US Assistance During The 1918-20 Typhoid Epidemic In Armenia

April 23 marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of Armenian-American diplomatic relations.

“In the winter of 1918-1919, typhus reigned in Armenia. Combined with the famine, the disease was especially brutal. The streets of Yerevan were a terrifying sight – many refugees had to live out in the open and suffer mercilessly. Every minute, yells “Bread!” were heard from outside.

The barely clothed and barefoot crowd was constantly dragging away the corpses of horses and dogs. Typhus, which made the streets the foci of illness, did not spare even the well-fed houses and claimed lives left and right. It seemed that the unfortunate nation was approaching its end. And, in fact, almost nothing would have remained of the people if America had not come to the rescue in these cruel times…” (Leo)

Arshaluis Zurabyan

Testimony of Simon Vratsian

“The appeals of the Council and the Government of Armenia, as well as the work carried out abroad, were finally heard, and assistance came in time. This time, America gave a helping hand to Armenia – namely, it was the US Food Administration under Herbert Hoover. The Food Administration would also save Europe from post-war famine.

Hoover truly was the savior of the Armenian people.

No matter our attitude toward the political role of America in the Armenian question, we will never forget American humanitarian aid. We should not forget about it.

On May 20, the first American steamer arrived in Batumi, Georgia, with 125,000 poods (roughly 2000 tons) of flour. A week later, second shipment of 600,000 poods (9600 tons) arrived.

To transport this food to Armenia, Georgia demanded 579 wagons and 14 steam locomotives from the Armenian authorities. However, Armenia had only 520 wagons and 16 steam locomotives. It took the intervention of the Americans and the British to get the aid into Armenia. Armenia’s railway passenger service was stopped for four days to allow for the transportation of flour.

After food reached Armenia, the famine gradually receded, and the country began to return to normal. The Armenian people along with their government were soon able to resume the revival of the country and the construction of their state.”

Հայաստանի Հանրապետութիւն», Բ. Տիպ, Պէյրութ)

Կարպիս Եսայեան

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