [quite deliberate here, Mayrigihn mohr yeghporoun anounuh] was Aznif.  [Long pause.  Nahabed realizes has made a mistake.  Aznif is a female first name.  Note, on a final tape where Nahabed repeats this portion, he is a bit more clear in his reading—but not much—but nevertheless he clearly says that ‘My Mother’s Mother’s name was Aznif, a well-deserved name.  Aznif means ‘Noble’ or ‘Kind’] “That’s her name, his name Barsegh.  By virtue of their being Gesaratsis [from Gesaria, Caesaria] my Grandfather did not know how to speak Armenian, and was completely Turcophone [bolorovin Turkakosk ehr.].  Uncle Karnig [Karnig Kerihn] was in terms of responsibility the senior, and had a job nearby.

Mirijan, Nahabed’s Paternal Uncle

“Several months later, we got a letter from my Uncle’s son, Mirijan, saying that he wanted me [Nahabed] to go to America.  A second letter came, with another request ‘Uncle, you married twice.  You know my age and my personality.  Therefore, I leave it to you to seek and find for me someone suitable, and to send her to America with Nahabed.  I am sure that I will be satisfied with your choice.’  With the receipt of this letter, the whole situation changed.

“My Father and Mother began to look for someone suitable.  Several weeks passed, and another letter from America.  This was from my other Uncle’s daughter, from his sister Iskouhie, and $650 dollars was sent, asking us to come to America!  It seemed that a new sun shone!  The darkness had parted and we were in its light! And with a new zeal and hope we began to search for a suitable person for my Father’s brother’s son.”


END of this side of TAPE –No. 3

[Note: I am going to insert here the FINAL TAPE (labeled Nahabed Chakrian Post-Exile Life & Family, see title in Armenian) This tape seems to have more on it than the one I had used initially.  This too has a baby blue label on the ‘first’ side. ]

“Six weeks later our search was complete.  [Note Nahabed, by saying “our” acts as if he, too, has been involved in the search for a bride!]  And we found a young lady, oriortmi, Sophie, twenty-eight or thirty years old who was from the city of Samatia, the daughter of the Samatia school’s … [Not clear whose daughter she is, Nahabed hesitates—perhaps he means the Head Mistress sister’s daughter?]  The engagement took place and a ring was placed on her finger.  Mirijan’s picture was sitting there on the table, full faced and youthful.  There were five or six men there and for them there was a celebration for Sophie and Mirijan.  We sent a photograph of Sophie with the happy news that with the first ship we are getting on our way. 

“Finally, five weeks later we found a Greek agent [he uses the English word agent here] who had rented a boat named “Gul Djemal, Handsome Rose”.  This boat was small and had been used by the Turks during the war.  The Greek told us that the boat would be ready.  We rented a team but when we got to the harbor we saw that the boat was two or three miles from shore.  We could not go back, so the Greek renter of that ship, [intent on] putting us in the boat took us to the open water and delivered us to the ship.  It took three days for the ship to get close to the quay, karap ihn.

“When it neared the quay, on the following day, I went to the section in Samatia, Psamatya where my sister had been living for more than eight months after marrying, Nazareth Hazarian, the son of one of our village neighbors.  That night I spent at my sister’s home.  Because Pesa Nazareth, [Pesa here means brother-in-law], was a baker, he worked at a place near the Black Sea called Bey Kos [or some such, not clearly enunciated] and came home only once a week.  The following morning we went to Bolis on the ship.  We spent the day there and I returned with my sister to her house that evening.  When all of us were together with my sister….”  [Here Baron Nahabed expresses regret that his final hours with his sister were cut short]

“…that visit became the last time that I saw my dear sister and [step-]Mother until 1966.  Two years later my sister left for France with a group of compatriots where they settled in La Ciotat city. [south of Marseilles]  My Aunt Myram, [father’s sister, Mayram Horakrochus] and family members, who were still alive, were taken in by my sister at the end of the War.  My Aunt had only lost one daughter; her husband was in Bolis when the War broke out.  […This continues more or less pretty exactly as what is related on the tape translated earlier.  Only one key point emerges here—namely that when Nahabed went to Hayastan in 1966 he says, “It was sad to learn that Nazaree Pesa had died.”

Turn over this tape to side without any labeling. [Note this is not the ‘last’ tape from which I translated the insert.  I hope this is clear.]

“The following morning we went to Bolis.  We spent the day there.  I went back with my sister to her house.  After spending the night there, in the morning we started our way back on the boat [presumably a ferry] so as to be able to spend time together.  Within a few minutes, my sister sadly said to me, ‘Dear Little Brother, Yeghpayr-jan, again I am to be separated from you.  Only God knows when I shall have the chance to see you again.’ 

“Sister,’ I said, ‘Be certain that within one or two years you, too, will be united with us.”

“With a long sad look on her face, our conversation ended.  When my father, wherever he was, returned that night to the family, I don’t know why I didn’t go with my sister to her home to spend the rest of the day together.  [Note: here Nahabed openly sobs and breaks into tears as he records.  What he says is, understandably, a bit disjointed.]  And with good wishes she took her leave, the last time I saw her [for a number of years but not forever!]  I was unable to see my dear Sister, and my [Step-] Mother until 1966.

After 1920

“It was two years later that my sister left with a group of fellow countrymen for France. Because no one out of Aunt Myram’s entire family was left, she had taken my sister in after the War.  Out of my real aunt’s family, only one girl had been lost, and her husband was in Bolis when the War broke out.  The eldest son, Sarkis, went to Erzeroum to help, as I explained much earlier, with the intent of bringing food to our village, during the Turkish War.  Oskian had survived in Arabia by being taken in by the Arabs.  After the War when the English were collecting Armenian orphans and taking them to Haleb, Oskian was amongst them.  And eventually all of them were reunited in Bolis.  All of our fellow villagers who were still alive, from some twenty-eight families, left for France living there until 1944.

“At that time, a groups of Armenians from our village emigrated to Hayastan [Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic, ASSR].  Some five or six families, my sister’s family among them, emigrated so I did not see her until 1966 when I went to Hayastan for the first time.  I won’t go deeply into that story, since in itself it would take several volumes.  In France my sister had given birth to seven children—two boys, three girls [Note, either Nahabed has made a mistake counting or only five children of seven survived.]

“In 1938 I brought one of the boys from France to America.  His name is David.  He married here, he grew up here and he became the father of six girls here.  And when I went to Hayastan for the first time in 1966 to see my sister, I took David with me.  It was then that I got the idea of bringing my sister over here to be near me and to enable her to live out her remaining years more comfortably and without worry.  But every attempt was thwarted and my hands remained tied until 1980 when I was able not only to bring my sister, but one of her daughters, Shakeh, and her husband Pesa Muggerditch, [Pesa, is used indiscriminately to designate spouse, groom or son-in-law], and four children.  By the time she arrived in America from Hayastan, my dear sister could barely walk.  As the years passed her condition worsened and this year, June 29, 1988 she closed her eyes forever and was released from her years of her travail, pain and suffering.  [Here Nahabed begins to weep.]  “Peace be upon you, khaghaghutiu, and may you be free of the tribulations darabkneru, that you suffered, qashetsir, during all those years in the deserts of ‘Arabia’ and after.

