after the other the months went by, with more homework, more reading and
more reports to be written. It was a very enjoyable walk, every morning,
from Pera to school. At that time groups of girls, on their way to school,
swarmed and enlivened the streets with their smiles and chattering, casting
bashful looks at the boys.
were lectures given every week by well-known writers and visiting students
from European universities. Some of those lecturers honored moderate or
conservative ideas. Others delved into Marxism and Anarchism. Debates and
discussions were organized throughout the entire year.
activities created an intellectual atmosphere by bringing all classes of
Armenians together. Concerts given by Komitas Vartabed were attended
by aristocrats, ambassadors of European governments and their families,
by writers, composers and by the general public.
concerts were repeated by public demand and had spread its activities as
far as Adapazar and elsewhere. Musical talents were discovered and
led into the world of music. New strains of melodies were cultivated based
upon fresh and fascinating thrills of pastoral creations.
under the Constitutional regime, the Armenians could breathe, work and
progress without any hindrance or interference.
gave glowing pictures of the educational revival in Moush, Van and elsewhere.
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation had launched an educational campaign.
Every village should have its school and should fight against illiteracy.
They read about these accomplishments with enthusiasm. The Moushetzi, Sassountzi
and Vanetzi students often got together to read some of their writings
and discuss the general situation.
day, from the veranda of Ketronagan Varjaran, Sempad and some of his classmates
were viewing the Sea of Marmara. The boats and the barges blasted their
horns noisily, impatiently awaiting customers to be taken over to the Asiatic
side of the port, when Ardashes Sarafian, a Moushetzi student of Law, exclaimed:
“Yes! Materialism has an unshakable foundation. Life is based upon it.
Human history can only be explained by economic forces working on it.”
are right!” said Sempad. “If that history has the same spirit as the spirits
of the prostitutes that live down below,” pointing to the ill-famed streets
of Galata, “they don’t let you touch them without being paid. They don’t
give you a kiss without getting something in return. Everything they do
is based upon matter.”
in human life is determined by economic force,” continued Ardashes. “It
is an all powerful agent that shapes and molds all human thought and ways
of life. Under the beautiful colors and hues of the landscape lies the
palpable and visible reality of matter. Through Holy and Divine ceremonies
one can hear the factory whistle blow. Sublime melodies and concerts are
only cries of the poverty-stricken workers and the earth is the sovereign
of our mind.”
to you,” said Sempad, “ Monism is the law of the Universe. Monism or pure
materialism is the credo of the people of the ill-famed streets. I do not
consider that doctrine a universally mighty force. I believe in
Dualism. Besides matter, there exists a non-material force whose essence
is yet unknown, but it coexists with matter and is inseparable from it.
That the progressive or retrogressive movements of individuals or nations
are not determined solely by economic forces, but also by the spirit or
by the Power of Reason. Saints are not attracted by the shiny and glowing
sight of gold and silver. They are transported by Heavenly visions.”
inflamed with the zeal of youth, they went on discussing and analyzing
every social event and movement to prove their points. All the while, from
down below, came shrieks of laughter from lewd women, mingled with the
coarse words thrown at them by the drunken sailors.
surged on in the cabarets where in an atmosphere of a heavy stench of liquor
and smoke, naked women contorted their bodies on the stage and shook their
breasts to satisfy or to sharpen the thrills of the spectators.
again began expounding his communistic views, saying: “Capitalism cannot
subjugate and exploit the working class at its will. It cannot continue
to make masses of people suffer in poverty without retribution. Class struggle
makes the change of economic structure unavoidable. The International Proletariat
will handle the destiny of Humanity, abolishing nationalistic feelings
and inclinations and building a humanity with no national differentiation.
When nations are melted and annihilated in that huge cauldron, losing their
individuality, then all of the problems will be solved and everybody
will be able to cultivate and develop his aptitudes, free as a bird.”
are out of your mind, Ardashes! You talk big! What wisdom you are
shedding!” one of the boys shouted. “At that time there would be no Armenian
Question left to be solved. It would dissolve, evaporate and vanish together
with everything else. When is that going to happen, anyway?”
the International Proletariat abolishes capitalism!” he said. “That day
is not far away. We must not have any doubt about the victory of communism.
It is inevitable. This bourgeois exploitation cannot last very long. Soon
the monstrous domination of machine will end and the proletariat dictatorship
will put into practice the following program:
Abolish the private ownership of land and the income to be ascribed to
the program that will be put into effect as soon as the proletariat comes
out victorious in its fight against capitalistic class...humanity with
no national or class distinction. This is the ideal toward which every
man must move.”
