Cummings Foundation Grant Recipient
EXILE, TRAUMA, AND DEATH: On the Road to Chankiri with Komitas Vartabed
Gomidas Institute

EXILE, TRAUMA, AND DEATH: On the Road to Chankiri with Komitas Vartabed

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By Aram Andonian, translated by Rita Soulahian Kuyumjian

Volume I of the Trilogy - April 24, 1915. It was just after midnight on April 24, 1915. The doorbell rang and a civilian dressed police officer appeared at the door of the musicologist Komitas Vartabed. The doorbells of two hundred other Constantinople Armenian citizens also rang that same night. By daybreak, the city's central jail was buzzing with the voices of a special group of individuals, now prisoners. They were Armenian physicians, poets, lawyers, university professors, political activists, editors, musicians, teachers, clergy, Armenian members of the ruling Young Turk party, the political leadership and intelligentsia of the Constantinople Armenian community.

This volume is a tragic and, at times, absurdly comical first-person account of the three days which followed the staged arrest and abduction of this elite. This account is told through the English translation of 25 articles originally written in Armenian by Aram Andonian, a journalist who was one of the few survivors of those arrested. Aram Andonian describes their forced journey on foot, aboard a ship, on a train and finally on horse carts to exile to the village of Chankiri north of the capital of modern Turkey, Ankara.

The unfolding of this narrative will give the reader a unique opportunity and a rare glimpse of the thoughts, emotions and fears experienced by these learned men who knew neither their destination nor their fate. Unbeknownst to these men, their abduction on April 24, 1915, and journey into exile was to launch the Armenian Genocide. These articles are enriched with photographs of the arrested victims as well as extensive endnotes featuring the biographies of those whose names are mentioned in the articles.

Gomidas Institute (2010)