In America

“Now returning to my Uncle’s son, Mirijan.  One week after we appeared [in America with his bride-to-be] Mirijan got married.  A week had not passed when he rented a house and we all moved in as well.  And another week had not passed when some misunderstanding and differences arose between my mother and him, and they became exacerbated with time.  So, a month later when my mother suggested that we go to Bridgeport, Connecticut where two of her brothers lived—both of them bachelors, yergoosna amouri.  My Father and Mirijan sat down one evening to do some reckoning of accounts hashiv desnalou.  They did not see fit for me to watch or participate in that important process of calculating.  After a full two hours, my father came out, flushed; the accounts had been settled completely.  Mirijan and my father had been at odds, bardagan hanedz er, over the $600 that had been sent by Mirijan.  Also, over the fact that we had resided and eaten meals at that house for three weeks.  The calculations were over that.  My father did not want to haggle with him and had yielded on everything that he [Mirijan] wanted.  And in this way Mirijan became inclined to be the [financial] guardian, der eghav, of the wife of his brother’s son.  [I think this is inaccurate and is a circumspect way of putting it.  In any case, the idea is, I believe, that Mirijan ended up agreeing to look after his Uncle and family until they could get on their feet, even if they were not under the same roof!]  Now we remained owing $600 dollars to Mirijan and an additional $650 to my first cousin Iskouhie and her husband, Pesa Haroutiun—this bit is inserted from the very last tape mentioned—the unemotional one.]   “It ended up that we would go one street distant from where they [i.e. Mirijan] lived where there was a grocery store, nbaravajar, that was run by an Armenian.  He said, ‘I will rent for you a place, and I will pay the rent for the house, and whatever foodstuffs are needed by you can be obtained from this store.  The owner of this store is an Armenian.  Thus you will not have to struggle because of understanding or language difficulties.  The owner of this store will give you a notebook, dedrag, and he will also keep a notebook.  Everything obtained will be written down in the two notebooks.  Every month I will come and examine both notebooks and whatever is owed, I will pay from month to month.  And whatever the initial payments are, I will give it to you.  [Note this is not clear to me.  It is a verbatim translation!]  Don’t you worry over it. When you begin to work you can pay whatever you are able.  On that account, do not have a care.’  But my Mother took issue with that idea, hagaretsav ad gaghaparuh, so in the same week my new maternal Uncle, Mor yeghpayr, came from Bridgeport and took us to where he lived.

“Here we stayed some fourteen years.  There I grew up… [this is from the ‘final unemotional tape.  The emotional one does not say ‘here I grew up’] …married, had five children, of whom one boy child, the oldest… [Note: this is only stated in the ‘last’ unemotional tape]… died in his first year.

“In 1929 because of lack of work we moved to New York where my stepmother, Khort Mayruss [Note that Baron Nahabed refers to her here as ‘step’ whereas till now he has called her Mayrig, Mother]… and my wife died, and my father [Note: this is mentioned only in the ‘unemotional’ ‘last’ tape.  Not mentioned in the ‘emotional’ one].  As I have explained, I have four [surviving] children.  Two boys and two daughters.  My first daughter married and now has one daughter.  My second son took a wife and has one son.  The other two, twins, miyus zuykeruh, boy and girl, Armand and Madeline, now live in New York.  My daughter married and has a ten- year old daughter, Jennifer, but her brother has remained a bachelor till now.  My first daughter, Jean, is here in California.  After I lost my first wife, I did not re-marry for twenty years; even though I had two young kids ten years old [Nahabed is having problems reading and has made some blunders.  In one place he seems to be talking about his Father’s family, then switches to his own!  He is clearly talking about his own kids.]

Certainly the lack of a Mother in the household was a clear disadvantage and life in the family was worth less.  So when my twin daughter Madeline got married, I left and came here to California and settled.”

[Lots of rustling of papers and crackling, and turning of pages and an extended ‘blank’ here.  Then he starts counting with considerable delay in between, “46, 45, 40, 48, 47…”.  Then he turns the recorder off.  This second side of the tape is blank. ]


Note, whereas the tape ends on the note of counting, as given above, this less emotional dictation continues after a break—with a theme of summing up—for lack of a better heading.]

Summing Up
“What would luck bring me?  My grandfather had been killed by two Turkish beasts in the place where he was born.  My grandmother was to die on the road to Divrik without a husband, with a destitute fate, helpless.  My poor mother Varteni was to become food for beasts.  My Aunt, struggled day by day, to save her life, going into exile into the depths of Arabia without a husband or for all practical purposes, without anyone to look after her, anderagan, and, was to have her suffering body laid to rest in the depths of Arabia. 

“My second sister, Gultana, by ill fate, was separated from us and went to Baghdad and closed her beautiful eyes forever from an illness, without anyone to look after her.  My little sister, Tshkhuhi, her fate has always been foremost in my mind.  [Recall that she was taken by the Arabs.]  My big sister, Gulizar and I, after surviving, became separated from each other for years.  Sixty-four years later she was to come here [to America] to join me, and soon to close her eyes forever.  And soon, I will be going, yess ahl bidi yertam, to join her in eternity.

