They gathered the children, dumped them in a big ditch and set them ablaze

They gathered the children, dumped them in a big ditch and set them ablaze –

The Guardian

– Grandchildren and great grandchildren of those targeted in the massacres recount their ancestors’ stories and reflect on how the Armenian Genocide in 1915 shaped their family history and culture.

My paternal and maternal grandparents were genocide survivors from a village called Chalgara (Calkara in Turkish). After deportation, all reached Baghdad in 1916. My father and mother were born there, as my brothers and sister and myself later on. 

My aunt Nevrig (actually my father’s cousin) lived with us. She was blind. When we were kids she told us the story how she became blind. She said that when the Turkish soldiers attacked their village, they gathered the children and dumped them in a big ditch and poured some black color liquid on them and set them ablaze. She said that there were so many kids on top of her that fire did not reach her. Whoever tried to escape was shot or bayoneted. 

After a short while the soldiers had left, being sure that all the children were burned alive. She was lucky to get out safe, but she said her continuous crying left her blind. 

My grandmother also told us that during deportation she had two little sons and a daughter (they would have been my uncles and aunt). She said that the boys died in the desert, and while she was digging the sands bare-handed to bury them, she turned around and did not find her daughter. She was kidnapped by tribal Arabs. She lost all three of them in one instance. 

Ara Dembekjian,
California, USA

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.