Armenian National Institute Website Now Includes 327 Armenian Genocide Memorials

WASHINGTON, DC – After extensive research and the gift of a major cache of photographs of Armenian Genocide memorials from around the world, the Armenian National Institute (ANI) website presently displays 327 memorials in 45 countries.

The 2015 centennial commemorations of the Armenian Genocide presented a somber occasion for many communities to install new memorials. The database previously accounted for 200 memorials in 32 countries. The new figures represent a 60% growth in the number of memorials in an additional 13 countries around the world. Also, 74 existing postings have been updated with new information. All these can be viewed in close detail with the 650 images that have been added to the existing database.

The database provides information about each memorial, a description of the type, its location, the year of installation, a transcription of important inscriptions, and additional details if available, such as the artist, sculptor, or architect, sponsors, official visitors, and amenities. The database also has a search function according to the type of memorial or the city in which a memorial is located.

Memorials are documented in as diverse a set of countries as Brazil and Bulgaria, Chile and Cyprus, Estonia and Ethiopia, Ireland and Italy, Singapore and Slovakia, and Ukraine and Uruguay. To the same extent that Armenian churches indicate the existence of diaspora communities, the Armenian Genocide memorials now also mark their location and attest to the depth of the Armenian people’s commitment to honoring the memory of the victims of the 1915 atrocities.

Montebello, California, Armenian Genocide Memorial
Bikfaya, Lebanon, Armenian Genocide Memorial

The full list of countries on the ANI site includes: Argentina (7); Armenia (44); Australia (7); Austria (4); Belgium (2); Brazil (3); Bulgaria (6); Canada (9); Chile (2); Cyprus (4); Czechia (1); Denmark (1); Egypt (3); Estonia (1); Ethiopia (1); France (45); Georgia (3); Germany (14); Greece (2); Hungary (3); India (1); Iran (8); Ireland (1); Israel (3); Italy (8); Latvia (1); Lebanon (14); Mexico (1); Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) (3); Netherlands (2); Poland (2); Romania (2); Russia (10); Singapore (1); Slovakia (2); Spain (4); Sweden (2); Switzerland (3); Syria (7); Ukraine (5); United Arab Emirates (1); United Kingdom (4); United States (74); Uruguay (4); Venezuela (1).

Vancouver, Canada, Armenian Genocide Memorial

Besides Armenia, where 44 memorials have been documented, 29 of which were recently added to the database, countries with a large number of memorials include France, with 45 documented sites, of which 29 were added, Germany with 14, most of which are recent installations, Lebanon with 14, some consisting of significant complexes, and the United States with 74 identified memorials, 25 of which were added.

Armavir, Armenia, Memorial to the Defense of Musa Dagh

Many of the memorials are monuments and the khachkar, the cross-stone in traditional Armenian design, and in varying sizes, has been adopted as a commonly-shared feature. This appears to be a more recent development in the installation trend, perhaps reflecting the origin of the community sponsoring the memorial, and its preference to rely upon an art form that references traditional Armenian memorial art.

Other sites have installed sculptures ranging from conventional figural representations all the way to completely abstract forms striving to capture the depth of the pain associated with the genocide experience. On the one hand, the figure of Komitas has become a symbol of the victim, with a noteworthy example in the middle of Paris, France, and another in Detroit, Michigan. On the other hand, there is a detectable change in styles where monuments raised in Armenia in the Soviet period usually resorted to abstraction with minimal direct reference to the Armenian Genocide, and where now memorials take more diverse forms since independence.

Paris, France, Memorial to Komitas

Whereas the well-known central memorial in Yerevan at the Tsitsernakaberd complex is the largest of its type, several other memorials in Armenia also involve substantial complexes, especially the Musa Dagh Memorial, located in Armavir, and the memorial in Nor Hadjin in Kotayk. Smaller-scale models resembling the Tsitsernakaberd memorial have been constructed in a number of locations, including a respectable replica in Fresno, California.

