You don’t know Jack Kevorkian until you know the Armenian Genocide.

Jack “Dr. Death” Kevorkian passed away yesterday. While most news organizations are mentioning his Armenian parents, few are reporting that the Kevorkians were survivors of the Armenian genocide.

The HBO movie “You Don’t Know Jack” alludes to the influence of the Armenian genocide over Kevorkian’s work. When, during his trial, defense compares Kevorkian’s work to genocide, he, portrayed by Al Pacino, becomes extremely angry. How dare they compare compassionate killing with intended destruction of an entire nation?

Kevorkian’s own art (see the photo above I took) reflects his connection to the Armenian genocide. An oil, displayed at the Armenian Library and Museum of America (ALMA) in Watertown, Massachusetts, depicts Nazi and Young Turkish hands holding the hair of a beheaded figure. The Nazi hand reads 1945, the end of the Holocaust, and the Turkish hand reads 1915 – the start of the Armenian Genocide.

While Kevorkian has said that his decision to assist terminally-ill patients has roots in his own’s mother’s suffering from cancer, the murder of the Armenian nation has probably influenced his obsession over death. Interestingly, genocide – the intended and often cruel destruction of a collectivity, in some ways, is the complete opposite of doctor-assisted suicide.