“On this photo is a young Armenian boy found in the desert. He had lived away from civilization for about two years, only eating roots, grass, and fruits. He was devoid of any care and proper living conditions.
When the boy was found, he had already become very feral, which was evident from his behavior. This photo was made in Aleppo in 1920 – 21 by Helen-Mary Gerard, an employee of the Near East Relief foundation. Gerard would take on the care of the boy.
In the years of the Armenian Genocide of 1915, thousands of Armenian children became orphans having lost their relatives and parents during the mass deportations. Some of them, miraculously escaping from the Ottoman massacres, found shelter in abandoned, uninhabited areas, forests, and caves, far away from people and civilization.
Those defenseless children who had witnessed the brutal death of their parents would be forced to copy the behavior of wild animals and to avoid contact with people to survive. Some even lost their ability to speak, further enhancing their resemblance to wild animals.
Armenian public and religious organizations, as well as foreign charity foundations would undertake the salvation of thousands of orphaned and lost Armenian children. Some of them had become true “Mowglis.”
When I arrived in Van, there have been bodies of Armenians in every home. The Turks had violently massacred them… Some were killed, some died from starvation and sickness. The rest are still hiding in the caves and forests. Among them are many feral children whose parents had been killed.
My nurses have recently seen one and tried to catch him, but to no avail. He was completely naked. Upon noticing people, he like a wild animal hid somewhere, and they couldn’t find him no matter how hard they looked.
The local commandant gathered a team of Armenian soldiers who are now hiking the mountains in search for those feral children.
Several have been caught and brought to the Commandant. I have seen them… That was horrible. They were almost skin and bones and their stomachs were inflated like bubbles. They had turned so wild that if you try to give them your hand, they bite like animals.”
Christina Semina, a sister of mercy from the Caucasus front, Van, 1915.
Source of the photo: The collection of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, “100 photo stories about Armenian Genocide.”
Read also: Photo of a Bread Shop in Partizak – 1910