Yerevan, Armenia, Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex

Notably impressive memorial complexes have also been created in Lebanon and in the United States. The very large monument in Montebello, California, in the shape of an extended Armenian church cupola, dates from the semi-centennial commemorative activities of 1965. Also located in a public area is the Armenian Heritage Park in central Boston, Massachusetts, with its innovative sculptural installation that is adjustable and sits in a round pool across from a circular labyrinth. On the Mission Hills campus of the Ararat Home, the Los Angeles Armenian community’s retirement facility for the aged, a number of memorials dedicated to specific purposes have emerged as another complex of notable monuments, including a memorial garden dedicated to Aurora Mardiganian, whose story has been recovered as the emblematic experience of the survivor. As for the campus of the seminary of the Armenian Catholicosate of Cilicia located in the town of Bikfaya in the Lebanon mountains, an entire series of monuments recall important aspects of Armenian history at the foot of its colossal bronze statue.

Boston, Massachusetts, Armenian Heritage Park

The memorial chapel on the grounds of the Catholicosate in Antelias, Lebanon, which serves as an ossuary, has also become another model, and other similar memorial chapels have been constructed elsewhere. The most elaborate of these constitute the chapel in the town of Der Zor in Syria, the site of the largest death camp during the Armenian Genocide.

The Der Zor complex was subjected to extensive damage and rendered to ruin at the hands of Islamic State terrorists who overran eastern Syria in 2014. The ISIS militants, who committed genocide against the Yazidi people of northern Iraq and persecuted the local Kurdish populations, were very likely to have inflicted damage to the memorial in service to their sponsors in Turkey.

In 1995, the Tsitsernakaberd memorial site was expanded with the construction of the first museum dedicated to the Armenian Genocide. The museum and associated research institute (AGMI) were once again sizably expanded for the 2015 centennial events. AGMI is now joined by other institutions providing physical exhibits such as the Armenian Museum of America in Watertown, Massachusetts, and the recently opened Armenian Museum in Moscow. Online exhibits and museums include Houshamadyan, which is dedicated to recovering and reconstructing the memory of Armenian life in the pre-genocide era, Land and Culture, which hosts a database of monuments destroyed or confiscated during the Armenian Genocide, and the Armenian Genocide Museum of America’s interactive website. ANI also notes Research on Armenian Architecture, which is dedicated to the photographic recovery of Armenia’s heritage subjected to destruction.

With the exception of many memorial sites in Syria, which have become difficult to access under conditions of civil strife in the country, very few memorials are actually placed at locations directly associated with the Armenian Genocide. There are none to speak of in Turkey, of course, where so many atrocities were committed all across Armenia and Anatolia, even though the first memorial service on April 24, 1919, was held in Istanbul. The only memorials in that part of the world are the unmarked and crumbling remains of ancient churches and abandoned homes.

A unique museum exists at an actual orphanage site in the town of Jbeil (also known as Byblos) in Lebanon. The orphanage structure is still intact and has been converted into the Armenian Genocide Orphans Museum that contains moving exhibits on the experience of child survivors who were housed in the facility. The plaza facing the building has also been converted into a memorial complex dedicated to the orphans, with a monument to the guiding light of the institution, Maria Jacobsen. Another orphanage building still intact is located in the small Swiss town of Begnins. It is marked by two modest plaques dedicated by the offspring of Armenian orphans who were housed and educated in that facility, and in recognition of the Swiss pastor Antony Krafft-Bonnard, who established the orphanage.

Begnins, Switzerland, Memorials to Armenian Genocide Orphans
Jbeil, Lebanon, Armenian Genocide Orphans Museum

Other humanitarians have been extended recognition through plaques and monuments dedicated in their memory. The Wall of Honor at the Tsiternakaberd Memorial recalls the most prominent, including Alma Johansson, Anatole France, Armin T. Wegner, Karen Jeppe, Henry Morgenthau Sr., Jakob Künzler, Johannes Lepsius, Pierre Quillard, James Bryce, Raphael Lemkin, Franz Werfel, and Fridtjof Nansen. Others are recognized with busts or memorials placed in their respective countries, including Franz Werfel in Austria, Karen Jeppe in Denmark, Anna Hedvig Büll in Estonia, and Johannes Lepsius in Germany.

