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18 07 2013
Michael Markosyan - Kogan and the Armenian Saviors

When visiting Yad Vashem Holocaust institute-museum in Jerusalem, one cannot help but feel the sorrows of the Jewish people. One is also reminded of the similarities between their suffering and that of the Armenian people in first half of the 20th century. The photographs of the heroes and the incredible stories about these people who sacrificed their lives to save the Jews lead the question: “Is it possible that a nation that had barely escaped from the scimitar of the Turks and complete annihilation, a nation that had more than 1, 5 million victims, could be indifferent to the Jewish Holocaust and would not offer a helping hand to a nation that had a similar fate? There are 21 Armenian heroes recognized as “Righteous among the Nations” and registered by the Yad Vashem museum. The Republic of Armenia is the first on the list of countries that were not occupied by Nazi Germany. It is understandable, then, that Armenians who had suffered a history of massacres should would rescue and protect many Jews. However, there were also Armenians who were arrested by the Germans and who suffered in the German concentration as well, punished for saving Jews and for being allies of the Turks. They were called “Traitors of the Motherland” and sent to Siberian camps during post-war years.

For the past two years, The Raoul Wallenberg International Foundation has been one of the few organizations in the world that is trying to establish contact with other organizations, foundations, countries and their governments to find and pay tribute to the unknown Armenians who saved the lives of Jews during the Holocaust.
During an exclusive interview by the Armenian Service of Radio Freedom, Raoul Wallenberg International Foundation Vice President Mr. Daniel Rainer spoke about the new initiative of the organization and the work that Raoul Wallenberg International foundation accomplished.The message has not gone unheard.
Daniel RainerThrough the efforts of the foundation, word has spread about the heroes from the Republic of Armenia whose deeds are worthy of recognition and whose heroic deeds in combat had not yet been reported. The famous Armenian singer Anna Khachatryan, for example, reacted immediately and kindly provided us with an entire family archive about an Armenian hero who was her grandfather, Dr. Harutyun Khachatryan who suffered for his entire life.

Mr. Daniel Rainer, Vice President of Raoul Wallenberg International Foundation

"When I was visiting the home of the Commander of the first Soviet Partisan regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Aleksandr Arkadi Ghazaryan, one of the letters he had received reminded me of the story of Josef Kogan, a Jew 1polk-etatand had managed to stay alive with the help of his Armenian friends and, by changing his name to Michael Markosyan,” writes journalist Michael Hakobyan in his book, “Missing People,” published in 1964. Lieutenant Colonel Ghazaryan had invited Kogan to Armenia at that time, telling him about the difficulties of Dr. Harutyun Khachatryan. Not until 17 years after the war did Kogan learn about the hardships undergone by those who rescued him as well as the names of his Armenian rescuers who had were severely punished in Nazi prisons.

From left , Lieutenant Colonel A.A. Ghazaryan, Captain B. K. Petrosyan, Mayors D. E. Minasyan, S. A. Yaghdjyan and L. M. Titanyan in front of the theatre entrance of the French city Toulouse in 1944 (source

Harutyun Ruben Khachatryan was born on April 5, 1915 in Karakhan-Beklu village of Nakhidjevan. He studied at the village school of Karakhan-Beklu, moved to Yerevan in 1934 and entered Yerevan State Medical Kogan_ev_Khachatryan_1Institute. He entered the Soviet army in 1939, after graduating from the institute. Dr. Khachatryan participated in the Finnish war in 1940 and served as a doctor in the military hospital during the Second World War. In August 1941, after working tirelessly with the wounded soldiers, he was captured and taken prisoner near the city Velikie Luki.

From right Harutyun Khachatryan, in the middle Josef Kogan (Michael Khachatryan Markosyan). Family archive – Yerevan 1983)

Here in the prisoner of war camps in Velikie Luki, Dr. Khachatryan served as physician and met the wounded Kogan. Subsequently, during the war, he has moved to various concentration camps, working in the German Eastern Legion.
Dr. Harutyun Khachatryan returned to Armenia in 1946 and worked from 1946-49 as a chief physician at Ashtarak Regional Hospital. He was sentenced to death in 1949, having been accused of betraying his homeland. The sentence was later changed to 25 years in prison. From 1949 to 1956, he served his sentence in in Norilsk, Siberia. He was released in 1956 and restored to his position in 1960. He worked as a doctor at the Yerevan N17 policlinic from 1956 to 1984. In 1983 he had a long-awaited reunion with his military colleagues and friends.
A letter that Josef Moses Kogan sent to the State Security Committee of the Union of Soviet Socialist
Hay_partizanner_ev_Kogan_1-verjnakanRepublics reveals how this Armenian hero, Dr. Harutyun Khachatryan, saved the life of Mr. Kogan. Kogan tells the whole story in this letter describing how many times the Armenians, and Dr. Khachatryan in particular, saved his life. Kogan was captured by the Germans near the city of Velikie Luki at the end of August, 1941, wounded in the right leg and unconsious, and was moved to the concentration camp of the same name.

Seated on the right, Dr. Harutyun Khachatryan, Josef Kogan and their military friends. Family archive – Yerevan 1983

Dr. Harutyun Khachatryan treated him and he was able to walk again, but later the Jewish war prisoner became infected with spotted typhus. In spite of quarantine and an order not to communicate with dying patients,
Pulavi-hotelKhachatryan continued to visit him, bringing food and medication.
The war prisoners were regularly transported to various concentration camps; from Velikie Luki to Polotsk, from Polotsk to Borisovo, from Borisovo to Beniaminovo (Poland). Beniaminovo was not the only place in Poland where there were Soviet war prisoners; they were transported from Beniaminovo to Demblin, from Demblin to Pulavi.

