National Geographic : 2004 Mar
Armenian population of about two million, according to parish records of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Fewer than 100,000 remained in 1920. Estimates of the dead in what is now Turkey range from 600,000 to 1.5 million. Except for a short time after WWI, no Turkish government has ever acknowledged that a sys tematic slaughter of Armenians occurred. Three generations later, the events of the mas sacre still had violent repercussions; beginning in 1973 and continuing over two decades, dozens of Turkish diplomats and nationals were mur dered, allegedly by Armenian terrorists. The survivors of the 1915 massacre were forced into an exodus that carried them to the distant corners of the globe, where they and their descendants proved to be a wandering tribe of high achievers. Diaspora Armenians were the developers of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), plastic surgery, and the single-handled water faucet. In a terrible irony, an ethnic Armenian even designed the Soviet MiG war planes that were used by Azerbaijan to bomb Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh. Three anchors moor the diasporans to their ancestral land, endowing them with Tabibian's place consciousness: the drama of survival, to be sure, the sheer militant defiance of 15-year olds assembling Kalashnikovs. But also Arme nian faith, and that Armenian philosopher who stands beside the Armenian warrior, teaching science and literature in a bomb shelter. Aset of imposing steel doors fills nearly an entire wall on the second floor of the Pon tifical Residence at Etchmiadzin, the Mother See of the Armenian Apostolic Church, 12 miles west of Yerevan. A single set of keys exists to open them; it is in the sole possession of His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos Not Forgotten The flame of memory burns bright at Yerevan's Genocide Memorial, built to honor as many as 1.5 million Armenians massacred by Ottoman forces in 1915. Still painful to Arme nians: Today's Turkish government rejects the word genocide, coined in 1944, to describe the killings.