“My dear father, and my step-mother, and my wife, Vartouhie-- I was to witness their being buried in New York.  [And Nahabed repeats himself in part and says, waxing poetically]  And soon, I will be having my own end yess ahl bidi ginkehm ihm magatsutsuh, [literally “I too will be anointing or sealing or closing my last showing] and will join them all in Eternity.  All my loved ones by luck got dispersed to all four corners of the earth [this is little bit of an exaggeration.].  Years later, I was fortunate enough to be able to bring my dear sister Gulizar here [to the USA]…[again repeats himself about joining her soon].  My heartfelt thanks to my dear beloved sister’s daughter, Shake, for having daughterly feelings and arranging that my grave be located just next to her mother, my sister, jist qushduh. 

“Now I am going to turn to my second wife.  After coming to California I was free, and could do pretty much what I wanted.  Here, one day, I went to the house of my Uncle’s daughter Horyeghporus archigan dunuh, –Sister [his first cousin] Iskouhie’s—where after an hour or two of conversation, the question turned to the possibility of re-marriage.  My Sister Iskouhie announced that she had a good female friend, who was now without a husband.  She had been born in this country, but she was the child of one of our countrymen.  Her parents had been from Cairo, Qayratsi, but [originally] from the place where my Grandmother was born.  She told me about her and offered one day she to take me and introduce me to her.

“Five or six weeks passed and when one day I raised the issue of going to see her, she hesitated.  And it became apparent that she had changed her mind about introducing us.  In this way a couple of additional weeks passed, and one day I went to her daughter Arshalouys’s house.  There, the conversation opened up and I was able to establish the views of my Sister Iskouhie.  “Dear Uncle, Keri-jan,” said Arshaloys, “I also know her very well.  If you wish, I will take you there.  She does not know you.  So, if you want, I will telephone her, and if she agrees, I will gladly take you there.  Eight or ten days later, I went with Arshalouys and we saw our compatriot widowed lady.  After sitting a while, I expressed the wish that I should to take us all to dinner.  But Diggin Mayram [Mrs. Mary or Mariam] stated that she had already planned to prepare a meal.  I had not wished that on the first occasion of our meeting to impose any heavy task on her, so I insisted very politely, and gratefully thanked her, that we go out to a restaurant.

“We went to a restaurant and when we returned and the time came to take our leave [Note, there is an interruption.  A woman is saying something unintelligible and Baron Nahabed says “Hello”] I asked Diggin Mayram if I could have the pleasure of seeing her that coming Saturday.  And, at the same time, I asked for her telephone number.  With great politeness that happened.  One or two weeks later, she introduced me to her second child, Antranig [a son] who lived quite close to where I was living.  I found him in our first meeting very cordial, hamagrankov, sympathetic; he was sincere angeghs, well-spoken, lezuani, and besides being modest, hamesd, he was very forthright.  Thereafter, every time I saw him my affection and feelings increased.  And to be even-handed, I must say here that whatever I wanted to have or do, my two children were always very supportive and always treated everything I did with the greatest respect. 

“Almost six weeks later Diggin Mari [Note: he is now calling her Mari, not Myram] took me to her elder son’s home, Antranigihn dunuh, [Antranig is a name, but here it means first-born or oldest child.]  He was married and the father of two children, one boy and one girl, the first five years old, the girl four, and their mother, Diane, with a happy, beautiful appearance, and very sincere disposition.  At first, I was not able to make an assessment of the son.  He was certainly polite, kaghakapar, but it was clear that he was harboring some negative feelings.  He was not sure whether he should view me a friend or stranger.  As time passed, my respect and affection increased.  [Nahabed goes on at length; then says,

“May God grant them health and bestow his blessings on them all.”]

“Now I will turn to my beloved, ihm siretsialis.  For nine months we saw each other once or twice a week.  Finally after another nine months, my affections had grown. She had grown closer to my heart; I decided after going to a restaurant for a meal, that I would ask her hand, with the hope that she would accept my proposal.  And so, in February 1975 our marriage took place, mer busagaturoutiunuh deghi oonetsav.  And I am happy to relate that I was not wrong in my choice, unduroutiunasus mech chey sukhaladz.  And now, in view of the fact that I am deteriorated in body and soul, and had it not been for the care that my beloved gave me, it is very probable that I would have been still worse.  My thanks and indebtedness and respects to my beloved.

“A few lines about Antranig, qanimh dogh Antranigihn massin.   Finally he got married to a noble and good-natured Armenian girl, aznif yev paresird hyehouhie mi hed, and was blessed with a very dear little girl. 


