Repatriation and Deception: American-Armenian Repatriates to Soviet Armenia. Hazel Antaramian-Hofman to Speak on March 20

Departure day for three young American-Armenians setting sail on the Russian ship Rossiya from New York to Soviet Armenian in 1947. In the center is Hazel Antaramian-Hofman's father. Courtesy of the Antaramian Family, 2012.
Departure day for three young American-Armenians setting sail on the Russian ship Rossiya from New York to Soviet Armenia in 1947. In the center is Hazel Antaramian-Hofman’s father. Courtesy of the Antaramian Family, 2012.

Beginning in 1946, tens of thousands of Armenians living in the Diaspora responded to to an orchestrated appeal made by Soviet officials and Armenian organizations to “go back” home to Armenia. While most of the “repatriates” [հայրենադարձ / hayrenatarts] hailed from the Middle East and Europe, scores of American-Armenians set sail for Armenia. It would be the beginning of unimaginable cultural and economic hardships as well as a set-back to those who had longed for their ancestral homeland. Diaspora-born “repatriates” struggled to survive and fit in to post-World War II Soviet Armenia, which would never really be home for them.

Born in Soviet Armenia at the height of the Cold War, artist and writer Hazel Antaramian-Hofman is the daughter of diaspora-born repatriates. She will give a multi-media presentation entitled, Repatriation and Deception: Post World War II Repatriation to Soviet Armenia on Thursday, March 20 at the Zohrab Center in New York.

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Hope-filled American-Armenians awaiting their ship to the Soviet Union destination Armenia in 1947. Courtesy of Zabel Chookaszian Melconian, 2013.
Hope-filled American-Armenians awaiting their ship to the Soviet Union—destination Armenia—in 1947. Courtesy of Zabel Chookaszian Melconian, 2013.

Using music, images and text, Repatriation and Deception includes gripping stories and telling photographs to portray what the repatriates experienced and how they were deceived. Antaramian-Hofman will review the ethnographic history and propaganda used to entice diasporan Armenians from France, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Greece, Palestine and the United States to “return” to what was for most of them an unknown and unrecognizable homeland, fully Sovietized by Stalin, and economically shattered in the wake of the second World War.

She will focus on the American-Armenians, the most economically advanced of the repatriates and the least in number.

The presentation, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7:00PM and last one hour. A question and answers session and reception will follow. For further information contact the Zohrab Center at (212) 686-0710 or zohrabcenter@armeniandiocese.org. #ZICrepatriation

In 1947 Antaramian-Hofman’s parents were in their youth when they “repatriated” with their families to an Armenia under Stalin. Her father was born in the United States and her mother, in France. Continue reading “Repatriation and Deception: American-Armenian Repatriates to Soviet Armenia. Hazel Antaramian-Hofman to Speak on March 20”