Dora Sakayan has devoted most of her life to linguistic scholarship, and she is the author of various monographs, textbooks, translations, articles and more. More recently, she has focused on genocide studies. Her latest work “They drive them into the desert”, which was published in its German original in Zürich by Limmat Publishing House in 2016, appeared now in its Armenian version by the YSU Publishing House.
Many came to congratulate the author, including YSU Rector Aram Simonyan, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Germany to Armenia, Bernhard Matthias Kiesler, Director of YSU Publishing House Karen Grigoryan, literary critic Avik Isahakyan, as well as the deans of different faculties, lecturers, prominent literary figures, students and others.
Rector Simonyan started his opening speech by saying that in recent years the cooperation between YSU and Dora Sakayan has been ongoing and very productive. According to the Rector, the years pass by, but Sakayan keeps producing new works with youthful vigor: “Most of the latest books by the YSU’s Honorary Doctor refer to the Armenian Genocide. It is worth mentioning that Mrs. Sakayan is one of the alumni of our university who continues to hold strong ties with her Alma Mater. Of course, our collaboration has yielded plentiful fruits, one of which is the book being presented today.”
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Republic of Armenia, Bernhard Matthias Kiesler, welcomed the participants of the launch and went on saying that the Armenian Genocide has today become a topic of wider discussion in Germany, with growing awareness among the public: “Testimonies of eyewitnesses are very important for genocide studies. They give us a clearer picture of the suffering experienced by the Armenian people in 1915 and beyond. Such publications are a step forward to help those who want to understand and study the Armenian Genocide.”
The author of the book, Dora Sakayan, now lives and works in Canada. She announced that the original German version of her book that she published in Zürich last October has been very positively received in Switzerland. At the same time, Mrs. Sakayan expressed her amazement and joy about the speedy preparation and publication of the Armenian version of the book, for which she thanked the creative team of the YSU Publishing House and its director, Dr. Karen Grigoryan.
The book «They drive them into the desert”, which has a foreword by renowned Genocide scholar Wolfgang Gust, is based on some 100-year old manuscripts and diaries written in Gothic handwriting and found in Swiss archives. They are testimonials of the Swiss couple Clara and Fritz Sigrist-Hilty on the Armenian Genocide. The book consists of three chapters. The first two are dedicated to the Swiss couple, and the third to Haig Aramian, the Armenian who survived the massacre thanks to the Sigrist-Hilty couple. The Armenian edition has an additional section that describes the 2016 reception of the book’s German original in Switzerland, and especially during and after the book launch in Clara Hilty’s birthplace Werdenberg.
The editor of the book, Doctoral Candidate of Philology Mary Hovhannisyan, emphasized the great role this book can play in the revelation of historical truth: “It is a primary source for the understanding of the full picture of the Armenian Genocide, its main culprits and accomplices.”
In high appreciation of Sakayan’s scholarly and literary work, all the speakers emphasized the significance of her new book. At the end of the presentation, Mrs. Sakayan promised that the English version of the book will be ready quite soon.
“They drive them into the desert” appeals to both genocide scholars and the broad public. With this new and invaluable document, Dora Sakayan enriches the history of the Armenian Genocide. The book can have a great impact on the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
Dora Sakayan is Professor of McGill University, YSU Honorary Doctor, recipient of the Gold Medal by the RA Ministry of Education and Science, and recipient of the St. Sahak and St. Mesrop Medal of the Armenian Apostolic Church. She was also awarded the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.