Translator: Simon Beugekian, 24/08/22 (Last modified 24/08/22)
The memory objects and materials presented on this page were collected and catalogued during Houshamadyan’s workshops in Athens on April 1st and 2nd, 2022.
This page was prepared collaboratively with the “Armenika” periodical of Athens and the Athens chapter of the Hamazkayin Cultural Association. Houshamadyan’s workshops were made possible thanks to the support of EVZ Foundation, Germany.
This page presents the history of the paternal and maternal ancestors of Arda Djelalian. Arda collected these testimonies and reminiscences from her father, Hagop Djelalian; and aunt (father’s sister), Evie Tomboulian (nee Djelalian). For the history of the maternal branch of her family, Arda relied on the recollections of her mother, Julia Djelalian (nee Hovardian); and her aunt (mother’s sister), Norma Deligeorgi (nee Hovardian).
The Djelalian family hailed from Eskishehir. Among the ancestors of the family were Kevork and Eva, whose children were Ardashes (1898-1991), Lousaper (1901-1980s), Haygouhi (?-1981), and Apraham (circa 1896-1980). Ardashes Djelalian was Arda’s paternal grandfather.
In the early 20th century, the Djelalian family moved from Eskishehir to Ankara. There, Ardashes was engaged in small-scale retail.
During the years of the Armenian Genocide, overcoming terrible dangers and thanks to the assistance of the Armenian Catholic community of Ankara, Ardashes and his family were able to flee Ankara and find refuge in Izmir/Smyrna. Throughout his life, Ardashes would recall the atrocities that he witnessed on the road from Ankara to Izmir. We know that after reaching Izmir, Ardashes began apprenticing with Turkish master tailors.
In late 1922, when Smyrna was occupied by Turkish forces, Ardashes and his family decided to leave the Ottoman Empire. First, they made their way to Constantinople, then moved to the Bulgarian city of Varna, and finally to Sophia. From Bulgaria, they moved to Greece, first to Thessaloniki, and then, finally, to Athens, where they settled in the mid-1920s.
In Athens, Ardashes married Kohar Alahverdian. The latter was a Persian subject, which also allowed Ardashes to receive Persian citizenship. Kohar died only a few months after their wedding.
In Athens, Ardashes worked for the renowned Greek-Armenian seamstress, Astra (surname unknown), who ran the eponymous tailor’s shop. Later, Ardashes abandoned tailoring and launched a new career selling and repairing rugs and carpets in his own store, which was located in the center of Athens.
Ardashes’s mother, Eva, died around 1925. Her husband, Kevork, remarried, this time to Gulhanoum. Serop was born to them in 1925. After Kevork’s death (date unknown), Gulhanoum married a man with the surname of Sarafian, and as a result, Serop also adopted this surname. Ardashes’s sister and brother, Lousaper and Apraham, emigrated to Fresno (California), where they lived for the rest of their lives. Serop Sarafian emigrated to Soviet Armenia during the repatriation movement.
Ardashes married Marika Alexanian on February 28, 1937. Marika was born in 1915, in Cordelio (present-day Karşıyaka), which was a coastal area near Izmir. She was the daughter of Beatrice and Hagop. Beatrice’s mother was called Heghine. Beatrice and Hagop had three children: Marika, Artaki (Artin, Haroutioun), and Kevork (Vovok). Kevork was ill from birth. Marika was a fluent Greek speaker from an early age, as she had been surrounded by Greek speakers in Cordelio since her birth.
In 1922, Turkish authorities arrested Marika’s father, Hagop, and her maternal uncle (name unknown). Neither of them was seen again. When a great fire began ravaging the city of Izmir in 1922, Beatrice gathered the whole family and led them to the port, where they embarked on a ship and headed to Greece. Due to the frantic nature of this flight, Beatrice was only able to take with her the family’s cash and gold, as well as one silver-bound prayer book.
They reached Athens. There, Beatrice used the gold that she had smuggled out of Turkey to purchase a home in the Neo Faliro neighborhood. This home, located near the sea, reminded the family house of Cordelio. Beatrice also purchased a sewing machine and worked as a seamstress. Her son, Kevork, died a few years after the family’s arrival in Greece. Her daughter, Marika, began attending the Armenian school of the Fix neighborhood (the National United School), which operated alongside the Armenian Catholic church, and was housed in a building owned by the Armenian Catholic community. Thereafter, Marika received a scholarship and began attending the American School for Girls in Athens. This institution was affiliated with the eponymous missionary school in Izmir. It was located in the Palaio Faliro neighborhood, and later moved to the Hellenikon neighborhood. The college was split into two sections, one for Greek-speaking pupils, and the other for Armenian-speaking pupils. Around the same time, Beatrice’s son, Artaki, after the Second World War, left for Khartoum to work, but returned to Athens few years later.
In 1937, when Ardashes and Marika married, Ardashes marked the occasion by purchasing two homes, across from each other, in Chalandri (north of Athens), so that they and other members of the family could live together. The homes were beautiful, had their own gardens and henhouses, and had an entrance gate inscribed with Ardashes’s initials. The couple’s first child, Kevork (1937-1942), was born there. During the years of the Second World War, the child fell ill, and as medical assistance was extremely difficult to obtain, his parents were not able to secure the treatment he needed, and he died. In 1938, the couple had a second son, Hagop (1938-2021), Arda’s father. Eva/Evie was born in 1943.
Ardashes was a well-known antique and rugs dealer in Athens. He would walk the 20 kilometers from his home to his store in the center of Athens. During the Second World War, the German forces commandeered one of his homes, which was taken over by two high-ranking German officers. The Djelalian and Alexanian families had to share the second home, across the road from the first. According to surviving recollections, the family coexisted harmoniously with the German officers.