The Armenian Genocide Memorials Database was first created as part of a memorials database project funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, with assistance from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Robert Arzoumanian, Assistant to the ANI Director, conducted further research under the guidance of ANI Director Dr. Rouben Adalian to bring the database up-to-date to reflect and record the considerable efforts made by Armenian communities worldwide to honor the centennial of the Armenian Genocide by installing new memorials. These sites serve as gathering places for the annual commemorations that are held every year on the 24th of April, and have become tributes to the survivors who founded the communities of the Armenian Diaspora.

ANI extends its appreciation to its friends who have supported this ongoing effort to document Armenian Genocide memorials. ANI also acknowledges the public’s input for the background information on many of the identified monuments. ANI continues to welcome public assistance with this undertaking, especially with any help it can receive concerning undocumented memorials, or the current condition of existing memorials.

For more information on ANI, please refer to the preceding announcements of “Armenian National Institute Website Now Includes 795 Official Records Affirming Armenian Genocide,” and “Armenian National Institute Posts Database on Media Coverage of President Biden’s Recognition of the Armenian Genocide and its Implications.

Founded in 1997, the Armenian National Institute (ANI) is a 501(c)(3) educational charity based in Washington, DC, and is dedicated to the study, research, and affirmation of the Armenian Genocide. The ANI website can be consulted in English, Turkish, Spanish, and Arabic. ANI also maintains the online Armenian Genocide Museum of America (AGMA).

Books & Books and Miami Book Fair Present ‘An Evening with Peter Balakian’

Author Peter Balakian and Book Cover of “No Sign”

MIAMI, FL – Miami retailer Books & Books and the Miami Book Fair will present ‘An Evening with Peter Balakian’ discussing his latest book “No Sign” (University of Chicago Press, $20) on Friday, April 29, 2022 at 7:30 PM ET at Books and Books, 265 Aragon Avenue, Coral Gables, FL 33134.

About the Book:

“No Sign” is a new poetry collection from Peter Balakian, author of “Ozone Journal,” and winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

In these poems, Peter Balakian wrestles with national and global cultural and political realities, including challenges for the human species amid planetary transmutation and the impact of mass violence on the self and culture. At the collection’s heart is “No Sign,” another in Balakian’s series of long-form poems, following “A-Train/Ziggurat/Elegy” and “Ozone Journal,” which appeared in his previous two collections. In this dialogical multi-sectioned poem, an estranged couple encounters each other, after years, on the cliffs of the New Jersey Palisades. The dialogue that ensues reveals the evolution of a kaleidoscopic memory spanning decades, reflecting on the geological history of Earth and the climate crisis, the film Hiroshima Mon Amour, the Vietnam War, a visionary encounter with the George Washington Bridge, and the enduring power of love.

Whether meditating on the sensuality of fruits and vegetables, the COVID-19 pandemic, the trauma and memory of the Armenian Genocide, James Baldwin in France, or Arshile Gorky in New York City, Balakian’s layered, elliptical language, wired phrases, and shifting tempos engage both life’s harshness and beauty and define his inventive and distinctive style.

About the Author:

PETER BALAKIAN is the author of eight books of poems including “Ozone Journal,” which won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for poetry, and “Ziggurat,” both published by the University of Chicago Press. His memoir “Black Dog of Fate” won the PEN/Albrand Award and was a New York Times notable book, and “The Burning Tigris” won the Raphael Lemkin Prize and was a New York Times bestseller and New York Times notable book. He is Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities in the Department of English at Colgate University.

Armenian National Institute Posts Database on Media Coverage of President Biden’s Recognition of the Armenian Genocide and its Implications

WASHINGTON, DC – As important as the 2021 international media coverage of President Biden’s remarkable acknowledgement of the WWI-era Armenian Genocide was, the lessons of this history were not sufficiently appreciated when Azerbaijan and Turkey launched a campaign in 2020 to eliminate Nagorno-Karabakh by eradicating its Armenian inhabitants. That attempted genocide has been documented by the Program on Peace-building and Human Rights (PBHR) at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR).

