In 1968, filmmaker J. Michael Hagopian received a phone call as he describes in this clip, from a German, who had apparently been stationed in a medical corps in the Ottoman Empire in 1915/1916 and witnessed what happened to Armenians. Michael had not heard of this person before, but knew right away that this could be an important interview. Why? For Michael, it was because the caller said that he was German, and Germany was allied with the Ottoman Empire at the time, and thus could turn out to be an important witness to the events. And so Michael went out to rent a good camera with sound, and interviewed Armin T. Wegner in the same Hagopian living room 42 years prior to USC Shoah Foundation interviewing Michael in 2010.
The testimony that Wegner gave, ignited Michael’s interest to find out more from survivors of the genocide; Wegner became Michael’s first filmed genocide eyewitness interview. He followed it up with nearly 400 more interviews filmed on 16 mm film in 10 different countries and several languages over the next thirty years. The testimonies became part of the Armenian Film Foundation’s collection and 60 of these testimonies have been made viewable and searchable as of this week in the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive.
Author: Karen Jungblut, USC Shoah Foundation Director of Research and Documentation
April 24, 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.