Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Image: Aaron Ernst

A dictator named Adolph Hitler had ordered this genocide against Jews.

“Who, after all,” Adolph said in 1939, “speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

Back to Ellis and Sylvia, who met in London during World War II.

They married and had children, including me.

Were it not for World War I, my maternal grandparents would not have met.

Were it not for World War II, my parents would not have met.

Which makes me a product of two world wars. And of grandparents who evaded two genocides.

Around my neck I wear a gold skull with ruby eyes.

Skulls symbolize human mortality.

This skull reminds me to make the most of each day, and live life to the fullest.

And to be grateful I am here because my grandparents evaded two genocides.

Its two ruby red eyes represent two genocides. And the blood shed by 7,500,000 Armenians and Jews.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


However bad my grandfather’s premonition, Henry could not have foreseen the horror of Holocaust.

On January 17th, Wysokie’s Jews were forced to board trains that rolled them to Auschwitz.

Auschwitz was a German concentration and extermination camp in southern Poland.

On arrival at Auschwitz, women and children and the elderly were separated from their husbands, fathers and sons and led to a building where they were ordered to undress. Naked, they were guided into a special chamber, and the door screwed shut behind them.

They were not told what would happen next.

Inside the special chamber they were introduced to Zyklon B.

Zyklon B is a poison made with cyanide. It was created to kill insects.

Zyklon B pellets were dropped into the special chamber, creating a poison gas.

The Jews inside shouted and screamed for twenty minutes as their mouths foamed and their ears oozed blood.

Then all were dead.

Young Jewish men were spared because the German army needed slave labor.

Auschwitz had a motto: Arbeit macht frei (“Work brings hope”).

This motto was a hoax.

There was much work, but little hope.

After working as hard as they could, many young Jewish men were also sent to the special chamber--to an agonizing death by Zyklon B poison gas.

Monday, March 28, 2011


A year passed.

On November 1st, 1942, three hundred empty wagons, borrowed by Polish police from local farmers, arrived in Wysokie.

Next day, all Jews were summoned to Wysokie’s main square and ordered to climb aboard the wagons.

A crowd of Polish people stood by, armed with garden tools. They did not stand by to defend Jews. They stood by to steal all the possessions Jews were forced to leave behind.

Three hundred wagons of weeping Jews rolled to Zambrow.

In Zambrow, Wysokie’s Jews joined 17,500 Jews from other nearby towns in conditions more cramped than Wysokie’s ghetto.

The Germans provided each Jew one quart of water and one slice of bread, daily. About one hundred persons—mostly children and the elderly—died, daily.

The arrival of a new year did not warrant celebration. Two weeks into 1943, the Germans murdered any Jew who suffered ill health. Jews who could still stand were marched to Chizev train station. Along the way, people who hated Jews beat them, gauntlet-style.

It was winter, and very cold. Many Jews froze to death before reaching the trains.

Those were the lucky ones.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


A few days after Henry died, Germany negotiated a deal with Russia to divide Poland (again).

Under Russian rule, Wysokie’s Jews were allowed to return to their town. They re-built Wysokie, though their community had dwindled—through organized murder—from 2,500 to 1,100 Jews.

When Germany and Russia went to war two years later, German soldiers seized Wysokie a second time, on June 23rd, 1941.

This time the Germans did not kid around. They did not march Wysokie’s Jews to Zambrow and shoot some of them dead for walking too slow. Instead, in late August, the Germans created a ghetto in Wysokie.

A ghetto is a segregated neighborhood whose inhabitants are squeezed together in cramped conditions.

Wysokie’s ghetto comprised of three streets surrounded by a barrier of barbed wire.

German soldiers marched Jews from other towns into Wysokie’s ghetto. Soon, 20,000 Jews were squeezed so tight they could hardly breathe.

When winter arrived, German soldiers marched Jews into the forest to chop down trees for firewood. In return, Jews were allowed to keep tree roots to boil as soup.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


In 1937 Wysokie fell victim to a pogrom.

A pogrom is an organized attack on persons of a particular ethnic group.

The particular ethnic group targeted by this pogrom was Jews. Many houses belonging to Jews were looted and trashed and destroyed, and many Jews were injured.

