You are on page 1of 28

Armenian News Network / Groong

Notes and Queries Relevant to

“A Brief Assessment of the Ravished Armenia Marquee Poster” by Amber Karlins; published as a Research
Note in the Journal of the Society for Armenian Studies

19:1 (2010), pgs. 137-145: Filling in Some Gaps and a Call for Information

Armenian News Network / Groong

December 20, 2010

Special to Groong by Eugene L. Taylor and Abraham D. Krikorian



Information on an advertisement for the screening of the film “Ravished Armenia” published as a full page
black and white pictorial in The Saturday Evening Post January 18, 1919 confirms that the artist Dan Smith
created the dramatic imagery of a brutish man brandishing a sword, gripping a struggling girl, and that he
used as a model a work by the French sculptor and artist Emmanuel Fremiet of a gorilla carrying off a
female. Dan Smith clearly states on this work “AFTER E. Fremiet.” Some recent reproductions of a color
movie poster showcasing “Ravished Armenia” are not as easy to read, perhaps because of the color and size
of reproduction constraints. Our research presented here supplements and broadens Amber Karlins’ “A
Brief Assessment of the Ravished Armenia Marquee Poster” and at the same time raises a number of
unanswered questions. Film historian and movie expert Anthony Slide has done much to expand our data
base on “Ravished Armenia.” Even so, some matters of special interest to us have not been covered by him
in very much detail. We have wondered who ‘really’ wrote the screenplay, or even whether there may have
been two ‘screenplays’ or ‘scenarios’ written for the movie. The ‘original’ scenario credits Nora Waln, the
publicity secretary of the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief, and for a period, the editor
of its News Bulletin. (She later became an acclaimed author.) Frederic (sometimes spelled with a ck)
Chapin was shortly after credited as screenwriter. Were both involved in writing/polishing the screenplay
“scenario? All indications are that Miss Waln’s version was the first, and that Chapin was given/took credit
for some modifications, embellishments (?) and/or variations. (Perhaps buying the movie rights by Gates
prompted the ‘takeover’ of the screenplay?) We suggest as a working hypothesis that there were two
(perhaps only slightly varying) versions of the scenario. We hope that film enthusiasts and scholars will be
able to keep this possibility in mind as they pursue matters relating to “Ravished Armenia.” In the interest
of broadening awareness of recent literature relevant to the “Ravished Armenia” movie poster, we also draw
attention to the publications of two experts concerning very different elements portrayed in, or conveyed by
the poster (both in the context, and out of the context of the Armenian genocide). Attention is also drawn to
a 2009 volume by Armen Khandjian that presents enormous amounts of information, profusely illustrated,
relevant to Aurora Mardiganian and “Ravished Armenia.” In the course of our research we have acquired a
fair amount of information on “Ravished Armenia” especially through access to the several printings
‘editions’ and even translations of the book. It was only considerably after our paying special attention to
printed materials that we learned of the ‘newly discovered’ film fragment and the movie poster. In the
course of our “Ravished Armenia” work, and in true serendipitous fashion, we came across an essentially
overlooked photograph showing an early stage of the “deportation” process as it unfolded or progressed in
Kharpert. Interestingly, only the initial softcover edition of the “Ravished Armenia” book uses the
photograph as a frontispiece. Serendipity made our convoluted journey well worth while. We also ask at
several points in this communication some questions which someone ‘out there’ might hopefully be able to

“Serendipity :- Serendip, a former name for Sri Lanka + ity.

A word coined by Horace Walpole, who says…that he had formed it upon the title of the fairy-tale ‘The
Three Princes of Serendip’, the heroes of which ‘were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity,
of things they were not in quest of’.

The faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident. Also, the fact or an instance of such a
discovery. Formerly rare, this word and its derivatives have had wide currency in the 20th century.”

From the Oxford English Dictionary; also see Merton and Barber, 2004, The Travels and Adventures of
Serendipity: a study in sociological semantics and the sociology of science).[1]

It is worth repeating that scholarship is a process, not an event. One of the key approaches to carrying out
research is to cast as broad a net as possible – at least at the outset of one’s studies. In this way one
frequently ends up following unanticipated leads that allow one to uncover important information.

When Rev. Dr. James L. Barton published his “Story of Near East Relief (1915-1930): an interpretation” in
1930, he knew better than most that there was such a massive amount of information to be dealt with and that
he could but scratch the surface if the volume size was to be kept manageable.[2] Necessarily he gave a
relatively broad sweep of the organization and its important activities. Even so, it is a densely written book
packed with information. Today that volume is a lynchpin, the central cohesive element that enables one to
gain a better understanding of how the United States of America in particular met the challenge of trying to
‘save’ Armenians (and Greeks and Assyrians of Asia Minor and “Bible Lands”) after the cataclysms of
genocide and crimes against humanity were perpetrated under order of the Young Turk regime during World
War I and thereafter.

When an appreciative notice of the Barton volume appeared in the New York Times Book Review Section
pg. 18 in the December 14, 1930 Sunday Magazine, a striking and well-deserved accolade was given the
work (incidentally its cost was $2.50). The reviewer wrote: “In a very real and intimate sense this book
belongs to almost the whole of the people of the United States, since almost every man, woman and child in
this country contributed to the Near East relief,[3] the story of whose labors and achievements it tells…Over
half the book…is devoted to the story of what was done for the children, the 132,000 waifs and orphans,
wreckage of the war, whom the Near East Relief salvaged, fed, clothed, educated and trained to self-support,
usefulness and adjustment to the new conditions in their own countries….No one who gave anything
whatever to the work can read it without a glow of pride that he, too, helped, in however small measure, in
achieving such results.”[4]

Today, historical interest in the work of the Near East Relief (NER) and its predecessors in name, such as the
American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief, the American Committee for Relief in the Near East
(ACRNE) etc. remains sustained. This seems to be due to the fact that many of the descendants of Armenian
genocide survivors often seek written confirmation of bits and pieces of stories heard of, or read in family
‘histories or ‘memoirs.’[5]

The Near East Relief work which was carried out in various places that had been subjected to massacre and
destruction, and which were later visited (and indeed worked in) by various workers frequently figure more
than passingly in some of this ‘survivor’ stories and accounts. Some of the missionaries and relief workers
brought Armenian orphans back to America; some were formally adopted. (So far as we are aware, this is a
subject that remains largely unexplored.)

The very wide range of Near East Relief materials, both archival and scattered in private collections, offers
opportunities to uncover bits of information that vary considerably as to relevance to, and significance for
‘family histories.’ Whatever the case, such materials are always of interest to those trying to reconstruct the
events of the period in question.

From our own perspective the Near East Relief materials (in the broadest sense possible of that
organization’s name) have allowed us, over the years, to ferret out important images and photographs of the
organization’s activities, and to learn specifics about the photographs that have frequently remained largely
conjectural. So far, the story of Near East Relief has yet to be given a truly personal face, so to say, and this
is one of the objectives of our ongoing work aimed at tracing and gleaning information from photographs of
Near East Relief origin and from other sources, both related and unrelated.[6]
In what follows, we seek to place some of the “Ravished Armenia” materials such as the “Ravished
Armenia” movie marquee poster in a more human-interest context, as well as to provide readers with some
overlooked citations to the literature relevant to a better understanding of the poster. Last but not least, we
wish to raise a few questions that readers might be able to answer. There is undoubtedly much information
that is available in private hands. It is hoped that this communication will allow some additional insights or
materials to emerge.