In advance of April 24, 2021, media sources began forecasting that the White House was likely to make an announcement, while newspaper editorials, once again, called on the President “to use honest and accurate terminology in describing the Ottoman Empire’s killing of more than 1 million Armenians a century ago,” as the April 5 Los Angeles Times editorial appealed.

The reporting by major media organizations following the official announcement by the White House relied extensively on information provided by the Armenian National Institute (ANI) through its website, especially the documentation on the list of countries recognizing the Armenian Genocide. Further, several reports linked directly to the ANI site, including Time magazine, The Washington Post, POLITICO, Le Monde (French newspaper), L’agone Nuovo (Italian newspaper), La Razon (Spanish newspaper), Times of Israel, The Indian Express, and NBC News, among others.

Such significant coverage by international media of the Biden Administration’s acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide and its implications across a range of issues, including the Turkish government’s continued denials, the reassertion of human rights concerns in U.S. foreign policy, and the appreciation of the Armenian American community and Armenians around the world, is now reflected in the growing database of press stories available on the ANI website.

A selection of 360 major media articles can be found in the database, which is also organized into a number of categories to facilitate research into distinct aspects of the public understanding of the Armenian Genocide, and the long road to its recognition by 31 countries to date. The categories include: Book Review, Editorial, Education, Feature Story, Film Review, Memorials, Opinion, Recognition, Remembrance, Reporting, and Restitution. News from ANI can also be accessed through the database, which can be searched by author or source of publication.

Aware of the pace of coverage that was manifested by the change in U.S. policy, ANI also launched a Twitter profile to facilitate the sharing of information on current developments in the course of universal affirmation of the Armenian Genocide, and for advising audiences about notable publications by researchers uncovering new sources and exploring new theories on the causes and consequences of the Armenian Genocide. While the Press Coverage database provides access to important journalistic contributions, the Twitter account allows interested followers to access current reporting and trends in the international response to issues surrounding the subject – or the threat – of genocide, in the hope of keeping audiences alert to potential outbreaks.

Representatives of the media were also directly in contact with ANI with inquiries on the importance of the policy change adopted by the Biden Administration. On April 24, following the release of the White House statement, ANI Director Dr. Rouben Adalian gave several interviews to national and international news services.

Dr. Adalian also appeared in a recently released documentary. Specifically, “The American Good Samaritans” tells the story of several important American humanitarians only some of whom have received the recognition that they deserve for rescuing survivors of the Armenian Genocide. The film was produced by Manvel Saribekyan, who released “The Map of Salvation” in 2015 that focused on European humanitarians. “The American Good Samaritans” features interviews with a number of scholars from the United States, Armenia, Lebanon, Greece, Turkey, and Iran, among them Dr. Levon Avdoyan of the Library of Congress, Dr. Antranik Dakessian of Haigazian University in Lebanon, Dr. Konstantinos Fotiadis of Greece, Dr. Sargon Donabed, an Assyrian-American specialist, Dominica Macios, a researcher from Poland, Karen Mkrdchyan, researcher from Iran, Dr. Paul Levine, attorney Garo Mardirossian, and Shant Mardirossian of the Near East Foundation – the successor organization to Near East Relief – the main U.S.-based charity that sponsored hundreds of volunteers to aid Armenian survivors of genocide.

For more information on ANI, please see their previous announcement, “Armenian National Institute Website Now Includes 795 Official Records Affirming Armenian Genocide.”

Founded in 1997, the Armenian National Institute (ANI) is a 501(c)(3) educational charity based in Washington, D.C., and is dedicated to the study, research, and affirmation of the Armenian Genocide. The ANI website can be consulted in English, Turkish, Spanish, and Arabic. ANI also maintains the online Armenian Genocide Museum of America (AGMA).