Survivors: Boghos Merdjanian


Tarsus // 1906-1974

Boghos Merdjanian, formerly Mouradjanian, was six years old when he first came face to face with the terror of the Armenian Genocide.

Once a wealthy family, the Merdjanians enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle. Boghos’s father, Minas, was a renowned checkers champion and competed all around the region. The police, or “CheChes” as Minas called them, falsely accused him of being a cheat simply because he was Armenian and thus, the family’s fortune was seized.

When a friend of the family, a Turkish general, heard of their misfortune, he protected them from further prosecution and deportation by hiding them in a safe-house. The family, however, never recovered their wealth, so all members of the family were required to work for their survival.

One day, Boghos was sent to deliver food and water to his sisters who were working in a nearby field. He set off on the family donkey and suddenly became entrapped by a group of Turkish gendarmes. One of the higher ranking officials threw a daggar at Boghos but missed and the dagger landed on the ground. He exclaimed “We are killing and killing but you are not dying!” Another realized the inhumanity of his comrade’s actions and asked his superior to spare the boy. He told Boghos to get down from his donkey, retrieve the dagger and hand it back to the official. The gendarmes left Boghos with no way to get back on the donkey. Little Boghos walked the rest of the way to meet his sisters on foot.

In 1919, the family deemed it was time to escape Turkey and immigrate to Lebanon. Under the cover of night, part of the family trudged the rough terrain and rivers to find refuge at one of the many camps erected for Genocide survivors. When they arrived, the customs agents at the border changed the family’s name to Merdjanian because they couldn’t properly translate Mouradjanian.

Boghos forwent education and was immediately put to work as a cobbler’s assistant, often working long and arduous hours.

In the mid 1940’s, Boghos married Armenouhi Tshikian and had five sons. They were very poor but rich in honor and love towards one another. The boys did what they could, at very young ages to help support their family, despite the raging civil war in Lebanon.

Having lived in Turkey most of his life, Boghos never learned Armenian. His wife taught him how to speak and read Armenian by reading him the daily newspaper. Their sons, however, were taught their mother language at home and in school.

When his family found out that Boghos was dying of liver cancer in the 1970’s they did not tell him because they wanted him to be happy during his last days. They took their father to a hospice in the mountains so he could pass away comfortably by receiving the care he needed and deserved. Boghos passed away in 1974.  Soon after his death, his family escaped war-torn Lebanon and immigrated to the United States. They went on to create their own families and establish a successful jewelry business.

Boghos is survived by his five children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Honored by Merdjanian Family

3 thoughts on “Survivors: Boghos Merdjanian

  1. Thank you gentlemen. Your recognition and kind words mean a lot to me. Please feel free to share this story and all of the others so that more and more people become aware of those who overcame so many obstacles.


  2. I just want to thank you for keeping alive the memory of one who suffered so much in life. I am presently deep in a study of the Assyrian Christians who are even now facing their own genocide, and I truly appreciate what you have taken the time to do here. Thank-you very much once again.


  3. I literally don’t know what to say. This moved me deeply. I had a friend in Los Angeles, whose grandparents had survived the Turkish slaughter and brought one chair with them to America. She died of a brain tumor recently. But her stories, passed down from her grandparents were quite frankly horrifying …


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