“My grandfather played a great role in shaping my personality. To never give in; to get up when you fall; to work and to create – I inherited these important characteristics from him. He was an amazing person who intimately shared his great willingness to live, create and build. As a child, he was forced to traverse unspeakable hardships – emigration, starvation, the loss of his homeland. But he was steadfast and strong, like a sturdy tree that gathered all family members in its protective shade until the end of its days,” Gor remembers.
Mihran Avetisyan with his grandson Gor Avetisyan
Mihran Avetisyan was born in 1903 in the village of Roustamgedouk (Bitlis vilayet, Manazkert Province), the eldest of Kostan and Chichak Avetisyan’s five children. Known as "the Avkos" (the family believes that the surname Avetisyan is a derivation), they were a large, prominent and well-respected clan that settled in Roustamgedouk some 200 years before. The two diaries that Mihran wrote in his later years, in handwriting that is sometimes illegible, relate how the Avetisyans and other Armenians left their once-flourishing homeland.
Mihran Avetisyan’s handwritten memoirs about his native village and the Genocide
One day, neighboring Kurds came to our village. Each one of them, fully armed, stood watch through the night outside the house of an Armenian they knew, so that Turks or other Kurds wouldn’t enter the village and kill us.
| Mihran Avetisyan and his sister Aregnaz
Mihran Avetisyan and his wife Hripsimeh
A portrait of Mihran Avetisyan; painted by Gor Avetisyan
"One of my uncle Aramayis’ friends, Finnish photographer Lampinen, would frequently visit Turkey. Once, when he was our guest, my grandfather requested that he bring back some soil and water from the homeland. Back then, only a few people were travelling to Western Armenia and, for my granddad, the items he brought back were wondrous,” Gor remembers. The family kept the soil as if it was holy oil, scattering it on the graves of all the relatives who had emigrated to bring peace to their souls. The final resting place of Mihran Avetisyan, in Gyumri, was also so blessed.
| The Avetisyan family