A Bit about the “Ravished Armenia” Poster

As is the case today, fund raising for relief was not then a trivial task and the problems to be solved and
efforts that needed to be exerted were proverbially gigantean – humongous in today’s parlance. A wide
combination of strategies and approaches were invoked for fund-raising purposes. Many personal
appearances and talks were given by various knowledgeable people and ‘witnesses’ to the horrors. These
included returning missionaries in particular. Some of them returned to work among the Armenians as relief
workers after the war, especially beginning in 1919. After returning there were later atrocities that they
reported on both in writing and in person. Some of the talks were illustrated (usually by means of
stereopticon or ‘magic lantern’). A steady stream of pamphlets were issued as well as broadsides and
artistically drawn and sympathy-eliciting fundraiser posters.[7]

“Ravished Armenia” was the first of a number of films of carrying length made or sponsored by the
Committee(s). Regular and irregular news bulletins, magazines, and brochures of varying size were issued.
In short, every conceivable approach was invoked.[8]

In her “Brief Assessment” of the movie marquee poster drawn for the film “Ravished Armenia” author
Amber Karlins[9] provides from her perspective a context for, and details on a now fairly well-known
poster. The poster shows the ‘Terrible’ or ‘Unspeakable Turk’ in a still-more terrible and unspeakable light.
See Fig. 1. The poster image may also be seen on Internet on sites such as that of the University of
Minnesota Center for Holocaust & Genocide Studies ‘Virtual Museum.’[10] Just how many original posters
are still in existence is not known of course but there are at least a few.
Fig. 1

Enlarged from the front panel of a video case insert (see Fig. 3 below).

The first semi-official notice that the film “Ravished Armenia” was about to be released appeared in the
News Bulletin of the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief in its November 1918 issue
(volume 2 no. 6). It reads:

“Ravished Armenia A Photo-Play

An eight reel photo-play will be released by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief in
January entitled Ravished Armenia. This production tells the authentic story of Aurora Mardiganian which
has been appearing serially in the Sunday supplement of several daily papers. [see Fig. 2 for a photograph of
Miss Mardiganian which appeared in the September issue of the News Bulletin of the Committee for
Armenian and Syrian Relief vol. 1 no. 16 1918.]

Aurora Mardiganian is an Armenian refugee aged eighteen who narrowly escaped massacre and made her
way to America with help of the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief. Historical facts of
the Armenian persecutions gathered from the files of the State Department, Lord Bryce’s and Ambassador
Morgenthau’s reports are also incorporated in the picture.

This photo-play is produced to enlist sympathy in behalf of all destitute survivors of the deportations and will
be shown extensively throughout fifty cities during the campaign.”
Fig. 2

Miss Aurora Mardiganian in 1918, aged 17 or recently turned 18. (From News Bulletin of the American
Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief cited above; courtesy of University of Wisconsin Special

The “campaign” mentioned refers to the “Nation-wide Campaign for $30,000,000…January 12 – 19 [1919]”
that was summarized as follows in the October issue of the News Bulletin…vol. 1 no. 17 1918.

“At a National Committee meeting held Thursday, October 17th [1918], William B. Millar, General Secretary
of the Layman’s Missionary Movement, was elected general Campaign manager. A local campaign director
was also appointed in each state of the union.

“Dr. Charles F. Aked will start November 3rd on an extended tour lecturing for Armenian and Syrian Relief
and among other prominent speakers will present the cause all over the country during the campaign.

“Universal co-operation in this worthy cause has been enthusiastically guaranteed by the authors, publishers,
cartoonists and advertisers as well as by churches and Sunday Schools all over the United States and Canada
so that no stone will be left unturned to further the success of the drive.”

Ms. Karlins’ note on her study of the “Ravished Armenia” poster published in the Journal of the Society for
Armenian Studies is based on an original in the Armenian Library and Museum (ALMA) in Watertown,
Massachusetts donated by retired pharmacist Carl Zeytoonian. A copy of the poster is reproduced in her
paper in black and white.[11]

Some time back we bought by mail a VHS video tape copy of the re-discovered 15 minutes-long segment of
the film “Ravished Armenia” from an Armenian-run bookstore in Los Angeles. The case had a color copy of
the poster adorning it, along with a write-up stating a bit about the film . Notice was given on the back
jacket of the remarkable sleuthing of Eduardo Kozanlian of Buenos Aires, Argentina and his role in
retrieving it from some place or other in Armenia.[12] (See Fig. 3).
Fig. 3

Video jacket of an early ‘release’ of the film fragment of “Ravished Armenia.” Upon inquiry, the original
source was not, or could not be disclosed, by the vendor.

After viewing the film, and being moved by the music of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Op. 11, to
which the fragment was set, we took note of several features and put the matter of the film on the ‘back
burner.’ We did, however, take pains to make a DVD of the fragment from what we call ‘the Los Angeles
(LA) VHS tape’ in the interest of preserving the video by yet another means, albeit without any attempt at

Shortly before Richard Diran Kloian passed away he generously sent us a DVD of the ‘restored’, edited and
captioned-in-English version DVD that he had worked on.[14]

This ‘restored’ film fragment has been shown relatively recently in various places nationwide, primarily to
audiences with Armenian roots or connections, and has been not unexpectedly well-received.

No mention was made in Richard Kloian’s write-ups about the involvement of Eduardo Kozanlian in the
discovery of the film fragment. To be more exact, nothing appears in the write-up that he provided us along
with the DVD. There was an attractive new cover on the DVD case. Included with the DVD as an
additional insert, was a copy in color of the “Ravished Armenia” poster showing the infamous ‘terrible’,
‘unspeakable Turk’ abducting a subdued or struggling a girl.[15]

The new-to-us image on the outside of the DVD case was, we believe, considerably less obtrusive and
graphic than the ‘movie marquee poster cover’ we show reproduced above in Figs. 1 and 3. The ‘terrible
Turk’ poster is also included as an extra in the inner jacket of the “Special April 24, 2009 Memorial Edition”
given us by Richard Kloian. The new cover had apparently been retrieved from a Boston newspaper – to be
more specific, as stated on the ALMA web site from the American Weekly Newspaper, Section of the Boston
Sunday Advertiser Sunday January 12, 1919.[16]
There are, however, a few issues that persist in connection with Richard Kloian’s ‘restored’ and edited film.
Some of the captions are less precise than one might like– for instance the date of the deportations from the
Chimizgedzek[17] area in the Caza of Dersim north of Kharpert (Mamuret ul Aziz vilayet) did not occur in
April 1915. According to Robert Kévorkian the deportation took place in early July (cf. pg. 517 of
Kévorkian 2006) and this timeframe is in keeping with peripheral information available to us that we will not
bother to present). Neither will we delve here into still other points. We regret very much that Richard did
not live long enough for him to continue his work and for us to communicate with him on these matters. It
would have helped resolve many outstanding questions, we are sure, for he was always ready to engage in
lively conversation on such matters “The saddest words of tongue or pen, it might have been.”

