US & World

Congressman Schiff to collect families’ histories of Armenian Genocide

United States Congressman Adam B. Schiff, D-Burbank.
United States Congressman Adam B. Schiff, D-Burbank.

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A resolution to recognize the Armenian Genocide hasn’t come to a vote by the full U.S. House or Senate this year. But the congressman behind the measure has found a way to keep the issue alive. He plans to enter stories from this early-20th Century ethnic cleansing attempt into the Congressional Record.

The Library of Congress collects oral histories from World War II veterans.

Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of Burbank wants to use the Congressional Record to preserve family histories of the Armenian Genocide.

Schiff urges survivors and family members to send him stories, like the one he received from the great grandchild of a woman named Varsenik. Schiff read testimony from the survivor — who was five years old in 1915 when Turks invaded her village and her mother told her to hide in a closet.

"From inside the closet, I heard loud screaming and a few seconds later, a loud bang. Out of fear, I dropped a bag of gold coins my mother had given me. The loud noise alerted the soldier because I heard the clicking of his boots on the hardwood floor coming closer and closer."

Schiff said the Congressional Record is a good place in which to document these records. He wants to help educate members of Congress and put a human face on the Armenian Genocide.

"I find that talking about 1.5 million people that were wiped out during the genocide is just too big a number for people to come to grips with," he said. "But when you talk about it in terms of a single life, someone who survived, someone who lost all their family, it’s really much easier for members to get their minds around."

Family members can send their story of the Armenian Genocide to: