See below sample photos from the album
A remarkable collection of photographs representing Armenian refugee life in post WWI Aleppo, originally published by Rober Jebejian (Violette Jebejian Library Publications) in 1986, is now available electronically thanks to the efforts of Sarkis Zakarian, Head of the Middle East Diaspora section in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia.
Zakarian, originally from Aleppo, who has served in diplomatic post in the Embassy of Armenia in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (2001-2003), has first hand knowledge of the history of the Armenian communities in the Middle East. With this work he passes on an important message: to be aware of the devastating consequences of a Genocide and be sensitive towards modern day annihilation cases all around the world.
The displayed photographs clearly show the ordeal of the Armenians and the daunting task of rebuilding a nation, starting from the miserable refugee camps in Aleppo and other cities in the region.
The website, in this sense, is inspiring and could be served as a “lively” example of a revival of a nation.
In the context of the 92nd Anniversary commemoration of the Genocide this website is a very important contribution.
Photos are provided by Vartan Derounian, Avedis Shahinian and H. Iskenian.
The introduction of the hardcopy album by Dr. Rober Jebejian (famous opthalmologist in Aleppo, now deceased), gives an idea about the origin of the photographs and how they were eventually processed for publication, after a long journey from hand to hand.
At the end of the First World War a floating mass of Armenian survivors of unprecedented, ruthless and most barbaric massacres perpetrated by the Turks found themselves struggling for rehabilitation in parts of their historical ancestor?s lands.
This catalistic operation had hardly gathered momentum when, before the indifferent eyes of the Great Western Powers, it was interrupted by further Turkish attempts for the suppression of the Armenian race.
Once again these human wrecks faced the challenge of survival in the face of innumerable difficulties, by mass migrating towards the neighboring hospitable Arab countries.
On arrival to destination their priorities were basic. It was to have a roof on their heads. To this end every piece of discarded tin, wood or corrugated iron was collected and with astonishing still and ingenuity used as building material, with the result that a refuge was assured against the rigors of the approaching winter, principally in the desolate Aleppo district of Suleimanieh.
It was under these appalling conditions of utter poverty, indescribable misery and lack of basic sanitation that the struggle for life started in the 1920?s for these Armenians, lasting till the mid-thirties.
However, despite the gloom and adversities encountered daily, these expatriates from the interior once Armenian provinces as well as from Aintab, Marash and Killis faced their task with fortitude and determination to prepare a better future through sheer hard work and industry for the coming generation.
During that critical period a man, Vartan Derounian, a leading and accomplished professional photographer in Aleppo, had the visionary insight to record for posterity the plight of these refugees in their makeshift primitive homes. Before leaving Aleppo in 1947 he left this remarkable collection of photographs to Mr. Avedis Shahinian who had taken over the succession of the business and who, in his turn handed over to us before leaving for South America.
Sad as it may be, housed comfortably in modern apartments equipped with every convenience, the new generations are oblivious of the sacrifices made by their grandparents. This valuable collection of photographs will remain an indelible evidence of the price their ancestors paid for the well being of generations to follow.
END OF DR. ROBER JEBEJIAN'S ARTICLE
Special thanks to Mr. Asatour Peteyan for recognizing and verifying places and individuals who lived in refugee camps. We recognize also the helpful participation of Dr. Haroutyun Ter Ghazarian, Mr. Aram Shorvoghlian, Mr. Hayk Parikian and Mrs. Alice Parsumian.
Photos (all taken in Aleppo refugee camps):
A family in front of their “house” in the camp of Ourfa Armenians
Sandal makers (originally from Marash)
Main “street” in Hamidieh camp
An extended family in the Zeitoun Khan (the camp of Zeitoun Armenians)