To re-focus our attention on the Research Note by Ms. Karlins, we should emphasize that her paper presents
following the trail of the imagery of the “Ravished Armenia” poster to a work crafted by the French master
sculptor Emmanuel Fremiet (1824-1910). Indeed, the name Fremiet is clearly shown on the poster and we
certainly concur with the conclusion, as Ms. Karlins has stated, that the artist Dan Smith used Fremiet’s
sculpture as an inspiration or point of departure. As we shall see later in this communication, the
advertisement image of the ‘poster’ published in the Saturday Evening Post unequivocally shows that Dan
Smith wanted to credit Fremiet. There is no problem whatever seeing “After E. Fremiet.” Although the
reproduction of the color movie poster shown in Fig. 1 may possibly have a bit about Fremiet, it is hardly
visible – probably because the poster was not available to the VHS videotape ‘jacket maker’ in good enough
detail to preserve that part of the poster’s labeling. Similarly, the reference to E. Fremiet is not to be found
anywhere in Fig. 3. All this emphasizes that it is important to have good quality prints for serious study,
even as one keeps in mind that there may have been more than one poster released, or that various bits and
pieces of ‘doctoring’ of imagery may have taken place over the years subsequent to the actual use of the
poster(s). (For example note that in Fig. 1 there is no moon shown on the picture whereas in Fig. 3 there is a

Ms. Karlins’ paper has a reference (her footnote 11 on pg. 140) to an article by Clive Marshall entitled “The
Gorilla at Bay” published in “The San Francisco Chronicle” on January 12, 1919. The reference gives as its
source Armen Khandjian’s “The Summer of 1915” pgs. 464- 467 (see our Endnote 5). While the title of the
book is given, no name is given of compiler/author/editor who has unquestionably done yeoman’s work in
assembling an enormous amount of interesting material on Aurora Mardiganian in the broadest sense of the
name. In fact, Khandjian’s work has so much in it that it will take very careful examination to glean fully the
rich store of information in it. (We shall return to that point below.)

We now turn our attention to some additional features associated with this movie marquee poster and
Saturday Evening Post poster that can help give a considerably more personal face to them.

Two References to the Literature Relevant to the

“Ravished Armenia” Movie Poster

Regrettably, Ms. Karlins did not cite the seminal and detailed work of Marek Zgórniak entitled “Fremiet’s
gorillas: why do they carry off women?” published in 2006 in a journal well-known and appreciated in the
art world Artibus et Historiae (Kraków Poland).[18]

Zgórniak’s richly illustrated, and heavily referenced work is crucial to a full appreciation of the thematics
connected with the “Ravished Armenia” poster. Emmanuel Fremiet was a contemporary of Auguste Rodin
(1840-1917), the famous French sculptor. In France, Fremiet was reputedly a fine animalier[19] second only
to the master Antoine-Louis Barye (1796-1875). (We believe that any serious museum goer will recognize
some of their works even though they may not know the names of the artists. These artists are by no means
obscure figures known only to art experts.)

Anyone who takes the trouble to read the article by Zgórniak will come away having a considerably
enlightened perspective of Fremiet’s art and its consequences and legacy.

Zgórniak has provided the fascinating background and history to Fremiet’s Gorilla Carrying Off a Woman
(Gorille enlevant une femme, Musée des Beaux-Artes, Nantes). It appeared in 1887 in the Paris Salon at
which Fremiet won a first prize.[20]
Zgórniak describes how Fremiet’s several gorilla sculptures were not all well received by everyone. His
critics fully exploited the sexual undertones of the works. Various and sundry sexual innuendos on gorillas
(both real and imagined) and women were apparently rampant in various art circles at the time.

A citation in the Zgórniak article allowed us to seek out an early photographic reproduction of Fremiet’s
gorilla. Fortunately Stony Brook University has the journal in which there is a full page Heliogravure by one
Dujardin, printed by Chardon & Sormani. The Heliogravure technique was stated to be unexcelled in its
ability to render blacks and greys, and we agree that it is excellent. A good quality scan of the “Gorille” is
provided here for comparison (see Figs. 4a and b).

Fig. 4a Fremiet’s “Gorille” from L’ Art, Revue Bi-Mensuelle Illustrée volume 42 (1887) pg. 79; Fig. 4b,
reproduction of a movie marquee poster entitled “Ravished Armenia” – perhaps more than one was released.

A quote in Zgórniak, which was not his – see his pg. 219) sums it all up for us: – The gorilla is not only an
ape, but also the personification of brute force; the figure of the beautiful woman and her desperate effort to
defend herself are convincingly rendered.”

Yet another critical reference missing from Ms. Karlins’ note is an insightful article by Leshu Torchin
entitled “Ravished Armenia: visual media, humanitarian advocacy, and the formation of witnessing publics”
American Anthropologist 108, March 2006 pgs. 214-220.[22] Dr. Torchin states “Ravished Armenia is a
significant case, not for its technical excellence – indeed, it received little more than tepid reviews and its
success beyond the NER fundraising campaign is uncertain – but as an example of the convergence of
international humanitarian activism and entertainment practices at the turn of the 20th century” (cf. Torchin
2006 pg. 214.)
The Saturday Evening Post and the “Ravished Armenia” Poster

We cannot provide as fine a quality color image of an original poster as we should like, but can present here
a black and white full-page picture of a considerably more informative ‘equivalent’ (in black and white – it
seems not to have been colored) from an original issue of The Saturday Evening Post, January 18, 1919 pg.
28 (see Fig. 5). On the left-hand side of the page it clearly states “Dan Smith, and in block capitals AFTER
E. FREMIET.” Certainly more details are available from that magazine advertisement than appear on the
colored movie marquee poster. This will be apparent if one compares Figs.1 and 3 with Fig. 5).

We have not encountered to date the “Saturday Evening Post” poster in any other magazine. Armen
Khandjian reproduces an image of the Fremiet gorilla in his exhaustive volume on “Ravished Armenia” (see
his pg. 468; no source is given for the photograph.) Ms. Karlins credits “The Summer of 1915” but does not
mention so far as we could discern authorship of the volume. Anyone planning to do any sort of additional
research on the theme of “Ravished Armenia” certainly needs to consult Khandjian’s work. The difficulty
has been that it is not yet widely known and is scarcely to be found even in the usual large research libraries.
We came across it by a quite circuitous route. By bringing this volume to the attention of readers, we hope
that we can help one save a lot of time and effort by first checking that exceptional resource. A remaining
difficulty of Khandjian’s work however, is that many of the countless images/photographs printed in it have
necessarily been reproduced from microfilm sources and therefore are not of the best quality. We have
emphasized above that it is important to seek out if possible ‘original’ materials for careful examination.

Be all that as it may, it proves once again that various researchers can independently find the same materials
and come to the same conclusions even though they follow slightly different paths. It is always useful to
have ‘new’ but confirmatory information.

Below we will make a couple of guesses under the heading Nora Waln as to why the Saturday Evening Post
carried the advertisement.

Query One: Has anyone encountered this black and white “Ravished Armenia” image in any other
contemporary magazine? (Not newspapers.)

Dan Smith, Artist

More archival work deserves to be done on the life of the artist Dan Smith. He must have been familiar with
the Fremiet work. Perhaps he saw it in Europe, or in some art magazine or journal. (There are, incidentally,
works by Fremiet in the USA; see Zgórniak’s paper.) According to the obituary published in the New York
Times December 12, 1934 pg. 23, Smith was born in Greenland of Danish parentage in 1865 (not born in
New York City as stated by Ms. Karlins). This suggests that he was a mature artist when he executed the
poster. It was more than likely a work donated for the sake of charity is as mentioned above in the notice of
the $30,000,000 campaign. Smith and his wife gave their residence as 50 W. 67th Street, New York City
when returning to the USA in August 1923 (fide Ellis Island in One Step database). See also pgs. 448 – 449
of The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West, Doubleday & Company 1976;
pg. 291 of Historical Dictionary of War Journalism by Michael P. Roth, Greenwood Press Westport CT 1997,
and pg.576 of Who was Who in American Art edited by Peter Hastings Falk, Sound View Press Madison CT
1985. From the available bio-data and especially from the hallmark ‘signature’ on the poster (see Fig. 5)
there seems little doubt, as Ms. Karlins says, that Dan Smith was the creator of the “Ravished Armenia”
Fig. 5

From The Saturday Evening Post vol. 191 (no.29) January 18, 1919 pg. 28.