After the war, Ardashes and his family moved to Koukaki, where they built a new home. Around that time, Hagop Djelalian left for Venice, where he attended the Moorat Raphaelian School of the Mekhitarist Order.
Beatrice died in the early 1960s. Ardashes and Marika died in 1991.
The Hovardian family hailed from Oedemish/Ödemiş, east of the city of Izmir.
Hovhannes Hovardian (born in 1868) married Hayganoush Saraydarian. Both were born in Oedemish. Hovhannes was a retailer. The couple had four children: Aghavni, Sirvart, Kayos (born in 1906), and Emmanuel.
In 1922, the Hovardian family left for Greece while Turkish forces were still preparing to enter Izmir, prior to the start of mass Armenian emigration from the area. Their journey to Greece proceeded relatively smoothly, and they were able to travel with much of their belongings. The Hovardians settled in Athens and opened a small shop in the Koukaki neighborhood. During these years, Hovhannes joined the Protestant Church. He died in the early 1970s, after living to the age of 100. Hayganoush died in 1953.
Hovhannes and Hayganoush’s daughter, Aghavni, was a kindergarten teacher in Oedemish. After the Second World War, she married Dr. Torosian and emigrated with him to Argentina. One of the couple’s sons, Kayos (Arda’s grandfather), left for France in the 1920s, where he worked in the Renault car factory in Paris. He later worked for the Kodak photographic company, where he learned the art of photography and became an expert in the development of film. After living in France for eight years, Kayos returned to Greece, where he opened a photographic shop with several partners in the Syntagma neighborhood of Athens. Many of the renowned photographers of Athens would come to him to have their photographs developed. Kayos married Anahid Hayrabedian. He died in 1982, in Athens.
Kayos Hovardian was a member of an Armenian group that organized nature excursions in different parts of Greece in the 1930s and 1940s. The group described itself as pnoutenaser, “nature lover” in Armenian. The group suspended its activities during the Second World War, but they resumed after the end of the hostilities. All photographs below chronicle the outings organized by the group.
The true surname of Kayos’s wife, Anahid, was Haroutiounian. She was the daughter of Hayrabed Haroutiounian, born in Burdur (Province of Konya). We do not know the name of Hayrabed’s first wife, but we know that he had two children with her, Dikranouhi and Garabed (1910-1960). Hayrabed and his family moved from Burdur to Izmir, where his first wife died. Thereafter, Hayrabed married his second wife, Noyemzar (Noyemi) Kehiayan. She was born in Izmir, in 1892. She was the daughter of Hadji Anna and Hovhannes, who had five daughters and one son: Lucia (Lucie), Soghmen, Noyemi (1892-1967), Makrouhi, Makdagh, and Stepan. Noyemi and Soghmen taught at the Hripsimyants Girl’s School in Izmir.
Noyemi and Hayrabed married around 1916. They had three children: Haroutioun (or Artin, 1917-1989), Azadouhi (1918-1982), and Anahid (Arda’s grandmother, 1920-2005). The family lived in a two-story home in Izmir. Artin Artinian later became a painter, while Azadouhi (later Djedjizian) was the director of the Karageozian Foundation in Athens.
Hayrabed was an administrator employed by a Turkish pasha in Izmir. During the Genocide, the Ottoman authorities deported him to exile (probably to Der Zor in the Syrian desert). In 1922, when the city’s Christians were forced to leave their homes and flee to Greece, Hayrabed was still absent from the city. Noyemi single-handedly organized the frantic flight of her family. She hid the family’s gold in her children’s coats and the blankets they took with them. A Turkish neighbor helped her pack up, and the family filled a cart with whatever household items they could carry and headed for the port. There, the Turks searched Noyemi’s person, hoping to find hidden money, but she had hidden the gold well. After a wait that probably stretched for days, Noyemi and her children embarked on a French ship and reached the island of Hydra. Upon arrival, local officials asked for the family’s surname. As a reply, the children immediately gave the name of their father, Hayrabed. Thus, the family was registered under the surname of Hayrabedian.
The family lived on the island of Hydra for three years. Noyemi, who spoke Greek fluently, participated in the activities of the local chapter of the Red Cross, distributing food to the refugees. The family lived in the refugee camp located on the island.
Around this time, Hayrabed returned to Izmir. He learned that his family had fled to Greece and lived on Hydra. He successfully made the journey to Greece and rejoined his family. However, their joy was short-lived. Hayrabed suffered a heart attack and died. He was buried on Hydra.
Around 1925, Noyemi and her five children moved to Athens and settled in the Kaisariani neighborhood. The daughters began attending the Armenian school located in the same neighborhood, while the boys began working. Later, the family moved to the Neos Kosmos neighborhood, where they lived in a private residence near the Armenian refugee camp. The girls switched schools and began attending the Armenian school of Dourghouti.
Around this time, Dikranouhi emigrated to Marseille. The couple’s two daughters, Azadouhi and Anahid, received scholarships and began attending the American College for Girls in Athens, from which they graduated. Anahid managed to find the name and address of her benefactor, Julia Lane, with whom she corresponded all her life. Later, when Anahid married and had a daughter, she called her Julia in honor of Mrs. Lane. Julia received financial sponsorship from the same source that had provided Anahid with her scholarship, and attended the American College of Thessaloniki (Anatolia).
Anahid married Kayos in 1945, in the Saint Krikor Lousavorich Church of Athens. They had two daughters, Julia (born in 1946, Arda’s mother) and Norma (born in 1948); and one son, Hayrabed (born in 1956).