Translator: Simon Beugekian
Houshamadyan presents the memoirs of Ashod Kasardjian, who provides us with a treasure-trove of information regarding events that occurred from the early 1900s to the early 1920s.
The focus of his memoirs is several crucial historical events. The first of those is the massacres targeting Armenians in 1909 across Cilicia. At the outset of the massacres, Kasardjian was in his native Sis (modern-day Kozan), but he soon found himself in the nearby city of Kars-Bazar, where the local Armenians had created a self-defense militia and were preparing to confront the armed mobs that were on the verge of attacking them. After the massacres of Adana, Ashod Kasardjian left his native land and immigrated to the United States. In his memoirs, he provides us with vivid descriptions regarding the lives and conditions of Armenian migrants. Later, the First World War began, and the United States entered the conflagration in alliance with Great Britain and France. Like many other Armenian-American youth, Ashod enlisted as a volunteer, and, in 1917, made the sea journey to France. From there, he traveled to Egypt, and then to Cyprus, where he finally joined the Eastern Legion (Légion d'Orient), a volunteer legion under the command of the French Army, but mostly consisting of Armenian men. After the Armistice of 1918, Ashod Kasardjian returned to his native Sis, where he tried to make a new life for himself. His memoirs cover events up to 1920, and conclude with the final departure of Sis Armenians alongside the French forces, after which the Sis Armenians established themselves in the city of Adana.
Kasardjian’s memoirs are written in prosaic language, which we attempted to preserve as much as possible. His writing process included hand-writing several drafts, each of which included new details and additional information. Though he tried to preserve a semblance of chronological progression, oftentimes Kasardjian was forced to veer off into tangents to provide contextual information. Sometimes, he delves into events that occurred long before the memoirs were written. We have made every effort to minimize editorial modifications to the text, and any editorial modifications and additions have been included in parentheses, and have been marked with Ed.
We believe that the real value of the memoirs lies in the detailed and vivid descriptions of events that the author experienced first-hand. Kasardjian describes life in Sis, Kars-Bazar, Adana, the United States, France, Cyprus, Beirut, and Mersin – all cities and countries in which he himself lived. The experience he had in these cities, the people he met, and the historical events he witnessed shed new light on crucial watersheds of an important era in history.
Ashod Kasardjians’ memoirs consist of several hundred pages. We will publish them in several tranches.
The satchel that contained Ashod Kasardjian’s personal papers, which included memoirs, notes, journal entries, a family tree, autobiographical information, hand-written letters, and photographs. Kasardjian’s descendants attest to the fact that this satchel was an inseparable companion of Kasardjian’s. Throughout his life, and up until his death, whenever he had the time, he would open the satchel and pore over the materials in it, re-reading them, correcting them, and re-writing them.