Keeping Up With The Kardashians circa 1900! How Kim’s ancestors heeded prophet’s warning of looming slaughter to escape rural Armenia for a new life in the U.S.
Kim Kardashian’s ancestors escaped before Armenian Genocide of 1915
A prophet warned them ‘terrible times’ and war was coming – and both did
More than one million people eventually died in the invasion that followed
But Kim’s great, great grandfather Saghatel Kardashian heeded prophecy
So did Hovhannes Miroyan on the other side of her incredible family tree
A hundred years after the atrocity, their distant relatives became TV stars after ancestor left for the U.S. and became a garbage truck driver
Kim now planning to visit Armenia on the tragedy’s hundredth anniversary
MailOnline discovered a treasure trove of pictures of the Kardashian family
The extraordinary escape from the ‘Armenian Genocide’ of Kim Kardashian’s ancestors – thanks to a ‘prophet’ who urged them to uproot to America – can be revealed today for the first time.
MailOnline has unearthed a treasure trove of images showing the reality TV star’s ethnic Armenian forebears who fled the tsarist Russian empire in the early 20th century, many of whom obeyed the advice of the sage.
Known at the time as the Kardaschoffs, in Russian style, the family made their way from their home village of Karakale in the late 19th Century to German ports. From there, they travelled to a new life in America on the passenger vessels SS Brandenberg and SS Koln.
By doing so, they escaped the triple horror of the First World War from 1914-18, the ‘Armenian Genocide’ starting in 1915 – exactly a century ago this year – and the Russian Revolution in 1917.
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History: Kim Kardashian’s great great grandparents Hovhannes Miroyan (left, front row) and Luciag Chorbajian (second from left, front row) fled Armenia in the early 1900s with their daughter Vartanoosh Miroyan (second from right in back row)
Belief: Kim’s great great grandmother Luciag (seated) was part of the Molokan faith. It means ‘milk drinkers’ because followers of the Christian sect drank milk on traditional Russian Orthodox fast days
Meet the family: Luciag (centre in front row) and Hovhannes took their daughter Vartanoosh Miroyan (first on the left in back row) to America, where their legacy has thrived
Glamorous: It is quite possible that Kim Kardashian got her star power from her ‘dynamic’ grandmother Helen (daughter of Vartanoosh) who is pictured left on her wedding day
One hundred years after the deadly holocaust decimated their ancestral home, the Kardashians have become one of the most influential families in America.
The most famous of which is Kim who has chosen this year, on the hundredth anniversary of the atrocity, to visit Armenia for the first time.
But her lavish lifestyle, the expensive houses, an army of followers who hang on her every tweet, the marriage to a musical superstar would not exist if her ancestors had ignored the warning of a child ‘prophet’.
Among those fleeing Erzurum – then in Armenia, and ruled by last Russian Tsar Nicholas II was family patriarch Hovhannes Miroyan and Kim’s great great grandfather, born in 1844. He married the doughty Luciag Chorbajian, born in 1853.
The couple wed in Erzurum, which is now in Turkey, in 1867 but escaped along with their daughter Vartanoosh Mironyan, born in 1886, in the early 20th century.
Vartanoosh’s distinctly blonde daughter Haigoohi Arakelian – known as Helen, born in America in 1917, the year the Bolshevik Revolution rocked the Russian Empire – was Kim’s grandmother, who later married into the Kardashian clan.
The glamorous and ‘dynamic’ Helen wed Arthur who ran the largest meat-packing business in southern California.
Helen’s son Robert, a celebrity lawyer who died of oesophageal cancer in 2003, married Kris Houghton and fathered the 21st Century’s biggest reality TV stars Kourtney, Khloe, Robert Jr and most famous of all – Kim.
