SURVIVORS by Donald E. Miller


An Oral History of the Armenian Genocide
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 The first genocide of the 20th century took place in Turkey in 1915 when some 1.5 million Armenians were deported from their birthplace and massacred. Here, the Millers (he: Sociology/University of Southern California; she: Director/Office for Creative Connections, All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena) have collected more than one hundred oral histories from survivors of the atrocities. Their testimony, organized thematically, is shocking and poignant. The various eyewitness accounts show how Armenians, believing that they were being deported only temporarily, went docilely to their fates. Men were shot or brutally murdered by hatchets and axes. Women and children died mostly from attrition, as guards denied them water and as they starved during the hundreds of miles of enforced marches. The survivors speak of rotting corpses and babies' skeletons strewn along their path. Mothers faced terrible choices about which children to save; were raped as their children watched; saw their daughters abducted by Turks and Kurds. The authors point out that the Turkish government continues to deny that the Armenian genocide took place, even though the scrupulously presented paper evidence here--missionaries' eyewitness reports, letters from diplomats on the scene, official government accounts, etc.--corroborates the oral testimony. As welcome relief, the Millers also include examples of kindness by a few ``good Turks'' who risked their lives to help deportees, as well as touching scenes of rehabilitations in orphanages and at family reunions. A valuable contribution to the growing literature on the Armenian genocide. (Eighteen photos and one map, plus a fine bibliography, copious footnotes, and useful appendices)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-520-07984-1
Page count: 274pp
Publisher: Univ. of California
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1993


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