The horrors many Armenian family members met nearly 100 years ago were told on film. A massive archive gathered by Armenian filmmaker Michael Hagopian will soon join the testimonies of Holocaust survivors at the USC Shoah Foundation Institute.
Hagopian and many he interviewed are deceased now. But through the preservation project now underway, the images will be digitized. The names and places mentioned will be indexed so that in the future, anyone will be able to find them on the Internet.
"It means that their voice, which was supposed to have been extinguished, is going to find its place in the world," said Stephen Smith, Shoah Foundation Institute.
The existence of the 1915 Armenian Genocide has been debated and politicized. The Turkish government denies the systematic killing happened, saying that ethnic fighting caused massacres on both sides. The Obama administration, which regards Turkey as a key ally, acknowledges more than 1.5 million deaths, but does not declare it genocide.
USC's Institute of Armenian Studies hopes to gather even more stories.
"People have collections, have interviews sitting in their closets, and we want to bring those out so that we have a complete archive," said Jerry Papazian, Armenian Institute Advisory Board.
"An effort like this could stand out and play a part in not letting this happen again, anywhere else in the world," said Maria Mehranian, Armenian Institute supporter.