This post from the Wiener library introduces their new exhibition: Fragments of a Lost Homeland: Remembering the Armenian Genocide. The Wiener Library is Britain’s largest specialist collection related to the Holocaust and genocide, and it is the oldest institution of its type anywhere in the world. For more information on the work done by The Wiener Library please see the Library’s website: Staff from the Wiener Library will be at History Day on 27th November.

Anatolia college students

Anatolia College students, c. 1904. Sumpad Dildilian, holding the palette, graduated in 1905. The Dildilian Brothers Art Photographers opened a branch in Samsun on the Black Sea coast, which Sumpad managed upon graduation. He and his family perished in 1915. Image copyright © 2015 Armen T. Marsoobian

The Armenian world was shattered by the 1915 genocide. Not only were hundreds of thousands of lives lost but entire families across multiple generations were permanently forced from their homes. The narrative threads that connected them to their own past and homelands were often severed forever. Many have been left with only fragments of their family histories: a story of survival passed on by a grandparent who survived or, if lucky, an old photograph of a distant, silent, ancestor.

By contrast the Dildilian family chose to speak. Two generations gave voice to their experience in lengthy written memoirs, in diaries and letters, and most unusually in photographs and drawings. The exhibition, entitled ‘Fragments of a Lost Homeland: The Armenian Genocide Remembered’ has been co-curated by Professor Armen T. Marsoobian of Southern Connecticut University. It is based on a book by the same author, Fragments of a Lost Homeland, Remembering Armenia, published by IB Tauris in 2015. Professor Marsoobian is the grandson of Tsolag Dildilian who ran photography studios in the Anatolian cities of Sivas and Merzifon.

This exhibition, featuring materials which have never been displayed before in the United Kingdom, has been organised to mark the centenary of the beginning of the Armenian genocide. When in 1915 the deportation of Armenians from Anatolia began, men were separated and killed, and the women and children were led towards the Syrian desert. The Dildilian brothers were saved because state officials used them to take photographs of prominent figures and events in Sivas and Merzifon. One day, a military officer warned Tsolag about the danger for his family and that same day they went to the municipality and converted to Islam in front of the mufti. Nevertheless the Dildilian family used their position in society to assist in the rescue and hiding of young Armenian men and women.

The exhibition will be open for viewing from 8 October 2015 to 25 February 2016 between 10am and 5pm, and until 7.30pm on Tuesdays. Admission to the exhibition is free of charge.


The Wiener Library will be attending History Day on 27 November.