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Making space and community through memory:

Orphans and Armenian Jerusalem in the Nubar Library’s photographic archive
La construction mémorielle d’un espace communautaire : les orphelinats et le quartier arménien de Jérusalem dans les archives photographiques de la Bibliothèque Nubar
Boris Adjemian et Talin Suciyan
p. 75-113

Résumés

Cet article analyse la manière dont les mémoires agissent sur la fabrique d’un espace communautaire arménien à Jérusalem. Il se fonde pour cela sur l’étude d’une collection de photographies produites ou rassemblées dans l’entre-deux-guerres et conservées à la Bibliothèque Nubar de l’UGAB, à Paris. Cette archive visuelle met en valeur les strates multiples de l’histoire des réfugiés et des orphelins qui ont habité dans ce lieu dans les années qui ont suivi la Première Guerre mondiale, et celle des présences plus anciennes de communautés et institutions religieuses arméniennes en Palestine. Il s’agit ici d’interroger l’apport d’une archive photographique de ce type dans la perspective d’une histoire sociale de la Jérusalem arménienne au 20e siècle. Son étude lève en effet partiellement le voile sur des expériences personnelles oubliées ou ignorées de la période post-génocidaire. Elle souligne également à quel point les mémoires contribuent à la confusion et la fusion de passés segmentés à l’intérieur d’un même espace communautaire.

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Notes de l’auteur

The authors wish to thank David Low and Sossie Andézian for their valuable and helpful comments during the writing of this article.

Texte intégral

  • 1 M. Halbwachs, 1941.
  • 2 For an example of the potentialities of such a field work, see the fascinating short text written b (...)
  • 3 Religious communities’ rights and properties on the Holy Places in Jerusalem were guaranteed by Sul (...)
  • 4 Like the Muslim, Jewish and Christian quarters in Jerusalem’s Old City. See M. Dumper, 2002, p. 13- (...)
  • 5 The residence of the Patriarchate is the Convent of St James, which covers approximately three four (...)

1Studying the making of Jerusalem from a historical perspective requires paying specific attention to the genesis of the quarters which form the city itself, and to their inhabitants who often consider themselves as belonging to particular communities on religious, ethnic and/or linguistic grounds. The pretentions of these communities to anteriority in the Holy City obviously play a great role in the geopolitics of contemporary Jerusalem, since material evidences of an antique presence supposedly open rights to property on land and sanctuaries inside a contested space. In the meantime, the self-perceptions of communities who consider themselves legitimated in their occupation of space by a long existence tend to neglect the fact that becoming a community is a result of a historical process. Thus, it is the simultaneous and complementary construction of spaces and communities that a historical research on Jerusalem’s quarters has to consider. Memory plays a major role in this construction, as underlined by the French sociologist Maurice Halbwachs when he explains as a historical process the making of Christian holy places in Palestine1. The Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem is one of these places that might offer an ideal fieldwork for historical research that aims to take into account local memories, be they communal, familial and/or individual2. A heritage of the Ottoman domination period (1517-1917)3, fixed in its delineation during the British Mandate (1922-1948)4, the Armenian Quarter, occupying one sixth of the surface of the Old City of Jerusalem and hosting the See of the Armenian Patriarchate5, holds a very specific place and status in the Armenian diaspora, due to the centrality of the Holy City in contemporary politics, but also to the multilayered history of Armenian presence.

  • 6 K. Hintlian, 1976.
  • 7 See V. Azarya, 1984.
  • 8 For an overview, see B. Der Matossian, 2011, who underlines the fact that the history of the Armeni (...)

2The genesis of the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem is a result both of old Armenian migration waves, with families of kaghakatsi (lit. “the people of the city”) having settled in the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries, following an ecclesiastical and monastic centuries old presence in the Holy Land6, and the massive immigration to Palestine of Armenian refugees after World War I, whose descendants still live in the Armenian Quarter and, for a significant part of them, behind the walls of St James Monastery. Notwithstanding their heterogeneity and plurality, segmented memories of groups whose settlement occurred diachronically contributed to shaping this particular area of Jerusalem’s Old City and the strange landscape and situation of a space characterized by “urban life behind monastery walls”7. In this article, our aim is to contribute to the social history of the Armenian Quarter8. Taking into consideration the memories of the presence of the refugees and orphans who inhabited this place for a few years after the Great War (between 1919 and 1924), we would like to show how they act on the making of an Armenian communal space in Jerusalem.

  • 9 S. Manougian, 1948, p. 56-58.
  • 10 Y. Vartanian, 1923, p. 468-502.

3There are two sets of difficulties faced by such research, firstly the nature of the sources and secondly the question of their accessibility. Detailed written testimonies on the life of the Armenian refugees and orphans in Jerusalem are not numerous. The literature of the time does not tell much about their presence. For example, Bishop Sion remains laconic for the most part, only noticing that sheltering the refugees coming after World War I from Syria and Lebanon caused material difficulties, and that these newcomers occupied the rooms normally reserved for monks and pilgrims9. The former director of the Araradian orphanage, Yeghishe Vartanian, gives a detailed account of the organization of the orphans’ departure from Jerusalem to Soviet Armenia but very little information about their arrival and their life in Palestine10. The publication of Sion, the journal of the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem, was interrupted in 1877 and only resumed in 1927, at a time when most of the orphans had left Palestine. In the perspective of a social history, important sources are to be found in the archives of the orphanages (AGBU Cairo), the correspondences of AGBU’s central board (Nubar Library, Paris), and the AGBU’s periodical publications of this period, Mioutiun and Housharar. Undoubtedly, the archive of the Armenian Patriarchate at this point has a pivotal role, however documents are still not available for systematic research. All these sources would need to be carefully studied in order to deepen our understanding of the Armenian Quarter’s history in the twentieth century. Additional materials, such as oral testimonies and images, may prove useful for studying memory issues.

  • 11 Founded in 1928 by Boghos Nubar, directed until 1951 by Aram Andonian, the Nubar Library holds an i (...)
  • 12 See I. Nassar, 2009.
  • 13 Ibid.
  • 14 See, among others, C. Pinguet, 2011; Institut du monde arabe, 2007.
  • 15 See R. Victor-Hummel, 1995. See also I. Nassar, 2009.

4The sources we are going to introduce at the preliminary stage of this research are mainly photographs of Jerusalem from an Armenian diaspora institution, the AGBU Nubar Library in Paris11, which were gathered and archived in the 1920s and 1930s. Photography might act as a major source material for Jerusalem’s social history, despite the town being represented for a long time by nineteenth-century Western photographers as a place stuck in the conventional religious image of the “Holy City”, thus contributing to “the photographic ‘biblification’ of Palestine” with very little consideration for its inhabitants and social life12. However, the multiplying of local studios by the end of the nineteenth century paved the way for new needs and uses of photography in the early twentieth century, including vogues for individual portraits and family albums, among others13. Armenian photographers played a significant role in the development of photography in the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East14, and their specific input in Palestine and Jerusalem was decisive, although this largely does not feature in the current scholarship on photography and social history in the region. The Armenian Patriarch Yesayi Garabedian (1865-1885), keen on photography and a pioneer of its development in Palestine, practiced this art himself and taught it to several apprentices. One of them, Garabed Krikorian, opened the first local studio in Jerusalem, near Jaffa Gate, in 1884, followed later on by many Armenian photographers such as Elia Kahvedjian, Yezekiel Kevork, Yohannes Krikorian, Garabed Yazedjian and the Sarrafian Brothers15.

  • 16 R. Kévorkian and V. Tachjian, 2006. See also for example R. Kévorkian et al., 2007.
  • 17 The Armenian General Benevolent Union was a philanthropic organization founded in Cairo in 1906 by (...)
  • 18 The Vartan Derounian collection is preserved by the Tekeyan Cultural Center in Beirut. About 60 of (...)
  • 19 See for example Միութիւն [Mioutiun], May-June 1924, no. 99, p. 40, 42, 45-46; July-October 1924, no (...)
  • 20 The Near East Relief was founded in 1915 in the USA, with the aim of providing assistance to the Ar (...)
  • 21 On this issue, see the remarkable study of B. Guerzoni, 2013, p. 249-332. See also P. Balakian, 201 (...)
  • 22 B. Guerzoni, 2013, p. 11.
  • 23 From 1915 Armenians looked for their relatives through newspapers announcements entitled Ge pndrvi (...)