Ties that bind: The Kardashian family tree that traces back to two Molokan Armenian families
Family tree: Luciag’s (centre in a dark dress) daughter Vartanoosh Miroyan (left, front row) eventually gave birth to Helen Arakelian, whose own marriage joined two immigrant families who fled the same atrocity
Slaughter: Many Armenians who refused to heed the warnings of impending war and revolution were killed
Flight: Luciag (pictured, centre) and Hovhannes wed in Erzurum, which is now in Turkey, in 1867 but escaped along with their daughter Vartanoosh Mironyan, born in 1886, in the early 20th century
Their mother Kris eventually married Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner and together they raised two more TV personalities, Kendall and Kylie.
The flight to freedom of Arthur’s parents and grandparents from the village of Karakale – today a snow-covered and entirely Muslim outpost in eastern Turkey where the stone ruins of the old Armenian homes still stand – came later than many in this community.
It was as if they had sought to cling on against the rising ethnic violence and persecution.
The Kardashians – or Kardaschoffs – like other branches of Kim’s paternal kith and kin were ethnic Armenian, but they were also religious rebels, at odds with the orthodox faith in their homeland.
They had already fled persecution once before, from another location deeper in Armenia.
‘The village bullies harassed and insulted them, dug into their tombs and (violated) the corpses of the deceased – hanging them on trees,’ explained Joyce Keosababian-Bivin, whose ancestors also came from Karalala, and whose family is linked by marriage to the Kardashians.
‘Because of that they wrote a letter of complaint to Nicholas II.’
The tsar decreed that they could move to Karakale, close to the Russian military settlement, where initially they were safe in what was ‘a modern village, with beautiful buildings and wide streets’.
Here, they became close to incoming Russian protestants against the Russian Orthodox Church.
They were a sect called the Molokans, literally translated as ‘milk-lovers’, so-called because they drank milk, and other banned foods, on fast days.
Some were known as Jumpers, who leapt in the air, raising their hands high, during church services. They were pacifists and, crucially, adhered to the power of prophecy.
Safe: Vartanoosh Miroyan (back row, left) married Arakel Arakelian (back row, right). Their daughter Helen (front, centre), was born in America in 1917, the year the Bolshevik Revolution rocked the Russian Empire
Destiny: By leaving their native Armenia, Vartanoosh (front, left), Arakel Arakelian (front, right) and their daughter Helen (second from right, back row) escaped the triple horror of the First World War from 1914-18, the ‘Armenian Genocide’ starting in 1915, exactly a century ago this year, and the Russian Revolution
The legend has it that in the 1850s, an 11-year-old Efil Klubnikin penned an apocalyptic forecast despite being apparently illiterate.
‘Those who believe in this will go on a journey to a far land, while the unbelievers will remain in place,’ the boy prophesied. ‘Our people will go on a long journey over the great and deep waters…people from all countries will go there.
‘There will be a great war. All kings will shed blood like great rivers. Two steamships will leave to cross the impassable ocean.’
In the first years of the 20th century, Efim renewed the warning that he made to stunned believers in Karakale as a child, saying his premonition was now coming to pass.
‘Efim called a meeting, he invited the elders from all the Molokan villages including the two elders of the Armenian Molokan church. He prophesied this was the time for them to leave Russia as there were terrible times coming, especially for the Armenians,’ said Ms Keosababian-Bivin.
Images he scrawled led locals to believe they should cross the Atlantic to the United States, but this young diviner also indicated they should not stop there, but trek to the west coast. He pointed them towards Los Angeles.
