Lost Zabel Yesayan Writing on Genocide Unearthed in Paris

Author Zabel Yesayan, whose document describing the plight of Armenian women during the Genocide was discovered at a Paris library

PARIS (Armenpress)—Turkish historian Umit Kurt and journalist Alev Er, in their studies at the Paris Nubarian Library, have discovered an hitherto unpublished document on the Armenian Genocide, the author of which is the well-known woman writer of that time Zabel Yesayan. Her 11-page document tells the details of what happened with Armenian women in 1915 and after. Zabel Yesayan submitted the document to the representative of the Armenian delegation at the Paris Conference of 1919, Poghos Nubar Pasha. Istanbul-based Turkish-Armenian periodical Agos has presented some parts of the document.

Yesayan particularly mentions that since the beginning of the war, the Union und Progress Party systematically exterminated the Empire’s non-Muslim population. Young women and children, whose numbers were more than 200 thousand, were forcibly kidnapped.

Zabel Yesayan, a gifted novelist, was born in 1878 in Scutari, a district of Constantinople. From an early age, she wanted to be a writer and as early as age 17 she published a short piece in a literary magazine. She obtained higher education in Paris where she worked her way through the Sorbonne by revising a French-Armenian dictionary and by writing articles and short stories for French and Armenian magazines. She returned to Constantinople at the age of 30 to enjoy an active literary life, well recognized for her talent. The Young Turks ranked her with Zohrab, Zartarian, Siamanto and Varoujan and placed her name – the only female writer – on their list for execution. She escaped to Bulgaria and from there managed to reach the Caucasus, from where she documented much of the atrocities taking place. In 1918 she went to Egypt, then to Cilicia and then to Paris, serving in the Armenian Delegation for Peace. Disillusioned, she became a Communist and urged all diaspora Armenians to recognize Soviet Armenia as the only motherland.

In 1927 she visited Soviet Armenia for the first time. Shortly afterwards she was invited to establish permanent residence. In 1933 at the age of 55, she left a comfortable Parisian life and settled in Soviet Armenia with her daughter, Sophie and son, Hrant. In Yerevan, she taught comparative literature and French literature to university students, wrote numerous articles, and published prolifically. It is believed, but not confirmed, that she was drowned and most likely died in exile sometime in 1943.

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3 Comments

  1. Tigran Khzmalyan said:

    Zabel Yesayan was arrested in 1937 in Yerevan as “an anti-Soviet element and foreign spy” for her passionate defense of already hunted Charents and Bakunts. Reportedly, she was sent to Baku NKVD division where she was tortured and killed same year. Just think about it – one of our greatest authors who survived the 1915 death caravans in Turkey, was arrested in 1937 in Armenia and murdered in Azerbaijan…

  2. Nadia Tatikian said:

    Mr. Kurt and Mr. Er did not unearth this document. It had already been found by other historians and Mr Kurt confirms this in an interview on CivilNet. However they did translate it, in it’s entirety, into Turkish.

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