Vahé Tachjian

Daily Life in the Abyss. Genocide Diaries 1915–1918

Series: War and Genocide Bd. 25
Berghahn Books, New York / Oxford 2017, 220 Seiten
ISBN 978-1-78533-494-8

Historical research into the Armenian Genocide has grown tremendously in recent years, but much of it has focused on large-scale questions related to Ottoman policy or the scope of the killing. Consequently, surprisingly little is known about the actual experiences of the genocide’s victims. Daily Life in the Abyss illuminates this aspect through the intertwined stories of two Armenian families who endured forced relocation and deprivation in and around modern-day Syria. Through analysis of diaries and other source material, it reconstructs the rhythms of daily life within an often bleak and hostile environment, in the face of a gradually disintegrating social fabric.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. The Diarist, his Environment, and the Reasons for Keeping a Diary
Chapter 2. The Deportees in the Region of Bilad al-Sham: A Race Against Time at Breakneck Speed
Chapter 3. The Circle of Salvation in Extreme Conditions: Money-Food-Connections
Chapter 4. Descriptions of the Deportees’ Decline: The Deaths of Shoghagat, Hagop, Krikor, Diruhi, and Many Others
Chapter 5. From Forced Islamization to Emancipation: Two Historical Episodes and their Contradictions



Tachjian has a sharp eye for detail, and Daily Life in the Abyss offers microhistory at its best. The book contains crucial ethnographic details about the social history of Syria in World War 1, including, for example, on the Ismaili community of Salamiyya and the fate of its young army defectors.”
Uğur Ümit Üngör, European History Quarterly 48.2 (2018)


Daily Life in the Abyss: Genocide Diaries, 1915–1918

Rezension von Ugur Ungor, in: War in History 26.1 (2019), 141–142