Armenia, history, holidays

It’s Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day…

The featured photo was taken on April 24, 1997, when I was still a Peace Corps Volunteer in Armenia. From October 1996 until August 1997, I lived just across the street from Tsitsernakaberd, the Armenian Genocide Memorial, in Yerevan, Armenia.

I think today’s post will be somewhat short. I’m getting a late start today, and there are still some things I’d like to do that don’t involve blogging. I did want to take a few minutes, though, to recognize Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. This is a holiday that occurs in the Republic of Armenia every April 24th, as thousands of Armenians travel to the capital city of Yerevan and make their way up a hillside to pay their respects to people who died in the Armenian Genocide.

A look at what’s going on in Yerevan today. This is a lot bigger than it was when I was living there.

As regular readers know, I was a member of the third group of Peace Corps Volunteers to serve in Armenia. I was assigned the to capital city of Yerevan. It’s my understanding that Volunteers are no longer placed in Yerevan, because it’s gotten to be so modern and “nice” (and no doubt, more expensive). In my days as a Volunteer, Yerevan was “up and coming”, and I got to see it change a lot in just two years. When we arrived in 1995, Yerevan was pretty rough, but by the time we left, businesses were coming in and expanding. The powers that be had already decided that no more Volunteers would serve there, but would instead be sent out to the regions.

If I had to do it over again, I think I would have preferred an assignment outside of the capital city. However, I did end up having a “real” Peace Corps experience, and Armenia is one of those places where a huge portion of the population lives near the capital. So, there’s a lot of action there…

I taught at a school that, when I was a Volunteer, offered all ten “forms”. One of my former students, from a tenth form class during my second year, now works at Peace Corps/Armenia. I think the school where I taught now only handles kids in the early years of their educations. I also think the system has changed since I was a Volunteer, from 1995-97.

My school was named after a poet named Ruben Sevak, who was one of a million Armenians killed in the Genocide in 1915. Back in 1995, Sevak’s daughter, who was then in her 80s and living in France, came to visit the school. I got to meet her. I wrote more about Ruben Sevak here. He was a fascinating man who died much too young. And it was all because of hatred and a basic lack of respect by people for other people, same as any horrendous human rights violation is. Hitler was reportedly inspired by the Armenian Genocide when he came up with his “Final Solution”.

Isn’t it interesting that I now live in Germany, where there are reminders everywhere about the horrors of the past? Except this time, I live in the place where the perpetrators mostly came from, rather than the place where the victims lived. I’ve learned a lot from living in both places, and I’m very grateful that I’ve the opportunities that I’ve had to see and be influenced by both places. I’m not sure how I got so lucky to have these experiences, since I know that most Americans don’t get to travel abroad, let alone live abroad several times, courtesy of the U.S. government.

Anyway… today, I will try especially hard to take a moment to ponder the biggest lessons that came from the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust. It really disturbs me to see that same trend happening in the United States now. I’ve noticed a lot of negativity in the United States, especially in the era of Trump and the completely bastardized version of the Republican Party that we have now. I just hope it doesn’t come down to the horrors of the past repeating themselves, although given the gun violence problems we have now, maybe things are already heading in that direction.

Well, that’s about it for today’s post. Gotta take Noyzi for a walk and have some lunch… and then, maybe plow through more of my latest book, so I can post a new review. Catch you all later.


9 thoughts on “It’s Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day…

  1. Another, perhaps bigger (and more relevant to thee and me) influence on Hitler re the “Final Solution” was the United States’ expansion westward and the near-extermination of the native population that began in the 1600s during the colonial period and culminated with the Wounded Knee massacre (December 29, 1890).

    Even though Hitler expressed disdain toward the U.S. and Americans after becoming Chancellor of Germany in January 1933 (several weeks before his future archnemesis, Franklin D. Roosevelt, was inaugurated as President of the United States), he admired the way in which White America had conquered vast tracts of territory and slaughtered millions of “Red Indians” (and tens of thousands of Mexicans) to do so. He’d read Karl May’s many books about the Wild West as a boy, and he often recommended them to his entourage, even after becoming Fuhrer of the Nazi Party in those sad, dark, and fateful interwar years.

    Another major influence on Hitler was the South’s implementation of Jim Crow laws after Reconstruction. Those heinous laws, whose effects continue to resonate in 2023 despite having been stricken from “the books,” were used by the Nazis (including some of the most educated lawyers and jurists in Europe) as the basis for the Nuremberg Race Laws of September 1935.

    As for the Armenian Genocide itself, I am disgusted by Turkiye’s continued official position that there was no such occurrence, and that the Ottoman Empire did not, in fact, carry out a deliberate policy to kill civilians during a forced transfer of people from a region near Russia (which was, at the time, ruled by the Romanov Tsar Nicholas II and at war with the Turks, who were allied with Wilhemine Germany during WWI). This is as false as Donald Trump’s thousands of lies! (Had to get my anti-MAGA dig in…:) )

    I hope your day has been a good one so far!

    • Thanks for the comment, Alex. I hadn’t given any thought to how the US also influenced Hitler today, mainly because today, I was thinking more about Armenia than Hitler. But you’re right, of course.

      For me, it’s just been interesting to live in Germany and Armenia and see how those world events still shape their current events in 2023. I feel like many Americans haven’t learned anything from, nor do they know much about, either the Genocide or the Holocaust.

      • “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayanna

        One thing that I’ve noticed is that there seems to be (notice that I’m not saying “I know for sure,” cos I sure as hell don’t know for sure) a segment of American society that is intent on making sure that the average U.S. person doesn’t learn (or give a damn, for that matter) about things that happened in the past, especially if those things are bad, and even especially if those events happened as a result of worldviews that are prevalent in the social circles of those with power, money, and influence.

        Also, maybe it’s because our geographic situation vis a vis the “Old World” and because many of our forerunners immigrated here to get away from their home countries’ social and economic woes, but we Americans, as a people, tend to be insular, provincial, and even apathetic to human suffering elsewhere. I know, my friend, that this is not the case with all of us – you certainly don’t fall into that category, and I don’t think Mr. Bill does either. But the average MAGA fan tends to see the world in ways that are eerily reminiscent of the pre-WWII isolationist movement – and I’m talking about those “conservatives” who are somewhat reasonable. (There are more extremist MAGAs who, in my armchair historian’s perspective, remind me more of the Nazis due to their extremism.)

      • If you check the links, you’ll find I used that Santayanna quote for a post title on this.

        I am related to a lot of those provincial types. It’s very sad.

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