Once Upon A Time in Turkey: Postcards Tell Story of Turkey’s Lost Armenians

GLENDALE, CA–Turkish author and publisher Osman Köker presented his exhibition of historic postcards documenting the lives of Armenians throughout the Ottoman Empire in 1900-1910 at the Glendale Public Library Auditorium on January 30.

The program was organized by The National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR), Organization of Istanbul Armenians, Ararat-Eskijian Museum (AEM), and Project Save Armenian Photograph Archives and is sponsored by Glendale Public library.

Köker first came to international attention in 2005, when he organized an unprecedented exhibition, titled “Sireli Yeghpayrs (My Dear Brother),” in Istanbul. Eventually seen by thousands of people, it presented photographs of Armenian life in pre-genocide Ottoman Turkey, drawn from a large collection of postcards owned by the collector Orlando Calumeno. In the five years since then, the exhibition has also been mounted in Paris, Munich, Koln, Frankfurt, and last year in Yerevan.

Köker originally intended to write a book about Armenian life in the Ottoman Empire, but with the discovery of the postcard collection the scope of the project changed. Following the exhibition he published the massive and beautifully-produced volume 100 Yýl Önce Türkiye’de Ermeniler, subsequently published in English as Armenians in Turkey 100 Years Ago, featuring hundreds of images showing where and how Armenians in the Ottoman Empire lived.

Osman Köker was also involved in the creation in 1996 of the Istanbul Turkish-Armenian daily Agos and Aras Publishing House, the only publishing house which publishes books in Armenian and books translated into Turkish from the Armenian.

The estimated number of Armenians before the start of World War One in 1914 was about 4.1 million, with some 2.1 million of them living in the territory of the Ottoman Empire. More than 1.5 million Armenians were massacred and deported from their historical lands in Western Armenia in 1915-23 in what was the first genocide of the 20th century.

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One Comment;

  1. ArdeVast Atheian said:

    I get moved when I see a man like Koker show the human face of Turkey. It is especially difficult for them to reconcile their present with their past. The Turks of today are not the same as the Turks of yesteryear. When they hear about the atrocities their predecessors have committed it is difficult for them to look at the mirror and say this is the same person who did it. Turkey has changed. One day it will be easier for them to look objectively at their past. Mr Koker himself is a prelude to such a day.

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