Memories of the Genocide in Armenia in 1915
Interviews with Survivors Soon Accessible in Visual History Archive of USC Shoah Foundation at Freie Universität Berlin
№ 097/2015 from Apr 20, 2015
As of Friday, April 24, it will be possible to explore the genocide of the Armenians 100 years ago using interviews in the Visual History Archive of the USC Shoah Foundation accessible at Freie Universität Berlin. The collection of the Armenian Film Foundation is being integrated into the Visual History Archive. To this day the systematic deportation and extermination of about 1.5 million Armenians in the Ottoman Empire is not recognized as genocide by the Turkish government. Little is known about the role of the German Empire as a former ally of the Ottoman Empire.
The atrocities began on April 24, 1915, with the arrest of Armenian intellectuals. On that day the Ottoman Minister of the Interior issued an order to arrest the most important leaders in the Armenian community in Istanbul and to deport them to a camp in central Anatolia. These deportations were later legitimized by law. Overall, up to 1.5 million of the approximately two million Armenians living in Turkey were killed in the aftermath of mass deportations, violent raids, and executions.
The Armenian Film Foundation’s collection is the most comprehensive inventory of filmed interviews on the genocide. Altogether there are few reports from survivors and witnesses. The foundation’s collection of films contains 400 interviews that were conducted in ten countries, mostly in English or Armenian, but some are in Arabic, German, French, Greek, Kurdish, Russian, Spanish, or Turkish.
Part of the collection is based on interviews that were conducted by the Armenian-American filmmaker Dr. Jakob Michael Hagopian starting in 1968 for various documentary film projects. In 1979 Hagopian founded the Armenian Film Foundation, which is dedicated to the preservation and documentation of the life stories of survivors of the genocide in 1915. In addition to these interviews, the collection contains interviews that were conducted by the Armenian Film Foundation from 1982 on as part of a project whose goal was to interview as many survivors as possible at that late date.
The USC Shoah Foundation was founded by Steven Spielberg. In 1994 the foundation started collecting video interviews with survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and making them accessible for education and research. Gradually the Visual History Archive started adding interview collections dealing with other crimes against humanity. In addition to the nearly 52,000 interviews on the Holocaust, there are also interviews with survivors of the genocide in Rwanda. Freie Universität gives its students, faculty, and visitors access to the Visual History Archive via the campus network. As of April 24, 2015, the first 60 interviews with survivors of the Armenian Genocide can be viewed there. By the end of the year, all 400 interviews should be accessible. The Center for Digital Systems is the contact partner at Freie Universität.