Jürgen Gispert, Armenien gestern und heute – „Die Aschen der Opfer schlagen in unseren Herzen“. Zu einer Theorie der armenischen Memorialkultur, Leipzig, Eudora-Verlag, 2022, 492 S

Ashot N. Hayruni

A new extensive and valuable monograph (492 pp.) published in Leipzig titled “Armenia yesterday and today – ‘The Remains of the Victims Beat in Our Hearts’. On a theory of the Armenian Memory Culture” by the German ethnographer and Armenologist Dr. Jürgen Gispert provides the German-speaking reader with comprehensive information about the spiritual and cultural values of the Armenian people, their past and the present, including the contemporary challenges they are facing with, the overcoming of which is paramount for the preservation of the Armenian state and national identity.

The book begins with the coverage of the events that took place in the recent years, particularly after the “Velvet Revolution” and the previous realities, which, by continuously deepening the gap between the people and the authorities, ultimately culminated in the change of power. In particular, the author focuses on the irregularities, vote rigging and fraud that took place during the election process during the history of the Third Republic, the difficult social situation of the republic’s population and the lack of trust in the public sphere towards the socio-economic policy of the authorities, as well as the various realities that undermined the former intra-societal unity, including the influx of individual sects from the West after the collapse of the USSR and their divisive activities.

Afterwards, the author reflects upon the Armenian History, by outlining essential events from pre-historic, ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary Armenian history, especially focusing on those important events that shaped the course of history. The reader is thoroughly familiarized with the Armenian Genocide and its consequences. Detailed information is given about Armenian khachkars and Armenian culture in general. The systematic destruction of Jugha khachkars by the Azerbaijani authorities around 20 years ago is also outlined. Such criminal systematic destruction, as Gispert points out, had not even taken place during the invasions of Shah Abbas and Tamerlane. Further expanding on this subject, the author presents many facts about the course of events and consequences of Azerbaijan’s current anti-Armenian policy. The massacres of Sumagait and Baku, the destruction and usurpation of Armenian culture in the occupied regions of Artsakh are covered thoroughly and are presented in a new light, as a consistent continuation of the Turkish-Azerbaijani genocidal policy.

The author covers in detail the history of the emergence of the Artsakh question, thoroughly refuting the false theses as presented by the Azeri government that Artsakh supposedly belongs to Azerbaijan. At the same time, the author presents a detailed study of the history of Azerbaijan and the emergence of the Azerbaijanis as an ethnic group, which takes place only after 1918. The author juxtaposes the above fact of the newly emerged Azeri state and ethnicity with the reality of a thousand-year history of Armenian Artsakh, pointing out that Azerbaijan from the viewpoint of historic rights, as well as from the standpoint of modern international law has no legitimate right to claim Artsakh as its own.

The above noted monumental study by Gispert has not only academic, but also political value taking into consideration the fact of how much efforts and material resources are spent by Azerbaijan and Turkey to create a distorted public opinion in the West about Armenian heritage, culture and identity. The work contains, apart from the text itself, many valuable maps and photographs. We really hope that patrons would be found who would sponsor the translation and publication of this valuable work in Armenian, English and other languages.