A Photo of Armenian Orphans Saved from the Desert – 1918

A Photo of Armenian Orphans Saved from the DesertThe photo below shows Armenian orphans gathered from the deserts in 1918 and brought to Jerusalem. In rags, barefoot, with bald heads, these were boys of different ages. Most of them, having lost their national identity, did not speak Armenian.

It took some time to return them to the Armenians.

In 1915-1923, as a result of the Armenian Genocide, thousands of Armenian children were orphaned and were forced to abandon their Christian faith. Many orphans died of hunger and various epidemics rampant in those years.

In the autumn of 1918 after the end of WWI, in saving Armenian orphans from inevitable death were engaged Armenian organizations, the Armenian church, individuals – in particular, soldiers of the Armenian Legion and Armenian volunteer brigades – foreign charitable organizations such as the Near East Relief, the Foundation of the Mayor of London, the Danish Women’s Society, the Russian Red Cross, the Union of Russian Cities, as well as international organizations (the Red Cross, the League of Nations).

Armenian orphans were gathered from various areas of the Ottoman Empire, Syrian deserts, and freed from Muslim families and Turkish orphan homes.

Thanks to this activity, in 1918–21, more than 77,000 Armenian children were saved. They would be placed in orphanages run by Armenian and foreign charitable organizations located in Turkey, the Caucasus, the Middle East, and also in state orphanages in the Republic of Armenia.

“Thousands of Armenian children were scattered around Turkish houses of various provinces. Most of them became servants, some were adopted, young girls were married off. Immediately after the conclusion of peace, my mission as a patriarch and as an Armenian was to find these orphans and return them to their national roots,” wrote Zaven Yeghayan, the then Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople.

The photo is from the collection of the Nubaryan Library, Paris. From the catalog “100 photo stories about the Armenian Genocide.”



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