Exhibit tells story of resistance during Armenian genocide
Organizers of a new exhibit at the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre are hoping to inspire people with a story about the power of resistance.
It took two years to research and design an exhibit about the historic novel The 40 Days of the Musa Dagh. The novel, by Jewish Czech writer Franz Werfel, tells the story of 4,500 Armenians who resisted the Ottoman Empire 100 years ago during the Armenian Genocide.
“It tells a story of resistance. It’s a story which actually inspired Jews during the Holocaust,” says Alice Herscovitch, the centre’s executive director.
About 1.5 million Armenians - roughly two thirds of the population - died during the genocide. But almost everyone who was part of the group that resisted the Ottomans at Musa Dagh survived until they were rescued by the French Navy.
“This resistance was important because it showed that you can - I mean by defending yourself, your community - you can [get] through it,” said Aram Elagoz of the Armenian National Committee of Quebec.
Exhibit designer Maia Djambazian is Armenian, but even she wasn't aware of the story until she began researching it.
“It’s a little episode in Armenian history. But it's also - it comes with all these symbolisms and the lessons,” she said.
The hope is that people can learn from the past.
“Some people seem to be, again and again, victims of persecution because they are minorities in other lands. It [makes us realize], I think, also our responsibility to help Syrian refugees,” said Herscovitch.
The exhibit at the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre runs through Feb. 11.