Emilia Wyszynski is a CAIA member, whose grandfather, Diran Timurian, was Armenian. Learning about the UK Armenians & WW1 project, Emilia decided to share the incredible story of her family with us. She has researched the story of the family and their involvement in founding the New Arax Armenian village in Bari, Italy, where rugs and carpets are made.
Diran was born in Isparta in 1905, one of 7 children of a high ranking civil servant, Arutiun Timurian and his wife Vartouhi Tutgiarian. They were forced to flee the Turkish hostilities and move to Izmir, where 17 year old Diran was arrested in order to be executed and was freed only because of his father’s position.
The whole family managed to escape from Turkey after 1922 and they all settled in the Italian town of Bari with 100 more Armenians, with the help of Hrand Nazariantz, a prominent Armenian writer.
Having witnessed the devastation of WW1 and the Armenian Genocide as a young man, narrowly escaping death from execution and moving to Italy, Diran married Askhen Sayian (the daughter of Rupen Sayian and Astrigh Zahrecian) in 1934, and his granddaughter Emilia is now an active member of the London’s Armenian community, and a contributor to this project.
Emilia Wyszynski on her grandfather
My maternal grandfather Diran was born in Isparta, Southern Turkey in 1905. He was forced out of Isparta with his parents and six siblings when the Turks started the executions. In 1922 they moved to Izmir but only until the Turks took over. Then they separated the family. Diran was about to be executed but was saved with his closest friends only because he was the son of « effendi Artin »: Arutiun, his father, a well-known public figure and administrator at high levels.
After escaping execution, he managed to run away during the forced marches towards the desert of Mesopotamia. Miraculously he managed to reach Greece where he met all the members of his family.
In January 1924, through the help of a notable Armenian poet, Hrand Nazariantz, they managed to move to Bari, Italy together with about 100 more Armenians. For about two years they were living with a lot of difficulties in terrible conditions until in 1927 « Nor Arax » was funded : an Armenian village where the production of oriental rugs started.
Ashkhen was introduced to Diran through a photograph. He fell in love with her. She came from Istanbul and married Diran on the 2nd of December 1934.
Because she was living in Istanbul, she didn`t witness the horror of the genocide and was shocked when she saw the condition of the Armenians in Nor Arax. She managed to move with Diran out of the colony and they established a succesful oriental carpet company still existing in Bari. They had three children: Nicoletta Arusiak (my mother), Arutiun, and Rupen. Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of Bari. Diran was so grateful for the help received in Italy that he called his first born Nicoletta after Saint Nicholas.
I arrived in London and met my husband Wiktor through the carpet business. All the Armenians fled Nor Arax due to financial difficulties. They moved all over the world. My family stayed in Bari. My grandfather always struck me by his resilience. His experience during the years of WW1 were very traumatic but he never gave up!
I will never forget his melancholic and grief-stricken expression when he spoke of his childhood and beloved country.