5The Nubar Library photographic archive totals about 10,000 photographs classified by towns, villages, provinces or countries. The box which contains views from Jerusalem includes 165 photographs, many of them taken professionally, in some cases with information on the verso in Armenian and/or in French, in other instances none. Some of these photographic materials have been published earlier in different works, such as Raymond Kévorkian and Vahé Tachjian’s book16 on the occasion of AGBU’s centennial17. The majority of them remain unpublished. Most of them pertain to the establishment of orphans and refugees in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem in the 1920s. Although it is often difficult to get information on the makers of these views, one should try to put their images into the context of other refugee imageries of the time. For instance, the numerous photographs made by Vartan Derounian in the Armenian refugee camps, orphanages and schools in Aleppo, in the aftermath of the genocide18, could be compared with the Nubar Library’s collection on Jerusalem for the similarity of the subjects and, probably also, of the intentions. The Nubar Library’s archive contains photographs which were produced in the frame of the AGBU’s action in the Middle East and in Soviet Armenia between the end of WWI and the mid-1930s. Photographs were initially intended to publicize this action and its achievements, and were sometimes published in the AGBU’s periodical publications such as Mioutiun and Housharar19. There are no studies yet on the uses of photographs of refugees and orphans by the AGBU at the time, but the communication practices of other humanitarian organisations of the time, like Near East Relief20, have already been widely discussed. In the late 1910s and 1920s, Near East Relief made extensive and very efficient use of the production and reproduction of photographs of victims and survivors of the genocide in order to raise consciousness and funds in the USA.21 The intention existing behind the photograph is almost as important as the photograph itself. As underlined by Benedetta Guerzoni in her book on photography and the Armenian genocide, photos are not merely sources but also historical actors (agenti di storia). They can be utilised in order to enhance discourses and/or policies, and may have an influence on public opinion. Moreover, they may be utilised (and also perceived by the viewers) differently according to the context, from war and/or humanitarian propaganda to denial and/or commemoration22. Furthermore, considering that Armenian newspapers all around the world were helping survivors to find each other23, these photographs published in newspapers and magazines were not only intended for fundraising, but also for reporting on the situation of Armenian communities scattered after the genocide.

  • 24 P. Burke, 2001, p. 13, quoting the art historian Francis Haskell, History and its Images: Art and R (...)

6One of the crucial issues raised in this article concerns the use that can be made of such a photographic archive from the perspective of a social history of community making and the making of a communal space in Armenian Jerusalem. As underlined by Peter Burke, “the uses of images cannot and should not be limited to ‘evidence’ in the strict sense of the term”, but should also be valued for “the impact of the image on the historical imagination”24, and, we could add, for the stimulating effect photographs might have on the historian’s interpretation of past and memories. Given the major role played by the AGBU in supporting survivors of the Armenian genocide in the Middle East, the Nubar Library’s photographic archive offers a reconstruction of the forgotten or silenced experiences and lives of the orphans in the Armenian Quarter. In the meantime, it shows how memories connect the old and the new Armenian Jerusalem, before and after the genocide, melting and merging segmented pasts, lives and histories in a communal space.

“The invisible guest”: bringing the orphans back into the picture

  • 25 In order to avoid confusions, we give in the footnotes the reference number of the mentioned pictur (...)
  • 26 According to Kevork Hintlian, the picture was made in the courtyard of the police barracks today kn (...)
  • 27 See for example the post card reproduced in B. Guerzoni (2013, p. 291) of a star drawn on the groun (...)

7One of the photographs of the Nubar Library’s collection pertaining to Jerusalem is particularly striking (see figure 1)25 and its description will serve as a prelude. It shows hundreds of orphans photographed from bird’s eye view26, and drawing the following message with their assembled bodies in a vast yard inside the Armenian monastery: Հ.Բ.Ը.Մ. Անտեսնաելի Հիւրը (HoPenEtMen Andesaneli Hiure, “AGBU Invisible Guest”). The use of children to spell out messages was common with Near East Relief, and there are many examples27, yet in English, since the aim of this communication was to heighten public awareness in Western countries, and above all in the USA. The spelling of such a message in Armenian was much more unusual, and this is perhaps an example of an American technique of communication adapted for the needs of an Armenian organisation. It shows that the picture was made for internal use, or rather for an Armenian audience already aware of the AGBU’s action in Jerusalem and the Middle East. In the absence of any comment on the back of the picture, every interpretation might be arbitrary. However, this picture is a vivid illustration of Armenian orphans’ presence in Jerusalem after the Great War. Moreover, the message displayed by the letters on the ground of this courtyard is all but insignificant – although being quite enigmatic – for it expresses two important features of the situation experienced by the orphans in the Armenian Quarter.

Figure 1H[aygagan] P[arekordzagan] E[nthanour] M[ioutiun] Andesaneli Hiure” (“AGBU Invisible Guest”)
Photographer Unknown, 157 x 118 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

  • 28 The same message, the “invisible guest” was used in the 1920s by American Relief Organisation. We t (...)
  • 29 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 1, copy (original photograph in BNu, PA, Salt no. 1). This photo may have be (...)
  • 30 S. Manougian, 1948, p. 56-58. However the Armenian population in Palestine apparently decreased qui (...)
  • 31 R. Kévorkian and V. Tachjian, 2006, vol. 1, p. 88-91, 155.

8The message “the invisible guest” was already used by philanthropic organisations in the USA.28 However, the message should also be reconnected to its proper Armenian context. First of all, the word “guest” (in Armenian, hiur) serves as a reminder that the orphans were hosted in Jerusalem by philanthropic organisations such as the Armenian General Benevolent Union and by the Patriarchate himself. In contrast to the kaghakatsi, the Armenian refugees who reached Jerusalem after 1919 were accommodated by the Patriarchate behind the walls of St James Monastery, due to the exceptional circumstances of the genocide and its aftermath. About 500 Armenian refugees had already found asylum in the monastery when the British entered Jerusalem on 9 December 1917. The Nubar Library archive contains some photographs taken as early as 1918. On one of these early images, we see a caravan of Armenian survivors coming from Salt, in Transjordan, soon after their arrival in the old city of Jerusalem, near Jaffa Gate, in April 1918 (figure 2)29. Compared to the other photographs that are included in this article, it can be seen that this photograph is distinctly different. Indeed, it reflects the early period of the arrival of Armenian survivors to Jerusalem, at a time when the AGBU hadn’t established yet its relief institutions in the city. The number of Armenians in Palestine, estimated to be around 1,300 before the war, increased dramatically and temporarily reached around 10,000 people, including 4,000 living inside the Armenian monastery of Jerusalem which was suddenly transformed in a kind of vast refugee camp30. In the meantime, the AGBU and the Near East Relief negotiated with the British High Commissioner in Palestine the transfer of about 800 Armenian orphans from Nahr Omar (Iraq) to Jerusalem. The Araradian orphanage was created by the AGBU inside the Armenian convent, counting 816 orphans (545 boys and 271 girls) in February 1922. The girls and the youngest boys were subsequently transferred to the Greek monastery of the Holy Cross, rented by the AGBU outside the walls of the old city, where the Vasbouragan orphanage was established in July 192231. After 1924, the orphans were gradually sent to Soviet Armenia and other destinations such as Aleppo, Beirut, and, for a few of them, various places such as Athens, Nicosia, and Addis Ababa (Ethiopia).

Figure 2 “The second caravan of refugees from Salt” arriving to Jerusalem, April 1918
Photographer Unknown, 170 x 116 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

  • 32 Various names were used orally at the time and are still in use today to designate certain yards in (...)

