WATERTOWN — Historian Dr. Ümit Kurt presented a lecture on Thursday, April 12, on the battle for Aintab, which highlighted the intertwined histories and divergent paths of the Armenians and Turks in that city, now known as Gaziantep.
Even on a micro level, the subject is one particularly close to Kurt, currently a researcher at Jerusalem’s Van Leer Institute, as he is a native of Gaziantep.
The lecture, co-sponsored by the Tekeyan Culture Association and the Armenian Museum of America and held at the latter’s Adele and Haig Der Manuelian galleries, engrossed the 60 or so attendees, many of whom were Armenians whose families had hailed from Aintab.
Jennifer Liston Munson, executive director of the Armenian Museum of American, welcomed the guests and spoke about the rebranding work at the museum, refreshing the galleries downstairs and rethinking the entire flow of how the museum works. She introduced Aram Arkun, Executive Director of the Tekeyan Cultural Association of the US and Canada.
Arkun spoke briefly about the tragic events after the Armenian Genocide when the Armenians returned to Cilicia believing in the promises of the occupying British and French powers, but were massacred or forced to flee by resurgent Turkish Nationalist forces. He then introduced Dr. Kurt as a specialist in particular on the events in Aintab.
Kurt in his lecture declared that in 1914 there were about 36,000-40,000 Armenians in Aintab, as well as very small Jewish and Greek populations, out of the total 80,000 residents. After the Armenian Genocide was launched, the majority of the Armenians were either killed or deported. Of the surviving Armenians, 18,000 returned to Aintab to resettle there.