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USC Shoah Foundation showing clips for Armenian Genocide anniversary

(Thinkstock: Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
(Thinkstock: Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

USC Shoah Foundation-The Institute for Visual History and Education Wednesday began showing a series of testimony clips from survivors and witnesses to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

One clip a day is being released on the Institute’s website at sfi.usc.edu throughout April, which is Genocide Awareness and Prevention Month. April 24 is the 100th anniversary of the onset of the 20th century’s first genocide.     “This project will help preserve evidence of a genocide that must be acknowledged,” said USC Shoah Foundation Executive Director Stephen Smith. “It will honor the memory of those whose lives were taken, and it will ensure that future generations are able to learn from individuals who experienced the Armenian Genocide firsthand.”

The clips showcase some of the 400 testimonies regarding the Armenian Genocide to be integrated into the Institute’s Visual History Archive, which contains 53,000 testimonies from survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides.

To help put the clips into perspective, experts will introduce each one and recommend additional resources for those who would like to learn more. Professor Richard Hovannisian, a leading scholar on the Armenian Genocide, will introduce the first five clips. He is professor emeritus of history at UCLA and an adjunct professor at USC.

Also this month, the Institute’s Center for Advanced Genocide Research will take possession of its first major donation since being announced in April 2014 by USC Shoah Foundation founder Steven Spielberg and USC President C. L. Max Nikias.

The donation from attorney Vartkes Yeghiayan pertains to the historic agreement reached with New York Life in 2004 that resolved more than 2,000 insurance claims against policies issued by New York Life to Armenians in the Turkish Ottoman Empire before 1915.

The 40-plus boxes of materials mark the first major acquisition by the center, which is seeking private papers, documents, photographs and films pertaining to genocides.

On April 10, Hayk Demoyan, director of the Armenian Genocide Museum- Institute in Yerevan, Armenia, will visit the Institute to sign a memorandum of understanding between the two organizations that will bring the Visual History Archive to the museum, as well as develop research programs that increase awareness and deepen knowledge and understanding of the Armenian Genocide and its consequences.

The 400 Armenian testimonies being integrated into the Visual History Archive were filmed by the late Emmy-nominated documentarian J. Michael Hagopian and the Armenian Film Foundation between 1972 and 2004, when most of the survivors were in their 70s and 80s.

Testimonies in the collection, billed as the largest archive on film of Armenian Genocide interviews in the world, were recorded in 10 countries and 10 languages, including English, Armenian, Arabic, Kurdish and Turkish.

Hagopian was a survivor of the genocide that killed an estimated 1.5 million people in Turkey from 1915-23. In 1979, he founded the Armenian Film Foundation, a Thousand Oaks-based nonprofit dedicated to documenting Armenian heritage. Hagopian died in December 2010 at age 97.

“Thanks to the foresight of Dr. Hagopian, the stories of the Armenian Genocide cannot be denied,” said  Carla Garapedian, who is leading the Armenian Film Foundation’s work to preserve and integrate the collection into the Visual History Archive. “These survivors all have important stories to share, and now they will reach a far wider audience.”

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