0

4

 

2

7

 

0

9

 

L

I

T

E

R

A

T

U

R

E

 

 

0

4

 

2

7

 

0

9

 

L

I

T

E

R

A

T

U

R

E

 

 

 

   

 
       
 

Armenian Golgotha

 
 

Bearing Witness...

   

 

  

 

April 24, the day Armenians around the world commemorate the Armenian Genocide, is a reminder of the duality of human nature - of the good and evil in man eternally at war - but that there is also something in the human spirit that fights on… (incidentally, we just read the marvelous story about Kasparov in today's NY Times….)

And also, that it is human to put down on paper what has passed, to understand with the long perspective - this act of recording history, of recounting….

Under cover of war, in 1915, an entire people were uprooted from their ancestral homelands in Anatolia and sent on deportation marches that would ultimately claim upwards of a million souls.  Father Grigoris Balakian was arrested by the Turkish government on April 24, 1915, along with 250 intellectuals and leaders of Constantinople's Armenian community.  This was the beginning of his odyssey - against all odds and avoiding what would have been certain death in Chankari and Ayash, Balakian managed to escape.  He was a formidable man: a devoted priest and humanist, a skilled writer, linguist, and orator able to negotiate with the most ruthless Ottoman officials in order to procure food for starving compatriots or to pose as a German official to avoid capture and record events that only foreigners were privy to.  The story is Kafkaesque: Balakian details his thrilling and remarkable escape and the grotesque cavalcade of petty pashas, corrupt officials and unforgiving villagers who were all complicit in the events described.  Also, the recounting of the deportations, mass burials, executions, looting and plunder visited upon the Ottoman Empire's Armenian subjects.

His grandson, Peter Balakian, the author of the best-selling memoir Black Dog of Fate, and the erudite Aris Sevag translated the recent release of Balakian's seminal book in English.  It is an unfortunate fact that Armenian Golgotha continues to be relevant in a time when similar atrocities occur (Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur).  But perhaps the most important aspect of Balakian's account is that he bears witness, like so many of the greats of survivor literature, like Elie Wiesel, like Primo Levi….  And that he never loses his spirit - he foresees an independent Armenia - this genocide was a crucifixion that would be followed by resurrection (and so the name Golgotha).  Balakian writes how he and Armenian compatriots, meeting in secret, "got so excited that we started to draw the borders of tomorrow's liberated Armenia on a map…."  The book is also about something eternal and human - hope. 

 

 

Read: Armenian Golgotha, Grigoris Balakian 

Permalink   Save to del.icio.us    Digg This! 

                           

Become a Fan
on Facebook!

 

 


       
 

 
       
     

 

Subscribe About Us Contact Us Privacy Policy Editorial Policy Unsubscribe  

Press Archives Search

 

 

 

©2009 eCognoscente 

All design and illustration by Anita Itty