This image, which is on the cover of Facing History's publication Crimes Against Humanity and Civilization: The Genocide of the Armenians was painted by the artist Arshile Gorky. It is based on a photograph of Gorky and his mother, Sushan der Marderosian, taken in 1912. Although Gorky is generally identified as an American artist, he was born Vosdanig Adoian near the city of Van in what was then the Ottoman Empire. A few years after the photograph was taken, Gorky and his mother were victims of the Armenian Genocide. While he survived, Gorky remembers his mother dying in his arms. As an artist Gorky returned to the subject of the 1912 photograph many times throughout his career.
A woman holds a small Armenian bible during a service at the Holy Mother of God church in Vakifli, Turkey. Less than 30 Armenian families populate the small town and surrounding area, which is located near the Turkish border with Syria. Although Armenians are allowed to celebrate their traditions in Turkey, many fear asserting their ethnic origins, which means living in near silence to avoid trouble.
Snow blankets the countryside along a road between Van and Dogubayazit, Turkey, close to the border with present-day Armenia. Eastern Turkey is where the largest population of Turkey’s Armenians had been living for centuries. After the deportation decrees were issued in 1915, almost all of the Armenian communities in the Lake Van area were wiped out.