There is talk about the present freely-elected government of the Republic of Armenia apologizing to those who suffered the indignation and down-right cruelty inflicted upon the repatriates. I, for one, don’t need one. I felt that, despite the hardships and the discrimination, I came out of the foreboding turmoil a better person with a better understanding of the world and its politics.
But Armenia does have to apologize to those who gave up their homes and packed up their families and relocated in Soviet Armenia. The Soviet, specifically the Soviet Armenian, government betrayed the trust of their own people. Most who went back were survivors of the genocide only to be further persecuted as Tasnags or Trotskyites or members of the elite bourgeoisie. The Soviets blundered badly, making enemies of the new arrivals who somehow managed to get the message back to their adopted lands about the conditions they had found themselves in.
The repatriates gave up everything for the Soviets and received in return a dagger in their backs. If Armenia is ever going to find a place among the civilized nations of the world, it must recognize the debt it owes to those who had embraced the country, returned to it to help rebuild it only to be imprisoned by the system.
Today, Armenia is hemorrhaging – losing its population in vast numbers – because its citizens do not trust those in high office. The president and the parliament must prove to the people that they can be trusted, and they have to heal the wounds inflicted on those who once believed in their Hyerenek. Though Armenians are not known for forgiving past injustices, an apology to the repatriates would be a move in the right direction.
Tom Mooradian was one of 151 Americans who traveled to Soviet Armenia to repatriate during the 1940’s. Thought to be a spy by the KGB, Tom miraculously survived 13 years behind the Iron Curtain winning the hearts of the Soviets through his basketball prowess. Filled with political drama, romance, and intrigue, Tom’s autobiography, The Repatriate reads like a novel, and will have you guessing how Tom managed to return to America alive.
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