April 24, 1915 is considered the date on which the Armenian Genocide began. The beginning took place in Istanbul with the arrest of about 300 people who belonged to the leadership of the Armenian community. Subsequent arrests, killings, torture and deportations of Armenians followed. The exact number of dead has not been determined, as there is disagreement in the records. Turks, who do not accept the word genocide, say 600-800 thousand, while Armenians and Western sources say the death toll has reached 1.5 million.
What is certain is that a large percentage of the Armenian people have systematically perished. The Ottoman authorities achieved their goal of annihilating a Christian people who had lived in their country for many centuries. The Ottomans justified their actions, claiming that they were punishing the Armenians’ alliance with the Russians.
The testimony that became a film
Although the Turks do not recognize the Armenian Genocide, the testimonies of those who survived are shocking. One of them became a book and then a film, which, although shown for the first time in 1919, is still shocking. Ourora (or Aurora) Mardiganian (Aurora Mardiganian) was the eyewitness who recounted what unfolded before her eyes and what she experienced when the Turks captured her. The girl was then 14 years old and her wealthy family – she lived in Harput – was murdered. Only she survived. She was arrested and, along with other detainees, forced to walk about 1,400 miles to reach the slave markets to be sold in a harem.
Orora Mardiganian (photo: ayfwest.org)
Orora managed to escape and escaped to Tbilisi, then to St. Petersburg, to Oslo, and after a shocking adventure, ended up in New York. There she met a young screenwriter, who helped her record what she lived through, and her story became a movie script. The shooting took place in 1918-19 in California and Orora starred in the film, embodying herself. During the filming, she hit her ankle, causing her to be carried in her arms in order to shoot the rest of the scenes. According to the New York Times , the first part of the film shows what Armenia was like before the Genocide and how it happened afterwards. The film is not entirely preserved today, but only part of it.
The shocking scene with the crucified women
One of the most shocking scenes shows Armenian women naked and nailed to crosses. It was their punishment because they did not convert and refused to go to the harems. The scene was a typical example of Ottoman violence, however, as Orora herself discovered, it was not 100% true. Unfortunately for women, the reality was even harsher. According to the girl, the way the Ottomans used to kill was not the crucifixion, but the batting, the placement of sharper wooden stakes in the bay of women (recoil), after first raping them.
A photo of crucified women has surfaced with the observation that it comes from the Vatican archives. The photo is from a 1919 American film entitled “Auction of Souls”. Reality, historians comment, was worse. Thousands of Armenian women die tragically in the hands of the Ottomans… Watch an excerpt from the movie “Auction of Souls”.