Letters From My Grandfather
Made possible by the Calouste Gulbenkian In View 2022 grant for creation in Western Armenian.
Նախագիծը կ՚իրականացուի Արդ Եւս արեւմտահայերէն մշակութային նպաստի ծրագիրին պարունակին մէջ։
My grandfather, Yetvart Garabedian, and his younger brother, Garabed Garabedian, wrote many letters to each other during the early 20th Century. Yetvart emigrated to Boston in 1909 but Garabed was still living in Kharput (modern-day Eastern Turkey). This video contains the narration of two different letters written from Garabed to Yetvart; the first on October 10, 1914 and the second letter from Garabed to Yetvart on March 11, 1915 both letters from Mamouret-ul-Aziz (Kharput) to Cambridge, MA. At the top of the second letter, Yetvart wrote a note in pencil, "This is the last letter that I received from my dear brother, and after that I received the bad news of his death. June 18, 1916 Cambridge." Garabed was killed by a Turkish police officer when he was just 20 years old.
October 10, 1914
Very honorable Baron Yetvart Garabedian
My very dear and honorable brother:
We received your letter dated August 7. We had waited a long time for your letter. Since the time you went from London (back) to America, we have received only one letter. Maybe a few letters have been lost.
Thank God, we are healthy and comfortable. Only the longing feeling (garod) is pulling within us for Hayrig and you. I'm glad that you accepted to do that big sacrifice for Hayrig and sent him twenty four and one half English pounds for his return (to Hairenik). We sent him forty Turkish liras, but Hayrig did not get those forty liras because he had already left London to return here. We sent the liras to Bolis (Constantinople) so that when Hayrig arrives there, he could cash it (the check).
I am sure that Hovsep Kerri heard about Hayrig's request, but did not contribute anything to help you. It's ok for those kinds of people, you should do good only as revenge (as a means of revenge). Morally, you should be revengeful.
Our school has opened, and we are continuing (our studies). If the Lord keeps us alive and guides me, this year the graduation ceremonies will take place (I will graduate).
I want to come to America right after I graduate so that I can come there and complete my education. But on the other hand, I want to stay here a few years and then come and study, so that I could have time for self-education (getting experience). In any event, we have to look for the will of God. But at the same time, I ask your advice about this. Only, but you should know that if I stay here, they will take me into the military service. I still don't know if there is any way that I could be exempted from the military if I stay here.
It seems to me that this is going to be a kind of sinister year (for me) (academic year 1914-15). I will give thanks to God if these wars will not have any harmful effects on us. But in any event, I think that no doubt that Turkey will also be affected (harmed).
If there is a draft there (in America), don't ever get registered, because you know wars cause horrible crimes to be committed (in times of war horrible crimes are committed). What black marks these events leave in human history. You can already imagine the evil effects of the war. As you said, we should christen the 20th century with the following name: "Big bloody century," because the human crime (has) reached its most ferocious zenith.
We received a letter from Hayrig. He is on his way. We hope that in a short time, with the guidance of love, he will return to us safely. I wish you success in your works (endeavors), and I wish you health.
I remain your sincere brother. Longing regards, (garodi parevner),
PS. The Reverend and Aunt send you their greetings. Hovaness has come from Chenkush and they are all well. Dear brother, please send the enclosed letter to Uncle Hovsep.
March 11, 1915
M - Aziz
Respectful Baron Yetvart Garabedian
My very dear and respectable brother:
I received your letter written in Turkish and read it with great pleasure. Thank God we are in a very good situation. I am almost completing my course of study. At the present time, the German institutions have a great deal of status. We also pray that our country will be freed and settled from the enemy and foreign hands. Still, because of the king (the Sultan), we are free for the time being. But if the king (Sultan) calls the ones that are of my age, we will go very quickly.
The other day, we (students) had a play in favor of the Red Crescent (Turkish Red Cross) in which I played the violin. The audience left it with good feelings (liked it very much). The scenes very moving and very patriotic. These are the kinds of presentations that will create strong patriotic and nationalistic feelings in all classes of the people.
We are all well and healthy, and we send to all of you, our best regards. May God give you success in all of your endeavors. I would think that by now your work is somewhat lighter (less taxing physically). When we will be able to travel, I will come to study there (U.S.). Isn't this possible?
I miss you very much. May God make it possible for us to see each other. Let's pray all the time. I remain with brotherly regards (garodi parevner).
P. S. My classmates also send their regards.
At the top of the original of this letter, written in pencil, Yetvart wrote, "This is the last letter that I received from my dear brother, and after that I received the bad news of his death."
June 18, 1916