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Identifying and honoring Muslim rescuers of Armenians

Eurnekian: “This is an unchartered territory waiting to be discovered”

The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) and Kaloosdian/Mugar Chair – Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University, join forces in a major research effort under the supervision of Prof. Taner Akcam

Eduardo Eurnekian, Chairman of the IRWF announced the launching of an ambitious research project which will identify Turks and Kurds that reached-out to the victims of the Armenian Genocide.

Eurnekian elaborated further: “The main mission of the IRWF is to unveil untold stories of rescue and solidarity. The issue of the Muslim rescuers who went out of their way to save Armenians at the beginning of the 20th century, was not properly studied yet. This is an unchartered territory waiting to be discovered. It is a great honor to join forces with Prof. Taner Akcam and his Chair at the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University in an attempt to identify and honor the many Turks and Kurds that lended a hand to their Armenian neighbors in one of the darkest periods of mankind. We do the same concerning the Holocaust. Rather than focusing on the evil, we strive to highlight the spirit of solidarity of the women and men who, like Raoul Wallenberg, oftentimes risked their own lives to save others. This is our duty towards those saviors and above all, our obligation towards the young generations that should be aware of these role models”.

 
Armenian Cultural Days Took Place in Israeli War Situation

Days of Armenian culture took place in Israel from July 7-12. The Armenian delegation was headed by the Minister of Culture of Armenia Hasmik Poghosyan, accompanied by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Armenia in Israel Armen Melkonyan (residence in Cairo) and the Honorary Consul of Armenia in Israel Tsolak Momjyan.

 
Congressional Gold Medal to Raoul Wallenberg and recognition to the Wallenberg Foundation

On 9 July 2014, Swedish-born diplomat Raoul Wallenberg was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony in the U.S. Congress.The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, created by Baruch Tenembaum, was the driving force behind the initiative to present the prestigious award to the Swedish hero. The project was launched back in 2011 and the Board of the IRWF resolved not to disclose the Foundation’s involvement in order to focus purely on Raoul Wallenberg.The project was launched under the auspices of Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Carl Levin (D-MI), and Mike Johanns (R-NE) and Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) announced that they introduced companion bills today to bestow the Congressional Gold Medal on Raoul Wallenberg, a hero who saved thousands of lives during Nazi occupation of Hungary during World War II.The project was launched under the auspices of Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Carl Levin (D-MI), and Mike Johanns (R-NE) and Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY) announced that they introduced companion bills today to bestow the Congressional Gold Medal on Raoul Wallenberg, a hero who saved thousands of lives during Nazi occupation of Hungary during World War II.

During the luncheon the following speakers addressed the audience: Senators Kristen Gillibrand, Ted Cruz, Ben Cardin, Carl Levin, Lindsey Graham, Al Franken, Mark Kirk and Johnny Isakson. Representatives Gregg Harper, Doug Lamborn, Erik Paulsen, Chris Van Hollen, Paul Gosar, Jim McDermott, Gregory Meeks, Brad Schneider, Steve Cohen, Randy Hultgren, Bob Goodlatte, Robert Pittenger, Steve Stockman, Jim McGovern and Dana Rohrabacher. Irwin Cotler, Member of the Canadian Parliament; Mark F. Brzezinksi, US Ambassador to Sweden; Per Westerberg, Speaker of the Swedish Parliament; Carl Bildt, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs; Rosie Rios, US Treasurer; Marie Dupuy, niece of Raoul Wallenberg and Nina Lagergren, sister of Wallenberg.

 
Honoring Congressional Gold Medal Recipient Raoul Wallenberg: One Man Who Made a Difference

Two years ago marked the centennial of the birth of a truly remarkable man, the Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg. In 2012, the year was spent celebrating his life and achievements — and not just in Sweden and the United States, but in Hungary, in Israel, and in countless other locations around the globe. His courageous and brilliant actions in Budapest during World War II that saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust deserve our respect, admiration and emulation.

This coming Wednesday on July 9, the American Congress will speak for all Americans and convey a powerful message through the bestowal of the Congressional Gold Medal to remember the courageous acts of Raoul Wallenberg.

Wallenberg was a diplomat who chose not to be indifferent and to rise to a higher moral calling.

We remember and revere this courageous man whose efforts saved tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust. Wallenberg risked his life, and ultimately gave his life, for his commitment to basic values. We all have the obligation to ponder the full measure of Wallenberg’s personal sacrifice and tragedy.

Born into wealth, for Wallenberg turning a blind eye to the hardship and suffering of others would have been easy. Instead, as First Secretary at the Swedish Legation in Budapest, Hungary during the darkest days of World War II, Wallenberg demonstrated a sense of self-sacrifice to the greater good of his fellow human beings that is a lesson to us all.

 
Eduardo Eurnekian receives recognition at the US Congress

Eduardo Eurnekian, president of the Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, will receive a public recognition at the US Congress next 9 July, coinciding with the posthumous presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal to Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who helped save thousands of persecuted by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

The ceremony will take place at the Congress of the United States. Members of the Senate, House of Representatives, diplomats, artists, intellectuals and community leaders will attend to recognize the work of the Argentine businessman for his work devoted to promote the values ​​of solidarity and civic courage, ethical cornerstones of the rescuers of the Holocaust. Baruch Tenembaum, founder of the Wallenberg Foundation, will attend the event along with Wallenberg’s sister, Mrs. Nina Lagergren.

Eurnekian will receive the art piece “Guardian of the Legacy of the Saviors”, by renowned architect and sculptor Frank Meisler. “This is a unique specimen, registered in honor of Eduardo Eurnekian.”

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Story of a Saved Life
Written by Artiom Chernamorian 16.03.14
Khachatur_Aznavuryan_in_the_middle_with_his_granddaughter_Karine_HunanyanIn the photo: Khachatur Aznavuryan in the middle with his granddaughter Karine Hunanyan, Susanna Ananikyan from the left, Khachatur’s mother Babayants Susanna from the right, first from the left above Aram Aznavuryan, Susanna and Amalia Aznavuryan and Khachik Hunanyan. City Stalino (Donetsk, Ukraine), 1953

September last year, during the meeting with the head of the Jewish community in Armenia Rima Varjapetyan we were informed about an article published in their newspaper “Magen David” which tells about a heroic and never highlighted episode of a famous family. We could not help starting research activities.
The story is about the relatives of world famous singer Charles Aznavour. This story began when the part of famous Aznavuryan dynasty moved from Tbilisi to Ukraine and settled in city Yuzovka that was renamed to Stalino in 1924. Khachatur Aznavuryan was living in this city where local Ukrainians called him Christopher Aznaurov. 
He was born in Tbilisi in 1890. His father Sedrak was a baker and mother Susanna Babayants was a housewife. The family had four children, eldest son Hayk, Khachatur (Christopher) and daughters Araksya and Arpenik. All children had a wonderful voice and were singing at the local Armenian Church on Sundays.
Christopher (Khachatur) was the first to move to Ukraine; afterwards his brother Hayk and sisters Arpenik and Araksya also moved to Stalino. They all lived in one yard. Like all other soviet citizens the Aznavurovs lived modest typical for the period of Stalin repressions.

1937_AznavuryannerIn the photo: below right Khachatur Aznavuryan (Christopher Aznaurov), Amalia Aznavuryan, from the left Susanna Ananikyan, above right Aram and Susanna Aznavuryanner. City Stalino (Donetsk, Ukraine), 1937

But Christopher managed to open a small restaurant-cafe during those years and it coincided with the Second World War and the occupation of the city Stalino by fascists.
The Germans entered the city in October 21, 1941 and immediately started the persecution and murders of the Jewish population. Aznavuryans were first living on Larinka Street and later moved to Desyati Linia Street. The granddaughter of the Armenian hero Karine Hunanyan told us the following story of a saved Jewish girl during our meeting. 
She did not remember whether it was Larinka Street or Desyati Linia but a Jewish family was living beside the house of Aznaurov’s. And when the so-called “Black Crow” cars appeared and collected Jews from the sanctuaries and the ruins of the bombed city, the Armenians could not save them from the clutches of death, as they would be sentenced to death at once without any trials.

Karine_Hunanyan_ev_Asya_AznavuryanIn the photo: from the right Asya Aznavuryan (Asya Aznaurova) and Karine Hunanyan Kislovodsk (Russian Federation), 2008

Fascists formed a ghetto in March 1942 and started the massacres of Jews in Stalino from April till May. The Jewish ghetto was completely abolished at the night of April 30; people were thrown to the coalmine 4-4 Bis.   
During those days the “Black Crow” again appeared in the street where the Aznaurovs lived. The Jews living in front where the close neighbors of the Armenians and their youngest daughter Ninochka was the friend of Christopher’s daughter Asya. That day the girls were playing together at the yard of Aznaurovs.

Christopher noticed that the Nazis are taking away their Jewish neighbors and hid Ninochka at his basement. At that time the German soldiers were living in the apartments of the citizens who had to feed them. Two Germans were living in the family of Armenians.
 

Aznaurov saved the life of the Jewish girl by risking not only his but the life of the whole family. His wife was feeding the child by stealth for 10 days. One of the German soldiers living in their apartment called Walter, told Aznaurov that he is aware that they keep a “Yehuda” in their basement and must get rid of her at once as the Nazi soldiers and the famous SS troops are looking for Jews.
   

Surprised by the fact that this German soldier did not punish them for hiding the Jewish girl, the Armenian hero took the girl at night to his sister’s house in Gorlovka, again risking his own life. Ninochka stayed there a month and later was hidden at Aznaurov’s relatives’ till the liberation of Stalino in September 7, 1943.

Khachatur_AznavuryanIn the photo: Khachatur Aznavuryan (Christopher Aznaurov)
Stalino, 1942

A
fter the war Christopher Aznaurov was arrested by the Soviet authorities being accused in betrayal and for feeding the Nazis and Ukrainian Police in his canteen. One of the witnesses, a policeman said during the trial that he could not understand the guilt of Aznaurov as food was always tasty and the canteen was very clean. An unknown person suddenly appears at the trial, shows his certificate of a guerilla and tells the judge that Christopher was keeping the secret messages of guerillas in his shoes. Thus, he was released after a half year of severe interrogations and torture.
    

One of the most respected members of Aznavuryan’s family and a real hero Khachatur Aznavuryan passed away on December 31, 1961 at the age of 71. His grave is located in the municipal cemetery of Donetsk. His wife Susanna Ananikyan died 14 years later, in 1975 and is buried next to her husband. 
The meeting of Karine Hunanyan, her mother Amalia Aznavuryan and Ninochka took place in Donetsk (Stalino) in 1970. Unexpectedly, a woman approached them, started to hug and kiss them. Then Amalia and Nina had recalled the past and cried. Mother told Karine that this woman was Nina, hidden in her grandfather’s basement.
 

“Karinochka, if not your grandpa and grandma, I would die like my parents. I would also be thrown to the coalmine by the Germans. I’m so grateful to them. They granted a new life to me, risking their own. I am grateful…..to them”.
Aunt of Karine Hunanyan, Asya Aznaurova lives in city Kislovodsk. She has some health and unfortunately also memory problems.
Now, we are actively looking for Nina in city Donetsk. We have established a contact with the head of the Jewish community in Donetsk Mrs. Tamara Natanovna and the whole archive at our disposal has been sent to them.



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