Activism Through Education – An Interview with Levon Marashlian



My grandmother asked: “Are there any Armenians left?”  What she and her companion had witnessed during the deportation made them think they were the only Armenians left in the world. – Levon Marashlian

Remembering the Past toward Healing our Future

A six event commemorative film series featuring the stories of survivors and their children

Living Ubuntu, in collaboration with Amnesty International – Irvine and six local academic institutions, presents a six-event commemorative film series featuring the stories of survivors and their children. April is Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month, and each film commemorates a genocide that started during April. Living Ubuntu provides education about global traumas as part of its mission to heal trauma in order to promote peace. All films are free and open to the public.

Below is an interview with Levon Marashlian, a third generation Armenian genocide survivor who will be a featured speaker at the Armenian genocide event.


An Interview with Levon Marashlian

Born:  Beirut, Lebanon
Degree:  B.A.-University of Illinois. M.A. and Ph.D.-UCLA
Occupation:  Professor, Glendale Community College, Glendale, CA

Q: When did you move to the U.S.?

A: In 1956 when I was 7 years old.  We moved to from Beirut to Chicago. It was just my immediate family. All my grandparents stayed behind. That’s why I lost contact with them, which is too bad, because I never had a chance to talk to them about their experience during the deportations and massacres.  By the time I visited Beirut in 1973, they were all gone.

Q: Did you have any other family left in Beirut other than your grandparents?

A: A few family members, but no one from the survivor generation. If I had known then what I know now, I would have had them recorded.  Armenians started this late, not until the mid 1970s. I did over 20 interviews myself as part of a course at UCLA.  By the time oral histories were recorded in the 80s and 90s most of the people who were still alive and able were children during the genocide so they knew things from the perspective of a child.  That’s still useful, but the most valuable witnesses would have been people who were adults in 1915.  The memory of the most valuable generation was lost. Read more of this post

Good books and films about the Armenian Genocide

Massacres of Armenians

MASSACRES OF ARMENIANS. This is a sketch by an eye-witness of the terrible massacre of Armenians by Softas (fanatical Moslem Students) near St. Sofia.

April is Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month. In honor of this, we have compiled a Resource List of books and films themed around each of the past genocides that have commemorative dates in April, plus the areas that we cover.

We hope you will make use of this list as a way to both remember these genocides, and learn more about them.  This is our fifth post, the Armenian Genocide.

Recommended Books:

Children of Armenia: A Forgotten Genocide and the Century-long Struggle for Justice, by Michael Bobelian
From 1915 to 1923, the ruling Ottoman Empire drove 2 million Armenians from their ancestral homeland; 1.5 million of them were viciously slaughtered.  While there was an initial global outcry and a movement to aid the “starving Armenians,” the promise to hold the perpetrators accountable was never fulfilled and a curtain of silence soon descended on one of the worst crimes of modern history.

Jail to Jail: Autobiography of a Survivor of the 1915 Armenian Genocide, by Hagop S.  Der-Garabedian, Aghop H. Der-Karabetian
Jail to Jail is the personal account of an Armenian soldier in the Ottoman army during the First World War who survived the genocide of his people.

Survivors: An Oral History of the Armenian Genocide, by Donald E. Miller
Combining a compelling oral history with a trenchant analysis of the first major genocide of   the 20th century, this moving study focuses on the Turkish murder of more than one million Armenians between 1915 and 1923 in a systematic campaign of mass deportations, slaughter, forced labor and starvation.

The Armenian Genocide, by Jeri Freedman
The Armenian Genocide outlines the circumstances that led to the Turkish government’s forced annihilation and deportation of the Armenian population within its borders, and discusses international reactions and the aftermath.

The Knock at the Door: A Journey through the Darkness of the Armenian Genocide, by Margaret Ahnert
This personal, homespun account by an American of Armenian descent interweaves two narratives in alternating chapters: Ahnert’s mother Ester’s firsthand description of  coming-of-age during, and miraculously surviving, the Turkish-sponsored Armenian genocide of 1915, and the middle-aged author’s own tender yet urgent reflections on her connection to the distant world of her 98-year-old mother.

Vergeen: a survivor of the Armenian genocide, by Mae M. Derdarian
Derdarian tells the story of her mother’s friend, Vergeen, who survived rape, starvation, and  mutilation at the hands of the Young Turk regime in the last years of the Ottoman Empire.

Recommended Films:

Aghet: Nation Murder
German filmmaker Eric Friedler, compellingly proves the absolute truth of the genocide of the Armenian people.  Using the actual words of 23 German, American and other nationals who witnessed the events, and armed with archival materials, his film expertly takes on the challenge that PM Erdogan hurled at the world by stating: “Prove it.”

Ararat, Atom Egoyan’s mysterious drama about the horrors of the largely unknown Armenian genocide in Turkey, unrolls through a film within the film (also titled Ararat).  Jumping back and forth in time, Egoyan weaves together the lives of several people.

Armenia: The Betrayed
Fergal Keane investigates how a terrible slaughter, three quarters of a century ago, has returned to haunt the relationship between Turkey and its western allies.  This 2002 documentary shows the horrors of the Armenian genocide and the lengths that the Turkish government goes to cover it up.

Destination Nowhere:  The Witness
The documentary depicts Armin Wegner’s personal testimony to the Armenian Genocide through vivid and often disturbing photographs, which were taken while he served in the German army in Ottoman Turkey in 1915-1916, dramatically bringing to life the Armenian Genocide of 1915.

The Armenian Genocide
The Armenian Genocide is the complete story of the first Genocide of the 20th century, when over a million Armenians died at the hands of the Ottoman Turks during World War I – an event that is still denied by Turkey to this day.

Background on the Armenian Genocide: Beginning in 1915, ethnic Armenians living in the Ottoman empire were rounded up, deported and executed on orders of the government. The combination of massacres, forced deportation marches and concentration camp deaths due to disease is estimated to have resulted in the deaths of more than 1 million ethnic Armenians and Assyrians between 1915 and 1923.

– From GI-Net / Save Darfur Coalition (link)

Compiled by Paulina Robles and Barbara English of Orange County for Darfur and Martina Knee of the San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition.