Night in Armenia

In the cold frosty night of Soviet Armenia, a man enters a station. He wants the next train to Jeravan. He stands out for his clothes and looks, and explains the requesting station master that he is coming from the Netherlands. A conversation develops, in which the station master strongly advises him not to take the desired train of 19.13, but that of 20.13. That of 19.13 is always overcrowded. The Dutchman likes to accept this, then he can talk a bit more with the station master.
While the station master is away for his work, unexpectedly for the Dutchman, a train comes along that does not stop. In the light of the lanterns he sees bars where windows should be, and thirsty tongues of the tightly packed passengers, who, dehydrated, are licking ice and glaze. And the man understands: this is a prisoner’s transport – and the station master has made me wait deliberately so that I, as a Western European, would see this horrible transport to tell at home about it.
Then the station master comes back and both are silent. They should not have seen or told this. And suddenly the Dutchman loudly raises Ave Maria, in Basque. The station master sings with tears. When it is finished, he embraces the Dutchman.
The chief was a communist Bask, who had fought in the so-called Spanish civil war. After the victory of Franco he had fled to the USSR. The Dutchman was a devout priest, language miracle, professor at the University of Amsterdam in the Semitic languages. He had secretly gone to Armenia to search for the remains of the genocide committed in 1915 on the Armenians by the Turks. His name was Father Jan Sanders.


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