‘Danish Witnesses to the Armenian Genocide 1915’
By Helle Schøler Kjær
The book 1915: Danske vidner til det armenske folkemord (1915: Danish Witnesses to the Armenian Genocide) by author and journalist Helle Schøler Kjær was released in November 2009 by publishing house Vandkunsten.
Danish Witnesses, a creditable and easily readable book aimed at educating the Danish public and government about the Armenian Genocide, tells about the testimonies of three Danish witnesses to the massacres.
The book includes the accounts and diaries of the Danish missionary Maria Jacobsen, who was stationed at Harpoot/Mezreh from 1907-19. Jacobsen watched the persecution of Armenians and provided clandestine relief up to 5,000 widows and orphans. The second Danish witness is Karen Jeppe, who was stationed at Ourfa and later in Aleppo by the German Orient mission. An entire chapter is devoted to her rescue and resistance efforts. Another chapter is dedicated to the writings of Danish envoy Carl Ellis Wandell, who wrote that the sole intention of the deportations was to wipe out the Armenian nation from their historic homeland.
There are a range of passages from Jacobsen´s diaries and Wandel´s reports that describe the mass executions during the deportations—all well organized and part of official state-sanctioned policy.
The majority of the source material for the book —valuable eye-witness accounts and first-hand information—came from the Danish State Archives, dutifully researched by the historian Matthias Bjørnlund.
U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau’s reports to the American government are included, and correspond to the accounts of the three Danish witnesses. Pages are displayed with photo materials and about the background of World War I, the history of Armenia, and the trials and few punishment of the perpetrators of this crime against humanity. The main sources are Vahakn N. Dadrian, Taner Akcam, and Eric Zürcher, as well as “The Turkish Military Tribunal’s Prosecution of the Authors of the Armenian Genocide: Four Major Court-Martial Series.” The last chapter is about the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and his acknowledgment about the crimes of the Young Turk Party, the Committee of Union and Progress.