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Mary Enkababian's Family History

Mary Enkababian, Wife and Daughter of Armenian Survivors

Right, my parents -- my father lived in a city called Antep, in southeastern Turkey. And he got married young, and he had a son. The Balkan Wars came and he was called for military service, and he went and told the authorities that he was married and had a son. But he said, "I knew what the Turks were. That wouldn't matter to them, if they wanted to take me."

So he came home and decided he was gonna leave, and he told his wife he was gonna leave. And her parents said, "Oh, no, we did not give our daughter to you to take away. You want to go to Egypt, you go yourself." So he went to Egypt to avoid fighting in the Balkan Wars, and that was like 1912. And while he was there, he was thinking about what he was going to do to bring his wife and this happened, the massacres happened.

And after 1919, he went back to look for his family. He took time off from his work; he went back to Antep to find his family. He found a man who was a tailor, who said to him, "John, don't even look for your son. He was burned so badly," he said, "he couldn't have survived, and it was forbidden to help them."

They had tied about 100 children in a circle with rope, poured kerosene on them, and set them on fire. When the rope burned away -- my brother must have been on the outer edge -- he went and sat by a wall somewhere, and he told us this story after he was found, that an Arab came along and took off whatever he had that was not burned, and he was sitting there naked. And another Arab came along and saw that he was a boy and he was burned, but he took him and put him in his mishlah, they call it, their robes that they wear. And my brother said, "We swam across a river." They went across the Euphrates. And he said, "It was summer, it was winter, it was summer again before I got better," he said, so he was sick a long time with those burns.

The man, when he took him home, he says to his wife, "We have four daughters, and you're always angry that we don't have a son. I brought you a son." So my brother grew up in this place.