YMCA Features Armenian National Institute Exhibit on American Humanitarians During the First Republic of Armenia
WASHINGTON, DC – The YMCA welcomed the April release of the special digital exhibit issued by the Armenian National Institute (ANI) exploring the role of two exceptional individuals, who volunteered to stay in Armenia during the critical year of 1918 when fellow American relief workers were withdrawn in view of the intensification of warfare in the region.
The ANI exhibit profiles the two Americans, John Elder and James O. Arroll, sent to Armenia by the YMCA, and explains their numerous contributions towards relieving the humanitarian crisis in April and May 1918 when the armed forces of Ottoman Turkey invaded the country. Based on John Elder’s photographs and testimony, as well as additional material from the YMCA Archives, the exhibit pays tribute to the extraordinary efforts of these two men, whose achievements were widely recognized at the time.
Ryan Bean, Reference and Outreach Archivist at the YMCA Archives, who supported the project, remarked: “The Armenian National Institute has done a fantastic job telling this story. It is both tragic and heartbreaking on the one hand, and inspiring and humbling on the other. The timeliness of this exhibit is very appropriate, and I believe we could all learn a lesson from Elder and Arroll.”
In its April 24 posting on its Facebook page, where the exhibit could be viewed, the YMCA Archives extends “Congratulations to Dr. Rouben Adalian and the Armenian National Institute on the release of the digital exhibit ‘The Critical Role of the YMCA and American Relief in Armenia a Century Ago.’ This exhibit both illuminates a tragic humanitarian disaster as well as highlights the capacity of the human spirit to persevere and do good in the face of a seemingly hopeless situation.”
YMCA Europe, which encompasses 43 countries, also highlights the exhibit titled “American Relief in the First Republic of Armenia 1918-1920: John Elder and James Arroll in Yerevan, Gyumri, Sevan & Etchmiadzin,” on its website.
Vardan Hambardzumyan, who heads the YMCA in Armenia and presently serves as Executive Secretary of YMCA Europe, wrote that he was “absolutely grateful to ANI for disclosing so eloquently the story of the YMCA in the Republic of Armenia back in 1918.”
Elder and Arroll were in Armenia when the critical Battle of Sardarabad was waged in May 1918 securing the independence of the country. Working in Yerevan, Elder and Arroll focused on caring for orphans and refugees. Their contributions were recognized as critical under the circumstances, and their personal heroism, taking the risks that they did by remaining at their posts, was widely appreciated by Armenians. Celebrating their special role, a memorial postcard was issued in Yerevan featuring the two young Americans.
John Elder recorded the hair-raising news from the battlefront in his journal, describing, blow by blow, the major developments of the day. On April 30, he wrote: “Discouraging news from Tillis. The British staff preparing to leave. We were advised to leave at once.” On May 16, he asked: “Has the end come at last? Official telegrams report that the Turks are bombarding Alexandropol [Gyumri]…The Turks have cut the railroad on both sides of Alexandropol, which means we are cut off from funds.” On May 21, he reported: “Alexandropol has fallen. The Turks demand the railroad to Julfa in order to transport their troops, and the Armenians are prepared to give it.” Two days later, on May 23, he gloomily wrote: “The storm clouds are rapidly approaching Igdir, only 25 miles away is reported in Turkish hands, so things look desperate.”
On May 26, he jotted down a different kind of news: “Well you never can tell what may happen. Just as the end seems at hand the pendulum swings the other way and the terrible Turk is in full retreat…After a two day battle at Sardarabad the Turks have been completely routed.”
With the establishment of peace, John Elder witnessed the momentous event of the restoration of government, which he appreciated for its historic importance, recording on August 11: “I had the thrill of attending the opening session of the Parliament of the Republic of Armenia. What an exciting time it was. A free and independent Armenia for the first time in 600 years or more! There was a great crowd present, and through an interpreter I gave an address of congratulations on the historic occasion.”
After more than a year of strenuous effort, described in detail in the exhibit, John Elder received a letter from John R. Mott, General Secretary of the International Committee of the YMCA in New York, applauding his outstanding record of service and expressing concern for his well-being. The letter begins with reference to Dr. Clarence D. Ussher “testifying to the very high value of the service which you have rendered in Armenia.” The story of Dr. Ussher was covered in a digital exhibit previously issued by ANI under the title “The First Refuge and the Last Defense: The Armenian Church, Etchmiadzin, and the Armenian Genocide.”
All of the digital exhibits posted on the ANI website are freely downloadable, and are provided to the public in high resolution to be readily printable anytime and anywhere from standard-size up to poster-size.
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.
Henry Morgenthau III, Grandson of Ambassador Morgenthau and Lifelong Supporter of US Affirmation of Armenian Genocide, Passes Away at 101
WASHINGTON, DC – The Armenian Assembly of America and Armenian National Institute mourn the loss of a longtime friend of the Armenian people, Henry Morgenthau III, who dedicated himself to honoring the memory of his grandfather, Ambassador Henry Morgenthau. He passed away on July 11.