Advertising and Publicity for the Film “Ravished Armenia”

Access to a fair range of newspapers available online through Library of Congress’ in its Chronicling
America newspaper archive suggests that the “Ravished Armenia” image in black and white printed full page
at no cost to the Committee thanks to some “National Advertiser” in the Saturday Evening Post in 1919 did
not appear in many papers either serializing or advertising the film. The vast majority of advertisements and
articles encountered upon searching this site indicate an unspectacular (to us at least) advertising approach
for the film. They usually are rather small ads and have no or little imagery. See Fig. 6 for one that does
show some pictures.
Fig. 6

From The Evening Missourian (Columbia, MO) September 20, 1919 pg. 6. Courtesy of The Library of
Congress’ “Chronicling America” online.

The notices for the film (or the book/s) that do have illustrations use images that are arguably only slightly
less graphic than the colored “Ravished Armenia” movie marquee poster. How much less graphic is up to
the viewer to decide, of course.[23] For example, there is one very disturbing example to which attention
may be drawn that depicts nominal crucifixions of Armenian women and girls (Fig. 7) taken from the March
9, 1919 Washington Times (not today’s arch-conservative Washington Times but a newspaper started in 1902
and discontinued in 1939). This page shows stills from that film that are intended to ‘thrill’ the viewer. (A
bit more on crucifixion is given below under our heading Concluding Commentary. Incidentally, the word
thrill is used here in the sense of “moving with a sudden wave of emotion.)”[24]
Fig. 7

From The Washington [D.C.] Times 9 March 1919, National Edition,

The American Weekly Section [image 24] “Chronicling America” Library of Congress.

Nora Waln and “Ravished Armenia”

Ms. Karlins mentions Nora Waln, whose name appears among the credits on the movie marquee poster. She
says, “Underneath the film’s title are the credits for the director, Oscar Apfel; the producer, William N. Selig;
the screenwriter, Nora Waln; and the National Motion Picture Committee for Armenian and Syrian relief
(Near East Relief).” Credits on some copies of the poster read “from the scenario by Nora Waln.”

Nora Waln, “author, journalist, speaker” etc. deserves at least a few more words here. In the foreword to the
initial publication of the book “Ravished Armenia, The story of Aurora Mardiganian” etc. (see Fig. 8 for the
title page) dated as written December 2, 1918, Miss Waln identifies herself as the ‘Publicity Secretary,
American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief” – located at One Madison Avenue, New York City
(cf. pg. 17).
Fig. 8

Title page of the initial American edition of Ravished Armenia released late 1918. Access to the copy from
which this scan was made is courtesy of the Apkarian and Russell Archives.

When Nora Waln wrote her foreword, she was a young woman of 23 with what was to turn out to be a very
interesting career ahead of her. She was born 4 June 1895 and died 27 September 1964. Mention is made in
her obituary in The New York Times 28 September 1964 pg. 29 that she was “during World War I publicity
director for the Near East Relief Committee in New York.” The biographical entry given her in Current
Biography, Who’s News and Why (Annual, edited by Maxine Block) for 1940, pgs. 839-840 [which includes
an attractive drawing of her head in profile] and which is by far the most detailed that we have yet
encountered, states that she “entered Swarthmore College with the class of 1919 [i.e. in 1915] and left on our
entry into the War to conduct a newspaper page in Washington called Woman’s Work in the War.”

This is not the place to go into Nora Waln’s many, especially later, accomplishments as an author. Her
acclaimed literary works included a best seller on living in China, and another important and apparently
much-read work that told of her life in Germany during Adolph Hitler’s nascent rise to power. Many of her
books have been reprinted and are available for purchase on such Internet sites as She had a

Because originals of the initial edition of Ravished Armenia are not readily available, we present for easy
reading, in full, a re-typed version of that foreword as an Appendix at the end of this paper.[26] This
foreword certainly adds a more personal face to the “Ravished Armenia” scenario story.

Parenthetically, the foreword (re-typed) is also published in Anthony Slide’s work “Ravished Armenia…” on
pgs. 27-31. It may again be found re-typed in the 1990 reprinting (not facsimile) by Fawcett; in that reprint –
the foreword pages are unnumbered.

Archival materials at Swarthmore College and the Friends Historical Library (‘The Quaker Archives’)
unfortunately do not have any Waln materials from her early period. They have a considerable amount of
material on Nora Waln, but they mainly deal with her established literary works.[27]
An amusing anecdote about Nora Waln in connection with “Ravished Armenia” appeared in the New-York
Tribune February 19, 1919 pg. 18. It reads: “Miss Nora Waln is a Philadelphia girl. Moreover, she is
publicity secretary for the committee directing the $30,000,000 campaign for Armenian relief. After giving
a newspaper reporter some information about the propaganda film play, “Ravished Armenia” (she wrote the
scenario) a few days ago, Miss Waln said to the departing young man: “Thank thee for coming.” “Thou art
some kidder,” returned the reporter, and would have said more had not H.F. Hancock who is handling the
film’s publicity dragged him into the hall whispering, “Nix, nix; the lady’s a Quaker.”

We have not checked the City Directory records for Philadelphia in that period to see where in Philadelphia
Miss Waln resided, but since The Saturday Evening Post was published in Philadelphia it seems probable
that a connection existed that enabled the promotional poster for the film and the $30,000,000 drive to be
carried free of cost to the Committee. This is consistent with the notice given earlier on in this
communication describing the highly co-ordinated and co-operative campaign to raise $30,000,000. The
Post apparently had a weekly circulation of more than a couple of million and was considered the most
important general-interest magazine in America at that time. Nora Waln was certainly active in the
promotion of the film “Ravished Armenia” and she is clearly credited as a Philadelphian with having written
the scenario to the 8 reel film using information gained directly from Aurora Mardiganian (see e.g. Evening
Public Ledger (Philadelphia) January 27, 1919 – Chronicling America, Library of Congress).

Access to a copy of the slightly later publication of “Ravished Armenia” gave us some additional insights,
and opened yet another path for our studies. First of all, the ‘first’ 1918 edition states on its inside cover
“Copyright 1918, by Kingfield Press, Inc. New York.” The next edition states on its inside cover,
“Copyright, 1918” followed by “Copyright 1919, by International Copyright Bureau, New York.” Of
considerable interest is that the illustrations reproduced in 1918 from photographs taken in historical
Armenia showing various aspects of the “massacres” have been fully replaced in the 1919 edition’ with, and
we quote ,“Sixteen Illustrations from the Stupendous Photo Play, “Auction of Souls” and Map.”[28]
Compare Figs. 9, 10 and 11 to see the extent and evolution in credits.

Fig. 9

Access to the ‘first edition’ copy from which this scan was made
is courtesy of the Apkarian and Russell Archives.
Moreover, and perhaps significantly (and we say perhaps since we need a firm answer on this point) there is
a page facing the Table of Contents that clearly states “Scenario by Frederick Chapin Staged by Oscar Apfel
Produced by W. N. Selig” (see Fig. 10 below).