Disputed: Armenian lands (in red) were disputed just after the turn of the 20th Century, with bloody consequences
Home: Kim Kardashian’s ancient ancestors fled the Armenian village Karakale (pictured recently) to escape a prophecised genocide that DID come to pass
Genocide: The village of Karakale (pictured in the 19th Century) was among hundreds destroyed as the Ottoman Empire laid waste to the region. Residents – possibly including the Kardashians – can be seen standing by their traditional houses
Marital bliss: Kim’s paternal grandmother Helen Arakelian (left) married Arthur Kardashian (right) in California. He was the son of Tatos Kardashian, also from an Armenian Molokan family
Close relatives: Helen (left) and Arthur Kardashian (right) raised celebrity lawyer Robert Sr (top right), who went on to father reality TV stars Kourtney, Khloe, Robert Jr and most famous of all – Kim
Lasting love: Helen and Arthur died in their adopted home of California in 2008 and 2012 respectively
Legacy: Robert Kardashian (centre), the son of Arthur and Helen, fathered reality TV stars Kim (right), Khloe (bottom left) and Kourtney (top left) before he died in 2003
Success: From the rustic plains of Armenia, the hard work and determination of Robert’s ancestors have ensured that Khloe (left), Kim (second from right) and Kourtney (right) can enjoy fame and fortune
New line: Kris (right) eventually married Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner (left), while Kim has married Kanye West and together they are carrying on the Kardashian line with their own daughter, North
America was, he said, ‘a land of the living’ while mass slaughter would engulf their homeland.
Presciently, he urged them to go quickly – as he himself would do – and cautioned: ‘The doors will close, and leaving Russia will be impossible.’
Many families sold up their homes and land at knockdown prices, or simply fled, to escape the coming horrors.
It is substantially due to the prophecy that many of Kim’s forebears came to Los Angeles, a city where the clan thrived and made their name.
But many were jeered as they left Karakale, now known as Merkez Karakale, and mocked for their belief in the prophesy of coming doom.
Poignantly, the village is almost in the shadow of the magnificent volcanic Mount Ararat, supposedly the resting place of Noah’s Ark when the world faced an earlier catastrophe, a fact which led some of the Armenians to believe they would be safe here.
Yet all those who stayed in Karakale would pay with their lives.
Records show that Arthur Kardashian’s father and Kim’s great grandfather, Tatos, was born in Karakale and later became known as Tom.
Tatos heeded the warning and in September 1913, at the age of 17, found himself boarding the SS Koln from Bremen, Germany to Boston.
He opened a rubbish collection business in Los Angeles and wed another Karakale Jumper immigrant, Hamas Shakarian, who travelled with him on the cramped passenger steamer from Germany.
A few weeks earlier, Tatos’ parents Saghatel ‘Sam’ Kardashian, then 49, and Hrepsema ‘Horom’ Yuzbashian, then 43, had travelled on the SS Brandenburg from Bremen to Philadelphia, arriving on 2 August 1913.
New beginning: Tatos arrived in Boston aboard the SS Koln (pictured) one month after his parents docked in the United States
Declaration: Kim’s great grandfather Tatos Kardashian arrived in the United States in September 1913
New start: 17 at the time, Tatos changed his name to Tom having fled his home country of Armenia after a terrifying prophecy that his people would be killed heeded
US citizen: Tatos – or Tom – sailed on the SS Koln from Bremen to arrived in America one month after his parents Saghatel Kardashian and Hrepsema Yurbashian did
Escape: Tatos’ parents Saghatel and Hrepsema fled the ‘Armenian holocaust’ aboard the SS Brandenburg
‘Steerage passengers were jammed together much like cargo down below,’ said researcher Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska.
Their escape would undoubtedly save their lives. With the world engulfed in war, and Russia beset by revolution, the forces of the Ottoman empire moved in on the region.
It became embroiled in what is variously known as the Armenia Genocide, the Armenian Massacres, and the Armenian Holocaust.
Estimates vary but it is claimed around one million to 1.5m people perished in mass killings between 1915 and 1923.
Significantly, perhaps, Kim has chosen this year to travel to Armenia, the land of her forefathers, for the first time.
The Turkish government refuses to accept the label ‘genocide’, though many historians, international organisations and almost two dozen countries recognise it as such.
Britain and the US have not done so, arguably to avoid upsetting key NATO ally Turkey.
‘When the Turkish army marched through the area in 1917, they committed unspeakable atrocities against the Armenian people in all the villages, including Karakale’, said Ms Keosababian-Bivin.
