Detroiter's Eyes Opened:
Back From A Soviet Exile

A Detroit newspaper, August 3, 1960


Thomas Mooradian gave up his American citizenship in 1947 to live in Soviet Armenia.

That was the year, Mooradian, then 18, graduated with honors from Southwestern High School.

He was graduation speaker, member of the national honor society, won several oratorical and scholastic contests and was offered numerous scholarships.

He was also capitan of the basketball team. The slender 6-footer was an all-state forward and led his team to the city championship in 1946.

But Mooradian decided that he'd rather live in Armenia. He joined 350 Armenian repatriates from the Midwest and headed for his parents homeland without a backward glance.

Yesterday he stepped from a plane at Metropolitan Airport clutching his most cherished possession- his American citizenship pages.

He had little to say of his 13 years under the Soviets, kept repeating, "It was Hell."

"I thought I could leave whenever I wanted, when I decided to go to Armenia. In 1949 I had enough and wanted to come home, but I couldn't get a visa.

"I attended the University in Armenia, graduated and became a teacher. During all these years I've traveled in all 16 Soviet republics teaching physical culture and sports--mainly basketball.

"A lot of the things I should tell you about Armenia and other Russian dominated countries would have come from the American diplomatic corps.

"It was through the corps in Moscow that I finally regained my citizenship--my freedom.

"One day in Detroit makes me feel like Alice in Wonderland.

"All I want to do is walk down Woodward Avenue knowing I won't have to look over my shoulder to see if I'm being followed.

"My wants are now simple ones. See a baseball game. Visit my old school."

Mooradian rejoined his parents, Mr and Mrs Paul Mooradian, in their home at 1108 N Crawford.

The thing that stands out in his mind about his self-imposed exile is the internal passport necessary in the Soviet republics.

"Without it on your person at all times you were subject to arrest," he said.

"I just want to forget the past 13 years.

"I'm only interested now in the future."