From this information alone we believe that it is not unreasonable to ask “Is it possible/probable that there
were (at least somewhere along the line) two “scenarios?” Alternatively, one can ask whether Nora Waln
“bowed out” or was “elbowed out ” or, was simply told that as part of the deal made to take over the rights
her name was to be left out as well as any other indication that the Committee had any control any longer.
Certainly by the time the British edition printed by Phoenix Press appeared in London (undated but perhaps
late 1919/very early1920), Nora Waln’s name had disappeared and the word COPYRIGHT appeared beneath
(albeit not directly) under H.L. Gates’ name (see Fig. 11).
Fig. 11

The English edition title page shown above further states Formerly Printed in America for Private
Distribution Only as “Ravished Armenia.” But that statement presents yet another problem. The ‘second’
US edition printed in 1919 title page states “Ravished Armenia” or “Auction of Souls” etc. (See Fig. 12 for
the title page to the 1919 US edition. Nora Waln is credited for her Foreword.)
Fig. 12

Query Two: Does anyone know anything more about two possible ‘screenplays’ for “Ravished Armenia”?
Is it realistic to entertain a notion that there might be two re-discovered film fragments, one retrieved from
some place or other in Armenia by Eduardo Kozanlian and another possibly by Richard Kloian? They might
be somewhat different, or ordered differently and thus could be utilized to reconstruct a bit more of the film.

Anthony Slide, an expert on “Ravished Armenia” states on pg. 8 of his book “Ravished Armenia and the
Story of Aurora Mardiganian”[30] that “Nora Waln was credited in publicity materials for the film’s
screenplay, but undoubtedly, Harvey Gates was heavily involved in the preparation of the script. The title
through its shooting and initial presentation was Ravished Armenia, but at some point in 1919, the name was
changed to Auction of Souls.” We will readily concede that the books may be viewed as publicity materials
but vastly more people read the various printings than viewed the film(s). Presumably the word undoubtedly
has been used by Mr. Slide after careful evaluation of the available information. As an aside, certainly Miss
Waln was a budding writer and it is certainly not unknown that those who did the ‘real’ work – especially
women in that day and age – ended up less with far less credit than they deserved.

The American Film Institute catalog says that “The film’s working titles were Ravished Armenia and
Armenia Crucified. It may also have been known as An Armenian Crucifixion (see AFI Catalog of Feature
Films, 1911-1920; F1.0146). The film opened originally in various cities at $10 a seat, the proceeds going to
the Committee for Relief of the Near East and the Armenian War Relief Association. Sources disagree
concerning the scenarist. Records from the Selig Collection credit Frederic Chopin (sic, read Chapin), while
publicity pamphlets produced by the Armenian War Relief Association credit both Chopin [Chapin] and
Nora Waln, a member of the committee. Shots representing Mt. Ararat were actually filmed at Mt. Baldy,
In Anthony Slide’s book there is a copy of the title page of the first edition of the book (freshly re-set in type
– not a photo reproduction of the page). It is simply entitled “Ravished Armenia.” The subsequent
American printing states ‘Ravished Armenia” or “The Auction of Souls” (see Fig. 12).

The photograph facing the title page of the first edition ‘1918’ is not reproduced in Anthony Slide’s book. If
it had been, we should have found ourselves, as the expression goes, ahead of the game long ago so far as the
Kharpert deportation photograph now to be discussed is concerned.

Serendipitous ‘Discovery’ of a Photograph of

‘Deportation’ from Kharpert City

Mention has been made in an Endnote that a digitized copy of the Library of Congress’ holding (1st edition
1918) of “Ravished Armenia” may now be found on the Internet. We had never taken the trouble to track
down a first edition, however we came across it by chance while visiting some friends.[32]

The frontispiece photograph in the ‘first’ 1918 soft-cover publication shows a “deportation.” The source of
the photograph is not stated but more than likely it was in the possession of the American Committee for
Armenian and Syrian Relief or its predecessor, the Armenian Atrocities Committee, or its successor, the
American Committee for Relief in the Near East (ACRNE) – whatever. The caption reads:- “The Long Line
that Swiftly Grew Shorter. One of the most striking photographs of the deportations that have come out of
Armenia. Here is shown a column of Christians on the path across the plains of Mamuret-ul-Aziz. The
zaptiehs are shown walking along at one side.” See Fig. 13.

Fig. 13

Title page and frontispiece photograph from the ‘1918’ (‘first’ edition of “Ravished Armenia”). Access to
the copy from which this scan was made is courtesy of the Apkarian and Russell Archives.

We have no hesitation whatever in stating that the photograph indeed shows the slope leading from the small
city of Kharpert (Harput, Harpoot) down to the plain in the vicinity of the provincial capital Mezreh, the
lower-in-altitude and considerably smaller ‘twin’ city of Kharpert in the Vilayet (Province) of Mamuret ul

There are few photographs of the deportations in the earliest stages of that terrible process and it would be
good to have as good a quality photograph of this image for study and analysis. See Fig. 14 for an
enlargement of this frontispiece photograph.

Fig. 14

Access to the copy from which this frontispiece scan was made is courtesy of the Apkarian and Russell

Query Three: Has anyone seen this important photograph anywhere else?

Concluding Commentary and Yet Another Query

It is to be hoped that additional fragments, even all of the movie “Ravished Armenia/Auction of Souls” will
be found. Years ago, we embarked on a fruitless effort to track down the film after encountering what
seemed an unlikely (and hence enticing) reference to “Ravished Armenia” made on pg. 545 in volume 2 of
Richard Hovannisian’s The Republic of Armenia. From Versailles to London, 1919-1920. As it turned out no
film was to be found among the British Archival materials referred to. Apparently there never was any film
with the materials, i.e. it was not ‘lost.’ Undoubtedly, many individuals have sought to locate the film,
following many leads. The quest should never end so far as we are concerned.

“Hope springs eternal in the human breast?”

Our intent throughout this communication has been to emphasize that any given trail followed with the
purpose of elucidating one special point can lead to an unexpected find – however belatedly. And,
significantly, a considerably broader picture and perspective can emerge simply by checking out a few leads.
This is, of course, what research is all about. Serendipity certainly came into play more than once in our
case. Armen Khandjian and Ms. Karlins can answer that same question, should they wish to, from their own

We never deliberately sought out a copy of the first edition of the book “Ravished Armenia.” This is because
we thought we had access to one in the form of a paperback reprint put out in 1990 by Fawcett.[33]

For some reason, the photograph of the Kharpert deportation photo is missing from that reprint
(perhaps the page was lacking in the copy they used to produce the reprint publication?) although the other
photographs in the first edition are included. Assuming (and we have learned time and time again that one
should never assume!) that reprint was a full and faithful copy of the 1918 edition, we noted the photographs,
and let it go at that.

It seemed reasonable at that time to drop the matter until such time more important information surfaced.
After all, we had a 1919 dated, hardcover copy with an additional bit of interesting information. It is perhaps
worth stating at the outset that the copy with a stamped board cover had no dust jacket and we do not think it
ever had one. There was an illustrated cover for the softbound/paperback (first) 1918 edition but it is very
rare to encounter a copy with the pictorial cover nowadays. The few libraries that have the original volume
apparently had the work hardbound for library use and it was not uncommon in those days to discard the
paperback cover in the binding process. More is the pity for the first edition has an attractive and familiar
image (in sepia color) of Aurora Mardiganian on it (see Fig. 15).
Fig. 15

Scan of a rare softbound/paperback edition of Ravished Armenia with Aurora Mardiganian on it. This is
from the ‘1918’ first edition. Access to the copy from which this scan was made is courtesy of the Apkarian
and Russell Archives.

