This Google Map shows the Armenian communities and places of worship in Syria prior to the Syrian conflict.
Armenians were especially concentrated in Aleppo (Haleb). Each of the city’s nine Armenian Apostolic and Armenian Catholic churches is shown on the map. There were also significant communities in Damascus, in a cluster of villages in the Kesab (Kasab) area adjacent to the Turkish border, and in a number of desert towns in the NE at which Armenians arrived during and after the 1915 Armenian Genocide.
There was a post-Genocide Armenian refugee camp on the northern outskirts of Aleppo, which operated from 1922, had its own churches (Surp Khach, or Holy Cross, and Surp Krikor Lusavorich) and gradually developed into a normal residential suburb.
Aleppo was also the location of an Armenian Orphanage. The United Nations Office at Geneva in Switzerland has a vast archive and library, including holdings generated and collected by its predecessor the League of Nations. Among these are 15 registers under references C1601/497, C1602/498 and C1603/499 which pertain to the children admitted to the Armenian Orphanage in Aleppo during the period 1922 to 1930. Each volume contains short biographies and black and white photographs of up to 100 orphans and others admitted to the Orphanage. The registers do not form a complete unbroken series covering all inmates – four original volumes, known to have existed because of the sequential numbering of individuals admitted to the orphanage, have been lost or destroyed at some date. However, this still leaves illustrated biographical sketches of approximately 1,500 Armenians, victims but survivors of the Armenian Genocide.
Each orphan had been deported from the Armenian-inhabited regions of the Ottoman Empire, and presumably most if not all had lost both parents and all other close family members. Many had escaped or been released from captivity in the homes of Turks, Kurds or Arabs, many had been forced to convert, and many of the girls had been treated as domestic servants or unwilling concubines.
Today the descendants of the original refugees in Aleppo are likely to have been displaced by the fighting in Syria and to have fled from a city in ruins to, ironically, the relative safety of neighbouring Turkey.
Versions of this blog and map were originally published by bluebirdresearch.com in 2012.