Moment: Reflecting on the Armenian Exodus

Contributed By By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer

  • 24 February 2014

Article Highlights

  • In 1921 violence engulfed the collapsing Ottoman Empire and members in Armenia sent a letter to Church leaders in Utah asking for help and advice.
  • In Utah, Church members held special fasts for the Armenian Saints and sent relief funds back with President Booth.
  • After “many fervent prayers,” President Booth felt impressed to secure permission for 53 Church members to leave Aintab, and after a hard four-day journey the Saints safely reached Aleppo.

In 1921, as violence engulfed the collapsing Ottoman Empire, Moses Hindoian worked with Armenian (formerly Turkish) Mission President Joseph W. Booth to lead Latter-day Saints from danger in Aintab, Turkey, to Aleppo, Syria.

Moses Hindoian of the Aintab Branch had served in the Ottoman army during World War I and was a prisoner of war in British-occupied Egypt.

By the time Brother Hindoian returned to Aintab, the Saints had been scattered and the entire branch presidency had been killed. Brother Hindoian gathered and organized members—both intact families and isolated individuals like Heranik Gedikian—and sent a letter “pleading earnestly for help and advice” to Armenian Saints and Church leaders in Utah.

Though the First World War was over, the danger for the Aintab Saints was not. As the Ottoman Empire collapsed, French forces fought Turkish nationalists for control of the city.

Church members suffered hunger and at times “had to eat the leaves of trees.”

In Utah, Church members held special fasts for the Armenian Saints and sent relief funds back with President Booth.

By the time President Booth arrived in Aleppo, the French were preparing to withdraw from Aintab, and Armenians were afraid further violence might break out. The Saints in Aintab held a fast for deliverance.

After “many fervent prayers” for the Aintab Saints, President Booth felt impressed to approach French General De Samath and secured permission for 53 Church members to leave Aintab. Moses Hindoian joined him in Aintab to pick up the passports at the crowded French office. “Mormons were famous today in Aintab,” President Booth wrote.

“The rains delayed the train of refugees and after a hard four-day trip they reached Aleppo on the 16th and found a welcome with house, room, and fire and comfort in two big places rented especially for them, Khan Jahri in Swaa district and a house in the Jewish quarters. This is an incident wherein the power of God has been clearly manifested, and the Saints are grateful for His wonderful care and mercy” (Joseph W. Booth).

(Condensed from “The Armenian Exodus” by James Goldberg. Click here to view the entire article.)