Tuesday, May 19, 2015

No Armenian in Marash

Uncle Paul went to grammar school in Marash, Turkey. Uncle Paul shared many 

stories of his experiences with his children, nieces and nephews; one of those 

took place in his grammar school where the children were secretly taught  

Armenian. When the Turkish soldiers came in on their regular inspection, an 

inspection to ensure that only Turkish was being spoken/taught, the students 

had to hide their books as best they could; Uncle Paul sat on his book.  Teaching 

Armenian, Uncle Paul said, was strictly forbidden by the Turkish government in 


Marash Girl's father Peter Bilezikian was told by his mother never  to speak 

Armenian in the streets, although the family  spoke Armenian in the home.  

Peter remembers when he was a little boy in Marash, seeing a man with no 

tongue; Peter was told that the man's tongue had been cut out for having 

spoken Armenian outside of the safety of his home.

In the early 1970's, Marash Girl did an oral history interview with Miss (Sion?) Gayzagian, (the interview stored at the Armenian Museum of America), a neighbor who lived on Waverly Avenue, a woman who was born in Marash.  She told Marash Girl that she was placed in an orphanage in Marash (was it Bethel Orphanage?) somewhere between 1915 and 1918, and that the missionaries who ran the orphanage told the girls that they were to forget Armenian, to never speak it again; that they should speak only Turkish; that Armenian was gone forever.  In fact, they were punished if they were caught speaking Armenian.

It was Turkish only, folks!


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