Paula Teclaw

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The Armenian Genocide:
Paula Teclaw's Family Story


I was always interested in my mother's family history because it includes so many stories that are similar to these, but it is all very hard for me to remember, since I never knew any of the people she talked about. In a speech class last year at college I had to write and execute a speech about a person and I chose my great-grandfather Mihran who was involved in the Armenian Genocide. I remember most of it but there are some details I'm probably leaving out due to forgetfulness.

Apparently, in the pre-genocide years, my family was wealthy. Once the Turks came we lost everything. My great-grandfather Mihran was a very handsome man. My mother, brother and myself all have dark complexions, hair and eyes, but Mihran was a very fair Armenian, with blond hair and blue eyes. Mihran was taken along with his family by the Turks and forced to march to the death camps, or wherever they took the Armenians. My mother said something about him helping to hold up a church, along with 5 other men, against the Turks and for that reason his name is included in a textbook somewhere overseas.

He was very close to his mother and carried her on his back when she couldn't walk. Eventually the two got separated and Mihran was thrown into a prison.

He was a jeweler and escaped by bribing a guard with his gold wedding ring that he had crafted himself. He was smuggled out by hiding among dead bodies being carted out.

He found a friend and the two of them started to search for Mihran's mother. The two men were starving- literally, and took shelter in an abandoned barn. Mihran began to sing to take his mind off the hunger pains. He heard a noise and looked up to see a Turkish guard standing before him. The guard demanded to know who was singing. Mihran knew that the situation was hopelesst and that death was inevitable so he said that he was the singer. The guard told Mihran to follow him. Mihran knew he was going to be killed but had no energy to fight so he said good-bye to his friend and followed the guard.

The guard brought him to the Turkish soldier's camp. They gave him clothes to keep him warm, fed him until he could eat no more, and gave him a bed to sleep in. Then they brought him out before the camp and told him- we have fed you, given you warm clothes, and given you rest. Now you will sing for us.

So for 2 weeks Mihran stayed at the Turkish camp, befriended all the Turks and sang for them in exchange of food, shelter, and not being killed. After the 14th day, a soldier approached Mihran and said that they have been friends for 2 weeks, but now they must move on so Mihran must leave, and if they should ever meet him again they will be forced to kill him.

So he left the camp and somehow, through truck drivers, got in touch with his mother, got married, had my grandmother, and lived happily ever after. He was living with my parents in Illinios when I was born, but died before I turned 3.

When my mother told me this story I had a tough time believing it, but my mother has never lied to me, which gives me no reason to doubt it. There might be some details that I got a little mixed up, but the story is true.

Friday, October 23, 1998 at 06:49:27




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