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Ravished Armenia and the Story of Aurora Mardiganian

Ravished Armenia and the Story of Aurora Mardiganian

Edited by Anthony Slide
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Ravished Armenia and the Story of Aurora Mardiganian
    Book Description:

    "Ravished Armenia" and the Story of Aurora Mardiganianis the real-life tale of a teenage Armenian girl who was caught up in the 1915 Armenian genocide, the first genocide in modern history. Mardiganian (1901-1994) witnessed the murder of her family and the suffering of her people at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. Forced to march over fourteen hundred miles, she was sold into slavery. When she escaped to the United States, Mardiganian was then exploited by the very individuals whom she believed might help. Her story was published in book form and then used as the basis for a 1918 feature film, in which she herself starred.

    The filmRavished Armenia, also known asAuction of Souls, is a graphic retelling of Aurora Mardiganian's story, with the teenager in the central role, supported by Anna Q. Nilsson and Irving Cummings and directed by Oscar Apfel. Only twenty minutes of the film--the first to deal with the Armenian genocide--is known to survive, but it proves to be a stunning production, presenting its story in newsreel style.

    This revised edition of Anthony Slide's"Ravished Armenia" and the Story of Aurora Mardiganianalso contains an annotated reprint of Mardiganian's original narrative and, for the first time, the full screenplay. In his introduction, Slide recounts the making of the film and Mardiganian's life in the United States, involving a cast of characters including Henry Morgenthau, Mrs. George W. Vanderbilt, Mrs. Oliver Harriman, and film pioneer William Selig. The introduction also includes original comments by Aurora Mardiganian, whom Slide interviewed before her death. Acclaimed Armenian Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan, who created a video art installation about Mardiganian in 2007, provides a foreword.

    eISBN: 978-1-62674-030-3
    Subjects: Film Studies, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Atom Egoyan

    I’LL NEVER FORGET the moment I first came across Anthony Slide’s book,Ravished America and the Story of Aurora Mardiganian. It was several years after its original publication. I was delivering a lecture in a small college town and noticed the book on one of the shelves at the campus store. As I flipped through the pages, I realized the irony of discovering the book in this most unlikely of places, at that very time. After all, I was at the university to lecture on my 2002 film,Ararat, which considers the residual effects of the Armenian Genocide as trauma...

  5. [Illustrations]
    (pp. 1-4)
    (pp. 5-32)

    RICH IN NATURAL RESOURCES, Armenia is a small, mountainous country, lying between the Caspian and Black seas and the Mediterranean. Its people have witnessed more bloodshed than any other national group in the world, and Armenia holds a sorry place in history as the site of the last genocide of the nineteenth century and the first genocide of the twentieth century. As Edward Gibbon wrote in the 1770s inThe Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, “From the earlier period to the present hour, Armenia has been the theatre of perpetual war.”

    Armenians trace their lineage back to Noah,...

  7. [Illustrations]
    (pp. 33-42)
  8. Ravished Armenia: The Story of Aurora Mardiganian

    • [Title page, dedication, table of contents]
      (pp. 43-48)
      (pp. 49-50)
      H. L. GATES
      (pp. 51-54)

      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...

    • ARSHALUS—THE LIGHT OF THE MORNING A Prologue to the Story
      (pp. 55-60)
      H. L. GATES

      OLD VARTABED, the shepherd whose flocks had clothed three generations, stood silhouetted against the skies on the summit of a Taurus hill. His figure was motionless, erect and very tall. The signs of age were in every crease of his grave, strong face, yet his hands folded loosely on his stick, for he would have scorned to lean upon it.

      To the east and north spread the plains of the Mamuret-ul-Aziz, with here and there a plateau reaching out from a nest of foothills. Each Spring, through twenty-five centuries, other shepherds than Old Vartabed had stood on his same hilltop...

      (pp. 61-70)

      MY STORY BEGINS with Easter Sunday morning, in April, 1915. In my father’s house we prepared to observe the day with a joyous reverence, increased by the news from Constantinople that the Turkish government recently had expressed its gratitude for the loyal and valuable service of the Armenian troops in the Great War. When Turkey joined in the war, almost six months before, a great fear spread throughout Armenia. Without the protecting influence of France and England, my people were anxious lest the Turks take advantage of their opportunity and begin again the old oppression of their Christian subjects. The...

      (pp. 71-80)

      I HAD GONE UPSTAIRS to my window to watch father crossing the street to the square. Mother had fallen onto a divan in the reception room downstairs. Lusanne and my little brothers and sisters stayed with her, even the little ones trying to make believe that, perhaps, father would return. When I saw the soldier take Paul, too, I screamed. Mother heard and came running upstairs, Lusanne and the others following. I was the only one who had seen. I would have to tell them—to tell them that not only father, but that little Paul, who had wanted to...

      (pp. 81-90)

      FOR A TIME Lusanne and I debated whether we should return to the square and join mother, since Miss Graham had been stolen and could not help us, or whether we should make an effort to escape since we had so far escaped notice in our disguises. We decided that, perhaps, if we could reach the house of a friendly Turk, outside the city, and we knew of many of these, we might find a way to help mother. We did not know how this could ever be done, but we clung to a hope that surely some one would...

      (pp. 91-101)

      DURING THE NIGHT Turkish residents from cities near by came to our camp and sought to buy whatever the women had brought with them of value. Many had brought a piece of treasured lace; others had carried their jewelry; some even had brought articles of silver, and rugs. There were many horse and donkey carts along, as the Turks encouraged all the women to carry as much of their belongings as they could. This we soon learned was done to swell the booty for the soldiers when the party was completely at their mercy.

      As the civilian Turks went through...

