Armenian Jerusalem
Convent of St James
     Like many young Kaghakatzi men of his age, Hagop Hovsepian (who later changed his family name to Hagopian), was conscripted into the Ottoman army during their occupation of Palestine.      But unlike several of his compatriots who perished during Sefer Berlik (First World War), he survived. He did return home, but he was a broken man.      He never referred to his war "service" - actually, it was more like servitude than service. The young Kaghakatzis conscripted by the Ottomans were rounded out and pressed to do menial tasks in the Turkish army.      Some tried to escape, but were caught and reportedly hanged.      Among the escapees was Hovagim Koukeian (Abu Ishaq), who sought refuge in an old mill at the Wad el Quilt "resort" near Jericho.      Hovagim honed his guiding skills there and became an authority on the region and invariably sought his advice.\      "Whenever we used to make a hike to that desolate place an evening of 'orientation' by the grouchy Abu-Ishaq was part of the ritual," Eddie Hagopian recalls.      Hovagim later became caretaker at the Jerusalem Armenian Benevolent Union (JABU) club, and he and his wife Nour lived only a few yards away from the place.      During the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, he suffered an irreparable loss with the death of his step-son Ishaq and his wife in a bombing incident near the Kishleh police compound near Jaffa Gate. It was reported that the couple were killed when a bomb carried by an Arab dropped from his hands and exploded in front of them, killing several people, including another Armenian youth, Issa Toumayan, the only son of the widow Almaza.      Almaza never ceased to grieve for him and wore black in mourning for the rest of her life.      Ishaq left a step-daughter, Nevart.      John Ramian's father, too, was a genocide survivor.      "He used to tell him a lot of horrible stories he witnessed during 1915 -1922," John says.      "Every morning the Ottoman Turkish army officers would come to pick up young Armenian men (my father among them) from his town (Diyarbakir) in Eastern Turkey, giving them each a shovel to dig some where," John reports.      The men would return home only at the end of the day.      "One day all the men went to dig and never came back. They probably dug their own graves and probably others'," John says.      "One day my dad witnessed a Turkish soldier kicking a small Armenian boy with his boot just for asking for a piece of bread the soldier was eating," John continues with his tale.      "The boy fell on his head. He was alive but was bleeding - the soldier finished him with a blow from a rock," his father told him.      "My dad survived the genocide, crossed the desert with young boys and girls. They walked by night and hid in caves during the day. They saw a lot of dead bodies lying in the desert between Turkey and the Syrian borders. They finally they made it to an Armenian convent in Alleppo, Syria. From there, John's father trekked to Jerusalem on a donkey.
Hagop in proud paternalistic mode
Hagopian clan patriarch Old and tired