On September 1st, 1939, Germany invaded Poland and started World War II.

Nine days later, German soldiers arrived in Wysokie and set much of the town on fire.

Image: Aaron Ernst

The Germans rounded-up Wysokie’s Jewish men from age seventeen upwards and herded them to a Catholic Church, and refused them food and drink for three days.

On the fourth day, the Germans marched their herd of Jews to Zambrow, a city twenty miles east, to work as slaves.

They shot dead all Jews who could not keep up with them.

Perhaps overcome by his prophetic premonition, Henry suffered a heart attack and died, at age 58, three weeks after World War II started. Henry had three sons of military age, and he was a worrier.

Friday, March 25, 2011


Henry and Sarah settled in New York City, started a family, and Henry founded a travel agency in lower Manhattan.

Henry had a premonition that bad things would happen to friends and family left behind in Wysokie.

Most of the people Henry left behind were Jewish. Henry and Sarah were Jewish by birth but they did not practice any religious faith.

As Henry watched the rise of Nazism in Germany, he wrote letters to friends and relatives in Wysokie begging them to leave Poland.

Nazism is an ideology based largely on racism, anti-Semitism and hatred.

Henry offered friends and relatives free transportation, through his travel agency, to leave Poland.

But Wysokie’s Jews were enterprising and had built a decent existence. So they mostly remained.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Image: Aaron Ernst

Ellis's parents were from Wysokie.

Wysokie is a town in eastern Poland.

Poland is a country in Eastern Europe in between two neighbors, Russia and Germany.

Throughout history, Russia and Germany ravaged, divided and occupied Poland’s territory.

In 1913 my grandparents departed Wysokie for a new life in America. Perhaps they’d had enough of Poland’s aggressive neighbors.

Henry and Sarah disembarked from the S.S. Kroonland onto Ellis Island on July 1st, 1913.

The S.S. Kroonland was an ocean liner that cruised between New York and Antwerp (a city in Belgium).

Ellis Island, in New York Harbor, is where immigrants entered the United States, near a great statue, which welcomed them with these words:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send them, the homeless, to me.

Monday, March 21, 2011


Troops from the Allied powers occupied Constantinople after World War I.

Their ranks included a British soldier named Edward Stanley.

Edward and his fellow soldiers liked to visit a necktie shop. They did not need more neckties after already buying too many. They wanted to be near a pretty young necktie sales person. Her name was Adrine.

Adrine spoke little English. But Edward was smitten. He asked Adrine to marry him.

Adrine’s family did not want her to marry Edward Stanley because Edward was English.

Adrine told her family she would become a nun if they would not let her marry Edward.

Adrine’s family could see that Adrine was serious—and truly in love. So they said okay, and Adrine married Edward.

When Edward returned to England with his bride, Edward’s family was horrified that he had married an Armenian.

Intolerance everywhere.

Edward and Adrine had a daughter named Sylvia.

Two decades later, Sylvia met Ellis, who was stationed in England with the U.S. Army, which fought Germany in World War II as Germans tried to answer their “Jewish Question."

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Back to World War I. 

 It did not go well for the Ottoman Empire. Along with Germany, the Ottoman Empire lost, and the Allied powers occupied Constantinople.

Before troops of the Allied powers arrived, the Young Turk trio did their own vanishing act.

Aided by Germans, Mehmet escaped by submarine to Germany.

Ismail also fled to Germany.

Ahmed also bolted to Germany.

Armenians hunted Mehmet and Ahmed--and assassinated them within four years.

Ismail was last to die, killed in battle by an Armenian.

Years later, Adolph Hitler of Germany should have paid attention to what happened to Mehmet, Djemal, and Ismail.

Instead, Adolph tried to solve the “Jewish Question.”

Again, this was not a real question, but a figure of speech for wanting Jews to vanish.

"Who, after all," Adolph said in 1939, "speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

Adolph tried to solve his “question” the same as Mehmet, Ismail, and Ahmed tried to solve their “question.”

And Adolph also died as a consequence.

Evil tyrants eventually get what they deserve.

Later, Germany accepted responsibility for their genocidal Holocaust of Jews.

