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This is the story of my parents in their own words. -Hilda Ladah
My Mother, Berjouhi Dermenjian, told us the following story of the Armenian Genocide:
I am one of the ten children in Dermenjian family. I have five brothers and four sisters. We were all born in Marash. My mother's name is Mariam and my father's name is Kevork.
My oldest brother, Avedis, left to Argentina during the exodus. My brother Haroutun died in Marash. The French were in control of Marash at the time and my brother's job was to go to the front line and pick up the mail. One night when he went to pick up the mail, somebody opened fire on him and he was shot and fell on the ground; he was hiding in the ditch on the side of the road. We all had taken refuge in the church and were hiding from the Turks. Someone came to the church and told us that my brother got shot and was on the side of the road. My younger brother Sdepan went to find him. As he was looking for my brother, he kept calling his name "Haroutun, Haroutun where are you?" Then he heard a voice saying "I am here brother and I am hurt." Sdepan carried Haroutun and brought him to the church where my sister Lutfia and all of us tried to care for him. We only had alcohol to clean his wounds. After few days his wounds got infected and he died in the church. My brother Paren was about 5 years old at the time and I was about 7 years old.
The Armenians heard the rumor that the French were pulling out of Marash. The Turks collected all the Armenians and we started marching in the snow and cold. My father was very rich and had money. My brother Sdepan, who was married at the time and had a son, bought a donkey and put me and his son Levon on the donkey; he told me to follow the Armenians and go wherever they were going and that he would find us later on. Levon was a baby at the time. In the middle of the night when the French were leaving on their horses, my brother Sdepan followed them and went to Aleppo and escaped the massacre. On the way while all the Armenians were marching, the Turks took me off the donkey and gave Levon to me and told me to walk. I was about 7 years old at the time. I couldn't carry Levon, I put Levon on the side of the road and started walking by myself not knowing where I was going, seperated from the rest of the family members. I remember all the children on the side of the road where mothers had left them behind, because they couldn't carry their babies. I can never forget the memory of those children crying and crawling all over the dirt road. When one of my brothers found me later, he asked where Levon was and I told him what happened. Of course he was very upset but he understood what had happened. The next day there was another caravan of Armenians coming on the same road. They saw this little baby on the road crying and they picked him up because they recognized that he was the son of Sdepan and brought him with them. When we saw Levon, we were all happy to have him back with us.
The march (deportation) was on and we were all following the caravan until we reached the Euphrates river. On the way the Turkish soldiers raped and killed Armenian girls. They killed anybody who did not follow orders from the gendarmes. In Aleppo, Sdepan heard the rumor that all the Armenians that were in the caravan going to the Euphrates were being taken to Dayr az-Zawr (also spelled as Deir ez-Zor) and were being massacred, molested and slaughtered before being thrown in the Euphrates river. Sdepan payed sympathetic Syrian Moslems a sum of gold to come and find us. Those Moslems crossed the Euphrates river and searched for us. They found us and took us with fishing boats, crossed the Euphrates river then we went to Aleppo where my brother was waiting. I can't forget the trip on the Euphrates river. The river was red with Armenian blood. They had killed Armenians and thrown their bodies on the river. Bodies were floating down the Euphrates on both sides of our boat. This is the memory I have of the deportation and the Euphrates river. Until today I cry when I remember those days. I pray that my children and grandchildren will not see war. My father and mother died on the way from cold and sickness.
My sister Haygouhi who was educated and was a teacher, went to Beirut to teach in an orphanage called Birds Nest. When I was about 9 years old, I went to that orphanage for about 3 years while my sister was teaching. After the three years, my sister Haygouhi went to Jerusalem and settled there and had a son, Hagop. My sister Haygouhi died in Jerusalem. My sister Lutfia lived in Aleppo and worked in a German factory. They payed her one loaf of bread for her day's work. She ate half of the loaf and gave the other half to my brother Paren. Lutfia went to the United States, married her husband from the Chorbagian family and has two sons. She died after giving birth to her second son.
When my sister Haygouhi left to Jerusalem, I returned to Aleppo and stayed with my brother. Finally I got married to your father Boghos Der-Haroutunian and went to Iskandaroun and had seven of my children in Iskandaroun. In 1939 the family moved to Beirut and I had two more children, Mathias who died of diarrhea, and my daughter Khatoun Hilda who was born after WWII after my son Mathias died.
In memory of my mother and father I have a web site dedicated to them. The web site is about Armenian Embroidery and the Genocide. The name of the web site is []. Also, my husband and I have a family foundation in the name of our parents to be used for children in need. The foundation's name is Ladah Foundation and it is a tax-exempt foundation. You can read about the foundation and Armenian embroidery on my web site.