Hazel Antaramian Hofman’s Lecture and Presentation in New York City

When one attends an extraordinary event, at first it seems easy to write about that much- enjoyed event. At first, I said. But once confronted by the blank screen or a white sheet of paper, the simple task of describing the event turns into an insurmountable task. Where to begin and how to describe the depth of the meticulous research, the wealth of painstakingly collected archival material – both textual and visual – the incredible dedication to the subject, the respect to the audience? The danger of gushing is lurking, the fear of overuse of superlatives is real, and yet a disciplined journalistic report simply will not do justice to this particular subject.  Perhaps, a word of appreciation to the organizers would be a good start.

Those of us who were present at Hazel Antaramian Hofman’s “Repatriation and Deception: Post World War II  Repatriation to Soviet Armenia” lecture/ presentation on Friday, November 8th, are first and foremost indebted to the lecturer, the organizer – New York chapter of Hamazkayin Educational and Cultural Society and the always-gracious host Rev. Fr. Mesrob Lakissian, pastor of the St. Illuminator’s Cathedral in Manhattan. Opening remarks were made by Mrs. Asdghig Sevag, vice-chair of Hamazkayin’s New York chapter. Closing remarks were offered by Rev. Fr. M. Lakissian in his usual thoughtful and encouraging manner.

Ms. Antaramian Hofman’s impressive achievements (see www.hazelantaramhof.com) had set the bar of our expectations high, however her actual presentation far exceeded all expectations. The all-encompassing presentation contained information worthy of a book and reflected the focused attention she has given to the reconstruction of true stories of Armenians from several countries, who repatriated to then-Soviet Armenian in 1947 and 1949. From the vast historical and political setting of the time to the national, and from the overview of the dynamics of the repatriation plans to experiences of families and even single individuals, Ms. Antaramian Hofman walked us through a significant and immensely complicated part of our national history, which has deeply affected both the local population of Armenia, the repatriates and the Armenians in the Diaspora. Films, photographs, documents and artistic images enriched the presentation, granting the audience the rare opportunity and pleasure of  learning much in only an hour’s time.

Generous with her time, Ms. Antaramian Hofman earnestly answered the questions from the audience.

Jacquelin Pilar, former curator of the FresnoArt Museum summed up our sentiment in her following note to Ms. Antaramian Hofman: “Dear Hazel, I have re-read your essay on ‘Repatriation and Deception’… You have been brilliant in finding a way to examine not only a personal history but in the larger context of a people’s historical contextual search for fulfillment… I am fascinated by your accomplishments and offer my deepest respect and congratulations on your creative scholarship.”

The repatriation, followed by expatriation, are painful subjects for our nation. It is admirable that Hazel had the courage and much patience to research in such depth and record those important facts of our history, those personal accounts and narratives, which would undoubtedly have faded within individual families and eventually vanished.

Arevig Caprielian

Scroll Up