The Erzurum Sanasarian Armenian College: A Lost Piece of History

The Sanasarian Armenian College in Erzurum, also known as Karin, was a symbol of education and cultural heritage for the Armenian community in Western Armenia. The college was founded in 1881 by the Sanasarian family, a prominent Armenian family is known for their contributions to education and philanthropy. The building itself was an architectural masterpiece, with a unique blend of Ottoman and Armenian styles.

However, like many other Armenian institutions, the Sanasarian College fell victim to the Armenian Genocide in 1915. The Ottoman government systematically targeted and deported Armenian intellectuals, educators, and community leaders, including the faculty and students of the Sanasarian College. The building was later used as a military barracks during World War I.

In the 1930s, the Turkish government converted the building into a museum dedicated to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern secular Turkish state. The museum showcases Ataturk’s personal belongings, photographs, and other artifacts related to his life and legacy. However, there is no mention of the building’s previous history as the Sanasarian College or the Armenian Genocide.

The erasure of the building’s Armenian heritage is part of a larger pattern of cultural erasure and denial of the Armenian Genocide by the Turkish government. The Armenian Genocide, which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians, is still not officially recognized by the Turkish government.

Today, the Sanasarian College building continues to stand as a symbol of the lost cultural heritage of the Armenian community in Western Armenia. The building’s architecture and history make it an important cultural and historical monument, not just for Armenians but for all those who value education, diversity, and cultural heritage.

Vigen Avetisyan

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