In countless public presentations, in television appearances, and in numerous publications, Henry Morgenthau III recounted his recollections of his grandfather with whom he lived in New York City. He was honored on many occasions by Armenian organizations across the country.
The Armenian National Institute and the Armenian Assembly of America shared the distinction of organizing Mr. Morgenthau’s trip to Armenia in 1999 where he was honored by the National Academy of Sciences, the Armenian Genocide Museum, and the City of Yerevan.
Morgenthau was joined by his sons Dr. Henry Ben Morgenthau and Kramer Morgenthau, as well as Armenian Assembly President Carolyn Mugar, longtime personal friend of Henry from the time of his residence in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Mrs. Kitty Dukakis, wife of the former governor of the state of Massachusetts and a board member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The Morgenthau delegation was received by the president of Armenia, Robert Kocharian, met with several other officials including U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Michael Lemmon, and was the guest of honor at the naming of a Yerevan city school in honor of Ambassador Morgenthau.
“My grandfather frequently told me that his attempts to save Armenian lives at the time of the Genocide and the establishment of the Near East Relief effort were the achievements that meant the most to him,” Morgenthau explained on the occasion. Ambassador Morgenthau served as President Woodrow Wilson’s emissary to the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
With Henry Morgenthau III’s endorsement, in 1996 the Armenian Assembly of America established the Henry Morgenthau Award for Meritorious Public Service which is given out to public officials in recognition of their contributions in defense of human rights. Recipients of the Assembly’s Morgenthau Award include the first U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Armenia Harry Gilmore and U.S. Ambassador John Evans who publicly called for official U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
A friend also of the Armenian National Institute (ANI), Henry Morgenthau III encouraged the organization with symbolic gifts of $1915 and joined with supporters and Armenian Ambassador to the U.S. Tatoul Markarian in the opening of the ANI Library, to which he contributed his grandfather’s library.
Henry Morgenthau III was an author and television producer. His family history, Mostly Morgenthaus, won the 1992 National Jewish Book Council prize for best memoir. He was a fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at the Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University. Morgenthau’s shows on Boston’s public television station, WGBH, won Peabody, Emmy, UPI, EFLA and Flaherty Film Festival awards. Morgenthau also updated his grandfather’s memoir, Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story, with a lengthy postscript about the Ambassador’s life in the 2003 edition of the book published by Wayne State University Press.
Henry Morgenthau III’s brother, Robert Morgenthau, also a vocal advocate for Armenian Genocide recognition, served as District Attorney for New York County in Manhattan. Their father, Henry Morgenthau II, was Secretary of the Treasury under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“The Armenian people have lost a true friend with Henry’s passing. His grandfather Ambassador Henry Morgenthau played a critical role as the first opponent of genocide on the world stage as he defended the Armenian people. With his first-hand familiarity of his grandfather’s legacy, Henry stood with the Armenian people throughout his life, always ready to step up immediately to lend his gravitas in support of all essential issues for Armenians,” stated Armenian Assembly President Carolyn Mugar.
“Despite his advancing age, Henry continued to participate in Armenian Genocide commemorative and advocacy events. He was honored at the community-wide Centennial Genocide Commemoration in Washington, D.C. in 2015, where he walked on stage surrounded by his children and grandchildren. The Morgenthaus are legendary within the Armenian community, who are grateful that this noted family validated their traumatic history as a people by informing the entire world,” she continued.
Carolyn added: “Henry was exemplary in carrying on Ambassador Morgenthau’s commitment to genocide recognition and prevention. We all honor him for his total resolve to relentlessly stand up and speak out against injustices of the past. He used his voice to deepen people’s recognition of the importance of acknowledging the truth in history and thereby using this truth to prevent the recurrence of atrocities.”
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.
Armine Grigoryan, Director of the Aram Khachaturian House-Museum in Yerevan, recounts the formative years of the renowned Armenian composer, from his childhood in Tbilisi to the beginnings of his prodigious musical career in Moscow. By the time he graduated from the conservatory, Khachaturian had already made his indelible mark on the likes of such giants of classical music as Prokofiev and Shostakovich, embarking on a musical career that would span decades and transcend borders.
Armine Grigoryan is the director of the Aram Khachaturian Museum in Yerevan, Armenia and a professor at the Yerevan State Conservatory. As an accomplished pianist, she also performs with the Khachaturian Trio, a laureate of a number of international competitions. During her musical career, Grigoryan has recorded several CDs, among them, “Unknown Khachaturian,” and performed in concerts throughout Europe, Japan, China, Russia, Australia, Canada and the United States. Grigoryan is a prize-winner of the “Roma-2003” international piano competition, competition, where she received a special Medal of the Chamber of the Deputies of Rome, and has been awarded medals from the Ministries of Culture of Poland and Armenia.