‘The Armenia Genocide began and every inhabitant of Karakala perished,’ wrote Matthew W Tallman, citing another Kim relative, Demos Shakarian, whose grandfather of the same name became a prominent Pentecostalist preacher in Los Angeles and was also Kim’s great great grandfather.
‘Efim’s prophetic words saved many lives in Karakale.’
Another account recorded: ‘The great World War One broke out, and in the terrible onslaught, when Turkey overran Armenia, every soul in Karakala was wiped out.’
Kim went on the record in 2012 to call for a wider understanding of the tragedy that befell the Armenian people.
‘It’s time to recognise the Armenian Genocide,’ she said. ‘Until this crime is resolved, the Armenian people will live with the pain of what happened to their families.’
Remote: Kim’s ancestral home of Karakale (pictured) is now an entirely Muslim outpost in eastern Turkey
Remains: The stone ruins of old Armenian buildings still stand in the Turkish village of Karakale, which belonged to Armenia when the Kardashians’ ancestors escaped
Simple: Karakale has retained some of its 20th century charms
Homecoming: One hundred years after the ‘Armenian Genocide’, which Britain and the US do not formally recognise, Kim Kardashian plans to visit the country for the first time this year
Moving up: Almost a hundred years after her ancestors arrived in America, Kim Kardashian and her husband have bought a $3million home in Hidden Hills, California
In midwinter, the tiny village is deserted. It retains a 19th century feel, with horses still used by local farmers, as in the time of old Sam Kardashian’s time.
The scars of the past run deep, and now even professing links to Kim seems a matter of controversy here.
A diplomatic source said: ‘You must understand that with centenary of the genocide coming in April, and the Turks are deeply sensitive about anything that can act as a focus to the slaughter of the past.’
There is also deep tension between the Turks and Kurds in the east of the country.
One resident of Karakala, Muhammer Copur, 30, claimed two years ago that he was distantly related to Kim, because their great great grandmothers were sisters.
Then a village shopkeeper, he found the linked after scouring the web on the village’s only computer, it was claimed.
‘It’s amazing – everyone is jealous,’ he said at the time, though the name of the ancestor was not disclosed. ‘All the villagers now want to know if they are related to famous sexy millionaires too. I’m hoping Kim will invite me to the US’.
He added that his dream was: ‘All I want is a cup of tea with her.’
Two years on, and he pours cold water on the story, now denying there is any truth in it.
‘I don’t want to speak about Kim Kardashian because she is so famous,’ he said. ‘If I say something, I can have problems.’
Now working at a university in the nearby city of Kars, he said: ‘I don’t want to speak about those topics because I’m under pressure from other villagers, and from the Turkish press.’
He said that his family only moved to the village ‘some time between maybe 1920 and 1930’ – long after Kim’s ancestors had left.
His family are Terekeme, also known as Qarapapaq, he said, a Muslim group traditionally speaking a dialect of Azerbaijani.
If – somehow – there is truth that one of Kim’s former ancestors in Karakale remained behind, survived the ‘genocide’, and wed into the Copur clan – which would have required her converting to Islam – it would mean dozens of the settlement’s present residents would also be related.
Ancient ties: One resident of Karakale, Muhammer Copur (pictured), 30, claimed two years ago that he was distantly related to Kim, because their great great grandmothers were sisters. Now he denies it
Prophecy: Without the warning from prophet Efim Klubnikin (whose grave is pictured) millions of TV viewers would not now be enjoying the highs and lows of Kardashian life
Almost half the homes in the village today are occupied by his extended family members.
His cousin Atilla Copur, head of the village administration, went on local TV to discount the links to Kim, however.
‘They said that Kim Kardashian’s family was living in the village. But we don’t know if it’s true,’ he said.
There are no documents which prove a family connection between the Kardashians and the Copur’s, he insisted, saying that archive searches had been conducted in Turkey.
Yet there is no doubt the family did live here in his village, before being forced away by the real threat of barbarism.
And existing Armenian gravestones in the local cemetery – though not visibly connected to the Kardashians – are evidence of this link.
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