But Turkey has never acknowledged their genocidal massacre of Armenians.

Instead, the Turkish government deny that they wanted Armenians to vanish.

And Turks try to silence anyone that publishes information about their genocide against Armenians, as if it can be swept under a magic carpet.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


My grandmother, Adrine, and her family, were among 500,000 Armenians who did not vanish.

The Kalfayan family left Trebizond by boat in June 1915. They were on the last boat to leave Trebizond before Young Turks and Kurds massacred all of Trebizond’s 14,000 Armenians.

The Kalfayans sailed to Istanbul, Turkey’s capital, which was then called Constantinople, where they had lived before moving to Trebizond.

Adrine’s father, Azarik Kalfayan, designed rugs for Sultan Abdul-Hamid II.

In 1895 Abdul-Hamid II rewarded Azarik with a Certificate of Personal Satisfaction. Twenty years later, Azarik used his Certificate of Personal Satisfaction as a Get-out-of-genocide-alive card for himself and his family.

But the wide-scale brutal murder of Armenians scarred Azarik’s family psychologically. Five decades later, when Adrine temporarily suffered mental illness, she believed Young Turks were tracking her movements and wanted to make her vanish.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Young Turks needed help to ensure that all Armenians in Turkey would vanish. So they encouraged other ethnic tribes, such as Kurds, to kill Armenians and steal their possessions.

Young Turks also created a special organization to help Armenians vanish.

This organization was named “Special Organization.” It comprised of criminals who were released from prison in exchange for their willingness to kill Armenians. These criminals were also encouraged to rape Armenian women, including young girls, and turn them into sex slaves. And they were allowed to keep everything they could steal from Armenians.

A favorite Turkish vanishing trick was to march, march, march thousands of Armenians up mountains and over cliffs into a river, which turned red from Armenian blood.

Another Turkish vanishing trick was to march, march, march thousands of Armenians into the hot desert, without water, so they would fry to death.

In all, Young Turks made about 1,500,000 Armenians vanish.


Image: Aaron Ernst

In 1914, the start of World War I created a cover for Young Turks to answer their “Armenian Question.”

This was not a real question. It was a figure of speech for wanting Armenians to vanish.

The Turks sided with Germany and Austria-Hungary during World War I.

While Germany and Austria-Hungary fought France and Great Britain on European battlefields, Young Turks laid the groundwork for Armenians to vanish.

At that time, 40,000 Armenians served in the Turkish army. These Armenian soldiers were relieved of their weapons, put to work as slave labor, and eventually shot dead.

Meanwhile, Young Turks ordered all other Armenians to surrender their weapons.

It is never a good sign when a government orders its citizens to surrender their weapons. This is why the founders of the United States of America granted Americans the right to bear arms. They did this so Americans would be able to defend themselves against a bossy government--and also rise up and overthrow government if its leaders ever became too bossy.

But back to Armenians, who surrendered their weapons.

Armenians began to vanish on April 24th, 1915.

On that date, three hundred prominent Armenians were rounded up by Turks and imprisoned, tortured, and shot or hanged.

Thursday, March 17, 2011


In between Turkey and countries to the east lay Armenia’s homeland--and two million Christian Armenians.

This did not matter to Young Turks.

And it did not bode well for Armenians.

The Young Turk trio whipped up religious hatred against Christians.

Perhaps they were jealous that Armenians had always been progressive and open to new ideas. And that Armenians were smart and enterprising, educated and skilled, and therefore wealthy compared to most Turks. This was because the Sultan had discouraged learning. Instead, the Sultan encouraged his subjects become unskilled peasants so that they would be ignorant and loyal to him.


In 1895, instead of allowing Armenians to vote in elections and making tax equal for all people, the Ottoman Empire’s leader, Sultan Abdul-Hamid II, created a special army to murder 100,000 Armenians.

For sure, this special army reduced the Armenian minority if Armenians would ever win the right to vote. But perhaps Sultan Abdul-Hamid II forgot it would also result in fewer premium taxpayers.

For reasons that had nothing to do with Armenians, a group of Turks forced a constitutional government on the Sultan in 1908. This group was known as Young Turks.

A constitutional government meant that Young Turks would share power with the Sultan.

Young Turks believed in modernizing their country. They claimed to believe in equality and justice.

Although Armenians supported Young Turks and their progressive thinking, what Young Turks really meant was equality and justice for all Moslems,
not Christian Armenians.

In 1913, Young Turks overthrew Sultan Abdul-Hamid II as ruler.

Three Young Turks—Mehmet Talaat, Ismail Enver, and Ahmed Djemal—became the empire’s new rulers.

Quickly, Mehmet, Ismail, and Ahmed became bossier than the Sultan they had overthrown for being too bossy.

This trio wanted to create a new Turkish empire with one religion. Their religion. And they wanted to take over countries to the east.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


The Armenian nation was first to recognize Christianity as a religion, in the year 301.

Armenia’s homeland, Anatolia, had been absorbed into the Ottoman Empire, which was then a world power.

The Ottoman Empire’s rulers did not like progress.

Without progress, the Ottoman Empire’s army could not compete with armies in Europe, where progress was welcomed, especially to modernize armies.

And so the Ottoman Empire fell apart in the late 1800s as Greek, Serb, and Romanian armies fought against Turks to win independence from the oppressive empire.

Armenians did not seek independence from Turks. They sought equality. For instance, Armenians were not allowed to vote in the Ottoman Empire. And, as Christians, they were forced to pay more tax than Moslems.


In 1915, my grandmother, Adrine Kalfayan, was a young teenager in Trebizond, a city in northeastern Turkey on the Black Sea.

At that time, Turkey was part of the Ottoman Empire.

My grandmother was Armenian.

Through the 1800s and early 1900s, Armenians were treated as second-class citizens in their own historical homeland.

This was because Armenians were Christian, and Moslem Turks outnumbered Armenians, ten-to-one.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Commencing April 24th, 1915, the Ottoman Empire committed genocide against its Armenian population.

This monument, erected by Americans of Armenian descent, is dedicated to the 1,500,000 Armenian victims of the genocide perpetrated by the Turkish government, 1915-1921, and to men of all nations who have fallen victim to crimes against humanity.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Commencing April 24th, 1915, the Ottoman Empire committed genocide against its Armenian population.

This monument, erected by Americans of Armenian descent, is dedicated to the 1,500,000 Armenian victims of the genocide perpetrated by the Turkish government, 1915-1921, and to men of all nations who have fallen victim to crimes against humanity.


Commencing April 24th, 1915, the Ottoman Empire committed genocide against its Armenian population.

This monument, erected by Americans of Armenian descent, is dedicated to the 1,500,000 Armenian victims of the genocide perpetrated by the Turkish government, 1915-1921, and to men of all nations who have fallen victim to crimes against humanity.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Montebello, California

Commencing April 24th, 1915, the Ottoman Empire committed genocide against its Armenian population.

This monument, erected by Americans of Armenian descent, is dedicated to the 1,500,000 Armenian victims of the genocide perpetrated by the Turkish government, 1915-1921, and to men of all nations who have fallen victim to crimes against humanity.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


By Robert Eringer

Since this arch bridge was built in 1963, forty-eight persons--aged between18 and 72--have used it as a launch pad for jumping to their deaths. No one has survived the 480-foot drop.

Suicide is often impulsive, deriving from temporary thoughts, and almost always a result of psych-ache associated with bipolar syndrome, depression and schizophrenia, which can all be treated.

A research study showed that 94 percent of 515 persons prevented from jumping off San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge were still alive seven years later.

As many as one in six people will become seriously suicidal at some point in their lives, according to the American Association of Suicidology (AAS) in Washington, D.C.

The allure of a "suicide bridge"--of its certainty, without impediment--is a strong motivator for persons temporarily blinded with suicidal thoughts.

"There is no question that bridge barriers work,"
Dr. Alan Berman, executive director of the AAS, told The Investigator.

"Research has shown that barriers are the most effective form of suicide prevention on bridges that have been magnets or landmarks for people with suicidal thoughts. Our research includes looking to see if suicide increases elsewhere in the general area, and we find there is no such increase."

Despite its cost, a plan to install barriers on Cold Spring Bridge measures up to the morality we expect of ourselves as a civilized people.