First Armenian Interviews Go Live in Visual History Archive, As Delegation Attends Armenian Genocide Commemoration
From the Visual History Archive
Day 28 of 30 Days of Testimony: Chris Bohjalian on the testimony of Elsie Taft
Impact in Profile
Meet Michael Amerian
As the world commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide today, the stories of 60 survivors and witnesses have been given new life.
In some ways, the one minute we spend with Elsie Hagopian Taft – 56 seconds, to be precise – is a wrenching primer on the Armenian Genocide. It is a poignant and powerful evocation of an innermost ring of Dante’s inferno, and a courageous explanation of why the Armenian Genocide matters today.
There is the chilling foreshadow of the Holocaust: “The worst place I can remember. The people were separated into two groups,” Elsie recalls. The Armenian Auschwitz, Der-el-Zor, is the final destination for those who can’t work. There is the dehumanization and the cavalier disregard for human life. There are the burning bodies.
As we know, there is a direct link between the Armenian Genocide, the Holocaust, the Cambodian killing fields, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Darfur. (As I once heard a scholar observe, impunity begets impunity.)
Elise’s story matters because Turkey does not acknowledge the Genocide.
Her story matters because – to quote Pope Francis in his April 2015 Mass in which he courageously called the slaughter “genocide” – “concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding.” It is a psychic trauma, and the cure begins with recognition.
And her story matters because the world is a better place when we stand up against violence and villainy; when we put righteousness before realpolitik; and when we honor our ancestors whose voices were forever stilled. As Elie Wiesel said, “To forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.”
Author: Chris Bohjalian, New York Times Bestselling Author of "The Sandcastle Girls” http://www.chrisbohjalian.com/
Michael Amerian is in Yerevan, Armenia, this week with staff of USC Shoah Foundation to commemorate the 100th anniversary the greatest tragedy in the country’s history.