9In the absence of any other reference regarding the message of invisible guest in the case of AGBU, we chose to take this message at its face value. The orphans are regarded as “guest” (hiur), a term that cannot be neutral in this context since it is used instead of the more appropriate “exiled” (kaghtagan), “survivor” (verabrogh) or “orphan” (vorp). The fact that they are considered to be “invisible” (andesaneli) can be explained by the distance, but also by their situation behind the walls of the Araradian orphanage, in St James Monastery.32 Similar remarks can be made about the inscriptions they carved on the walls of this orphanage’s yard, mentioning their family name and first name, as well as the date and place of their birth, as in the following examples:

10ԹՈՐՈՍ ՅԱՐՈՒԹԻՒՆԵԱՆ ԶԵՅԹՈՒՆՑԻ ԾՆԱԾ Է 1906ԻՆ, 1922 (Toros Haroutiunian, from Zeytoun, born in 1906, [carved in] 1922)
• 
ՎԱՐԴԱՆ ՅՈՎԱԿԻՄԵԱՆ ՎԱՆ ԳԱՒԱՐ ՇՈՒՇԱՆՑ Գ. 1922 Դ. ՅՈՒՆՈՒԱՐ ԱՐԱՐԱՏԵԱՆ ՈՐԲԱՆՈՑ (Vartan Hovagimian from the province of Van, village of Shoushants, in January 1922, Araradian orphanage)
• ՅԱՅՐԻԿ ԴԱՒԻԴԵԱՆ ՎԱՆ ԳԱՒԱՐ ՇՈՒՇԱՆՑ ԳԻՒՂԱՑԻ 1922 Դ. ՅՈՒՆԻՍ 21Ի ԱՅՐԱՐԱՏԵԱՆ (Hayrig Tavitian, a villager from Shoushants in the province of Van, 21 June 1922, Araradian)
• 
ԲԵՆԵԱՄԻՆ ՄԱՆՈՒԿԵԱՆ ՎԱՆ ԼԷՍԿ [ԼԷԶԿ] ԾՆԱԾ Է 1908 (Penyamin Manougian from [the province of] Van, [village of] Lezg, born in 1908

Figure 3 Registration file of Taniel Hayriguian, Araradian orphanage of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, Jerusalem, 145 x 122 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

Figure 4a View in the yard of the former Araradian orphanage, St. James Monastery, Jerusalem
Photograph by Harouth Bezdjian, 2017

Figures 4b and 4c Inscriptions in the yard of the former Araradian orphanage, St James Monastery, Jerusalem
Photographs by Talin Suciyan, 2015

  • 33 Even though N. Naguib mentioned the inscriptions en passant and briefly described one of them (2008 (...)
  • 34 See K. Halajian 1932, p. 164, for examples of inscriptions carved by Armenian orphans during the ge (...)

11These inscriptions are known by everyone living in the convent, and even by others who visited the place; however, as far as we know, they have never prompted academic interest.33 They were not valued either by the Patriarchate when the former Araradian orphanage was transformed in a museum, and faced a kind of indifference, although they were striking traces of the recent social history of the Armenian quarter. They do not have to be regarded as sources providing factual information. For this purpose, the archives of the AGBU’s orphanages in the Middle East, in Cairo, can be utilized, as it provides complete lists of the orphans with more detailed registers (see figure 3). Nonetheless, these inscriptions tell us much about the desire of the children who lived in the orphanage between 1919 and 1924 to be remembered as persons and not only as an anonymous crowd of orphans, and their will to leave a visible trace of their stay so that their personal experience would not be forgotten (figure 4)34.

Figure 5 Group portrait of the orphans of the Araradian orphanage, St. James Monastery, Jerusalem
Photographer Unknown, 285 x 189 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

Figure 6 Group portrait of the orphans of the Araradian orphanage, St. James Monastery, Jerusalem
Photographer Unknown, 167 x 116 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

  • 35 In May 1921, the central board (conseil central) of the AGBU moved from Cairo to Paris, where Bogho (...)
  • 36 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 68 and 104.
  • 37 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 21, 23-27, 33, 42, 44-46, 72, 81, 86 and 121.
  • 38 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 2, 16, 42, 56-58, 61.
  • 39 BNu, PA, Jerusalem, no. 20, 78.
  • 40 We were unfortunately unable to find information on this photographer.
  • 41 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 50, 65.
  • 42 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 114.
  • 43 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 17-18.
  • 44 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 123.
  • 45 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no.  22-25, 85.
  • 46 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no.  96, 109.
  • 47 A former student of the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Yesayi Garabedian (1865-1885), who played h (...)
  • 48 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 37, 95.
  • 49 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 103.
  • 50 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 155.
  • 51 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 157.

12The pictures of Jerusalem held at the Nubar Library were made in the framework of the missions of inspection accomplished by delegates of the conseil central of the AGBU, then located in Paris35. Most of them depict scenes of the AGBU’s pupils’ daily life and collective portraits (khmpanegar) of children with their teachers (figures 5-6)36 during the repeated visits of Levon Assadour, the general inspector of the AGBU’s orphanages in Jerusalem, mandated by the executive committee, between April 1922 and 192537. Some of these visits to the orphanages involving non-Armenian personalities such as Lord Plumer, the British High Commissioner for Palestine38, or representatives of Near East Relief39, were also archived in the Nubar Library’s collection. A good number of these pictures were made by professional photographers probably mandated by the AGBU to illustrate and document the organization’s action in Palestine, as it was with photographer Vartan Derounian for the refugee camps and orphanages and schools established in Aleppo, Beirut and Greece. For instance, the Jerusalemite photographer J. Zerounian40 immortalized parades of Armenian scouts41, AGBU’s pupils learning crafts in the workshops of the Araradian42– again a common topic of Near East Relief’s communication in the USA – cleaning their dormitories and their mattresses (see figure 7)43, as well as members of the AGBU’s local committee44, the visit of AGBU’s inspector delegate Levon Assadour in the quarters of Tcham and Baghtche tagh45, and the fanfare of the Araradian orphanage before its departure to Ethiopia46. Garabed Krikorian47 photographed ceremonies involving children in honour of Armenian martyrs which were organized in the monastery48, employees of the AGBU’s orphanages49, caravans of refugees arriving from Salt to Jerusalem in 191850, pupils of the Araradian orphanage in 191851, etc.

Figure 7 “The pupils of the AGBU Araradian orphanage transporting their beds to the dormitory after cleaning. Jerusalem”
Photograph by J. Zerounian, 180 x 129 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

  • 52 I. Nassar, 2009, p. 152.
  • 53 Ibid. p. 143.

13As Issam Nassar mentions, it is important to remember the limitations of photographic albums as a source of history, as they need to be seen in the context of remembering as well as forgetting.52 Photographers documented the AGBU’s orphanages and offered a particular image of them, resorting to a mise en scène of the orphans’ activities in their daily life. These mise en scènes depicted a certain type of image of survivors, creating a material remembrance of their daily life in Jerusalem, while at the same time, leaving their past experiences to oblivion. Further, the photographic practice of the beginning of the twentieth century also had an impact on the creation of the photographic image. Nassar, while analysing the social history of Jerusalem through photographs points out that photographing “types” of people in the Holy Land, such as Bedouin or peasants, Christian clergy, rabbis was a common practice, in which local photographers, including Krikorian, specialized. Nassar draws attention to the fact that in these photographs the identities of individuals were never revealed, as they were not meant to represent individuals but archetypes.53 Looking at the photographs of orphans and widows, one can identify the same trend, with the names of the orphans and/or widows rarely mentioned. Hence, we can assume that these photographs too were creating archetypes of survivors, in their daily lives, with their daily occupations, continuing their lives as “normal” as possible, making their individual stories invisible and their individuality erased/forgotten.

Figure 8 Vasbouragan orphanage (?), Jerusalem
Photograph by Garabed Krikorian, 170 x 122 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

Figure 9 “The employees of the provisory AGBU orphanage in Jerusalem and Mrs Victoria Arsharouni” Jerusalem, July 1918
Photograph by Garabed Krikorian, 168 x 118 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

  • 54 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 13.
  • 55 A teacher and an author from Constantinople, Victoria Arsharouni was appointed by the AGBU as the d (...)
  • 56 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 103.
  • 57 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 27.
  • 58 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 110 and 114.
  • 59 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 75.
  • 60 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 48-49.
  • 61 Elected in 1921, he reorganized the Patriarchate and collaborated closely with the AGBU and Near Ea (...)
  • 62 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 15 and 21.
  • 63 B. Donabedian 1922, p. 338-339. This book contains over 350 letters of survivors of the genocide, c (...)
  • 64 Ibid., p. 307.