The second American release copy of the book “Ravished Armenia” (dated 1919) that we own is a
presentation copy complete with handwritten inscription by H[enry]. L[eyford]. Gates (1880-1937) to Boyd
Gurley (the editor of the Indianapolis Times, a progressive newspaper). It reads: “To my faithful friend Boyd
Gurley who probably wont believe all that’s written within. H.L. Gates New York 1919” (see Fig. 16).
Fig. 16

Indeed!? The Film Institute catalog reads:- “Viscount Bryce’s official report and Ex-Ambassador Henry
Morgenthau’s official story were additional sources for this film. The book was serialized in the Hearst
publications. The film and the book are based on true incidents in the life of Aurora Mardiganian….” (for a
bit more see also

But having learned again and again that one needs to verify everything, especially in this kind of research,
we believe that it should not be taken for granted that crucifixions occurred akin to those with which we are
most familiar, namely that of Jesus Christ. There was more than a little discussion and attention given to the
manner of crucifixion versus what is more accurately described as “impalement” in the aftermath of
screening the “Ravished Armenia” film.

So far as we are aware, today there seems to be little serious questioning (this includes Ms. Karlins and Dr.
Torchin) of the reliability of the perpetration of impalement [Crucifixion as usually perceived nowadays] of
Armenian women and girls (and presumably of other victims of other ‘races’ of Turkish, Kurdish or Chechen
etc. wrath) as covered, even exploited for particularly dramatic effect in the film “Ravished Armenia.” The
fact is that the staging and portrayal of crucifixion in a film like “Ravished Armenia” depended on how the
act (real or imagined) was perceived by the producers. Tortures of a wide and bewildering range including
the routine use of the bastinado (falaka) to the point that the soles of the feet swelled in extremis and the skin
broke due to edema, all the way to such sadistic acts as nailing horseshoes to men’s feet, tearing out beards,
eyebrows and fingernails, gouging out of eyes, disembowelment and cutting of the unborn from their
mother’s wombs were not solitary or rare occurrences. Accounts of these are accessible.[34] Various sorts
of sexual abuse of women, and children of both sexes, and even men, was not uncommon.[35]

It is of considerable interest to note just how persistent the perceptions and conceptions of atrocities of a
sexual nature that were committed long ago continue into the descriptions and relevant vocabulary of similar
acts in much more recent and even modern times. The studies of Dr. Lynda Boose show that many atrocities
committed in Bosnia by Serbs took on an aura and fell into a context much like that which existed in
Ottoman Turkish times.[36] To render the whole ugly matter of sexual atrocities and their portrayal even
more complex, Joel Schrock goes into considerable detail on rape in silent feature films, 1915-1927.[37]

Query: Can anyone help with specific references to impalements and the like during the Armenian


We thank the staff of Stony Brook University Libraries for their ongoing and generous help. We again thank
Pamela Apkarian-Russell and Chris Russell and the Apkarian and Russell Archives for having made their
copy of the softcover first edition of “Ravished Armenia” available for scanning. We thank Vartan
Matiossian for having communicated with us years ago on the involvement of Eduardo Kozanlian on his
discovery of fragment of the ‘lost’ “Ravished Armenia” footage. We thank the University of Wisconsin
Special Collections for allowing us access to their collection of their ‘New Near East’ materials. We are
grateful to the archives staff at Swarthmore College for checking on the Waln materials. Last but not least,
we thank John Gulbankian, Mary K. Rodgers and Dr. Daniel J. Tanner for reading the manuscript before


[1] Robert King Merton and Barber Elinor G., The Travels and Adventures of Serendipity : A Study in
Historical Semantics and the Sociology of Science (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press,

[2] James L. Barton, Story of Near East Relief (1915-1930) an Interpretation (New York: The Macmillan
Company, 1930).

[3] Note the lower case r. This may be a simple typesetting error. Or, it could even be a reflection of the
writer’s understanding that Near East Relief had a number of predecessors so far as its formal name was
concerned. See for example Eleanor Harvey Tejirian and Reeva Spector Simon, eds., Altruism and
Imperialism: Western Cultural and Religious Missions in the Middle East, Occasional Papers/Middle East
Institute, Columbia University (New York, N.Y.:Middle East Institute, Columbia University, 2002). The Act
to Incorporate Near East Relief as a body corporate of the District of Columbia was approved 6 August 1919
by the Senate and House of Representatives.

[4] In addition to putting in place and implementing the infrastructure for modern western education in the
Ottoman Empire, the American missionaries were a crucial component in the delivery of relief aid after the
“massacres” through organizations such as Near East Relief. They remain even today very much
underappreciated as having been real pioneers beyond their religious work. They were, first and foremost,
the very conduits whereby the money which was raised for relief was deliverable and made available on the
spot to do the relief work. The missionaries were also the main conduits for, and implementers of a wide
range of what are nowadays called ‘technical assistance projects.’ Today, these are all taken for granted; they
include the Fulbright Educational Exchange programs, foreign aid and assistance, the Peace Corps, UNRAA
(The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) etc. (see Joseph L. Grabill, "The "Invisible"
Missionary: A Study in American Foreign Relations," Journal of Church and State 14, no. 1 (1972):93-105.
Mention should also be made here of the work of relief activities and workers associated with other
nationalities, especially the Danes, the Norwegians and the Swiss.
[5] As an example of the motivation needed to do this kind of work, reference may be made to Prior to the
Auction of Souls, and Summer of 1915. Aurora Mardiganian, Tigran, and Sossi Ghazarian-Kevonian, eds.,
Prior to the "Auction of Souls" : Based on the Novel "Ravished Armenia" (Yerevan, Armenia: [s.n.], 2008)
and Khandjian, Melkon Armen Nercissian. Researcher and Editor, 2009. The Summer of 1915. The
Genocide of the Christian Armenian Nation and the Christianocide of Asia Minor by the “Terrible Turk.”
Ravished Armenia. “My two years of torture by the Turks” − The Diary of Arshalouys Aurora
Mardiganian. The eyewitness story of the Christian Armenian girl who survived the deportations and the
Armenocide. Volume I. 624 pgs.; Volume II. 384 pgs. [unnumbered], Encino, California: Black Cross of Van
Publisher Narazoon. (Note: The name of the author/compiler as given here is not an error.) Both of these
works are clearly ‘labors of love.’

[6] A few years ago we were allowed to examine some materials in the archives of the Near East Foundation
(NEF, the successor to the Near East Relief) housed at Rockefeller Archives in Tarrytown, NY. Dr. Linda K.
Jacobs, then of the NEF and Dr. Kenneth W. Rose of the Rockefeller Archives kindly went out of their way
to make that one-day visit very informative and useful. Much of the materials were in boxes, and the finding
aids were still rather general. We were able to gain considerable insight nevertheless.

[7] Some of these are well known to collectors but others are not. See for instance News Bulletin of
American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief, vol. 2 (no. 7) December 1918 for some of them.
Pamela E. Apkarian-Russell in her Armenians of Worcester (Charleston, South Carolina:Arcadia Publishing,
2000) reproduces some of these posters. The Library of Congress offers online imagery of very high quality.
As examples see for instance and and and

[8] Materials from each of these categories are avidly sought by collectors of Near East Relief ephemera. A
quick search on eBay indicates the very high prices that collectors are willing to pay as availability of
originals become ever more limited.

