How the Internet and Modern Technology Revealed the Story of my Genocide-Surviving Ancestors

Everything about my grandmother’s strength, explained.

Anthony Andranik Moumjian

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My family is Armenian.

My grandma was raised in Aleppo, Syria.

I don’t know if I was ever curious as to why she was raised there. I don’t even think I have asked her much about her upbringing or her family until recently.

Fast-forward to when I did 23andme, the website results told me that I was most likely from a rural region in Turkey.

Source: 23&me.

Weird. I speak Armenian. Both my parents speak Armenian. Both sets of their parents speak Armenian. My entire extended family speaks Armenian. Everyone has stories from Armenia.

But it’s showing Gaziantep. This is a farmland — one that exists in Turkey.

I never told my grandma anything about this before. I forgot about 23andme for a while.

One day, I asked her what her parents were like. To my surprise, my great grandparents were actually alive when I was born. Both of them died, here, in Los Angeles. I was about 3 or 4 years old.

She remembers her dad’s parents, too.

She remembers her grandma, distinctly.

She told me a town.

Antep.

“A farm,” she said.

They were held.

They were held safe, there.

Her grandparents were in the death marches during the Armenian Genocide.

When I look on Wikipedia, it says:

“The genocide was carried out during and after World War I and implemented in two phases — the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labour, followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly, and the infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian Desert.”

When I look at the map, I saw this:

Source: Google maps, indicating the proximity of modern day Syria to Gaziantep in Turkey.

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Anthony Andranik Moumjian

Los Angeles. Long-time runner. Top writer on Quora, 100M+ total content views. New to Medium. Inquiries: Moumj@berkeley.edu