Armenian Child who turned to “Mowgli”

Armenian Child who turned to “Mowgli” –

The Armenian child in this photo was found in the desert where he lived for over two years. He was deprived of care, elementary living conditions and only ate grass and different plants. When he was found, he had become extremely savage, as seen in his posture and facial expressions. These photos were taken by Helen Mari Jerhard, who worked for “American Near East Relief” organization in Aleppo, in 1920-1921. She would later take care of the child. 

During the years of Armenian Genocide, thousands of Armenian children became orphans having lost their parents and relatives on deportation roads. Some of them escaped the Turkish massacres and settled down in abandoned places; forests and caves, far from people and civilization. These defenceless and careless children, who had witnessed the brutal murder of their parents, lived with animals, imitated their behaviour and avoided people. Some of those children had lost the ability to speak and walk like people and had acquired features typical of wild animals. Relief activities to rescue the remaining Armenian fragments were carried out by Armenian associations, Churches and foreign Relief Organizations, which started to gather thousands of Armenian children orphaned as a result of the Genocide. Some of the children among were real “mowglies.”

“When I arrived here in Van, all the houses were full of Armenians’ corpses. The Turks had brutally slaughtered them… Some of them were found and immediately killed, others had died of hunger and disease. Some Armenians are now hiding in jungles and caves; lot of savaged children among them, whose parents were killed. Recently, my orderlies had seen such a child, and tried to catch him, but in vain. He had been completely naked, noticing people, he had hidden himself like a beast, so it was impossible to find him. The local commandant has collected a squad of Armenian soldiers to climb the mountains and find savaged children. Some of them were found and handed to the commandant. I have seen them… it was terrible; swollen bellies, just skin and bones… savaged to an extent, so that if you laid your hand they can bite it like a beast”. 

Christina Semina
Sister of charity in Caucasian front
Van, 1915


Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute

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