The extraordinary story of Eli Kazan’s paternal uncle, Avraam-Elia, born in 1909 to an Anatolian Greek family living under brutal Turkish rule during the Ottoman Empire. In 1913 he was four when his parents immigrated to New York City. His father, George Kazancioglu, a rug merchant, continued his trade in America. AMERICA AMERICA tells of Elias Kazan’s father’s brother who fled to Constantinople (renamed Istanbul in 1930) to escape Turkish Ottoman brutality towards native Greeks, Armenians, and Assyrians. Before escaping to Constantinople, his uncle’s father gave his son the family treasures and a plan to earn sufficient money so that his family could later join him in Constantinople, and from there take passage to America. However, BEFORE UNCLE AVRAAM-ELIA KAZANCIOGLU reached the United States, his journey led him into a series of experiences — each one one more shocking than the next. Avraam-Elia came across Ottoman Turks burning a church filled with trapped and helpless Armenian children and elderly people. He also witnessed the violence of an “abortive massacre”, which filled him with even more determination to escape from the violence against the Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians and other Christians of Asia Minor (now called Turkey). After many trials and tribulations, Avraam-Elia did reach New York City where he worked as a shoeshine boy. Eventually, from his savings, A. E. Kazan his newly adopted name, brought his family to the land where they, and Elia Kazan, had the chance to escape Ottoman brutalities and to fulfill their potential.
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