14A photograph from the Nubar Library’s archive shows girls from the Vasbouragan orphanage doing their washing, in a well organized composition and a photogenic attitude (see figure 8)54 tinged with the same illustrative intention as the very classical group portrait of the orphanage’s female employees posing around Victoria Arsharouni55 and their young protégés (figure 9)56, soon after the opening of the orphanage. A similar impression is given by a photograph showing, according to the caption written on the verso, “the kitchen of the Vasbouragan orphanage and its pupils preparing the meal and accomplishing the table service”, dated 2 November 1923 (figure 10)57. In the foreground, the presence of two big cauldrons – perhaps the same that are still visible at the entrance of the seminarian’s refectory today – seems to epitomize the period when the Convent of St James looked like a crowded refugee camp where distributions of food were made daily. These pictorial compositions are comparable to those organized in the workshops of the orphanages, where the orphans, boys and girls, were trained to the crafts of sewing and shoe-repairing in prevision of their adult lives (figures 11-12)58. A picture of one of the dormitories (figure 13)59 and a series of photographs in the refectory of the Araradian orphanage (figures 14-15)60 embody the idea of a recovered order in the lives of the orphans, after the disaster experienced by their flesh during the genocide and its aftermath, and after the uprooting, thanks to the action of the Patriarchate and the philanthropic organizations. In the serene atmosphere given by the whitewashed vaults of the refectory, the regular disposition of tables, benches, plates and carafes suggests a harmony not in the slightest disturbed by the calm and silent supper of the pupils. Replaying the biblical scene of the Last Supper, the pupils of the Araradian, impeccably dressed in the orphanage’s uniforms, all paying disciplined attention to the photographer’s eye, solemn and sober in their attitude, share their last meal with the Patriarch Yeghishe Tourian61 on the eve of their departure to Soviet Armenia in 1924 (see figures 16-17)62. Needless to say, this vision of a restored order and tranquillity doesn’t fit with the precarious situation of the refugees and the orphans who settled in Jerusalem during the war and its immediate aftermath. Among the 22 letters written from Jerusalem and published in the book Tsayn Darabelots or The Cry of the Tormented63, the one sent by Arsen Vartabed Khorasandjian starts as follows: “Dear brother, December 8, year 1917, brave British soldiers entered Jerusalem. [...] Had they come a few days later, all the people here would have been exiled […] and Armenians who found shelter here would have also be damned.” Other letters show the difficult situation faced after their arrival by the refugees. After a long odyssey with a group of 30 Armenian women from Sepasdia (Sivas) to Aleppo and then to Jerusalem, Nazeli Shirinian Bakalian mentions the harsh material situation of the refugees: “Let alone our pain, which transcends the depth of seas, and the heaviness of mountains, we are only concerned about a dry bread day and night.”64 This source, taken in conjunction with correspondences of the AGBU reflecting the day to day necessities of the orphanages in the post-war period, would also temper the image of peace and harmony given by the Nubar Library’s photographic archive.

Figure 10 “The pupils of the Vasbouragan orphanage’s kitchen preparing food and tables for dinner; 2 November 1923”
Photographer Unknown, 171 x 130 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

Figure 11 “The pupils of the AGBU Vasbouragan orphanage in Jerusalem making their own hats”
Photographer Unknown, 169 x 126 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

Figure 12 “The pupils of the AGBU Araradian orphanage trained to carpentry. Jerusalem” Photograph by J. Zerounian, 173 x 118 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

Figure 13 Dormitory in the Araradian orphanage (?), Jerusalem
Photographer Unknown, 168 x 125 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

Figure 14 In the refectory of the Araradian orphanage, Jerusalem
170 x 114 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

Figure 15 In the refectory of the Araradian orphanage, Jerusalem
Photographer Unknown, 163 x 117 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

Figure 16 “The last supper of the orphans of the Jerusalem AGBU Araradian orphanage before their departure to Armenia, in the presence of His Holiness the Patriarch”
Photographer Unknown, 170 x 117 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

Figure 17 “The orphans of the Jerusalem AGBU Araradian orphanage after their last supper before their departure to Armenia, in the presence of His Holiness the Patriarch and his suite”
Photographer Unknown, 171 x 115 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

15The photographs we have described shed light on a history – the settlement of the orphans and their life in the monastery after the Great War and the genocide – which is rarely put into the foreground when it comes to the Armenian past and heritage in Jerusalem. However this part of the Nubar Library’s photographic archive is not without symbolism and references to a more conventional and Christianised perception of Jerusalem as an atypical and sacred space inhabited and marked from time immemorial by an Armenian presence. As shown by the figure of the Patriarch among the orphans on the eve of their departure for a new life, it acts as a reminder of the religious context in which the AGBU’s orphanages where founded in Jerusalem – in the Armenian convent of St James for the Araradian and the Greek monastery of the Holy Cross for the Vasbouragan. Thus, the photographic archive of the Nubar Library contributes to the shaping of Jerusalem as a particular place in the visual representation of the Armenian diaspora.

Pasts in the present: merging memories of Armenian Jerusalem

  • 65 See supra and I. Nassar, 2009.
  • 66 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 3 and 7.
  • 67 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 84.
  • 68 See J.M. Rose, 1993, p. 82.
  • 69 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 5.

16The Jerusalem file of the Nubar Library’s photographic archive also contains many examples of this conventional representation, which is very similar to the already noted usual Western representation of Jerusalem and Palestine65. Collective portraits of the orphans are mixed with views of Church patrimony that would not clash with a touristic leaflet on the Holy City, like the interior of St James Cathedral with its ornamented tiles on the walls, its carved wooden doors, hieratic columns and magnificent suspended lamps and chandelier (figures 18-19)66. A few photographs also contrast vividly with the dominant thematic of orphans and refugees, with images of communal life in the Armenian Quarter during the turn of the century emerging from the collection, such as a view of “a celebration day [in] 1900-1905”, showing “the believers grouped near the church of the Armenian monastery of St James”. Seen from the top of the cathedral, gathered in the main courtyard of the monastery and along the balustrades of the roof, the crowd in her Sunday best are shown attending the annual ceremony of Benediction of the Four Parts of the World (figure 20)67, at Easter68. In another picture taken this time horizontally and showing “a celebration day in 1898 near the Armenian St James church of Jerusalem” (figure 21)69, apparently for Palm Sunday, our eyes cross those of a joyous assembly of men, women and children. The embroidered silk dresses of the altar boys bearing long candles, together with the skyline of black conic headdresses of the bishops and vartabed (or archimandrites), are in sharp contrast with the greyish tunics and scout uniforms of the orphans seen in most of the other pictures. The urban clothes worn by the believers, including white shirts, black ties and Oriental fezzes, evoke an Armenian community long-established on that site. Thus, these photographs illustrate something very different to the bulk of the collection, centred on orphans, refugees and the new post-war reality of the Armenian Quarter. They act as reminders of the complex and multi-layered construction of a communal space in Jerusalem, linking the present with the long history of pilgrimages and Armenian presence.

Figure 18 Interior view of St. James Cathedral, Jerusalem
Photograph by Aram Hashadoor 104 x 138 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

Figure 19 Interior view of St. James Cathedral, Jerusalem
Photographer Unknown, 226 x 166 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

Figure 20 “A holiday in 1900-1905: the believers gathering near the Church of the Armenian St. James Monastery of Jerusalem” [Benediction of the Four Parts of the World, on Easter Day]
Photographer Unknown, 222 x 281 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

Figure 21 “Photographed near St. James Armenian Church of Jerusalem, a holiday [Palm Sunday] in 1898”
Photographer Unknown, 222 x 169 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

  • 70 Armenian pilgrims and monks were present in the Holy Land as early as the 4th century. See S. Manou (...)
  • 71 Armenian pilgrims contributed money and other gifts, such as engraved copper plates and votive lamp (...)
  • 72 The monastery owned 4 primary schools and 2 elementary schools in Palestine and Trans-Jordan (Amman (...)
  • 73 B. Der Matossian, 2011, p. 24.
  • 74 S. Manougian, 1948, p. 91, 105.
  • 75 J.M. Rose, 1993. Soon in the 1920s and 1930s, the kaghakatsi and the zuwwar were also differentiate (...)

