PARAMUS, NJ—Who are the heroes in Armenian history? Which real life heroes do we teach our children about? The illustrated children’s book The Angel of Aleppo is one such attempt.
Published by the Armenian Missionary Association of America (AMAA), the story is about Reverend Hovhannes Eskijian, who risked his life to save children during the Armenian Genocide of 1915. Ironically, his granddaughter Rev. Nancy Eskijian followed in his footsteps and is a minister in Los Angeles, California.
The story opens with Eskijian’s childhood during which he and his brother escape death by hiding in a ditch. Unfortunately, his parents died, and the boys became orphans. Eskijian became a minister and moved to Aleppo, Syria with his wife. There, they witnessed the Armenian deportees arriving by train from the interior provinces of Turkey. Aleppo served as a stopping point before the deportees continued their journey to the desert of Der Zor, which meant certain death.
Rev. Eskijian decided to smuggle children from the train and hide them within the city. His bravery saved countless children before he succumbed to typhus.
The Angel of Aleppo is written by M. Kay Nanian, a judge in Phoenix, Arizona. It is illustrated by Mariam Dashtoyan, an art student in Armenia. The book is $10.00 and is available online at the AMAA bookstore.