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AGBU France is a non-profit organization devoted to preserving and promoting the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs. AGBU France coordinates the actions of different local chapters as Lyon, Marseille, Nice-Côte d’Azur, Paris, Valence and Vienna.
On the eve of World War I, the Armenian colonies of Western Europe counted only a few thousand individuals, mostly merchants and tradesmen, along with a handful of political refugees and students. The AGBU nevertheless boasted several Western European chapters in this period especially one in Marseille (founded in September 1910 by Hagop Selian) and another one in Paris (founded in December 1911 by Serovpe Svajian).
The transfer of the Union’s headquarters to Paris in the early 1920s and the simultaneous arrival of some sixty thousand Armenians in Western Europe between 1922 and 1925 suddenly conferred the leading role to France within the AGBU. The French organization’s pre-eminence was reinforced by the fact that Syria and Lebanon, the two regions in which the immense majority of Armenian refugees were then living, found themselves under French mandate. Between the two world wars, French Armenians were hardly better off that their Near Eastern compatriots: they too lived in camps cruelly lacking in the most elementary amenities. Thus, issues of education and health care were still of crucial importance.
The foundation of new chapters in France was explained by the important number of Armenians’ presence in the different cities :
- Nice April 1926: Elisabeth Nahabèd
- Saint-Chamond, May 1927: Sarkis Kébabian
- Lyon May 1928 : Stépan Tchakmakdjian
- Saint-Etienne, September 1929: Karékin Saraydarian
- Vienne, March 1930: Antranig Tchidémian
- Grenoble, May 1931: K. Bédrossian
- Valence, May 1931: B. Pachayan
In 1928, Boghos Nubar created two institutions that remain until the symbol of AGBU in France to this day: the Nubarian Library and the House of Armenian Students at the International University campus of Paris.