[9] Ms. Karlins received her Master of Arts degree at Tufts University through the Department of Drama and
Dance in 2010. Her thesis has the intriguing title “Limits of Empathy: crises of representation and their
possible solutions in theatrical and cinematic portrayals of the Rwandan genocide”—see Masters Abstracts
International 48, no. 04 (2010), pg.1897.

[10] Go to

[11] A reproduction of that poster albeit in smaller size (10 X 14 inches; the original is given as 38.5 X 25.2
inches by Karlins. A reproduction is offered for sale through ALMA), go to; last
accessed 1 October 2010

[12] The salvaged film had been transferred to tape and set to the music of Samuel Barber’s Adagio for
Strings, Op. 11. Our enquiry soon after purchase as to the origin of the tape met with no success. The source
of the item offered for sale seems to have become ‘lost.’ Communication with a friend of Mr. Kozanlian in
America but formerly from Buenos Aires informed us by email that a newspaper article in Spanish published
in Buenos Aires presented some details of the film fragment’s discovery. Unfortunately, no copy of the issue
of the newspaper, the major Argentine daily named Clarin, 21 April 1996 with the publicity article is
available in the United States so far as we have been able to ascertain. Copies of Clarin are electronically
archived, but not for the period in question. Note: This information was kindly supplied some long time
back by Vartan Matiossian who is a friend of Eduardo Kozanlian. He has recently communicated that at
Anthony Slide’s suggestion he is writing an article describing Eduardo’s role in finding the fragment of the
‘lost’ film. This should provide a better understanding of how and from where and by what means the film
fragment of “Ravished Armenia” was salvaged.

[13] Restoration is a rather complicated and expensive matter if it is to be done properly.

[14] We believe that we are justified in placing the word ‘restored’ in single quotes since we do not think the
film was digitized from a/the ‘master’ such as may exist. The video case states “This newly restored 24
minute segment of Ravished Armenia was produced by the Armenian Genocide Resource Center of
Northern California for the April 28, 2009 screening at the San Francisco Public Library. It includes a music
score, an introduction and 125 subtitles and a slideshow of production stills.” Distributed by Heritage
Publishing, Richmond, California.” The music score used is Barber’s Adagio just as was used in the LA
VHS tape.

[15] There is a second insert which could be overlooked if one did not remove the printed write-up – the
color poster reproduction is beneath the printed write-up.

[16] According to the Police Records vol. 56. Jan. 1, 1919 to Dec. 31, 1919. Boston, Mass. We read:-“The
applications of the following named persons for Amusement Licenses were forwarded to His Honor the
mayor approved:-…Louis H. Mudgett – to have a moving picture entitled “Ravished Armenia” in Symphony
Hall located at the corner of Huntington and Massachusetts Avenue on the afternoons and evenings of
January 27, 28 and 29, current.” For access to pg. 95 with this information go to

[17] We refrain from giving all the variant spellings of this name. This has been spelled here in a way that
reflects how family friends of one of us (ADK) from that area pronounced it.

[18] See Zgógorniak, Marek (2006) volume 27 no. 54, pgs. 219-237.
menu=art&gdzie=artibusChapter&id=540 for an abstract of his article; accessed 1 October 2010.

[19] An artist who is believed to be especially good at rendering animals life-like in art.

[20] See Leroi, Paul. 1887. L’Art. Revue Bi-Mensuelle Illustrée volume 42, pgs. 78-82. Apparently a
version of this plaster sculpture, now lost, was made as early as 1859.

[21] We suggest this because some poster pictures that we have seen have or used the word “scenario” while
others used “screenplay.” Also, as mentioned, one poster lacks the moon that is present in yet another, and
so forth.

[22] She is now on the faculty at St. Andrews University in Scotland. Her Ph.D. thesis entitled “The burden
of witnessing: media and mobilization in the age of genocide” New York University (2007) is replete with
interesting insights and analyses. See also Leshu Torchin, "Since We Forgot: Remembrance and Recognition
of the Armenian Genocide, pgs. 82-97 in Virtual Archives", in The Image and the Witness:Trauma, Memory
and Visual Culture, ed. Frances Guerin and Roger Hallas (New York, London: Wallflower Press, 2007).

[23] For a substantial treatment of advertisements gleaned from the contemporary press, see especially
Khandjian, Melkon Armen Nercissian. Researcher and Editor, 2009. The Summer of 1915. The Genocide
of the Christian Armenian Nation and the Christianocide of Asia Minor by the “Terrible Turk.” Ravished
Armenia. “My two years of torture by the Turks” − The Diary of Arshalouys Aurora Mardiganian. The
eyewitness story of the Christian Armenian girl who survived the deportations and the Armenocide. Volume
I. 624 pgs; Volume II. 384 pgs. [unnumbered], Encino, California: Black Cross of Van Publisher Narazoon.
(Note: The name of the author/compiler as given here is not an error.)

24/;words=ravished+Armenia+Ravished The late Lindy V. Avakian in his “The Cross and the Crescent”
(1965), which is full of photographic reproductions, used a crucifixion still from the “Ravished Armenia”
film on the back cover of his paperback. The source is not given; whether he got it from contemporary ads is
not known.

[25] We have not attempted to track down any family.

[26] For comparison, a recently digitized copy of the 1918 edition (the first) of the book from the Library of
Congress’ collection may be accessed at

[27] See and
[28] See Anthony Slide for some well-reproduced photographs associated with the film provided him
through the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences’ Margaret Herrick Library in Beverley Hills,
California. A wider range of photographs than many suppose exist since we have seen many scattered
throughout the early literature. See for example, The Illustrated London News Nov. 8, 1919 pg. 713 which
shows four scenes that are neither in the 1919 book “Ravished Armenia” nor among those provided by
Anthony Slide in his work published in 1997. A full compilation of the imagery would be informative.

[29] We have made a cursory attempt to compare and contrast the two film fragments that we have access
to. It has been more difficult than one might have guessed to come up with a firm answer to this matter of
how many fragments might exist since it appears that some ‘more than light’ editing was apparently done by
Richard D. Kloian. To add to the real or imagined complexity, there is a ‘version’ in three parts on You Tube
that is set to the dramatic and moving percussion music of composer and conductor Maestro Loris
Tjeknavorian. Go to It will require more expertise and
time than we have and access to the several versions to make an unequivocal decision as to whether there
really is more than one fragment.

[30] Anthony Slide, Ravished Armenia and the Story of Aurora Mardiganian, Filmmakers Series No. 57;
(Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1997).

[31] See Slide passim and see also for an example of what is available on the Internet]. Also see Alan Gevinson, Within
Our Gates: Ethnicity in American Feature Films, 1911-1960 (Berkeley, CA.: University of California Press,

[32] While visiting Pamela Apkarian-Russell and her husband Christopher Russell the subject of the film and
book “Ravished Armenia” came up. This discussion unexpectedly led to our seeing and examining and
scanning images from their hitherto unknown to us copy of this rare book.

[33] Aurora Mardiganian, Ravished Armenia (Astoria, N.Y.: J.C. & A.L. Fawcett, 1990).

[34] This remains one of our several projects still to be brought to fruition.

[35] See Matthias Bjornlund, "A Fate Worse Than Dying: Sexual Violence During the Armenian Genocide,"
pgs. 16-58 in Brutality and Desire; War and Sexuality in Europe's Twentieth Century, ed. Dagmar Herzog
(Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), and Ara Sarafian, "The Absorption of Armenian
Women and Children into Muslim Households as a Structural Component of the Armenian Genocide," pgs.
209-221 in In God's Name: Genocide and Religion in the Twentieth Century, ed. Omer Bartov and Phyllis
Mack, Studies on War and Genocide, V. 4. (New York: Berghahn Books, 2001).