      (pp. 102-110)

      WHILE WE STOOD, in groups, looking with horror into the well, I suddenly heard these words, spoken by a woman standing near me: “God has gone mad; we are deserted!”

      I turned and saw it was the wife of Badvelli Markar, a pastor who had been our neighbor in Tchemesh-Gedzak. When the men of our city were massacred the Badvelli’s wife was left to care for an aged mother, who was then ill in bed with typhoid fever, and three children—a baby, a little girl of three, and a boy who was five. She had begged the Turks to...

      (pp. 111-119)

      THE EXILES FROM MY CITY were kept in a camp outside Arabkir. On the third day the hills around us suddenly grew white with the figures of Aghja Daghi Kurds. They waited until nightfall then they rode down among us. There were hundreds of them, and when they were weary of searching the women for money, they began to gather up girls and young women.

      I tried to conceal myself when a little party of the Kurds came near. But I was too late. They took me away, with a dozen other girls and young wives this band had caught....

      (pp. 120-127)

      SEVEN DAYS AFTER the massacre at Divrig Gorge, those of us who survived the cruelties of our guards along the way, saw just ahead of us the minarets of Malatia, one of the great converging points for the hundreds of thousands of deported Armenians on their way to the Syrian deserts which, by this time, I knew to be the destination of those who were permitted to live. When the minarets came into view, I was much excited by the hope that perhaps my mother’s party might have reached there and halted, and that I might find her there.


      (pp. 128-135)

      AFTER THE MASSACRE of the men all the exiles waiting in Malatia were told to prepare for the road again. We were assembled outside the city early one morning. Only women and some children, with here and there an old man, were left. We were told we were to be taken to Diyarbekir, a hundred miles across the country. Very few had hopes of surviving this stage of the journey, as the country was thickly dotted with Turkish, Circassian and Kurdish villages, and inhabited by most fanatical Moslems. Civilians were more cruel to the deportees along the roads between the...

      (pp. 136-144)

      THE WOMEN of the haremlik had retired, except the three who awaited our coming. These took us through a long, narrow corridor, lit only by a single lamp, to a separate wing of the house. Through a curtained doorway we entered a series of small stone-floored rooms, in which women were sleeping. At last we came to a wooden door, which one of the women opened, pushing us through. One of them lit a taper.

      The room was barren, with not even a window. On the floor was a row of sleeping rugs, but there were neither cushions nor pillows....

      (pp. 145-154)

      FROM THE EDGE of a sandy plateau I caught my first view of Diyarbekir,¹ once the capital of our country. For two days we had ridden with the Tchetchens. We knew that some new peril awaited us in this ancient city which, centuries before, had been one of the most glorious cities of Christ.

      When the Tchetchens drew up at the edge of the plateau, the walls of the city spread out far below us, with here and there a minaret rising over the low roofs. Just beyond the city was the beautiful, blue Tigris—the River Hiddekel, of the...

      (pp. 155-164)

      I THREW THE KNIFE AWAY and stood up. The zaptiehs soon found me. I was resigned for whatever was to happen, and did not run from them.

      I told them I had come out from the city; that I wanted to join some of my people; that if they would not harm me I would not give them any trouble. I still had the three liras, or three pounds, which the good Turkish lady had given me, but I knew if I gave it to them they would only search me for more and then, perhaps, kill me. So I...

      (pp. 165-173)

      WITH SO FEW of us to guard, and almost all of us either young or not so very old, the nights were made terrible by the zaptiehs. For many days they had been on the road with us, and had tired of ordinary cruelties and the mere shaming of the girls under cover of darkness at the camping places. The Turks who had been recruited from the villages and made guards over us were especially brutal. It was their first opportunity to visit upon Christians that hatred with which Islam looks upon the “Unbeliever.”

      When we drew near to Ourfa...

      (pp. 174-182)

      EARLY IN THE MORNING we were taken into the city, tied across horses which were led just behind the group of chiefs who followed Sheikh Zilan, himself. Inside the city four horsemen led our horses into one of the low quarters of the city. Here we were given into the keeping of a cruel looking Kurd, whom I was soon to know was Bekran Agha, the notorious slave dealer of Moush.

      Ten thousand Armenian girls, delicate, refined daughters of Christian homes, college girls, young school teachers, daughters of the rich and the poor, have experienced the terror of the same...

      (pp. 183-191)

      TWO NIGHTS WENT BY before Old Vartabed came again. But each night he signaled and I answered. On the third night, his face was framed again in the window casement.

      “Be ready, little one—I shall lift you out soon,” he whispered. He had brought a steel bar with which to pry aside the iron bars in the window. The bars were very old—perhaps for a hundred years or more they had served to shut in the prisoners that once had been confined in this same dungeon room in Ahmed Bey’s big house. I knelt to pray, and I...

  9. [Illustrations]
    (pp. 192-202)
  10. Ravished Armenia THE SCRIPT
    (pp. 203-270)

    [THE SCRIPT REPRODUCED HERE is one of three that survive in manuscript form. Based on my reading, it is the one in all probability closest to the finished production. It is credited solely to Frederic Chapin, and bears the titleRavished Armenia. One of the other scripts is titledArmenia Crucified, and identified as production no. 869. What is perhaps most surprising about the script is its detail; in many ways it is closer to a cutting continuity than a screenplay although it is obviously not the former. Minor corrections have been made to the script, largely relating to the...

  11. [Illustrations]
    (pp. 271-272)
  12. Ravished Armenia THE PROLOGUE
    (pp. 273-277)

    [INITIAL SCREENINGS ofRavished Armeniabegan with a live prologue, presented, as indicated here, immediately following the main and credit titles for the film. While the film is extreme in its attack on the Ottoman Empire, the prologue is notable for its very strong anti-Islam slant, even claiming that Christ was killed by Moslems.]...