Survivors: Verkin and Flora Munushian

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Hadjin // Verkin Munushian 1900-1973 // Flora Munushian 1902-1989

Sisters, Verkin and Flora Munushian, were the only two in their immediate family who survived the Armenian Genocide. They and their family were deported from their home in Hadjin, Turkey on May 24, 1915.  Their 70 year-old grandmother died from exhaustion as she tried to keep up with the Hadjin caravan, and their 18 year-old brother Levon who stayed with their grandmother was taken away by Turkish soldiers and never seen again.

Soon after this heartbreaking loss Verkin and Flora were nearly kidnapped by two Turkish soldiers. From that time on they never left their father’s side.  Their father, Hagop Munushian, was their protector and he knew things would become worse before decency came their way. He decided it best to leave his beautiful Verkin and his feisty daughter Flora in Aleppo and begged a stranger to save both girls from the Turks. That stranger, an Armenian, took the girls to Reverend Eskijian.  Reverend Eskijian found work for the girls in different homes. While the family that gave refuge to Verkin was kind, it was quite the opposite for Flora. That nasty family worked Flora as a slave, barely gave her enough food to eat and six months later they sold her to a Turk for his harem.

When Verkin learned of her sister’s plight, she struggled to find a way to rescue her sister.  How would she find her way to the harem? As the hours passed her choices grew into incredible fear. She had never left the house fearing being picked up by Turkish soldiers who would either send her to join a caravan to Deir Zor or take her to a Turkish soldier’s brothel…and most probably the latter because of her striking beauty. With supreme courage and the help of a young street savvy cousin, she found her way to the harem after dark, managed to steal Flora away and helped find a kind Syrian home for her sister.

When the war was over an uncle found both of them in Aleppo, brought them back to Turkey and would not answer questions about their family. When they arrived in Adana, Turkey they were taken to a relative, a recovering eyewitness of the blood bath that took 13,000 lives including all of the Munushian family. The girls were devastated. What would happen to them?  Months later their uncle forced Verkin to marry a man she would never have chosen for herself. Flora, determined not to let the same thing happen to her, was given an opportunity to marry a man in America. Having only a picture of him, she agreed to travel with the man’s mother, my grandmother, and met her husband to be in Ellis Island.  They were married the following day.  Flora had four children with my father and lived in Boston, Massachusetts. Verkin and her family had to flee Turkey when Kemal Pasha with his irregular army drove the surviving Armenians out of Turkey. Settling in Lebanon Verkin also gave birth to four children. Thirty-five years would pass before Flora and Verkin saw one another again.

Verkin Munushian passed away in 1973 in Beirut, Lebanon.  She is survived by three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.  Flora Munushian passed away in 1989.  She is survived by her daughter and three grandchildren.

Honored by Dr. Kay Mouradian

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