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My grandfather died not knowing his mother's name


Photo: Shushanik Melikyan’s archive

Gurgen Muradyan with his parents, who adopted him: Abgar and Shushanik Muradyan
Gurgen Muradyan with his parents, who adopted him: Abgar and Shushanik Muradyan

Photo: Shushanik Melikyan’s archive

Gurgen Muradyan
Gurgen Muradyan

Photo: Shushanik Melikyan’s archive

Four generations: Gurgen Muradyan with his daughter Laura (Shushanik’s grandmother), granddaughter Tsovinar (Shushanik’s mother) and grand-grand-daughter Shushanik
Four generations: Gurgen Muradyan with his daughter Laura (Shushanik’s grandmother), granddaughter Tsovinar (Shushanik’s mother) and grand-grand-daughter Shushanik

Photo: Shushanik Melikyan’s archive


In April 2015, the month in which world marked the 100 years since the Armenian genocide, the Guardian asked readers in the country, and those in Diaspora, to share their stories of how the violence had affected their family history.

The project, led by the New East network, had a an overwhelming response with over 500 people sending letters, photos and testimony, some of which were used in the coverage of the centennial.

A year on and Mediamax have worked with the Guardian to revisit some of the stories, published here as we approach the 101st anniversary.



Shushanik Melikyan, Yerevan

My grandfather was 1 year old in 1915 when their family was exiled from Alashkert. He had an elder brother and 2 sisters. Passing 1 km out of the village their caravan was stopped, his father was tied to a tree and killed in front of many people. Then his mother took the 3 kids and kept on going. 2 of the kids were on foot and my grandfather being the youngest one was on Mother's arms. They walked for 3 months, going through Bayazet, Igdir, Ejmiatsin and then finally reaching Yerevan, Saint Sargis Church's yard. The yard was full of people. Most of them either sick or dead. There was a special cart which gathered the corpses and took them away.

There was a place beyond the churchyard, called Ghantar, where the children among them my grandfather's sisters and brother went to borrow some bread. During the long journey my grandfather's mother suffered a lot. She was suckling the youngest kid. She was very sick, so in 12-13 days after the arrival in Yerevan she died and my grandfather was left at her chest crying.

Then a couple who had no children passing through the churchyard noticed the kid and took him with them to Kond (neighbourhood in Yerevan) informing about it his brother. When his brother became 16, he started searching for his sisters and brother. He couldn't find the sisters, because they had been transferred to an orphanage in the USA. Then he started a search for his younger brother.

One day while my grandfather was at his workplace at Ashtarak a man came to him with his wife. The woman started telling him the story of the man with her, and it turned out it was his brother. They got acquainted with families. My father learnt his father's name, but neither , nor his brother were not able to remember their mother's name, as they were too young and stressed.

During all his life my grandfather was dreaming about returning to his motherland, he died never knowing the exact day of his birth, not knowing his mother's and sisters' names.

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