Kim Kardashian Ancestors Fled Armenia to Avoid the Looming Genocide

When I was growing up, we had some friends with the last name Kardashian. They had three beautiful girls and the eldest was called Angela. I never saw them after the Lebanese war was over. Decades later a scandalous Kardashian family rose to fame. They probably have no ties with my old childhood friends. 

Kim Kardashian, the daughter of a famous American Armenian lawyer Robert Kardashian, was the first member of this family that caught my attention. She is a well-known television personality, businesswoman, and social media influencer, who is on her way to become a lawyer like her father. 

Her ancestors escaped from rural Armenia to the United States before the Armenian Genocide of 1915. This incredible story of survival is a testament to the power of prophecy and the resilience of the human spirit.

Kim Kardashian’s Armenian Family Tree

Great Great GrandparentsSaghatel (Sam) Kardashian and Hrepsema Yurbashian (Harom)Demos Shakarian
and Gulisar Shakarian
Hovhannes Miroyan and Luciag ChorbajianN/A
Great Great Aunts and UnclesHamaspeoor, Thelma, George, Salasan, Robert, VaroujShushan, Esther, Sirun,
Yerchan, Isaac; 
Great GrandparentsTatos (Tom) Kardashian+Hanna ShakarianVartanoosh Miroyan+Arakel Arakelian
Great Aunts and UnclesHelen; Robert; Virginia; +2 othersHelen , Armen, Irene , Dorothy Shahian; Hazel Perumean +2
Grandparents Arthur Kardashian+Helen Arakelian
FatherRobert Kardashian
Aunts and UnclesTom , Barbara
SiblingsKourtney, Khloe, Robert
ChildrenNorth West, Chicago West, Psalm West, Saint West
Nieces, NefewsMason Dash Disick, Penelope Scotland Disick, Reign Aston Disick
Dream Renée Kardashian
True Thompson, Prince Thompson
Kim Kardashian’s great great grandparents Hovhannes Miroyan and Luciag Chorbajian and their Family
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)

Kardashian Family Escape from Kars Province

Kim Kardashian’s great, great grandfather Saghatel Kardashian and Hovhannes Miroyan on the other side of her family tree lived in territory ruled by the Russian Empire. They had become members of the Molokan Sect, and were both warned by a prophet of the impending danger. 

They heeded the prophecy and fled their homes in Karakale Village of Kars Province, where ethnic violence and persecution were on the rise. Seeking a better life and conditions, they traveled to Germany in 1913 and later emigrated to the USA, on board the SS Brandenberg and SS Koln.

They managed to avoid the triple horror of World War I (1914 to 1918), the Armenian Genocide in 1915, and the Russian Revolution in 1917, in an extraordinary manner.

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
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

Prosecution against Armenians and Letter to the Tsar 

Kim Kardashian’s Grandfather Arthur’s parents and grandparents escaped prosecution from Erzurum. Village bullies harassed and insulted them, dug into their tombs, and even violated the corpses of the deceased. 

Kim’s great great grandmother Luciag (seated)
Kim’s great great grandmother Luciag (seated) was part of the Molokan faith.

They relocated to the village of Karakale, near the Russian military settlement, in Kars Province by a decree of the Russian Tsar. 

Their new home was where initially they were safe in what was a modern village, with beautiful buildings and wide streets.The Tsar had ordered to fill the area with German Protestants, who were mocked by the local Orthodox Church communities. 

In Karakale, they became close to a Russian Protestant sect called the Molokans (milk-lovers) so-called because they drank milk, and ate other banned foods, on fast days. Some were known as Jumpers, who leaped in the air, raising their hands high, during church services. They were pacifists and adhered to the power of prophecy.

The prophecy of the Armenian Genocide

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.”

Images he described 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.

Vartanoush Miroyan, Robert Kardashian's Grandmother
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
Seated Luciag
Luciag with her daughter


America was, he said, a land of the living while mass slaughter would engulf their homeland. 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 prophecy of coming doom.

Luciag Chorbajian with her Grandchildren
Luciag with her Grandchildren
Arakel Arakelian's family
Arakel and Vartanoosh Arakelyan with their daughter Helen (front, centre), was born in America in 1917

Where is Karakale Located

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.

Armenian Provinces
Where is Karakale

The Kardashian immigration, the great escape

Records show that Arthur Kardashian’s father and Kim’s great-grandfather, Tatos, was born in Karakale and later became known as Tom. In September 1913, at the age of 17, he found himself boarding the SS Koln from Bremen, Germany to Boston.

He opened a rubbish collection business in Los Angeles and wed another Karakale immigrant, Hamas Shakarian, who traveled 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 traveled on the SS Brandenburg from Bremen to Philadelphia, 

‘Steerage passengers were jammed together much like cargo down below,. arriving on 2 August 1913.’Efim’s prophetic words saved many lives in Karakale.’

Vartanoosh (front, left), Arakel Arakelian (front, right) and their daughter Helen (second from right, back row)

The Armenian Genocide in Kim Kardashians Village

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 Armenian 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.

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 recognize the Armenian Genocide,’ she said. ‘Until this crime is resolved, the Armenian people will live with the pain of what happened to their families.’

Armenian Houses in Karakale 100 years ago (top) Vs now (Below)

Armenian Genocide Recognition

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 Armenian Genocide, the Armenian Massacres, and the Armenian Holocaust.

Estimates vary but around one million to 1.5m people perished in mass killings between 1915 and 1923. However, the Turkish government refuses to accept the label ‘genocide’, though many historians, international organizations, and almost two dozen countries recognize it as such.

Some like the United kingdom have not done so, arguably to avoid upsetting key NATO ally Turkey. However, on April 24, 2021,  US prescient Joe Biden released in a statement, on the occasion of the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day,  a declaration that marked the first time a U.S. president formally equated the violence against Armenians with atrocities on the scale of those committed in Nazi-occupied Europe. His statement was : 

“We affirm the history, We do this not to cast blame but to ensure that what happened is never repeated.”

The Kardashian Ancestors
Detailed Family tree of the Kardashians

The Kardashian family tree

Among those fleeing Erzurum – then part of  Armenia, ruled by the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II was family patriarch Hovhannes Mironyan Kim’s great-great-grandfather, born in 1844. He married 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 – 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, son of Tatos Kardashian, an Armenian entrepreneur who ran the largest meat-packing business in southern California. Kim’s great grandfather Tatos Kardashian arrived in the United States in September 1913

Arthur and Helen Kardashian
The Newlywed Arthur and Helen Kardashian
Arthur and Helen with their Children
Arthur and Helen, Tom, Robert and Barbara Kardashians
Arthur and Helen Kardashian
Helen Arakelian Kardashian
Helen Arakelian Kardashian
Kim Kardahsian's Grandmother Helen
Glamourous Helen Kardashian
Khloe Kardashian

Robert Kardashian

Robert Kardashian with his daughters
Robert Kardashian (centre), with Kim (right), Khloe (bottom left) and Kourtney (top left)

Helen’s son Robert Kardashian was born in Los Angeles. His family was in the meatpacking business, but Robert preferred law and in 1967 he received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of San Diego School of Law. He worked in his profession for 10 years, after which he started doing business.

Robert Kardashian married American Kris Houghton (later Jenner) in 1978. They had four children: Kourtney, Kim, Khloe, and Rob.

In 1994, Despite the fact that Robert’s attorney’s license had expired, he decided to become the defense attorney lawyer in the case of his old friend, former American football player O.J. Simpson, who was accused of murdering his wife Nicole Simpson, and her lover Ronald Goldman. he was able to solve the problem that was considered a high-profile case. 

Shortly after separating from his first wife in 1991, Kardashian became engaged to Denice Shakarian Halicki, his third cousin and the widow of movie producer H.B. Halicki. The couple never married.

In 1998, Kardashian married Jan Ashley; however, the marriage ended in annulment 30 days later. Ashley later claimed frequent upset and turmoil related to Kardashian’s ex-wife, Kris, and their children “were instrumental” in the demise of the relationship.

Kim, Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian with their mother Kris Houton Jenner
Kim With her mother and Sisters

After dating for three years and proposing in 2001, Kardashian married his third wife, Ellen Pierson (née Markowitz), six weeks prior to his death. Robert Kardashian died of oesophageal cancer in 2003. 

Tatos Kardashian United States Naturalization Document
Tatos Kardashian United States Naturalization Document
Tatos Kardashian Naturalization Petition
Tom’s Documents

From refugees to fame

108 years after the deadly holocaust decimated their ancestral home, the Kardashians have become one of the most influential families in America.108 years after the atrocity, their distant relatives became TV stars. 

The most famous of which is Kim who chose on the hundredth anniversary of the atrocity, to visit Armenia for the first time.  Kim visited Armenia on the tragedy’s hundredth anniversary. 

Her lavish lifestyle, the expensive houses, an army of followers who hang on her every tweet, the marriage to a musical superstar, four children, and divorce, and all the rest of the stories would not exist if her ancestors had ignored the warning of a child ‘prophet’.

The rest of the Kardashian klan

Karakale in Modern-day Turkey

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.

According to diplomatic sources: ‘ 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 years ago that he was distantly related to Kim because their great-great-grandmothers were sisters. Then a village shopkeeper found the link after scouring the web on the village’s only computer,

‘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, he pours cold water on the story, now denying 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 ‘sometime between maybe 1920 and 1930’ – long after Kim’s ancestors had left.

His family is Terekeme, also known as Qarapapaq, he said, a Muslim group traditionally speaking a dialect of Azerbaijani.

If – somehow – there is a 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.

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 that prove a family connection between the Kardashians and the Copurs, 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.

Armenian Gravestone in Karakale

Garo Kotchounian

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