The city of Van, in present-day Turkey, was the only city to resist the attacks of the Turks for some time. Our family, the Trchunyans, is from that city. We've been told stories about our family and now we want to share them with everyone else, as we are some of the lucky survivors of the Genocide.
In 1915 our grandfather, Gurgen Trchunyan, had to flee to Georgia with his mother, Zaruhi Chantikyan, his uncle, Gevond Chantikyan, and his four siblings: newborn twins, a sister and a brother. While Gurgen’s father, Tigran Trchunyan, was defending Van, they ran away to save the lives of the children.
It was a terrible trip from their beloved home to another country. While escaping without money, food or anything else, the youngest of the children died. Fortunately, the rest of our family was able to safely get to Georgia. They settled in Tbilisi.
Years after that our great-grandmother Zaruhi would remember how they could hear shooting guns, could see corpses of children and elderly people everywhere. My great-grandmother never understood how they could escape more or less unharmed. She would say: “It is God's blessing that not a single bullet hit us.” And it truly is God's blessing that we are here now, sharing our stories with other survivors of the Genocide!
Our family settled in Tbilisi, where my great-grandmother fell ill with typhus and her children were taken to an orphanage. After the family reunion, they started a new life. They had no relatives or friends there, so they had to do everything on their own. It was a terrible period for the whole family: my grandfather had to work since the age of six, selling candy.
In 1921 my great-grandmother's brother, Gevond Chantikyan, decided to leave Georgia and went to Cuba with his family, wife and daughter, Adamant Chantikyan. After the Cuban revolution they moved to New York. Our relatives kept in touch with them for several years. Adamant even came to Georgia twice. Unfortunately, we have lost touch with our family members. We still hope that someday we will find each other.
Even though no one helped our family survive, we would like to say big thanks to all the people who were helping Armenians and hiding them from the murderers, risking their own lives. A lot of Kurds and Turks saved Armenians. Big thanks to these people. They are true heroes!