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Armenian Refugees, Jerusalem, Palestine, March 18, 1919

Armenian Refugees temporarily housed in a convent, Jerusalem, Palestine
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3045-78_5961
 
Document Description
A group of Armenian refugees, Jerusalem, Palestine, March 18, 1919.
 
Questions
Describe the condition of the refugees.
What types of people are in the picture? Who are not?
Why might a government choose to force these people from their homes?
What needs would be required for someone removed from their homes without any possessions or money?
 
Historical Challenges
Write a biography of a survivor from the Armenian Genocide and describe what happened to them after.
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
ELA: Write a journal entry from the point of view of an orphan or refugee from war.

 
ELA: Write an editorial asking for intervention to help orphans.
 
Resources
Balakian, Peter. The Burning Tigris. NY, Perenial, 2003. Barton, James. Story of Near East Relief. MacMillan, 1930.
 

Historical Context
Between 1915 and 1919, conditions in the Ottoman Empire resulted in a vast humanitarian crisis for Armenians. First the nationalistic “Young Turks” and then the new government under Kemal Attaturk waged a brutal campaign to remove Armenians from Anatolia, their ancient ethnic homeland, and the emerging nation of Turkey. Those Armenians that survived mass killings found themselves deported into the desert without food, water, and former possessions. A fight for survival followed without any hope of ever returning to their homes.

Almost immediately after reports of violence hit American and international news agencies, a broad movement to raise funds and bring relief to the war torn area began. The American Red Cross and later the International Red Cross were the first to bring relief efforts to parts of Armenia. The American government responded by forming the Near East Relief organization and the American Committee on Armenian Atrocities.

Wealthy and connected philanthropists secured millions of dollars to ensure help to displaced Armenians. Additionally, the Near East Relief organized orphanages all across the region. Among the important priorities were reclaiming females from Turk families that either adopted or enslaved them, training the children for self support, setting up schools and demonstration centers to train them for occupations, and relocating administrations to help find permanent communities in the area and abroad. All told, these groups and efforts of individuals are credited with saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of Armenian refugees.

 
Essential Question
How are civilians affected by war?
 
Check for Understanding
Describe the conditions of these individuals using evidence from the photograph.