17Needless to say, the history of Armenians in Jerusalem is much older than the genocide, going back to the first centuries of Christianity70. Throughout the Ottoman era, Armenian pilgrims contributed continuously to the spiritual regeneration and the financial incomes of the Armenian Patriarchate71. Seminarians were sent annually from every single Armenian local community of the Ottoman Empire to Jerusalem, and this practice carried on, with seminarians coming from Lebanon, Syria or Jordan, until the middle of the twentieth century when the 1948 and 1967 wars abruptly severed the links of the Old City of Jerusalem with its Middle Eastern neighbourhoods. As noted by Bishop Sion in 1948, being not only a monastery but also the See of a Patriarchate, the Convent of St James was not merely a seminary (like Armash, near Istanbul, had been before the genocide), but also a religious, educational, cultural, economic and financial centre owning numerous lands and properties, which had a major impact in terms of education in Palestine and for all the Armenian communities of the Middle East, numbering annually an average of 1,500 students72. Its importance was increased during the period of the British Mandate as a result of “the greatly diminished role of the Patriarch of Istanbul” after World War I and the difficult situation of the theological centre of Echmiadzin after the sovietisation of Armenia73, and moreover under the reign of Stalin. However, the economic situation of the Patriarchate and its cultural influence were severely affected by the decreasing number of pilgrims and seminarians as a consequence of the Jewish-Arab conflicts74. In the same period, the demographic profile of the Armenian Quarter was radically transformed by the flow of Armenian refugees after the genocide, in the years 1919-1922, as a consequence of the genocide, and again in the late 1930s from the Jebel Druze. The newcomers joined the Armenians that had settled there centuries earlier, families who were deeply rooted in the local society, referred to themselves as the kaghkatsi or kaghakatsi, and spoke fluent Arabic together with an Armenian dialect specific to Jerusalem. This community, numbering about 1,000 people at the end of the nineteenth century, used to live outside the walls of the Armenian Convent of St James, where the lays were not admitted permanently. They were granted free accommodation in the properties owned by the Patriarchate. The kaghakatsi had close relations with Muslim or Christian Arab families, and it was not rare for them to give Arabic names to their children. After World War I, they distinguished themselves from the bulk of the Armenian refugees who only spoke Armenian and Turkish, whom they designated using the Arabic term zuwwar (for “visitors”)75. Therefore, the important presence of refugees and orphans in the early 20th century has left tracks in a place that had already been durably marked by preceding histories and memories of the Armenian quarter. These tracks of a recent past of Armenian immigrations of the 20th century converge and merge with the memories and tracks of older Armenian presences, in a city characterized for a long time by its religious and cultural centrality both for the Ottoman Armenians and for the Armenian diaspora.

  • 76 M. Halbwachs, 1941, p. 175.

18In The legendary topography of the Gospels in the Holy Land, Maurice Halbwachs showed how early Christians tended to locate the “souvenirs” of Jesus’s life in and around Jerusalem in the footsteps of a Jewish memory, as a way to legitimize and fortify a Christian memory in the Holy Land. For instance, the French sociologist interpreted the location of Jesus’s birthplace in Bethlehem as a will to underscore the genealogical continuity which supposedly linked him to King David, as if the authors of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke had thought such a link could help to convince the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah76. The Armenian presence in Jerusalem, where several waves of Armenian immigration have converged on and succeeded one another until the middle of the twentieth century, offers an enlightening example of such a phenomenon of memory construction.

19A few samples from the Nubar Library’s photographic archive may illustrate this idea. Indeed, this collection contains thousands of pictures from all the Armenian diaspora. The photographs from Lebanon, Syria, Greece, Cilicia, Armenia, Bulgaria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and Palestine are comparable, because they all focus on the humanitarian actions of the AGBU, illustrated by orphanages and school year group photos. However, the Jerusalem file clearly stands out in the collection for it is not only reflecting contemporary realities of the Armenian people after the genocide. It creates a mirror effect between, on one side, the post-genocide situation (through the image of the organisation personified by the portraits of its pupils and employees), and on the other side the historical heritage of Armenian Jerusalem. Doing so, the visual archive reproduces the illusion of the continuity of an Armenian communal space in Jerusalem, as if it had always been there and remained unchanged, despite the deep rupture in history provoked by the genocide and the subsequent flows of Armenian immigrants to Palestine. In particular, by suggesting a continuum of Armenian presence, it tends to blur the discontinuities of this history and fails to illustrate the heterogeneity of hardly comparable experiences: between the ecclesiastics and the lays, as well as between the kaghakatsi and the post-genocide newcomers, and the orphans.

Figure 22 “In the cemetery of Jerusalem: the graves of a boy and a girl from the orphanage are blessed (1922)”
Photographer Unknown, 140 x 90 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

Figure 23 “In the cemetery of Jerusalem: a boy and a girl from the orphanages died, theirs graves are blessed (1922)”
Photographer Unknown, 140 x 90 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

  • 77 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no 11 and 12.
  • 78 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 51-54.
  • 79 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 31.
  • 80 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 61.
  • 81 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 16.
  • 82 He was appointed locum tenens in 1930 and elected Patriarch in 1939. See B. Der Matossian, 2011, p. (...)

20A couple of photographs (figures 22-23)77 show, according to the captions, the graves of two orphans, male and female (“meg vorp yev meg vorpouhi kerezmannere”) being blessed in presence of a group of orphans, their teachers, and the inspector delegate Levon Assadour. Cemeteries, by definition, connect generations. Located in front of the Patriarchate, on the other side of the “Armenian Patriarchate street”, the Armenian cemetery is a major lieu de mémoire, in the sense that deceased orphans, survivors of the genocide, are buried in a place symbolising the ancientness of the Armenian settlement – and the rights of the Patriarchate – on the mountain of Zion. A series of photos78 also immortalizes “the inauguration of the monument to the [battle of] Arara”, designed by architect Garo Balian, “in the St Saviour cemetery of the Armenians in Jerusalem”, in 1925 (figures 24-25). The monument is surrounded by a mingled crowd of Armenian ecclesiastics and veteran soldiers, as well as pupils of the orphanage. On the background, the crenels of the Suleiman’s wall are visible. Once again, the commemoration of an event belonging to the recent history of the Armenians – here the fight of Arara against the Ottoman army in Palestine (19 September 1918), won by Armenian soldiers under the orders of Allenby – is superimposed to the long memory of Armenian settlement in the Old City. Similar impression is made by several group portraits of orphans where elements of antique architecture are visible, in the yards of the Armenian monastery, in the narthex of St James Cathedral, or elsewhere. A photograph shows the pupils of the Vasbouragan orphanage in a forest of olive trees with the Greek monastery of the Holy Cross on the background (figure 26)79. In the same vein, another picture shows the pupils of the Vasbouragan, wearing the recognizable uniforms and hats of the orphanage, surrounding the dome of a church on the roof of the convent (figure 27)80. We could also consider a photograph of the visit of the British High Commissioner in Palestine, Lord Plumer, and his wife to the Araradian orphanage (figure 28)81, in the company of the AGBU representative Onnig Takvorian, and members of the Brotherhood of St James like Archbishop Mesrob Nishanian82. The visitors and their hosts follow two khawass, the Arab employees of the Patriarchate who ceremoniously precede all Armenian processions to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, hitting the ground with their heavy adorned sticks. Just behind the khawass are four Armenian boy scouts, pupils of the Araradian orphanage, carrying walking sticks in the same way. Thus, the protocol of an official visit to the orphanages in the early 1920s included religious or clerical elements pertaining to the historical heritage of Armenian Jerusalem, in contrast with the orphans’ scout uniforms aiming at epitomizing the reconstruction of the nation after the genocide. Each one of these photographs offers good examples of the apparent, though illusory, overlap of the ancient and the modern in the Nubar Library’s photographic archive, and more generally in the contemporary memories of the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem. The places chosen for taking the photographs are not incidental. They are chosen purposefully to underline the importance of the convent and other places or monuments related to an old Armenian presence. Thus, stones and walls, churches and monasteries occupy more space in the pictures than a mere backdrop would do. They become the main ornaments of the photographs, materializing the idea of a “sacred and timeless link” binding Armenians to Jerusalem. Doing so, they become instrumental in the mise en scène of the reception made by the Patriarchate and the AGBU to the orphans. The images aim to write another history, namely to sublimate the arrival of the orphans, while the harsh realities of survival faced by Armenian refugees in Palestine in the aftermath of the genocide fade and become invisible on the photographic paper.

