GLENDALE, Calif. — Glendale’s Central Library buzzed with excitement on the evening of July 25, as the crowd poured into its second floor auditorium to hear Dr. Arda Arsenian Ekmekji, dean of Arts and Sciences at Haigazian University. She had traveled more than 7,000 miles to launch the US release of Towards Golgotha, the memoirs of her grandfather, Hagop Arsenian, a pharmacist and survivor of the Armenian Genocide.
Elizabeth Grigorian, director of Armenian Outreach at the library, invited Ardashes Kassakhian, Glendale’s city clerk, to the podium to introduce Ekmekji. Kassakhian is the great- grandson of Arsenian and a nephew of Ekmekji who had painstakingly translated the memoirs from Armenian to English. She revealed that she wasn’t aware her grandfather’s handwritten memoirs even existed until her uncle, visiting from Ottowa in 1996, carried them with him to the Middle East. Arsenian documented his early life in the sub-
urbs of Constantinople and the eventual depor- tation of his family to Aleppo, Syria, then described his life in Palestine from 1919 until 1940. Ekmekji, during her research at the com- prehensive Derian Armenological Library of Haigazian University, read numerous accounts of other survivors and, in comparing their identical descriptions, discovered that the authors had been detained in the same encampments, but nevermet.
The audience hushed when an audiotape was played of her father, Noubar, reading a portion of her grandfather’s writings in Armenian in which he chronicled the atrocities he had witnessed using the terms “massacres” and “slaughter house.” (The word genocide was coined later by Raphael Lemkin in the 1940s and thus was not used by Arsenian.)