The French newspaper “History” published an article about the history of Armenians in France in its December issue.
“They have all arrived, all of them are here – the Manushyans, Manukyans, Gedigyans, Devejyans… And even others with surnames that don’t tell you that they are children of Yerevan – Henri Verneuil, Michel Legrand, and, of course, Charles Aznavour.
Fleeing the Armenian Genocide in 1915, 100,000 Armenians took refuge in France. These “survivors“, as they called themselves, became a part of the society, quietly and imperceptibly climbing the career ladder in their host country while remembering their roots.
They have arrived in the 1920s, most through Marseille, after the establishment of a new nationalist republic in Turkey. However, not all countries friendly to the Armenians were able to accept them as France did after the genocide.
The US government limited its immigrant quotas, while the UK did not need labor force. Thus, France became the main receiving country for the Armenians along with other countries under its mandate (Lebanon and Syria).
Staying unnoticed for a long time, Armenians crossed the borders of immigrant camps to reach pavilions and move from factories to trade and business. However, some observers doubted their future integration into society, emphasizing the communal organization of the new visitors who had already built their own church.
In 1931, sociologist Roger Bastide, having studied the Armenians of the city of Valence, writes: ‘Their perseverance and efforts, especially in research, will contribute to their future integration. Like the Zionist aspiration of the Jews, the Armenian aspiration will become a factor of their extreme vitality.’
Decades later, Armenians began to collectively appear in different circles of country life. This collective appearance has first occurred in the political field when the Armenians started asking the local elected authorities to recognize the 1915 genocide, as well as erect monuments to it.
Armenians were also expecting that in the highest echelons of power, they would be able to pressurize Turkey. While at first, some observers had doubts about the positive effects of this immigration, the Armenians were able to prove the opposite. They climbed up career and social ladders from petty trade to professions and technical specialists, fully participating in the country’s progress and its modernization.
Armenians have become an important part of French history and culture. And since 2018, their gradual desire to democratize Armenia has prompted many representatives of the diaspora to transfer the skills acquired in France to their homeland.”