Tehlirian Presentation

Translator of Soghomon Tehlirian’s Memoir Delivers Presentation at AUA

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YEREVAN, Armenia Students in the Understanding Genocide course taught by Assistant Professor Dr. Tigran Matosyan at the American University of Armenia (AUA) had the unique opportunity of a class discussion with Ara Sarafian and Bedo Demirdjian, the publisher and the translator of Soghomon Tehlirian’s memoirs.

On November 23, Bedo Demirdjian, the translator of the book, and Ara Sarafian director of the Gomidas Institute that published Remembrances: The Assassination of Talaat Pasha were hosted by AUA to speak about Tehlirian’s memoirs, as related to Vahan Minakhorian. The book was originally published in Armenian and translated into English in October of this year. 

As a central part of his presentation, Demirjian told the story of Tehlirian, a witness and survivor of the Armenian Genocide who became a member of Operation Nemesis, the covert operation aimed at assassinating the Turkish masterminds of the Armenian Genocide.  

Demirjian also talked about the process of translation, including the challenges of staying true to the voices of both Minakhorian as well as Tehlirian himself. 

Dr. Matosyan expressed gratitude for the experience: “Ara Sarafian and Bedo Demirdjian’s presentation of Soghomon Tehlirian’s memoir in English was a useful opportunity for students in my Understanding Genocide class. The speakers revealed a number of new facts about the personality of Tehlirian, whom my students and I had had the opportunity to discuss only in terms of his impact on Rafael Lemkin, the author of the term genocide.  During the presentation, my students were able to grasp the importance of autobiographical documents as historical sources capable of both enriching as well as undermining mainstream historical narratives about genocides. In addition, some interesting details were presented about the challenges of translating the Armenian text of the memoir into English.”  

Following the talk, Demirdjian and Sarafian donated a copy of the book to AUA’s AGBU Papazian Library.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values.