“Armenian Golgotha provides a more gripping and more harrowing account of the tragedy than any I have read…. Balakian is unsparing about the impact of this traumatic journey on his companions and himself, but his vivid portraits of the Turks whom they encountered are what linger in the memory…. [there is a] lacerating documentary impact of this work.”
– Mark Mazower, The New Republic
Read the first chapter
About the book:
Never before in English, Armenian Golgotha is the most dramatic and comprehensive eyewitness account of the first modern genocide.
On April 24, 1915, the priest Grigoris Balakian was arrested along with some 250 other intellectuals and leaders of Constantinople’s Armenian community. It was the beginning of the Ottoman Turkish government’s systematic attempt to eliminate the Armenian people from Turkey; it was a campaign that continued through World War I and the fall of the Ottoman Empire, by which time more than a million Armenians had been annihilated and expunged from their historic homeland. For Grigoris Balakian, himself condemned, it was also the beginning of a four-year ordeal during which he would bear witness to a seemingly endless caravan of blood.
Balakian sees his countrymen sent in carts, on donkeys, or on foot to face certain death in the desert of northern Syria. Many would not even survive the journey, suffering starvation, disease, mutilation, and rape, among other tortures, before being slaughtered en route. In these pages, he brings to life the words and deeds of survivors, foreign witnesses, and Turkish officials involved in the massacre process, and also of those few brave, righteous Turks, who, with some of their German allies working for the Baghdad Railway, resisted orders calling for the death of the Armenians. Miraculously, Balakian manages to escape, and his flight—through forest and over mountain, in disguise as a railroad worker and then as a German soldier—is a suspenseful, harrowing odyssey that makes possible his singular testimony.
Full of shrewd insights into the political, historical, and cultural context of the Armenian genocide—the template for the subsequent mass killings that have cast a shadow across the twentieth century and beyond—this memoir is destined to become a classic of survivor literature. Armenian Golgotha is sure to deepen our understanding of a catastrophic crime that the Turkish government, the Ottomans’ successor, denies to this day.