2) Heavy progressive
taxes upon income.
the right of inheritance.
will be centered in the hands of the State.
5) The means
of transportation and communication will be owned and controlled by the
all means of production. Cultivate and enrich the soil according to a general
7) Equal and
obligatory work. Organize industrial armies especially for agriculture.
agriculture with industry, and gradually abolish the differences between
cities and villages with equal distribution of the people all over the
different parts of the land.
9) Free education
for children in public schools.
take humanity in which dreams of nations have vanished together with their
individualities,” exclaimed Sempad, adding, “I believe in the idea of the
international bouquet, where every nation is present with its natural talents
and abilities, composing a symphony of culture and progress. Let’s come
down from the heights of these philosophical ideas and talk about our immediate
aims. In a few more months we will be getting our diplomas, then what?”
go back to Moush, help my father to expand his hardware business and practice
Law,” said Ardashes.
go home too, but I’ll get established at Sourp Garabed Monastery as a teacher
and devote my spare time to writing. Literature is going to be my career,”
“I plan to go to the university in Prague, major in medicine and return
to Sassoun,” said Karekin Yeretzian.
in the morning, he was sitting at the table writing a letter home when
suddenly the door was flung open and Karekin rushed in with a newspaper
in his hand. With a quizzical smile on his face, he asked abruptly, “What
are you writing?”
to tell my family that I will be home soon.”
enigmatically and said: “Throw it in the waste basket, Sempad. You are
not going home.”
“Read this!” he said, extending the newspaper to him, with the front page
it quickly from his hand, and looked at the headline:
DECLARATION OF WAR!! Men between the ages of 20 and 40 must report
immediately to their respective draft boards! Turkey has aligned with the
Central Powers Germany and Austro-Hungary against the Allies
England, France and Russia.
shocked! He looked at Karekin dazed, and their minds were in turmoil. They
were both thinking the same things... Home... Moush... Sassoun... twenty
days walking distance...with no other means of transportation. Besides
that, there was no legal feasibility to leave Constantinople. The mobilization,
cruelly, stood in their way.
minds worked feverishly with lightning speed.
instinctively took the letter off the table, crumpled it, hesitatingly
first, then with sudden violence, tore it to pieces and tossed it into
the waste basket, saying, “There is nothing we can do but to report to
the Draft Board.”
I Know! We can do nothing! Things are moving so fast! I have a terrible
headache. Let’s go out and breathe the morning air.”
of people were pouring into the main street and were getting noisy. Some
patriotic songs were beginning to be heard. Screams and idiotic outbursts
punctuated the air. Curses and threats against the Allies and the Christian
minorities electrified the seething and jostling crowd.
clearly one could see flashes of hatred in the eyes of the Turks toward
all non-Turkish elements such as the Greeks and the Armenians.
beginning to feel the strain of the war already, without even having heard
the first shot,” said Sempad.
be so sensitive!” said Karekin.
you have the same feeling I have?”
forget it. It’s getting on my nerves. Let’s join the parade. We must act
diplomatically,” said Karekin.
walked alongside the noisy crowd for a while, even joining the singers
and then became tired of the whole scene. They came out of the crowd and
walked down to the Hairenik Publishing Company to see what the atmosphere
was like there. The newspaper was just coming out of the presses when they
got there. The Declaration of War and Mobilization was printed
in large characters on the front page with a column underneath elaborating
on it. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation had declared that the Armenian
people in Turkey were faithful to the government during these critical
days, peacefully pursuing their national goal -- An Autonomous Armenia--
but had no authority upon their brothers and sisters living under different
read it and looked at one another in surprise.
with that policy if it is based upon the understanding of a provisional
loyalty,” said Sempad, “but the minute Turkey scowls at us and begins to
practice its old policy of oppression and killing...good-bye loyalty...”
editor of Hairenik had a friendly conversation with them, cautious of emotional
outbursts and of extreme optimism. His suggestion to them was to report
immediately to the Draft Board and thereby avoid undue complications.
are lucky in one way,” he said. “You have the necessary education to get
enrolled in military school Mektebi Harbiye as cadets and in a short
time become officers of the Reserve. You ought to be glad for having finished
secondary school Yedi Senelik Idadiye, it may come in handy, becoming
a second lieutenant in no time.”
the schools were closed for the day. They were taking part in the patriotic
parade. Some soldiers were marching with civilians in a disorderly way.
see you tomorrow morning with your diploma.” said Sempad, suddenly,
and walked into his room.