Pulitzer Prize-Winning Reporter Kurkjian to Speak about Unique Genocide-Era Photo


BELMONT, Mass. — Stephen Kurkjian, three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter (retired) for the Boston Globe and the son of a survivor of the Armenian Genocide, will present an overview of his 10 years of research into a unique Genocide-era photograph in the illustrated lecture “Kiss My Children’s Eyes, Revisited: A Ten-Year Search for Answers to the Armenian Genocide Through One Remarkable Photograph,” on Wednesday, April 23, at 7:30 p.m., at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research (NAASR) Center, 395 Concord Ave.  The lecture will be held in commemoration of the 99th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

A group of Armenian men are photographed standing under Ottoman Turkish guard in front of a building in Gesaria (Kayseri) in 1915.  The building is a prison and the men, most of whose names have come to be listed under the photograph, will soon be taken away and murdered, early victims of the genocide of the Armenians committed by the Ottoman Empire.  Who were these men and how did they die?  What became of their families?  Who took this photograph and how did it survive?

The photograph is virtually unique in showing a group of identified men rounded up by the authorities, many of whose fates — public executions, massacres, death marches — are known.  Yet until the past decade it had never been researched.  Kurkjian, an acclaimed investigative journalist and long-serving NAASR Board Member, has attempted to decode the story told by this photograph and gone on an odyssey with unexpected revelations and continuing mysteries.

Using his skills as a reporter and the historical documentary resources available to him, Kurkjian has unraveled some — but not all — of the puzzles of the photograph, and, with the assistance of a number of researchers including renowned Genocide scholar Dr. Vahakn N. Dadrian, traced how the Armenian Genocide came to Gesaria.  Focusing on the microcosm offered by this single photograph, Kurkjian has found a unique window into the macrocosm of the destruction of the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire.

An article based on Kurkjian’s research will appear in the April 2014 special magazine issue of the Armenian Weekly and subsequently in the Journal of Armenian Studies.

Admission to the event is free (donations appreciated). The NAASR Bookstore will open at 7 p.m.