Ivy and Gregory Ivazian
‘To spite them, I decided I gotta stay alive’
By J.D. Lasica
Aghasi “Ivy” Ivazian invites a visitor into his North Sacramento home with a sweep of his hand. In a back room, amid scrapbooks and photo albums, he tells his story animatedly.
He is 78 years old, perhaps — there is no way to be sure. He was born in the city of Van, the historic center of Armenian civilization. It was in Van that the first fighting between Turks and Armenians broke out in early April 1915, an episode that historians say led to the government’s decision to deport the Armenians into the desert.
The Ottoman authorities, according to historical accounts, demanded 4,000 Armenians for the war against Russia, but the Armenians held back. Says Ivazian: “We knew what they had done in other places. They barely put these people in the army, made them dig ditches. They shot them and buried them in the very ditches they dug.”
Turkish troops and irregular soldiers from Kurdish villages in the area, under the command of their German allies, launched a five-week assault on the outnumbered Armenians of Van.