“Today, seventy years after, as I recall the events of the First World War, and especially the massacre of the entire Armenians, manavandt Hayots inthanur chartuh,…[obviously this is an overstatement.  However, the word inthanur might also be interpreted as meaning ‘general’]… my heart is forced to become stormy and my eyes fill with tears.  I am surrounded by dark obscurity, mut khavari, and when I think about the heartless advice given by the Germans to the beastly Turk, its ally, to strike a lethal blow, annihilate, vochtsutsaneh, all the Armenians to be found in Turkey, Turkio metch, with that conduct, varmunkov they would be ‘hitting two birds with one stone’.  The first was the settling of the “Armenian Question” which the Allies had gotten closer to advocating [by giving it a degree of autonomy]; the second, advancement and control [by the Armenians]… would be stopped that if all the Armenians were removed from their dwelling places.  And the beastly Turk carried out all of this suggestion, telaturoutiounuh, like a wild animal without any mercy, and stained with the blood of a million and half Armenians the deserts of Arabia.  And that crime was carried out…”

[Now follows a long diatribe that is repetitive, and says nothing that has not already been said, and repeated.  Nahabed is clearly very angry and ends the condemnatory stance against the Germans and Turks.  Without a pause, he states his name “ Nahabed Chakrian.”]



[1] This translation seems best although the track is not perfectly audible here. The word gut’k is obsolete and can refer to a treatise or harvest or compilation.


[2] A term of respect for the deceased, on the order of, ‘May his departed soul have been shown Mercy.’


[3]  Regrettably, as mentioned in the Foreword, the written text that Baron  (a courtesy title/ Mr.) Chakrian used has never been found, only the tapes have been preserved.


[4] Sebastia is the Armenian designation, Sivas, used exclusively today is Turkish.  The word kilise means church and ak means white in Turkish, hence ‘Whitechurch.’ The town is today called Eskiyurt.  Many present-day villages can be located along with altitude, mean temperature, etc. on maps via the internet site:  This gives geographical data on almost all the towns and cities in Turkey.  Many places with Armenian names have been changed, however, and it may be difficult to locate some without prior knowledge.  Incidentally, the towns given by Baron Chakrian are not to be found on the very general Armenian-language map in Yeghernabadoum, Story of Genocide, by Garabed Kapikian, English précis version.


[5]  On the patriarchal system, the new bride or hars, would leave her parents’ and grandparents’ home to join the household of her husband, normally that of his parents’/grandparents.


[6]  While not a common surname, it is by no means rare. Now, the spelling is usually Chakerian.  Presumably the designator derives from the Turkish word for grey-blue, more than likely referring to ancestors’ eyes.


[7] The expression mukhuh marets is used here, the ‘smoke has been quenched.’  The chore of keeping the fire of the family hearth burning was a demanding task, and when it failed and there was no smoke, it was a disaster.  All patience was exhausted!


[8] The word angoghin, pronounced un-goghheen, is used for ‘bed’ although it does not mean a bed as we in the west perceive one. Heavy quilts filled with wool, yorghans in Turkish, angoghin in Armenian, comprised bedding used on the floor rather than on an elevated structure.


[9] Akbash means “Whitehead” in Turkish.  The breed was more than likely that of a large dog known as the Anatolian guard dog, the Kangal. They can have either black or white heads.  They guard flocks and are especially known for their fierceness, loyalty and bravery in battle with wolves.  They are outfitted with spiked metal collars.  Note by fc:  In an earlier conversation which I recorded, Nahabed referred to his family dog as “Khulbes” or “Khulbas” which he described as brown and white. The dog was brought home as a puppy by his father from a Kurd village where he worked as a miller.  He added that during the exile the Kurds shot the dogs who were protecting their homes.


[10] Nahabed uses the English word ‘balloon’ here.


[11] Lake Goeljuk. See The Slaughterhouse Province: An American Diplomat’s Report on the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1917 Leslie A. Davis, Edited by Susan K. Blair, 1989, Aristide D. Caratzas, Publisher, New Rochelle, N.Y.



© Copyright 2021 Armenian News Network/Groong and the authors. All Rights Reserved.



Home Administrative | Introduction | Armenian News | Podcasts | Feedback |