When one young Armenian man set out on his journey from Turkey to the USA, he could have never imagined he would escape from the Titanic and other life threatening circumstances.
An Armenian Man's Journey Out of Turkey
In the early 1900s, thousands of Armenians were emigrating from Western Armenia to start a new life in the United States. They traveled from Turkey across the Atlantic Ocean to escape the rising violence. Ottoman-era Turks and violence inspired young people to make this often precarious journey.
One of these people was Neshan Krekorian, an Armenian man barely in his twenties. When his father urged him to begin a new life away from the oppression, Krekorian had no idea he would be escaping a genocide and the Titanic.
The young Armenian man fled and made his way across Europe. His grandson, Van Solomonian, said his grandfather was told by his father to get out of the country, start a new life in Canada and try to bring his brothers over. Krekorian wound up buying a third-class ticket for a foreboding ocean journey.
Krekorian's two younger brothers stayed behind. The brave young man gathered for other compatriots from Turkish Armenia in Keghi, where he lived. They all got to Cherbourg, France and then go on the infamous Titanic.
Immigrants from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Scandinavia and the British Isles paid what was about $1,000 for a third-class ticket.
The steering-class ticket included small sleeping quarters and meals in the third-class dining hall. The voyage would be a week long. Krekorian was one of the 700 third-class passengers to take the maiden voyage on the world famous Titanic.
Fateful Journey on the Titanic
Solomonian recalled his grandfather said the quarters on the Titanic were comfortable but cramped. After five nights, the journey went from mediocre to dire. At nearly midnight on April 14, 1912, the ship struck a huge iceberg in the North Atlantic.
Slowly the huge ship started to sink. Solomonian said he grandfather and other passenger in the third-class quarters were playing cards. Suddenly they heard a shudder and a dull thud sound.
According to VOA News, Solomonian said, “He knew something had happened, but he didn't quite know what. The problem with the third-class passengers was that they were actually locked down on their decks, because at the time regulations required that steerage passengers be isolated from first and second class.”
Just a few days ago, HULIQ reported about how many of the poor died on the Titanic and more rich survived during this treacherous event that happened one hundred years ago.
To get out to the upper decks, Krekorian had to break a chain lock. Krekorian fortunately landed on boat 10. As the boat was being lowered, he jumped over the side and got away with it.
Unfortunately, other steerage-class passengers did not have a similar fate. More than two-thirds of the third-class passengers went down with the Titanic.
There were 2,200 people on board the ship as it went down. Only about 700 survived. Most of these travelers were from first-class and second-class. Krekorian not only escaped the Armenian genocide, he managed to get off the Titanic alive. Turkey, a major tourist destination does not recognize the Armenian genocide or the million and half Armenians who lost their lives.
After escaping the genocide and the Titanic, somehow Krekorian managed to find his way to Canada. Once he achieved this goal, he settled in St. Catherine's in Ontario.
Now a survivor, Krekorian became a foundry worker at the General Motors plant. He earned money and fulfilled his father's wish to bring his two brothers to Canada. Never forgetting his roots, Krekorian also helped found the town's Armenian Church. It was the first in the country.
According to Solomonian, it was possible his grandfather's brother did not even know about the Titanic until they came to Canada.
Solomonian grew up in St. Catherine's and later moved to Toronto. He has memories of his grandfather clutching traditional Armenian worry beads. Krekorian spoke little English and was a quiet man.
His grandfather rarely spoke of the Titanic and said he still remembered passengers screaming for help as they plunged to their death in the freezing cold waters.
Solomonian is sure Krekorian never forgot that day, indicating, “He never went on a boat again in his life.”
Krekorian also would not swim. The family would go for Sunday picnics at a beach on Lake Ontario but refused to go in the water. Solomonian continued, “I guess that speaks to the trauma that he experienced. He never got over that fear.”
Krekorian was 89 years old when he died. One of his grateful brothers stood by his tombstone and whispered thanks for his help in getting them out of Keghi.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons