In memory of Nazareth Sirmakesian

WESTERN ARMENIA – On December 31, 2019, a prominent national-public figure, great patriot and father of a glorious family, my noble and caring elder brother Nazareth Sirmakesian passed away.

Nazareth Sirmakesian was born on October 6, 1926  in the family of Hrant Sirmakesian, a close relative of Yervand Sirmakeshkhanlian (Yerukhan), a victim of the Turkish yataghan (1915).

Hrant Sirmakesian was born in 1880 in Constantinople and since childhood have experienced the horrors of violence by the Turkish authorities against Armenians. The Armenian massacres organized by Sultan Abdul Hamid in the 1890s left an indelible mark on him.

Hrant was taken to the Turkish army with thousands of Armenian men at the beginning of World War I. They did not have weapons were not provided with uniforms or food. They were used as carriers of ammunition and food. Many of the soldiers died from hunger.

Hrant was a tinman by profession and it saved him from death. The Turkish commander needed a lamp. Hrant prepared the lamp for which he received two bread from the commander. Hrant gave this bread to sick Armenian soldiers.

The Turkish commander took Hrant with him to the Aleppo front. After staying here for a year, Hrant managed to return to Constantinople. He took with him two Armenian orphans who survived the massacre.

There was no place in the train to Constantinople, and Hrant and his orphans were have to go on the roof of one of the wagons. Because of unbearable heat at one of the stations, Turkish soldiers forced Hrant and orphan children to give up their place. Hrant somehow managed to get into one of the wagons with the kids. When the train entered the tunnel during the night, Turkish soldiers on the roof did not notice the danger and none of them survived.

In Constantinople, Hrant met Lusaber, who hardly survived from Conya, and married her. Then they left for Romania, where Nazareth was born.

At the beginning of World War II they returned to Constantinople. In 1946 Hrant Sirmakeshian was one of the first to express his wish to return to Soviet Armenia. However, the Turkish authorities did not allow Armenian families to leave.

Hrant died in 1966. Before his death he told his children “Don’t forget Armenia”. After the death of their father, the Sirmakeshians moved to Switzerland, where in 1972 Nazareth’s mother Lusaber died.

Nazareth Sirmakeshian never forget his father’s message “Don’t forget Armenia” and with all his activities he always remained true to it.

Nazareth Sirmakeshian was known for his comprehensive national-social, charity-patriotic activities in the Diaspora.

There is a lot to be written about his activities, and many facts can be mentioned, including organization of aid to Armenia and Artsakh.

Nazareth Sirmakeshian’s energetic work with Harutyun Helvejyan and Hovhannes Chilinkiryan in supporting the heroes of the Secret Army is also a great achievement.

He has been recognized as a broad-minded analyst in Diaspora and Armenia.

Sirmakeshian’s historical analysis is attractive, warm, passionate, original, bold, revealing, calling for unity around Armenia.

With all his hard work a red thread runs like “Armenians of all countries, come together around Mother Armenia and support it”.

Sirmakeshian’s diligence proves that he was always ready to fight for the sake of the Armenians, always against evil and betrayal of national interests.

Even today the following words written by him in 1998 that sound like a message,  I find it necessary to remember.

“After the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Sirmakeshian wrote, “Russia will live through the worst times of its history. Therefore, this temporary weakening should not cause the fraternal and strategic alliance of Armenia with Russia to suffer. Let’s not believe it … >> (Nazareth Sirmakeshian, Sober with Nation Yerevan, 2011, p. 52).

And thereafter, he firmly demanded, “Not to make our centuries-old friendship and relationship with Russia subject for problem” (Ibid, p. 54).

On another occasion, remembering the demolition of the statues of Pushkin, Chekhov and other prominent figures of Russian culture in Yerevan, Sirmakesian wrote: “Why was it necessary to start an anti-Russian policy against our centuries-old and irreplaceable friend, great companion, and rescuer? For what? It was just betrayal. We are not an ungrateful nation ”(Ibid, p. 158).

This is a wise message indeed and with that message Srimakeshian has a special and worthy place next to the advocates of the great friendship of the Armenian and Russian people like Israel Ori, Hovhannes Lazaryan, Hovsep Arghutyan, Nerses Ashtaraketsi, Khachatur Abovyan, Michael Nalbandyan, Loris Melikov, Andranik Ozanyan, Komitas, Hovhannes Tumanyan, Alexandre Miasnikyan, Hovhannes Baghramyan and other greats.

