Welcome to Beyond the Blue Domes, my personal blog. In earlier posts, I shared memories about growing up in Iran during the Shah's rule, fleeing the country at age thirty, raising a family in the United States, and facing the newness and challenges of American life. Lately I'm posting my thoughts on stories or news that have touched me. My theme is exploring social realities and the intersections within cultures, and preserving history. Thanks for stopping by.
“Project in Progression: Deception and the Post-WWII Soviet Armenia Repatriation”
By Hazel Antaramian Hofman
Presently Hazel Antaramian Hofman is working on her project to publish a book about Armenian Repatriation to Armenia after World War II. The following is in her words.
I was born in 1960, in Yerevan, Armenia, yet spoke little Armenian, and what I did speak was Western Armenian. As a young child, I always wondered why I came from such an exotic place when my father was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and my mother was from Lyon, France. Only after years of hearing stories did I realize that I was the product of two Armenian Diaspora post-World War II repatriate children, who were compelled by their father and mother’s emotive sense of hayrenik to leave one known cultural and ideological ground for another.
The post-WWII repatriation movements uprooted many Armenians from all over the world: France, Lebanon, Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Syria,Bulgaria, Romania, Palestine, the United States, even some from Sudan, Iran, Iraq, India, Uruguay, Argentina, and China. It was an orchestrated campaign to repopulate what fraction that remained of a vast land well-documented as the ancestral home of Armenians from the time of Darius the Great. But the repatriates were headed not to the romanticized, vast ancient land of their forebears, but to a “sovietized” Armenia under Stalin. It was a migratory event complete with personal and spiritual dispossession, and cultural disparity.
The Republic of Armenia was in a state of extreme poverty after World War II. By November of 1945, Stalin authorized the return of Armenians to Soviet Armenia with the incentive of bringing in new life in the construction, vitalization, and economic development to a destitute SovietRepublic. Armenian nationalistic organizations, political parties, and religious leadership organized efforts of the repatriation. The Armenian Repatriation Committee stressed the need to nationally support the country of Armenia while downplaying the reality that Armenia was now a Soviet-dominated country.
Nearly a year ago my article, “From James Dean to Stalin: the Tragedy of the Armenian Repatriation,” appeared online inOsservatorio balcani e caucaso, in English and Italian. While this was not the original title of my work, the main photograph that accompanied the article showed three young Armenian-American men whose appearances had a distinct “Hollywood” style. The three, who were between 17 and 20 years old, were sailing on the Rossiya and heading toward Stalin’s Soviet Armenia. The irony of the scene did not escape the editor of the publication who decided to re-title my article. The new title gave the true flavor of the times that laid ahead for the three Armenian-Americans, along with another 309, who sailed from New York to Armenia in the late 1940s as part of a major international repatriation effort organized by various sectors of the Armenian diaspora in cooperation with the Soviet government.
As the original article indicates, I remain open to hearing the stories and looking at the photographs of repatriates from this time in Soviet Armenian history. I can be reached by electronic mail or through my website at www.hazelantaramhof.com.