Sunday, August 28, 2011

Searching for Lost Armenian Churches and Schools in Turkey

Armenian Churches in Turkey before 1915

From The Armenian Weekly

On July 21, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee overwhelmingly adopted the Berman-Cicilline Amendment based upon the Return of Churches resolution spearheaded by Representatives Ed Royce and Howard Berman, with a vote of 43 to 1, calling on Turkey to return stolen Armenian and other Christian churches, and to end the repression of its Christian minorities.

Where are these lost or stolen Armenian churches in Turkey? How many were there before 1915, the turning point in the Armenians' world, when they were uprooted and wiped out from their homeland of more than 3,000 years? How many churches are there now? Considering that every Armenian community invariably strove to build a school beside its church, how many Armenian schools were there in Turkey before 1915, and how many are there now? How many Armenian churches and schools are left standing now in Turkey is the easier part of the issue: There are only 34 churches and 18 schools left in Turkey today, mostly in Istanbul, with about less than 3,000 students in these schools. The challenging and frustrating issue is how many were there in the past.

Recent research pegs the number of Armenian churches in Turkey before 1915 at around 2,300. The number of schools before 1915 is estimated at nearly 700, with 82,000 students. These numbers are only for churches and schools under the jurisdiction of the Istanbul Armenian Patriarchate and the Apostolic Church, and therefore do not include the numerous churches and schools belonging to the Protestant and Catholic Armenian parishes. The American colleges and missionary schools, mostly attended by Armenian youth, are also excluded from these numbers. The number of Armenian students attending Turkish schools or small schools at homes in the villages are unknown and not included. Finally, these numbers do not include the churches and schools in Kars and Ardahan provinces, which were not part of Turkey until 1920, and were part of Russia since 1878.

The two maps show the wide distribution of Armenian churches and schools in Turkey before 1915. The two lists for the Armenian churches and schools are by no means complete, but should be regarded as a preliminary study that can serve as foundation for further research. The place names are based on the old Ottoman administrative system, instead of that of modern Turkey. They are ably assembled by Zakarya Mildanoglu, from various sources such as the Ottoman Armenian National Council Annual reports, Echmiadzin Journal, Vienna Mkhitarists, and studies by Teotig, Kevorkian, and Nishanyan.

Lost Churches
Adana: Center and villages, Yureghir, Ceyhan, Tarsus, Silifke, Yumurtalik, Dortyol, Iskenderun, 25 churches

Amasya: Vezirkopru, Mecitozu, Merzifon, Havza, Gumushacikoy, Ladik, 15 churches

Ankara: Center, Haymana, Sincan, 5 churches

Antakya: Center, Samandagh, 7 churches

Antep: Center, Nizip, Halfeti, 4 churches

Arapkir (Malatya): Arapkir and Kemaliye villages, 19 churches

Arganimadeni (Elazig): Erganis, Siverek, Bulanik, Kahta, 10 churches

Armash (Akmeshe): 2 churches

Artvin: Center and villages, 11 churches

Balikesir: Balikesir, Mustafakemalpasha, Biga, Bandirma, 6 churches

Bayburt: Bayburt center and villages, 34 churches

Beshiri (Diyarbakir): Beshiri and villages, 14 churches

Bilecik (Bursa): Golpazar, 4 churches

Bingol (Genc): Center and villages, 11 churches

Bitlis: Center and villages, 30 churches

Bitlis: Tatvan, Ahlat, Mutki, Hizan, 66 churches

Bolu: Duzce, Akyazi, 5 churches

Bursa: Center, Orhangazi, 11 churches

Charsancak ( Tunceli): Mazgirt, pertek, Pulumur, Hozat, and villages, 93 churches

Chemishgezek (Tunceli): 20 churches

Chungush (Diyarbakir): Chungush center and villages, 2 churches

Dersim: Hozat, Pertek, 28 churches

Divrigi (Sivas): Center and villages, 25 churches

Diyadin (Erzurum): Diyadin and villages, 4 churches

Diyarbakir: Center and villages, 11 churches

Edirne: Center and villages, 4 churches

Egin (Erzincan): Kemaliye, Ilic, and villages, 17 churches

Egin: 3 churches

Eleshkirt (Erzurum): Eleshkirt and villages, 6 churches

Ergani: Ergani and villages, 11 churches

Erzincan: Erzincan center and villages, 52 churches

Erzurum: Center, Aziziye, Yakutiye, Ashkale, Narman, Ispir, Oltu, Shenkaya, Horasan, Pazaryolu, and villages, 65 churches ...
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