Armenian Jerusalem
Convent of St James
            Like        many        young Kaghakatzi    men    of    his    age, Hagop    Hovsepian    (who    later changed    his    family    name    to Hagopian),     was     conscripted into   the   Ottoman   army   during their occupation of Palestine.        But   unlike   several   of   his compatriots      who      perished during      Sefer      Berlik      (First World   War),   he   survived.   He did   return   home,   but   he   was   a broken man.        He   never   referred   to   his war   "service"   -   actually,   it   was more      like      servitude      than service.           The           young Kaghakatzis     conscripted     by the   Ottomans   were   rounded   out   and   pressed   to   do   menial   tasks   in the Turkish army.      Some tried to escape, but were caught and reportedly hanged.        Among   the   escapees   was   Hovagim   Koukeian   (Abu   Ishaq),   who sought refuge in an old mill at the Wad el Quilt "resort" near Jericho.        Hovagim   honed   his   guiding   skills   there   and   became   an   authority on the region and invariably sought his advice.\        "Whenever   we   used   to   make   a   hike   to   that   desolate   place   an evening   of   'orientation'   by   the   grouchy   Abu-Ishaq   was   part   of   the ritual," Eddie Hagopian recalls.         Hovagim    later    became    caretaker    at    the    Jerusalem   Armenian Benevolent   Union   (JABU)   club,   and   he   and   his   wife   Nour   lived   only   a few yards away from the place.          During   the   1948   Arab-Israeli   war,   he   suffered   an   irreparable   loss with   the   death   of   his   step-son   Ishaq   and   his   wife   in   a   bombing incident   near   the   Kishleh   police   compound   near   Jaffa   Gate.   It   was reported   that   the   couple   were   killed   when   a   bomb   carried   by   an Arab dropped   from   his   hands   and   exploded   in   front   of   them,   killing   several people,   including   another   Armenian   youth,   Issa   Toumayan,   the   only son of the widow Almaza.         Almaza    never    ceased    to    grieve    for    him    and    wore    black    in mourning for the rest of her life.      Ishaq left a step-daughter, Nevart.      John Ramian's father, too, was a genocide survivor.        "He   used   to   tell   him   a   lot   of   horrible   stories   he   witnessed   during 1915 -1922," John says.        "Every   morning   the   Ottoman   Turkish   army   officers   would   come   to pick   up   young   Armenian   men   (my   father   among   them)   from   his   town (Diyarbakir)   in   Eastern   Turkey,   giving   them   each   a   shovel   to   dig   some where," John reports.      The men would return home only at the end of the day.        "One   day   all   the   men   went   to   dig   and   never   came   back.   They probably dug their own graves and probably others'," John says.        "One   day   my   dad   witnessed   a   Turkish   soldier   kicking   a   small Armenian   boy   with   his   boot   just   for   asking   for   a   piece   of   bread   the soldier was eating," John continues with his tale.        "The   boy   fell   on   his   head.   He   was   alive   but   was   bleeding   -   the soldier finished him with a blow from a rock," his father told him.        "My   dad   survived   the   genocide,   crossed   the   desert   with   young boys   and   girls.   They   walked   by   night   and   hid   in   caves   during   the   day. They   saw   a   lot   of   dead   bodies   lying   in   the   desert   between Turkey   and the   Syrian   borders.   They   finally   they   made   it   to   an Armenian   convent in   Alleppo,   Syria.   From   there,   John's   father   trekked   to   Jerusalem   on a donkey.
This project has been supported by the Gulbenkian philanthropic Foundation, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and members of the worldwide Armenian community. Reproductions of the genealogical documents [domar’s] are courtesy Photo Garo, Jerusalem. Copyright © 2007 Arthur Hagopian
Hagop in proud paternalistic mode
Hagopian clan patriarch Old and tired
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