JANICE ADANA AYVAZIAN (USA)
Dr. Marina Mkhitaryan: My heartfelt gratitude goes to Ms. Janice Adana Ayvazian for allowing me to publish her family's story of survival.
My paternal grandparents, Bayzar (nee Kassarjian) and Vahan/John Ayvazian, who survived the 1915 Armenian Genocide committed by Ottoman Turkey, to come to the US. Bayzar survived a Death March at age 11 with her grandmother, after her father, a Lawyer in Sepastia /Sivas, was hanged with others, by the Turks in the town square. Her story of the horrors of that march matches very closely the account told by Shahen Derderian in his book 'Death March'. Shahen originated in Bayzars home villayet of Sepastia /Sivas. My grandmother (at age 16), arrived alone at Ellis Island, New York from Piraeus, Greece, in 1920, to marry my grandfather, sight unseen, after he arranged her passage. She had been rescued from a Turkish home and was in an orphanage in Istanbul. She had a tattoo on the inside of her wrist, which she said was the name of the Turkish family who kept her. She said it was so the soldiers would not take her, as she belonged to that family. She said she had to "become a Turk", meaning adopt Islam while living in the Turkish home.
Grandfather had been in the US a few years prior. He escaped Yozgat Turkey with his younger brother Antranig, by working on a merchant ship which took him to Buenos Aires. He worked there to save money to finally come to the US in 1916. He went on to become a very successful businessman. No small accomplishment from such inauspicious beginnings and horrible Turkish oppression.
My maternal ancestors fled Kharpert, Turkey, a few years prior to 1915 to come to the US.
*** Turkey and Germany Failed! *** — with Bayzar Kassarjian Ayvazian(age 16) and Vahan (John) Ayvazian, grandfather at Boston, MA 1921.
Janice Adana Ayvazian