[36] Lynda E. Boose, "Crossing the River Drina: Bosnian Rape Camps, Turkish Impalement, and Serb
Cultural Memory," Signs 28, no. 1 (2002): 71-96.

[37] Joel Shrock, "Desperate Deeds, Desperate Men: Gender, Race, and Rape in Silent Feature Films, 1915-
1927 " Journal of Men's Studies 6, no. 1 (1997): 69-89.



She stood beside me – a slight little girl with glossy black hair. Until I spoke to her and she lifted her
eyes in which were written the indelible story of her suffering. I could not believe that she was Aurora
Mardiganian whom I had been expecting. She could not speak English, but in Armenian she spoke a few
words of greeting.

It was our first meeting and in the spring of last year. Several weeks earlier a letter had come to me
telling me about this little Armenian girl who was to be expected, asking me to help her upon her arrival.
The year before an Armenian boy had come from our relief station in the Caucasus and kind friends had
made it possible to send him to boarding school. I had formed a similar plan to send Aurora to the same
school when she should arrive.
We talked about education that afternoon, through her interpreter, but she shook her head sadly. She
would like to go to school, and study music as her father had planned she should before the massacres, but
now she had a message to deliver – a message from her suffering nation to the mothers and fathers of the
United States. The determination in the child's eyes made me ask her her age and she answered “Seventeen.”

Tired, and worn out nervously, as she was, Aurora insisted upon telling us of the scenes she had left
behind her – massacres, families driven out across the desert, girls sold into Turkish harems, women ravished
by the roadside, little children dying of starvation. She begged us to help her to help her people." My father
said America was the friend of the oppressed. General Andranik sent me here because he trusted you to help
me," she pleaded.

And so her story was translated. Sometimes there had to be intervals of rest of several days, because
her suffering had so unnerved her. She wanted to keep at it during all the heat of the summer but, by using
the argument that she would learn English, we persuaded her to go to a camp off the coast of Connecticut for
three weeks.

You who read the story of Aurora Mardiganian’s last three years, will find it hard to believe that in
our day and generation such things are possible. Your emotions will doubtless be similar to mine when I first
heard of the suffering of her people. I remember very distinctly my feelings, when, early in October of 1917,
I attended a luncheon given by the Executive Committee of the American Committee for Armenian and
Syrian Relief, for a group of 17 American Consuls and missionaries who had just returned from Turkey after
witnessing two years of massacre and deportation. I listened to persons, the truthfulness of whose statements
I could not doubt, tell how a church had been filled with Christian Armenians, women and children,
saturated with oil and set on fire, of refined, educated girls, from homes as good as yours or mine, sold in the
slave markets of the East, a little children starving to death, and then to the plea for help for the pitiful
survivors who have been gathered into temporary relief stations.

I listened almost unable to believe and yet as I looked around the luncheon table there were familiar
faces, the faces of men and women whose word I could not doubt – Dr. James L Barton, Chairman of the
American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief, Ambassadors, Morgenthau and Elkus, who spoke
from personal knowledge, Cleveland H. Dodge, whose daughter, Mrs. Elizabeth Huntington is in
Constantinople, and his son is in Beirut, both helping with relief work, Miss Lucille Foreman of
Germantown, C. V. Vickrey, Executive Secretary of the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian
Relief, Dr. Samuel T Dutton of the World Court League, George T. Scott, Presbyterian Board of Foreign
Missions, and others.

And you who read this story as interpreted will find it even harder to believe than I did, because you
will not have the personal verification of the men and women who can speak with authority that I had at the
luncheon. Since then it is happened that nearly every communication from the East – Persia, Russian
Caucasus and the Ottoman Empire, has passed through my hands and I know the conditions have not been
exaggerated in this book. In this introduction I want to refer you to Lord Bryce's report, to Ambassador
Morgenthau's Story, to the recent speeches of Lord Cecil before the British Parliament, and the files of our
own State Department, and you will learn that stories similar to this one can be told by any one of the
3,950,000 refugees, the number now estimated to be destitute in the Near East.

This is a human living document. Miss Mardiganian’s names, dates and places, do not correspond
exactly with similar references to these places made by Ambassador Morgenthau, Lord Bryce and others, but
we must take into consideration that she is only a girl of seventeen, that she has lived through one of the
most tragic periods of history in that section of the world which has suffered most from the war, that she is
not a historian, that her interpreter in giving this story to the American public has not attempted to write a
history. He has simply aimed to give her message to the American people that they may understand
something of the situation in the Near East during the past years, and helped to establish there for the future,
a sane and stable government.

Speaking of the character of the Armenians, Ambassador Morgenthau says in a recent article
published in the New York Evening Sun: " From the times of Herodotus this portion of Asia has borne the
name of Armenia. The Armenians of the present day are the direct descendants of the people who inhabited
the country 3,000 years ago. Their origin is so ancient that it is lost in fable and mystery. There are still
undecipherable cuneiform inscriptions on the rocky hills of Van, the largest Armenian city, that have led
certain scholars – though not many, I must admit – to identify the Armenian race with the Hittites of the
Bible. What is definitely known about the Armenians, however, is that for ages they have constituted the
most civilized and most industrious race in the Eastern section of the Ottoman Empire. From their
mountains they have spread over the Sultan's dominions, and form a considerable element in the population
of all the large cities. Everywhere they are known for their industry, their intelligence and their decent and
orderly lives. They are so superior to the Turks intellectually and morally that much of the business and
industry has passed into their hands. With the Greeks, the Armenians constituted the economic strength of
the Empire. These people became Christians in the fourth century and established the Armenian Church as
their state religion. This is said to be the oldest Christian Church in existence.”

"In face of persecutions which have had no parallel elsewhere, these people have clung to their early
Christian faith with the utmost tenacity. For 1,500 years they have lived there in Armenia, a little island of
Christians, surrounded by backward peoples of hostile religion and hostile race. Their long existence has
been one unending martyrdom. The territory which they inhabit forms the connecting link between Europe
and Asia, and all the Asiatic invasions –Saracens Tartars, Mongols, Kurds and Turks – have passed over their
peaceful country."

Aurora Mardiganian has come to America to tell the story of her suffering peoples and to do her part
in making it possible for her country to be rebuilt. She is only a little girl, but in giving her story to the
American people through the daily newspapers, in this book, and the motion picture which is being prepared
for that purpose by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief, she is, I feel, playing one of
the greatest parts in helping to reestablish again " peace on earth, goodwill to men" in ancient Bible Lands,
the home in her generation of her people. Her mother, her father, her brothers and sisters are gone, but
according to the most careful estimates, 3,950,000 destitute peoples, mostly women and children who had
been driven many of them as far as one thousand miles from home, turn their pitiful faces toward America
for help in the reconstructive period in which we are now living.

Dr. James L Barton, who is leaving this month with the commission of two hundred men and women
for the purpose of helping to rehabilitate these lands from which Aurora came, is a part of the answer to the
call for help from these destitute people. The American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief
Campaign for $30,000,000, in which it is hoped all of the people of America will participate, is another part
of the answer.

You who read this book can play a part also in helping Aurora to deliver her message, by passing it
on to some one else when you have finished with it.

December 2, 1918 Nora Waln,

One Madison Ave., Publicity Secretary,

New York American Committee for

Armenian and Syrian Relief.