Figure 24 Inauguration of the monument to the battle of Arara, in the presence of Armenian legionnaires, Jerusalem, 1925
Photographer Unknown, 168 x 119 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

Figure 25 “Inauguration of the monument to [the battle of] Arara in Jerusalem, in the St Saviour cemetery of the Armenians”, 1925
Photographer Unknown, 140 x 90 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

Figure 26 “Jerusalem: the Vasbouragan Orphanage of the Holy Cross Monastery photographed from the west, 22 July 1922”
Photographer Unknown, 139 x 88 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

Figure 27 The pupils of the Vasbouragan orphanage in the Monastery of the Holy Cross, during Lord Plumer’s visit
Photographer Unknown, 145 x 124 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

Figure 28 Lord Plumer’s visit to the Arardian orphanage, Jerusalem
Photographer Unknown, 172 x 117 mm
AGBU Nubar Library, Paris

*

  • 83 A good example of this trend is given by the current project, initiated and supported by the Patria (...)

21The Nubar Library’s photographic collection provides an original archive to the history of Jerusalem. It also offers an eye-opening example of the alternative sources historians might use to study the making of space and communities in Jerusalem, paying attention to images, representations and memories. The primary materials that we introduced in this article emphasize the variety of sources available and imaginable when it comes to orphanages, orphans and refugees whose presence reshaped the Armenian Quarter after 1915. Like the inscriptions carved on the walls of the Araradian orphanage, which refuse to fade and have left unexpected records of the orphans, they remind us that there are various ways for survivors to express themselves. In the meantime, the pictures of Jerusalem in the Nubar Library’s archive clearly contribute to the making of an image of this communal space, within which the presentation of the orphans and their benefactors is all but neutral and does not necessarily reflect the reality of their situation. The studied pictures illustrate and materialize the imaginative construction of a new communal Armenian space in the aftermath of the genocide and the arrival of uprooted refugees seeking shelter in a city where Armenians were historically rooted over several centuries. They contribute to redefining the Armenian Quarter in Jerusalem, through the multiple marks that punctuate the religious and/or communal space, but also through the amalgamation of different memories and pasts. Mobilizing and re-interpreting these traces, social actors, be they individual or institutional (like the Patriarchate himself)83, local or external (like Armenian institutions abroad), tend to legitimate the idea of an uninterrupted and homogeneous Armenian existence in Jerusalem, and, by extension, in the Holy Land. It is important to stress that this archive belongs to a resource centre which is located far from Jerusalem but was assigned the mission to preserve the Ottoman Armenian heritage, to gather “evidence” of the Armenian genocide, and to document the AGBU’s initiatives to rescue and offer a sustainable life for Armenian survivors after the genocide. Thus, the Jerusalem file of this photographic archive is only a small piece of a wide puzzle, but a very specific one, since Jerusalem holds a particular status both in the Armenian Church and in the Armenian diaspora.

22With all their limitations and biases, these photographs are revealing sources of a period in the history of Armenian Jerusalem which has been hitherto rarely valued and studied. They should be read critically and contextualized within the period in which they were taken. Hence, they should not be regarded as merely informative materials but also reflections of imaginations and representations. Also, it is important to stress again that the image given by the Nubar Library’s archive is partial. Further research on the history of the Armenian presence in twentieth-century Jerusalem has to encompass a series of archives like those mentioned earlier in this article, such as the archives of the AGBU, of the orphanages, and of the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem. Historians also have to create their own archives, that is to say work with alternative materials that they might unearth in the field, in order to compensate for the inherent limitations of state and institutional documentations. From this perspective, oral histories would undoubtedly shed a new light on Armenian Jerusalem during the last hundred years, allowing historians to reassess the social history of its inhabitants.

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Bibliographie

Azarya Victor, The Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem: Urban Life Behind Monastery Walls, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1984.

Balakian Peter, The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response, New York: HarperCollins, 2003.

Balakian Peter, “Photography, Visual Culture and the Armenian Genocide” in Heide Fehrenbach and Davide Rodogno (eds.) Humanitarian Photography, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015, p. 89-114.

Barton James, Story of Near East Relief: An Interpretation, New York: Macmillan, 1930.

Burke Peter, Eyewitnessing: The Uses of Images as Historical Evidence, London: Reaktion Books, 2001.

Cust Lionel George Archer, The Status Quo in the Holy Places, Jerusalem: Ariel Publishing House, 1980 [1929].

Der Matossian Bedros, “The Armenians of Palestine 1918-48”, Journal of Palestine Studies, vol. 41, no. 1, Autumn 2011, p. 24-44.

Derounian Vartan, Mémoire arménienne: photographies du camp de réfugiés d’Alep, 1922-1936, Beirut: Presses de l’Université Saint-Joseph, 2010.

Donabedian Bedros (ed.), Ձայն Տարապելոց [The Cry of the Tormented], Paris: Hagop Turabian Press, 1922.

Dumper Michael, The Politics of Sacred Space: The Old City of Jerusalem in the Middle East Conflict, Boulder, London: Lynne Riener, 2002.

Guerzoni Benedetta, Cancellare un popolo. Immagini e documenti del genocidio armeno, Milan, Udine: Mimesis, 2013.

Halajian Kevork (Թափառական), Դեպի Կախաղան [To the gallows], Boston: Hairenik, 1932.

Halbwachs Maurice, La topographie légendaire des Évangiles en Terre Sainte. Étude de mémoire collective, Paris: Gallimard, 1941.

Hintlian Kevork, History of the Armenians in the Holy Land, Jerusalem: Armenian Patriarchate Printing Press, 1976, p. 38-45.

Hintlian Kevork, “From my Courtyard: Survivors of the Armenian Genocide”, in Lars Hillås Lingius (ed.), In Times of Genocide, 1915-2015. Report from a Conference on the Armenian Genocide and Syriac Seyfo, Jerusalem: Swedish Center, 2015.

Institut du monde arabe, L’Orient des photographes arméniens, Paris: Cercle d’Art, 2007.

Kévorkian Raymond & Tachjian Vahé, Un siècle d’histoire de l’UGAB, Cairo, New York, Paris: AGBU Central Board, 2006, 2 vol.

Kévorkian Raymond, Nordiguian Levon & Tachjian Vahé, Les Arméniens 1917-1939: la quête d’un refuge, Paris: Réunion des Musées nationaux, Beirut: Presses de l’Université Saint-Joseph, 2007.

Manougian Bishop Sion, Հայ Երուսաղէմ [Armenian Jerusalem], Boston: Baykar printing press, 1948.

Naguib Nefissa, “A Nation of Widows and Orphans: Armenian Memories of Relief in Jerusalem” in Nefissa Naguib and Inger Marie Okkenhaug (eds.), Interpreting Welfare and Relief in the Middle East, Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2008, p. 35-56.

Nassar Issam, “Photography as Source Material for Jerusalem’s Social History” in Camille Mansour and Leila Fawaz (eds.), Transformed Landscapes: Essays on Palestine and the Middle East in Honor of Walid Khalidi, Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2009, p. 137-158.

Pinguet Catherine, Istanbul, photographes et sultans, 1840-1900, Paris: CNRS Éditions, 2011.

Rose John Melkon, Armenians of Jerusalem: Memories of Life in Palestine, London, New York: The Radcliffe Press, 1993.

Vartanian Yeghishe, Անապատէ անապատ [From desert to desert], Venice: Mekhitarist Congregation of St Lazarus, 1923, p. 468-502.

Victor-Hummel Ruth, “Culture and Image: Christians and the Beginning of Local Photography in 19th Century Ottoman Palestine”, in Anthony O’Mahony, Göran Gunner and Kevork Hintlian (eds.), The Christian Heritage in the Holy land, London: Scorpion Cavendish, 1995, p. 181-196.

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Note de fin

1 M. Halbwachs, 1941.

2 For an example of the potentialities of such a field work, see the fascinating short text written by Kevork Hintlian (2015).

3 Religious communities’ rights and properties on the Holy Places in Jerusalem were guaranteed by Sultan Abdülmajid’s famous decree of 1852, which was recognized as a legal basis in 1855, by the Treaty of Paris, and in 1878 by the Ottoman-Russian treaty of Vienna. See L.G.A. Cust, 1980 [1929], p. 9-10; K. Hintlian, 1976, p. 38-45.

4 Like the Muslim, Jewish and Christian quarters in Jerusalem’s Old City. See M. Dumper, 2002, p. 13-15.

5 The residence of the Patriarchate is the Convent of St James, which covers approximately three fourths of the Armenian quarter. The Armenian Patriarchate is also the owner of important properties in the Holy Land, such as the Armenian Convent of the Church of the Nativity.

6 K. Hintlian, 1976.

7 See V. Azarya, 1984.

8 For an overview, see B. Der Matossian, 2011, who underlines the fact that the history of the Armenian community in Palestine during the British Mandate has been a neglected topic in Palestinian historiography, partly due to the language constraints (with a majority of the documentation in Armenian), the inaccessibility of the Patriarchate’s archives, but also “the small size of the community and its relative marginalization with regard to the great political issues that absorbed Palestine” in this period (p. 24).

9 S. Manougian, 1948, p. 56-58.

10 Y. Vartanian, 1923, p. 468-502.

11 Founded in 1928 by Boghos Nubar, directed until 1951 by Aram Andonian, the Nubar Library holds an important collection of printed books and manuscripts, newspapers and academic journals, written archives and photographs.

12 See I. Nassar, 2009.

13 Ibid.

14 See, among others, C. Pinguet, 2011; Institut du monde arabe, 2007.

15 See R. Victor-Hummel, 1995. See also I. Nassar, 2009.

16 R. Kévorkian and V. Tachjian, 2006. See also for example R. Kévorkian et al., 2007.

17 The Armenian General Benevolent Union was a philanthropic organization founded in Cairo in 1906 by a group of Armenian benefactors. Its first president was Boghos Nubar (until 1930), son of the former prime minister of Egypt Nubar Pasha. Initially created with the aim of assisting Armenian peasantry of the Eastern provinces of the Ottoman Empire, and Armenian refugees after the Armenian-Tatar war of 1905, the AGBU reoriented its attention and action towards Ottoman Armenian refugees and survivors of the genocide after World War I. With the Near East Relief, based in the USA, the AGBU was one of the most active humanitarian organizations in the Middle East and in Soviet Armenia throughout the 1920s and 1930s.

18 The Vartan Derounian collection is preserved by the Tekeyan Cultural Center in Beirut. About 60 of these photographs were shown in 2015 in an exhibit on the Armenian genocide in Paris’ City Hall (Arménie 1915, organised by Raymond Kévorkian). They were also partially reproduced in R. Kévorkian et al., 2007. See also V. Derounian, 2010.

19 See for example Միութիւն [Mioutiun], May-June 1924, no. 99, p. 40, 42, 45-46; July-October 1924, no. 100, p. 56; September 1924, no. 101, p. 73, 78.

20 The Near East Relief was founded in 1915 in the USA, with the aim of providing assistance to the Armenians. This organisation gathered considerable sums and played a preeminent role in the assistance to Armenians, and also Greeks, Assyrians and Arabs after the Great War. On its history, see J. Barton, 1930. On American mobilisations during the Armenian genocide, see P. Balakian, 2003.

21 On this issue, see the remarkable study of B. Guerzoni, 2013, p. 249-332. See also P. Balakian, 2015, p. 89-114.

22 B. Guerzoni, 2013, p. 11.

23 From 1915 Armenians looked for their relatives through newspapers announcements entitled Ge pndrvi (“Looked for”).

24 P. Burke, 2001, p. 13, quoting the art historian Francis Haskell, History and its Images: Art and Representation of the Past, New Haven, London: Yale University Press, 1993, p. 7.

25 In order to avoid confusions, we give in the footnotes the reference number of the mentioned pictures within the Nubar Library’s archival system: Bibliothèque Nubar, photographic archive [BNu, PA], Jerusalem no. 6.

26 According to Kevork Hintlian, the picture was made in the courtyard of the police barracks today known as Kishle.

27 See for example the post card reproduced in B. Guerzoni (2013, p. 291) of a star drawn on the ground by orphans in Alexandropol (today’s Gyumri, in Armenia) and photographed from a plane, in the midst of the Near East Relief campaign “Star of Hope” in 1921.

28 The same message, the “invisible guest” was used in the 1920s by American Relief Organisation. We thank Dr. Heidi Walcher for drawing our attention to this case and to the colleagues of Institute of Near and Middle Eastern Studies at LMU, Munich for their feedbacks on this photograph, on the 12th and 13th of May 2017 workshop “Paradigm change in the Middle East”.

29 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 1, copy (original photograph in BNu, PA, Salt no. 1). This photo may have been taken by Garabed Krikorian, who signed another view of the refugees also taken in April 1918 (see BNu, PA, Salt no. 2). On this photographer, read infra fn. 47.

30 S. Manougian, 1948, p. 56-58. However the Armenian population in Palestine apparently decreased quickly, probably because of the subsequent migration of these refugees towards Cilicia, Constantinople, Armenia, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt. A census established by the British authorities in 1922 numbered 3,200 Armenians in the country, but it is often regarded as underestimated. See V. Azarya, 1984, p. 75 (fn. 61); B. Der Matossian, 2011, p. 29-30.

31 R. Kévorkian and V. Tachjian, 2006, vol. 1, p. 88-91, 155.

32 Various names were used orally at the time and are still in use today to designate certain yards inside the Armenian monastery of Jerusalem, such as Baghtche tagh (“garden quarter”, bahçe meaning “garden” in Turkish and tagh “quarter” in Armenian), Tcham tagh (the Araradian orphanage, çam meaning “pine tree” in Turkish), Boulghour tagh (where the boulghourdji use to dry the wheat), Chora tagh (anciently reserved to washing) or Setchan tagh (sıçan meaning “mouse” or “rat” in Turkish), Sourp Hrechdagabedats (name of a church in the convent). The authors warmly thank Loucine and Zarouhi Odabashian for this information.

33 Even though N. Naguib mentioned the inscriptions en passant and briefly described one of them (2008, p. 37).

34 See K. Halajian 1932, p. 164, for examples of inscriptions carved by Armenian orphans during the genocide in several towns of Turkey such as Kharpert (Harput) and Ayntab (Gaziantep).

35 In May 1921, the central board (conseil central) of the AGBU moved from Cairo to Paris, where Boghos Nubar already resided as the head of the Armenian National Delegation (appointed by Catholicos Kevork V in 1912). The executive council remained in Cairo for several years, with the mission to implement all the operations in favour of the refugees and the orphans in the field. See R. Kévorkian and V. Tachjian, 2006, vol. 1, p. 131-132. In 1940, the headquarters of the AGBU were transferred to New York.

36 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 68 and 104.

37 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 21, 23-27, 33, 42, 44-46, 72, 81, 86 and 121.

38 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 2, 16, 42, 56-58, 61.

39 BNu, PA, Jerusalem, no. 20, 78.

40 We were unfortunately unable to find information on this photographer.

41 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 50, 65.

42 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 114.

43 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 17-18.

44 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 123.

45 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no.  22-25, 85.

46 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no.  96, 109.

47 A former student of the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Yesayi Garabedian (1865-1885), who played himself a major role in the development of the art of photography in Jerusalem in the late 19th century, Garabed Krikorian founded his own studio – one of the first in town – outside of the monastery, close to Jaffa Gate.

48 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 37, 95.

49 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 103.

50 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 155.

51 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 157.

52 I. Nassar, 2009, p. 152.

53 Ibid. p. 143.

54 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 13.

55 A teacher and an author from Constantinople, Victoria Arsharouni was appointed by the AGBU as the director of the Jerusalem orphanage, where she arrived in April 1918. See R. Kévorkian and V. Tachjian, 2006, vol. 1, p. 51.

56 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 103.

57 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 27.

58 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 110 and 114.

59 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 75.

60 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 48-49.

61 Elected in 1921, he reorganized the Patriarchate and collaborated closely with the AGBU and Near East Relief in order to handle the installation of the refugees and the orphans. See R. Kévorkian and V. Tachjian, 2006, vol. 1, p. 155-157. B. Der Matossian, 2011, p. 31-32.

62 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 15 and 21.

63 B. Donabedian 1922, p. 338-339. This book contains over 350 letters of survivors of the genocide, compiled by Bedros Donabedian, who was an officer of British High Commission in Constantinople between 1918 and 1922. Although the book has been translated into English and Russian, an editorial work on it is still waiting to be done. The letters that Donabedian collected and published were sent from various places to relatives or friends of the survivors. Tbilisi, Jerusalem, Erzurum, Worcester, Yerevan, Gyumri, Baku, Malta, Siberia, are some of the places which are among more than 40 places that the letters were sent. Most of the letters were written in Armenian, but there are some written in Armeno-Turkish.

64 Ibid., p. 307.

65 See supra and I. Nassar, 2009.

66 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 3 and 7.

67 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 84.

68 See J.M. Rose, 1993, p. 82.

69 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 5.

70 Armenian pilgrims and monks were present in the Holy Land as early as the 4th century. See S. Manougian, 1948, p. 74; K. Hintlian, 1976, p. 6-10.

71 Armenian pilgrims contributed money and other gifts, such as engraved copper plates and votive lamps dedicated to the Saints James Cathedral. They also left numerous votive inscriptions on the walls of the monastery. See. J.M. Rose, 1993, p. 81.

72 The monastery owned 4 primary schools and 2 elementary schools in Palestine and Trans-Jordan (Amman), where 1,500 children were receiving for free an Armenian “national education”. Inside the monastery of Jerusalem, the school of the Holy Translators (Srpots Tarkmantchatz) had been erected in 1929, in place of the Sourp Gayane School for girls (1862) which had become too small because of the growing number of students. The new school had 850 students (including kindergarten and primary level) in the late 1940s, when the number of Armenian lays living in the monastery was about 700. See S. Manougian, 1948, p. 56-58 and 94-95.

73 B. Der Matossian, 2011, p. 24.

74 S. Manougian, 1948, p. 91, 105.

75 J.M. Rose, 1993. Soon in the 1920s and 1930s, the kaghakatsi and the zuwwar were also differentiated by distinct memberships in Armenian local associations, and by their attitudes and options in local politics and the internal affairs of the Patriarchate. See B. Der Matossian, 2011, p. 31, 34-35; V. Azarya, 1984, p. 111-118.

76 M. Halbwachs, 1941, p. 175.

77 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no 11 and 12.

78 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 51-54.

79 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 31.

80 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 61.

81 BNu, PA, Jerusalem no. 16.

82 He was appointed locum tenens in 1930 and elected Patriarch in 1939. See B. Der Matossian, 2011, p. 33.

83 A good example of this trend is given by the current project, initiated and supported by the Patriarchate, to renovate and reopen a history museum inside the Armenian monastery, precisely in the courtyard and building that were formerly occupied by the Araradian orphanage in the 1920s. Whereas the former museum essentially displayed ancient objects pertaining to the history of the Armenian Church and Armenian pilgrimages to Jerusalem, the new project if it materializes will apparently include a whole section on the history of the Araradian and Vasbouragan orphanages and their pupils.

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Table des illustrations

Légende Figure 1H[aygagan] P[arekordzagan] E[nthanour] M[ioutiun] Andesaneli Hiure” (“AGBU Invisible Guest”)Photographer Unknown, 157 x 118 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 232k
Légende Figure 2 “The second caravan of refugees from Salt” arriving to Jerusalem, April 1918 Photographer Unknown, 170 x 116 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 220k
Légende Figure 3 Registration file of Taniel Hayriguian, Araradian orphanage of the Armenian General Benevolent Union, Jerusalem, 145 x 122 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 236k
Légende Figure 4a View in the yard of the former Araradian orphanage, St. James Monastery, JerusalemPhotograph by Harouth Bezdjian, 2017
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 192k
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 7,2M
Légende Figures 4b and 4c Inscriptions in the yard of the former Araradian orphanage, St James Monastery, JerusalemPhotographs by Talin Suciyan, 2015
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-6.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 6,9M
Légende Figure 5 Group portrait of the orphans of the Araradian orphanage, St. James Monastery, JerusalemPhotographer Unknown, 285 x 189 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 236k
Légende Figure 6 Group portrait of the orphans of the Araradian orphanage, St. James Monastery, JerusalemPhotographer Unknown, 167 x 116 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-8.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 236k
Légende Figure 7 “The pupils of the AGBU Araradian orphanage transporting their beds to the dormitory after cleaning. Jerusalem”Photograph by J. Zerounian, 180 x 129 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-9.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 236k
Légende Figure 8 Vasbouragan orphanage (?), JerusalemPhotograph by Garabed Krikorian, 170 x 122 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-10.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 212k
Légende Figure 9 “The employees of the provisory AGBU orphanage in Jerusalem and Mrs Victoria Arsharouni” Jerusalem, July 1918Photograph by Garabed Krikorian, 168 x 118 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-11.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 212k
Légende Figure 10 “The pupils of the Vasbouragan orphanage’s kitchen preparing food and tables for dinner; 2 November 1923” Photographer Unknown, 171 x 130 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-12.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 160k
Légende Figure 11 “The pupils of the AGBU Vasbouragan orphanage in Jerusalem making their own hats” Photographer Unknown, 169 x 126 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-13.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 220k
Légende Figure 12 “The pupils of the AGBU Araradian orphanage trained to carpentry. Jerusalem” Photograph by J. Zerounian, 173 x 118 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-14.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 164k
Légende Figure 13 Dormitory in the Araradian orphanage (?), JerusalemPhotographer Unknown, 168 x 125 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-15.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 188k
Légende Figure 14 In the refectory of the Araradian orphanage, Jerusalem170 x 114 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-16.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 152k
Légende Figure 15 In the refectory of the Araradian orphanage, JerusalemPhotographer Unknown, 163 x 117 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-17.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 140k
Légende Figure 16 “The last supper of the orphans of the Jerusalem AGBU Araradian orphanage before their departure to Armenia, in the presence of His Holiness the Patriarch” Photographer Unknown, 170 x 117 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-18.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 176k
Légende Figure 17 “The orphans of the Jerusalem AGBU Araradian orphanage after their last supper before their departure to Armenia, in the presence of His Holiness the Patriarch and his suite”Photographer Unknown, 171 x 115 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-19.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 148k
Légende Figure 18 Interior view of St. James Cathedral, JerusalemPhotograph by Aram Hashadoor 104 x 138 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-20.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 236k
Légende Figure 19 Interior view of St. James Cathedral, JerusalemPhotographer Unknown, 226 x 166 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-21.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 188k
Légende Figure 20 “A holiday in 1900-1905: the believers gathering near the Church of the Armenian St. James Monastery of Jerusalem” [Benediction of the Four Parts of the World, on Easter Day]Photographer Unknown, 222 x 281 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-22.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 228k
Légende Figure 21 “Photographed near St. James Armenian Church of Jerusalem, a holiday [Palm Sunday] in 1898”Photographer Unknown, 222 x 169 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-23.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 224k
Légende Figure 22 “In the cemetery of Jerusalem: the graves of a boy and a girl from the orphanage are blessed (1922)”Photographer Unknown, 140 x 90 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-24.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 180k
Légende Figure 23 “In the cemetery of Jerusalem: a boy and a girl from the orphanages died, theirs graves are blessed (1922)”Photographer Unknown, 140 x 90 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-25.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 192k
Légende Figure 24 Inauguration of the monument to the battle of Arara, in the presence of Armenian legionnaires, Jerusalem, 1925Photographer Unknown, 168 x 119 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-26.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 148k
Légende Figure 25 “Inauguration of the monument to [the battle of] Arara in Jerusalem, in the St Saviour cemetery of the Armenians”, 1925Photographer Unknown, 140 x 90 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-27.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 160k
Légende Figure 26 “Jerusalem: the Vasbouragan Orphanage of the Holy Cross Monastery photographed from the west, 22 July 1922” Photographer Unknown, 139 x 88 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-28.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 244k
Légende Figure 27 The pupils of the Vasbouragan orphanage in the Monastery of the Holy Cross, during Lord Plumer’s visit Photographer Unknown, 145 x 124 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-29.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 220k
Légende Figure 28 Lord Plumer’s visit to the Arardian orphanage, Jerusalem Photographer Unknown, 172 x 117 mmAGBU Nubar Library, Paris
URL http://journals.openedition.org/eac/docannexe/image/1129/img-30.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 158k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Boris Adjemian et Talin Suciyan, « Making space and community through memory: », Études arméniennes contemporaines, 9 | 2017, 75-113.

Référence électronique

Boris Adjemian et Talin Suciyan, « Making space and community through memory: », Études arméniennes contemporaines [En ligne], 9 | 2017, mis en ligne le 01 avril 2018, consulté le 11 décembre 2018. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/eac/1129 ; DOI : 10.4000/eac.1129

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Auteurs

Boris Adjemian

AGBU Nubar Library, Institut des mondes africains

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Talin Suciyan

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

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Bibliothèque Nubar de l’UGAB

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