ARMENIAN GENOCIDE MEMORIALS DATABASE UPDATED BY ARMENIAN NATIONAL INSTITUTE
September 5, 2012 (released September 5, 2012)
WASHINGTON, DC - The Armenian National Institute (ANI) announced a further expansion of its website with a significant update to the database it maintains on Armenian Genocide memorials.
ANI has periodically updated the database as information arrived at the Institute about new memorials. This year a broader investigation identified the existence of 31 additional memorials. Documentation on some memorials remains sparse, but the new count indicates the existence of 166 memorials dedicated to the Armenian Genocide in 31 countries: Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, Syria, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
The memorials range from simple plaques and single cross-stones (khachkars) to monumental sculptures and entire edifices, with many placed in Armenian church yards and others in public parks, and in small towns to large cities where survivors of the Armenian Genocide and their descendants created new communities.
Beyond the 28 memorials identified in Armenia, in the diaspora the largest number of memorials is to be found in France with 36, followed by the 30 counted in the United States. The monuments vary in style and purpose, with those in Armenia often dedicated to memorializing specific historic towns of Western Armenia or specific events such as the defense of Musa Dagh and Aintab. Diaspora memorials are nearly all dedicated to the memory of the victims in general.
The oldest memorials are located in Lebanon, with the ossuary chapel on the grounds of the Catholicosate of Cilicia in Antelias as the centerpiece monument of this important community. One of the most recent and touching memorials is also to be found in Lebanon dedicated to the memory of the captive children who perished in the Antoura orphanage where they were forcibly Turkified. Memorials directly associated with historic sites are rare. Only two powerfully symbolic memorial chapels in the Syrian desert towns mark actual death camps, one in Margadeh and the other at Der Zor, where the largest number of Armenian deportees was killed.
Many of the memorials have become sites for commemorative events. The best known is the annual gathering of over a million people at the platform upon the hill of Tsitsernakaberd where the great memorial complex in Yerevan is located. Other memorials have also emerged as gathering places for annual ceremonies including the monument in Montebello, where the large Armenian community of southern California gathers on regular occasions, and the statue of Komitas erected in an open park in central Paris. Komitas, the savior of Armenian folk music, was among those picked up in the April 24, 1915 dragnet in Istanbul. Spared under international protest, he remained muted by the horrors. He is commemorated in more than one location as the symbol of the losses associated with the destruction of historic Armenia and its civilization.
Some monuments also serve as venues for official events. The Tsitsernakaberd complex is regularly toured by heads of states visiting Armenia. The presidents of France, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Russia, and many other countries have paid their respects. The highest-ranking U.S. official to visit the Armenian Genocide memorial in Yerevan is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (July 5, 2010), with the most recent visit by a dignitary paid by Yuli-Yoel Edelstein, Member of the Knesset and Israel's Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs (August 24, 2012). In the United States, speakers at the monument in Montebello have included numerous California governors including Jerry Brown, George Deukmejian, and Ronald Reagan.
It is noteworthy that no memorial dedicated to the Armenian Genocide is located in Turkey, neither remembering the ancient and vibrant communities across Anatolia that have utterly vanished, nor indicating the documented locations where atrocities were committed. No memorial recalls the hundreds of Armenian community leaders who were summarily arrested on April 24, 1915, and sent to their exile in Anatolia, many to their places of execution, through the Haydarpasha train station, a massive building still standing in the district of Kadikoy on the Asian shore of the city of Istanbul.
The Armenian Genocide Memorials Database was first created as part of a larger memorial database project funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, with assistance from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The database was developed in tandem with the Legacy Project that documents the artistic legacy of genocide and trauma, and which includes a valuable index of artworks addressing the Armenian Genocide.
The memorials database remains a work in progress and ANI welcomes any additional information or digital images that viewers can provide.
Founded in 1997, the Armenian National Institute (ANI) is a 501(c)3 educational charity based in Washington, DC, and is dedicated to the study, research, and affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.