We heard one day the town crier saying [speaking Armenian] is a square on the outskirts of Marash. [Speaking Armenian] Don’t go there. We’ll be killed. We have to go there on pain of death. Of course, my mother was upset. She had three little children hanging onto her skirts, so she didn't know what to do. She went to a muleteer and wanted to hire a donkey. So this man, who must have been a kind person, looked at her and said, “You, silly… you silly, foolish woman. What do you think this sürgün is?” (Sürgün means deportation.) “What do you think sürgün is? You think you are going on a holiday? Joyride?” He said, “You are going to certain death. Don’t think of going. And no donkey, or nothing like that. You just tell the soldiers who come that your husband is serving in the Turkish army and you can’t be sürgün-ed at all.” Then she realized what a mistake she was about to make.
Armenian genocide survivor Haroutune Aivazian was interviewed by J. Michael Hagopian on May 12, 1993. This testimony is part of USC Shoah Foundation’s Armenian Genocide collection.
The Aivazian family’s vineyard was confiscated by authorities. Aivazian survived because his mother dropped him off at a German orphanage built by missionaries to shelter children whose parents had perished in earlier massacres. In this clip he describes his mother’s dliemma when ordered to report for deportation.
Armenian Genocide Testimony courtesy of USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive