They wanted to leave one Armenian and only in a museum.
The history of Armenia has been full of dramatic and tragic events which have absolutely changed and impacted the sequence of history and people’s life. However, the beginning of the 20th century has approved that the worst is yet to come. Starting from 1915 up to 1923, Ottoman authorities with the help of auxiliary troops and civilians, perpetrated the first genocide of the 20th century – The Armenian Genocide. It was the systematic extermination of the Armenian people by the Ottoman Empire during World War I. It is estimated that 1.5 million Armenians were killed between 1915 and 1923 through forced deportations, massacres, and starvation.
With the eruption of World War I, the Ottoman Empire authorities adopted a policy of Pan-Turkism which was set to unite all Turkish-speaking nations and create the state of “Great Turan” stretching from the Balkans to China. To complete the mission Armenians and their demand for the Armenian territories, equal rights were the foremost obstacle for the Turks. In addition to this, the continuously rising pressure from foreign countries doubled the size of hatred towards Armenians. So the eruption of WWI gave perfect timing for Turks to set off the massacres of the Armenian population.
The Armenian Genocide which took place in 1915 up to 1923 is estimated to cause 1.5 million Armenian lives. The first start of the genocide was on April 24, 1915, also known as “the deportation day of the Armenian intellectuals”. It was the day when 270 Armenian intellectuals were taken from their homes to unknown destinations. Now, April 24 is recognized as the commemoration day of the Armenian Genocide and this is the day when Armenians all over the world raise their voice and pay tribute to the innocent victims.
After getting done with the intellectual power, Turks started the forced deportations of Armenian civilians from their homes, with many being sent on marches through the desert without food, water, or shelter. Those who were not killed during the marches were often brutally killed by Ottoman soldiers or Kurdish irregulars. The horrifying massacres went on up to 1923, with Armenian men, women, and children being murdered in their homes, churches, and other places. Lots of people were also subjected to torture, rape, and violence before being killed.
All in all, 1.5 million Armenians have been killed, while another 1 million got spread through the world by becoming the Armenian Diaspora. In addition to the loss of cultural and historical intangible heritage Armenians lost more than 300.000 kilometers of territory – the whole of Western Armenia with its symbolic Biblical Mount Ararat.
The Tsitsernakaberd Memorial Complex is a powerful symbol of remembrance and commemoration. It provides a space for people to pay their respects to those who lost their lives in the genocide and to reflect on the impact that it has had on the Armenian people and the world as a whole.
Completed in 1967, the Memorial complex is set on the hill and dominates the landscape. Since its construction, the complex has become an important site for pilgrimage and fight for the recognition of the Genocide. Twelve imposing pylons which surround the eternal memorial flame inside the monument, represent the 12 provinces where Armenians have been killed and massacred. The flame represents the unbreakable spirit of Armenians. A unique structural part of the monument is the needle-shaped rising monument which shows the rebirth of the Armenian people. The shorter part symbolizes the lost homeland of Western Armenia, while the longer part is the living Eastern Armenia – the modern-day Republic of Armenia.
Worthy to mention, the memorial is called Tsitsernakaberd, meaning “Swallow’s Fortress”. Back in time, there was a fortress where swallows were living. Despite the fact of how many times their home would be ruined, they were anyway returning to their homes, like Armenians.
In addition to this, the construction of the memorial started during the Soviet Union, when topics regarding Armenian massacres have been abolished and threatened with imprisonment and shootings. However, the 50th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide has given a big rise in the voice and interest of the population to talk about the lost homeland, suffering, and survival stories. The commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the genocide was not only a result of the changes in society but also of the political willingness of the Soviet-Armenian leadership. The first Secretary of Soviet Armenia Yakov Zarobyan personally lived through the massacres and was deported from his land in 1915.
The opening ceremony was held on 29 November 1967. After this each year hundreds of thousands of people visit Tsitsernakaberd to commemorate the loss of the homeland, culture, history, and people. It’s a standing proof of the genocide and is part of the ongoing fight for the recognition of the inhuman events.
The Memorial Complex also includes a genocide museum and research institute.
Constructed on September 29, 1995, on the 80th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, collects under its roof remarkable information. Within the framework of marking the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, the museum institute has been reconstructed. It consists of 2400 meters square territory, 12 halls, and 50 main headings under which are summarized new materials gathered throughout 7-8 years of hard work. The data is exhibited in diverse ways, including multimedia, touch screens, projectors, and other forms. The content in the museum is based on scientific and methodological research in the field of genocide studies. The museum provides exhibitions in German, French, English, Russian, and Armenian languages. It is the standing-speaking proof of the suffering and inhumane massacres of human civilizations.
In addition to manifesting the information and history of the Armenian Genocide, The Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute Foundation is a research center. It is conducting huge research related to the topics of different points of the Armenian Genocide, the pre-genocidal era, and the aftermath of genocide. The researchers also participate in the Educational Program developed by the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute Foundation. Within the framework of those programs, they teach school children and train history teachers. The research institute also actively participates and is included in the publication (also translation) of books, memories, photo collections, catalogs, etc related to the genocide and its studies,
The emotional impact of the Armenian Genocide cannot be overstated. It is a reminder of the worst atrocities that human beings are capable of, and a call to action to prevent such horrors from happening again. The Armenian people continue to carry the weight of this tragedy, but their resilience and strength in the face of such adversity is a testament to the power of the human spirit.