A Snapshot from the Past: A Lost Photograph of Soghomon Telirian

The following is an email we received last September, containing a lovely story of a very special photograph. The email came from a longtime reader of the paper, Violet Dagdigian of Westford, Mass. and was in regards to a photograph of Soghomon Tehlirian, the Armenian revolutionary who assassinated Talaat Pasha on March 15, 1921. As it so happens, Tehlirian was the godfather of Violet’s aunt, Annette, who kept this photograph of him and his fiancée. We felt our readers would enjoy reading the original correspondences from both Violet and her aunt, so we have included them here. We apologize for the delay in publishing these letters—we felt it would be more appropriate shared closer to one of the commemorative dates associated with his life.

 

Letter to the Editor:

Dear Editor,

I am enclosing a letter that my aunt—Annette Tashjian, who now lives in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio—wrote several years ago. I just recently found it packed away with other saved memories. I had sent my aunt a photo of Soghomon Tehlirian that I had seen posted in the Weekly because I knew how proud she was of being Soghomon’s godchild. She sent me this letter/essay shortly afterward, and I made copies of it for myself. My aunt is a widow and is now 94-years-old and lives in an assisted living facility in North Royalton, Ohio. Friends bring her copies of the Weekly to read. I asked her permission to submit her letter to the Weekly, with the photo of Soghomon for publication. She said she would be honored to have it published and treasures the photo she has of him that was given to her by her parents. She always tells anyone—and everyone!—that Soghomon was her godfather and describes how this honor was bestowed upon her so many years ago!

I can’t remember when she wrote the enclosed letter/essay, but I know it had to be at least 10 years ago or probably even more… I’m not sure if she even remembers when she wrote it. Although she now has numerous ailments, her mind is still sharp. She reads constantly, and loves talking about the “old days” to family and friends. I try to talk with her at least a couple days a week, and I send her books, e-mails or articles we find on topics I know that would interest her—Armenian and non-Armenian topics! She also reads the Cleveland Plain Dealer daily. She has no children, but our family, including my brother and my cousins and the many other Armenian and non-Armenian friends she has in Cleveland, make sure she is well taken care of and has all she needs.

By the way, my aunt loved our good friend Tom Vartabedian and his wife. Tom visited with my aunt many times when she was in Massachusetts visiting me and my family! Tom and my aunt became great friends here, and when she traveled back to Cleveland, she wrote many letters to him and received letters from him in return. While she was here, he showed her slides of his trips to Armenia. She was honored to have his friendship and loved to hear his stories. I wish I had found this letter from my aunt earlier, before Tom passed away… He would have loved it.

Violet Dagdigian
Westford, Mass.

 

Explanation Behind the Photo:

Soghomon Tehlirian pictured with his fiancée, dated 1924 (Photo: Annette Eminian Tashjian)

This photo is an unforgettable part of my life.

From the time I was a child, I remember my parents, Alexander and Elizabeth Eminian, telling people I was Soghomon Tehlirian’s godchild. The people would hug me, pinch my cheeks, and kiss me.

I never realized, though, until I was old enough to understand, how honored they were, and how honored I should be. I was born on October 14,1923 in Cleveland, Ohio. My parents had a large home, and it became a “hotel” for transient and visiting Armenians. My parents were preparing for my baptism when Soghomon Tehlirian came to Cleveland.

When he learned that I was to be baptized, he said, “I would be honored to be her godfather, and I would be doubly honored if you named your child Anahid after my fiancée.” Needless to say, my parents and relatives were thrilled.

Soghomon’s fiancée Anahid lived in France and was called “Annette” there. That is how I got my name.

I never had the honor of seeing my godfather again, but this photo of Soghomon and Anahid is a treasure.

Annette Eminian Tashjian

avatar

Weekly Editorial Board

avatar

Latest posts by Weekly Editorial Board (see all)

7 Comments

  1. Violet, several years ago this same Tehlirian family photograph similarly signed, with three others, came into my possession. Realizing their national significance, I donated them to the Armenian Genocide Museum and Institite in Yerevan. The images and story should be available on the AGMI website.

    • Thank you to all who responded…..As a result of the Genocide, my grandmother was an orphan at age 13, and my father , too, and his brothers were orphaned after their parents and sister were butchered. So many other families in our Cleveland community also had sad stories of those tragic Genocide days…..My aunt has carried these tragic stories with her throughout her life, and she was uplifted by the response to the page in the Weekly! Thank you!

  2. I hope Project SAVE will contact you, Violet, about the photograph. Indeed, Tom was a staunch supporter of Project SAVE, too.

  3. Was that guy who assasinated Talat Pasha, I mean, Solomon Tehlirian? That is nice to hear that the Armenians never forget their murderer kins!…Everybody should know a planned criminal doubles the penalty….Some will refer the Armenians’ biased claims on genocide. They should g oto below link and learn what really happened between Armenians and their state, Ottoman Empire.
    http://armenians-1915.blogspot.com/2006/06/sukru-server-ayas-collection.html

  4. Your photo was taken in Paris when Soghomon and Anahid visited in 1924 as newlyweds.
    Another photo from this set can be seen in my book on Tehlirian, “Operation Nemesis – The Assassination
    Plot that Avenged the Armenian Genocide.” Soghomon Tehlirian was an extraordinary
    man and you are blessed to have had him touch your life.

  5. Orhan Tan
    I thought that you will stop your subscription to the Armenian Weekly.
    Did you change your mind, or is someone paying you to post these comments.
    You cannot revise history.The murderer was Talat Pasha and Tehlirian was found not guilty.

    Vart Adjemian

  6. Soghomon Tehlirian is indeed a gigantic hero for murdering Talaat Pasha (the chief architect of the Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian Genocides).

    Orhan Tan,

    Even after spending all this time reading the educational articles on the Armenian Weekly, you haven’t learned one single thing. You still continue to remain the same imbecilic, hardcore genocide denialist that you’ve always been since day one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*