Old stamp picturing Polish city Pulavi

For his protection, Dr. Khachatryan had arranged for Josef Kogan to stay with Armenian prisoners and go by the name of Michael Markosyan (Misha Markosyan). However, an unknown person betrayed him to the Commanders of the Borisovo camp.
In his book entitled “Missing people,” journalist Michael Hakobyan describes an episode when an Armenian war prisoner (later the Commander of the first Soviet Partisan Detachment of France,) Alexandr Ghazaryan, was called to the headquarters of the Borisovo camp by the Nazis with Markosyan (Kogan) as interpreter. Ghazaryan was interrogated under suspicion that he was a Jew. Then the Armenian was released, followed by Markosyan.
Later Kogan wrote in a letter:
“In the concentration camp of the city of Pulavi, an unknown person spread rumors about my background and the Germans formed a medical committee to determine my natinonality.
It seemed inevitable that I would be sentenced to death, but, at the last moment, just before I was to present myself to the Nazi doctors, the only non-German doctor of this Committee managed to get out of the room by risking his life and stopped me in the corridor, and informed me that someone had betrayed me.

Through the efforts of the Armenian war prisoners who had founded Anti-fascist Underground Patriotic Organization in the Beniaminovo camp in 1942, Kogan was able to hide and the same night his escape was arranged.
More than 17 years later, through a letter from Lieutenant Colonel Alexandr Ghazaryan, he found out that again, because of betrayal, the Armenians who had arranged his escape appeared had been held prisoner in the same fascist concentration camp.
One of the founding members of the anti-fascist Underground Patriotic Organization, Vahan Vardanyan, described in detail his memories the escape of Kogan:

Vahan_Vardanyan“Before the medical committee, we decided to arrange his escape during one of our organization meetings. We gave him a weapon and bullets. He managed to jump over the wall and run away. The Germans found out everything the next day, most likely through the same informer. Stephan Yaghdjyan was exonerated and we, the ten remaining, were judged as German militaries.
We were considered to be Vermacht soldiers. We were sentenced to various years of imprisonment; I have forgotten exactly how many. Karapetyan sentenced to be executed for a supposed connection with the partisans.

One of the founding members of the Anti-fascist Underground Patriotic Organization, Armenian hero and partisan Vahan Vardanyan; family archive
(source -

The military tribunale lasted for three or four days. I was sentenced to four years in prison. Two other people were sentenced to two years, one of us to one year, and Ruben Danielyan also to four years. Karapetyan and someone else were sentenced to ten years for a supposed connection with partisans. They did not manage to decide the degree of our participation and we were sentenced not for a long period of imprisonment.

During the trial we continually insisted that we had no connection with the partisans and that we just wanted to escape, nothing more. After the trial, I was sent to the prison of Lyublin, then from Lyublin to Grondshveld, from there to Holland, to the concentration camp near Gutenberg.
In an excerpt from his memoirs, the Armenian hero Vahan Vardanyan describes his experience with Dr. Khachatryan: “We worked in the turf mines, where our legs became swollen, but our doctor successfully treated me. That doctor was Harutyun Khachatryan. From there, I was transported to the prison of Brandenburg. In all, I had spent already two years in various prisons and concentration camps”

The Anti-fascist Underground Patriotic Organization had established contacts with the partisan detachments of Poland and, after his escape, Kogan was welcomed into the detachment by the Polish partisan Vetchik. He then joined the Soviet army military units, participating in the occupation of Prague.
In 1969, from the “Cultural Newspaper” Kogan learned about the deeds of his Armenian friends and sent a letter to Lieutenant Colonel Alexandr Ghazaryan, receiving a reply from him and establishing contact with his rescuers, particularly with Harutyun Khachatryan. Josef wrote a letter in order to restore the name and honor of the patriot and member of the Anti-fascist Underground Patriotic Organization Khachatryan. However, the Armenian doctor who was the victim of Nazi and Stalin repressions and had spent total 11 years in Fascist Hay_partizanner_ev_Kogan_2and Soviet camps, intellectual person and warrior had been exonerated and restored to his former position. He had been working as a physician at the Yerevan N17 polyclinic since 1956. However, his military rank was never restored.

Harutyun Khachatryan in the Yerevan Republic Square, with, on the left ,Josef Kogan and their military friends, family archive – Yerevan, 1983

In 1983 a meeting of the military friends in Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia was finally held . All former prisoners had been exonerated by then.......

Doctor Harutyun Khachatryan died on November 23, 1985 at the age of 70. As for Kogan, nothing further is known of him following Khachatryan’s death. We tried to find him with the help of friends in Kiev and found his former family home in Starokonstantinovo city, Khmelnitski region, but the neighbours told us that he had moved abroad 20 years before. We received a reply to our request sent to the capital of Ukraine, Kiev, from our own correspondent and partner Svetlana Glazi stating that the Kogans are living in Israel.

In describing and recording the stories of the Armenian heroes, one is really surprised at the number of sacrifices that these brave people have made to save one human life and immediately a question arises as to whether there are such personalities nowadays.
We hope that this will not appear inappropriate, but these Armenian heroes and Dr. Harutyun Khachatryan in particular, deserve to be recognized by Yad-Vashem Holocaust Museum-Institute as “Righteous among the Nations.”
We are now searching for Josef Kogan in Israel, to determine whether he is still alive, and for his heirs, in the hope that we will learn more details from them about the heroic events that have happened 69 years ago........


Artiom Chernamorian
Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty,
Correspondent in the Middle East and Israel

Chairmen of Nairi Union of the Armenians in Israel, Petah-Tiqwa

To: Artiom Chernamorian
Str. Aviel 2, Apt. 37, Petah-Tiqwa, Israel
Mobile: (+972)-54-808-27-35, E-mail: