By Alan Whitehorn
I am the grandson of an orphan of the 1915 Genocide. Several years ago I thought about what I should do as 2015, the 100th memorial year of the Armenian Genocide, approached. As a political historian, how could I contribute in that historic year of remembrance and further educate the world and ourselves about the genocide? Little did I know that instead of writing a few journalistic articles and chapters in academic books about the Armenian Genocide, I would embark on a more challenging odyssey. Early in 2012, I was invited by Holocaust scholar and rabbi professor Steven Jacobs, working with the major American publisher ABC-CLIO, to contribute to a new online genocide encyclopedia which later became the four-volume Modern Genocide: The Definitive Resource and Document Collection (2014). I would write entries on the Armenian Genocide for both versions. Soon thereafter, a much more monumental task arose. For the next three years, I edited and wrote entries for a related volume. It was to be the first-ever encyclopedia on the Armenian Genocide with the publication date goal of 2015. The Armenian Genocide: The Essential Reference Guide emerged as a 425 page major volume that included seven overview essays, 150 subject entries, a detailed chronological timeline, maps, photographs and an extensive selection of key documents (including portions of the British government’s official 1916 report The Treatment of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, American Ambassador Morganthau’s memoirs and 1915 press reports from The New York Times).
Literary Ark Writers’ Workshop and the Global Forum
While working on the encyclopedias, I received an invitation to participate at the Yerevan Literary Ark Festival in April 2015. This was an ideal opportunity to share with other writers our reflections on the centennial of the Armenian Genocide. The Literary Ark Festival took place for ten days and overlapped with the two-day Global Forum Against the Crime of Genocide that was held at Yerevan’s great hall of the Sports and Concerts Center. On the two sides of the plenary hall were various displays about the Armenian Genocide. The National Library mounted a major book display, organizing the sections by country of origin of publication. It was quite a revelation for me to see so many books, some for the first time.
During a brief break in the Global Forum, President Serge Sargisian visited the book display. I had a few moments to talk with him about my books and gave the president a copy of Just Poems: Reflections on the Armenian Genocide along with Return to Armenia/Veradardz depi Hayastan. I also showed him the mock-up of the new Armenian Genocide encyclopedia.
Resurgence of the Diaspora