July 30, 2014

IRFW, Strassler Center to Identify and Honor Muslim Rescuers of Armenians


‘This is an unchartered territory waiting to be discovered.’ – Eduardo Eurnekian

The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) and the Kaloosdian/Mugar Chair at the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University join forces in a major research effort under the supervision of Prof. Taner Akcam.

Eduardo Eurnekian, the chairman of the IRWF, announced the ambitious research project that aims to identify Turks and Kurds that reached out to the victims of the Armenian Genocide. “The main mission of the IRWF is to unveil untold stories of rescue and solidarity,” he said. “The issue of the Muslim rescuers who went out of their way to save Armenians at the beginning of the 20th century was not properly studied yet. This is an unchartered territory waiting to be discovered.”

“It is a great honor to join forces with Prof. Taner Akcam and his chair at the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University in an attempt to identify and honor the many Turks and Kurds that lent a hand to their Armenian neighbors in one of the darkest periods of mankind,” he continued. “We do the same concerning the Holocaust. Rather than focusing on the evil, we strive to highlight the spirit of solidarity of the women and men who, like Raoul Wallenberg, oftentimes risked their own lives to save others. This is our duty towards those saviors and, above all, our obligation to the young generations that should be aware of these role models.”

The research project will start in the next weeks, under the professional supervision of Akcam, a world-renowned Turkish historian and sociologist who has devoted his efforts to try and reconcile the narratives of the Armenian and Turks.

The investigation will be conducted by in-depth and painstaking research “on the ground,” in Muslim (Turkish and Kurdish) provinces where most of the killings occurred, and where most of these stories have been passed on verbally from generation to generation.

The project and its funding was approved by the Board of the IRWF and is expected to last one year. Once concluded, the research will be published and the IRWF will pay tribute to the Muslim rescuers by incorporating their stories into its educational programs.

“Recognition of goodness is one of the pillars of our mission, and we are confident that this ambitious research will enable us to add more names to the list of rescuers,” Eurnekian stressed.