Did You Know? (25)

Hovsep Shishmanian, aka Dzerents and Mateos Mamourian

By Jirair Tutunjian, 25 October 2022

The two fathers of the Armenian historical novel are Mateos Mamourian and  Hovsep Shishmanian, aka Dzerents. Both were inspired by the works of Sir Walter Scott. Mamourian wrote the unfinished “The Man of the Black Mountain” while Dzerents wrote “Labors of the Ninth Century” and “Teodoros Rshdouni”. Both novelists had political aims. They wanted to create among Armenians a heightened interest in Armenia and in Cilicia. They animated a patriotic spirit that set into motion the Armenian revolutionary movements in the 1880s and 1890s.

Before the Armenian Genocide there were 2,327 Armenian churches and 434 monasteries in Western Armenia and Western Anatolia. The region of Bitlis had the most churches (510 churches) and monasteries (161).  Van was second with 457 churches and 80 monasteries. There were 406 churches and 75 monasteries in Erzerum. The least number of churches? Konia with 14 churches. The least  number (1) of monasteries (Konia and Smyrna). Kharpert had 242 churches and 65 monasteries. Adana had 44 churches and 5 monasteries. Diyarbekir had 148 churches and 10 monasteries.

At the end of WWII, Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov summoned the Turkish ambassador, Selim Sarper, to his Kremlin office to discuss a new “treaty of friendship between the two countries.” He said the Soviet Union had been forced to cede the Kars and Ardahan regions to Turkey in 1921 at a time when “we were very weak.” Molotov wanted to know whether Turkey was willing to make amends. Molotov also demanded to install Soviet military bases along the Dardanelles. Sarper rejected the proposal. Turkey reported to UK the Soviet demand. Churchill persuaded President Truman to back Turkey. The Soviets didn’t repeat their demand: the U.S. was a nuclear power while the Soviets were trying to become one.

Some people believe there is a 12,000-year-old underground tunnel that stretches from Scotland to Western Armenia. A German book (“Tore zur unterwelt”-Underground Door to an Ancient World) says archeologist Dr. Heinrich Kush had evidence of such a tunnel under dozens of Neolithic settlements all over Europe.

Oscar-winning director Elia Kazan (“Streetcar Named Desire”, “Viva Zapata”, and “On the Waterfront”) toured Turkey when he traveled to “Kayseri”, his mother’s hometown. In his autobiography (“A Life,” Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1988),the Greek-born Kazan wrote the following about Turks: “They humble themselves before authority, then break loose in demonstrations of anger beyond bounds…When are the Turks going to respect human rights? When will they give up police rule? I doubt whether this will happen for many years. They are a dangerous people, and the honor of their males always seems to be on trial; their courage has to be publicly reestablished again and again. They need to show the world that they cannot be intimidated, still they fear their authority figures, and they damned well should, not because they elect them but because those with power will suddenly and unexpectedly use ultimate force over their subjects. When a Turk bends his head in obedience that is the time to watch out.”

In 1827, Ivan Turgenev’s family moved to Moscow. Ivan and his brother Nicholas respectively were nine and eleven years old. After attending the Weidenhammer private boarding school for two years, they were sent to the Armenian Institute.

There have been few changes in the Armenian alphabet or in the spelling of words since Mesrob Mashdots invented the Armenian alphabet in the 5th century. Armenologist James Russell says: “This is a very striking circumstance, especially when you compare it with English where spelling has changed a great deal in just the last 500 years. It shows that the Armenian alphabet was already so perfect that there was little reason for it to change.”

During the Manhattan Project (the invention of the U.S atomic bomb) there were three fatal accidents caused by high exposure to nuclear radiation. The three were brilliant engineers, chemists and scientists who because of poor security measures died prematurely. Among the three was Henry K. Daghlian, Jr. (1921-1945).

Haroutyoun Khachatryan, a military physician during WWII, was posthumously awarded the “Righteous Among the Nations Award” by Yad Vashem for saving Jews during WWII. The medal was handed to singer Anna Khachatryan, the granddaughter of Dr. Khachatryan in 2015.

In 991 Bishop Gregory Markar traveled from Pontus to France’s Loire Valley where he became a hermit. For seven years his diet was edible roots and wild honey. He fasted four days every week. He became popular when his cookies (recipe from Armenia) became a hit in the neighborhood. Over the years, the cookie came to be known as ginger bread and Bishop Markar as the Ginger Bread Monk.

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