As an Armenian, as an Armenian historian, I have the right to estimate his above-mentioned message like this:

One of the great features of Nazareth Sirmakeshyan’s work is that he talked to readers about what is needed today, what concerns them, from the most precious dreams, personal concerns to national issues.

All this testifies to his broad and deep thinking, delicacy and talent.

Sirmakeshyan was also a true psychologist. Sometimes there was  an angry challenge in his speech. Sometimes his words were full of blatant nakedness and sometimes with mild humor.

Sirmakeshyan’s diligence is characterized by light and kindness.

I had the opportunity to meet him in different circumstances, to hear his words, he has always shown himself to be a true and wise citizen.

He fought without pity against the Armenian people and the enemies of mankind in general, striking them with his wisdom.

Years ago, during one of our conversations, Nazareth Sirmakeshyan said very concerned: “I have always said” My Armenia “. But now I have to say, “Such Armenia is not mine”.

I’ve been thinking a lot about those words. If such a thoughtful, wise man like Nazareth Sirmakeshian comes up with such words, it means a lot of things in our country do not correspond to his ideas.

Plato, a prominent philosopher of ancient Greece, has the following words: “The supreme power in the state must belong to the wise, and it has become common in our country that every fool in power finds himself wise.”

And then, “Blind is the power that goes in an impassable way that spits on the common people, on poverty, that is, it actually spits on country and that is why it is deaf to the misery of the people, such power and politicians are shameless and immoral”. 

Like Plato, Sirmakeshian criticized all those officials and politicians who were notorious for their ignorance, who ruthlessly plundered our country, who did not regret for our homeland, Armenia.

Sirmakeshyan wrote: “Isn’t it the primary and essential duty of the president to find ways to contribute to the economic growth and prosperity of his people? In this regard, Levon Ter-Petrosyan, – because of his weak description … could do nothing. ”(Ibid, p. 57).

Further, considering the destruction of Armenian industrial enterprises as “one of the notorious and harmful activities of Levon Ter-Petrosyan”Sirmakeshyan described it as a “criminal act” and sadly noted that because of it“ hundreds of thousands of people were left unemployed and the country remained in a state of disrepair.

As a result, one and a half million people emigrated overseas.

Meanwhile, we thought we would start a repatriation of Armenia with “Independence”. This dreadful and blameworthy act left the country in desperate and the nation in despair ”(Ibid, p. 159).

And the unfortunate thing is that the Republican Party that came to power after the malicious government was led by the same ideology and continued the same policy.

In this regard, I recall one of our most recent conversations with Nazareth Sirmakesyan:

“Our young revolutionaries have correctly understood the importance of restoring and strengthening national solidarity and national unity that are of paramount importance to our people.They realize that those who invaded our national unity and solidarity have done more harm to our people than foreign invaders. “

He predicted that the time would come and would say “My Armenia” again. Now is the time. His optimism is justified. This is evidenced by his positive evaluation of the 2018 report connected with the events in Armenia during spring.

As the saying goes, if a man has stolen once, then he is a small thief, if he has stolen twice, then an average thief, if he has stolen three times, then he is a big thief if he has stolen four times, then he is a politician: The same is true of lying;

And the speech of Nazareth Sirmakesyan, a patriotic analyst, differs from the speech of a political scientist in its truth and purity.

With the help of his own words, he brought culture to people, uniting us all with his own history and his own conscience.

The proverb says: “When the sky becomes cloudy, the peasant rushes to save the harvest.”

Now that in our country and around the world are undergoing unprecedented changes that are accompanied by various legal conflicts, when there are forces that want to accumulate thunderstorms in the sky of our Armenia, Nazareth Sirmakesyan called on staying together as a nation and advice.

It is now possible to buy and sell what was previously banned. Conscience, heroism, talent, beauty, women, children, poetry, music, and sometimes even native land. At the same time, every year the price of life decreases and the price of things goes up. It is time of ungrateful ones.

Nazareth Sirmakesyan could not remain indifferent to all this and urged us all to unite to eradicate the evil habits of our country.

Dear compatriots, such person was Nazareth Sirmakesyan, a great patriot,  philanthropic, good-natured, wise, very precious and highly respected man for us.

I bow before the memory of my elder brother Nazareth Sirmakesyan.

I wish patience to all the members of his honorable family, led by beloved Vardan, and I am sure that they will continue  his work with great honor and great responsibility.

The memory of Nazareth Sirmakesyan will always remain in the grateful hearts of me and my family.

01․01․2020 Yerevan, Armenia.

Vladimir Gevorg PETROSIAN

Doctor of Historical Sciences

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