Dr. J. Michael Hagopian

IWitness Launches Armenian Genocide Resource Page


LOS ANGELES — All of the University of Southern California (USC) Shoah Foundation’s educational resources about the Armenian Genocide can now be found on the IWitness website that launched on April 17, one week before the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

On the new IWitness Armenia page, educators can find 36 clips of testimony from USC Shoah Foundation’s Armenian Genocide collection, including survivors and witnesses. The clips cover the topics “Forced Marches,” “Adana & Hamidian Massacres,” “Forced Conversion,” “Resistance,” “Rescuers/Aid,” and “Genocide Denial and Memory.”

There is also a section for Armenian Genocide-related activities. Currently this includes the Information Quests “The Armenian Genocide,” “I Am Somebody: Identity and the Armenian Genocide” and “Women You Should Know: Aurora Mardiganian.”

The IWitness Armenia page also features a selection of AGBU WebTalks, an online video series from the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) that captures and preserves the insights and passion of engaging, inspiring, dynamic thinkers from around the world, speaking on a wide range of Armenian topics. The videos include historical analysis by scholars Raymond Kevorkian and Geoffrey Robinson, the Armenian folk trio Zulal, and journalists Laure Marchand and Guillaume Perrier.

Finally, the page includes a teacher’s guide for teaching with testimony and Connections Videos for students that can help guide teachers and students as they use the clips and activities in the classroom.

In 2010, the Armenian Film Foundation and USC Shoah Foundation signed an historic agreement to digitize, index and preserve J. Michael Hagopian’s collection of interviews with survivors and witnesses to the Armenian Genocide.

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Five years later, the collection was integrated into USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive and the first interviews were made available in IWitness to educators and students worldwide. More about the collection.

The agreement paved the way for the preservation and dissemination of the largest collection of filmed interviews of survivors and witnesses of the Armenian Genocide, the first genocide of the twentieth century.

The interviews were conducted by the late Hagopian, who recorded them on 16-mm film between 1975 and 2005 for a series of documentaries.

Hagopian, who passed away in December 2010 at age 97, ultimately produced 17 films about Armenians and the Armenian Genocide. In the partnership with the institute, Hagopian agreed to turn over raw footage of nearly 400 interviews so they could be integrated into the Visual History Archive.

With the help of AFF chairman Gerald Papazian and AFF board member Carla Garapedian, USC Shoah Foundation has been digitizing and indexing the interviews to make them searchable as testimonies in the Visual History Archive. Sixty were made available in April of 2015; the rest are in development.

The interviews were conducted in 10 countries, primarily in English and Armenian — some in rare Armenian dialects — though other interview languages include Arabic, Greek, Spanish, French, Kurdish, Turkish, German, and Russian.

The interviewees were between the ages of 8 and 29 at the time of the genocide. Geographic locations discussed in their testimonies include the following cities and towns of Anatolia (mainly Eastern Turkey): Adabazar, Eskisehir, Konia, Sivas, Kharpert, Urfa, Aintab, Marash, Malatia, Dickranagerd, Erzeroum, Van, Bitlis, Der Zor, Smyrna, Erzingan, Musa Dagh, Kessab, Aleppo, Shabin Karahisar, Guren, Sepastia, Banderma, Yozgat, Everek, Hadjin, Zeitoun, Amassia, and Kutahya.

The Armenian Film Foundation was established in 1979 as a non-profit, educational, and cultural organization dedicated to the documentation in motion pictures of Armenian heritage and life. Its goals are to inspire pride in and to create worldwide recognition of the Armenian people and their contributions, and to preserve the visual and personal histories of survivors and witnesses of the Armenian Genocide of 1915.

Born in 1913 to an Armenian family in Kharpert-Mezreh, Hagopian was a genocide survivor who dedicated his life to the visual documentation of the Turkish extermination of up to 1.5 million Armenians in 1915. In all, his work encompassed nearly 400 interviews of survivors and witnesses of the Armenian Genocide and 40 years of research.

He wrote, directed, and produced more than 70 educational and documentary films, which collectively have won over 160 national and international awards, including two Emmy nominations for the writing and production of “The Forgotten Genocide,” the first full-length feature film on the Armenian Genocide. “Germany and the Secret Genocide” received the coveted First Place Golden Camera Award in the History Category from the 2004 US International Film and Video Festival, the largest festival of its kind. “The River Ran Red” was voted Best International Historical Documentary by the New York International Film & Video Festival in 2009, and it won second place in the History and Biography categories at the 2009 U.S. International Film and Video Festival. Several of Hagopian’s films were produced under grants from the U.S. Office of Education and the Ethnic Heritage Program, the MacArthur Foundation, California Endowment for the Humanities, and California State Department of Education.

Hagopian himself was the recipient of numerous honors, including Jewish World Watch’s “I Witness” Award for dedicating his professional life to chronicling the history of the Armenian people and commemorating victims of the Armenian Genocide. The Armenian National Committee honored him as Man of the Year in 2000.

To visit the site, go to http://iwitness.usc.edu/SFI/Sites/Armenia/

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