“Why do you give money and food to these people?’

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Katherine Bodil Biorn

The question posed by Turkish soldiers was asked of Maria Jacobsen and other Danish missionaries in Harpoot, Eastern Turkey during the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923. Here is the rest of the quotation: …”They are only going out to the mountains to be killed.”

Young women from Scandinavian countries, upon hearing of the state sanctioned atrocities committed against the Armenian population in 1894-1896, 1909, and 1915-1923 went to Turkey to care for the Armenian victims of these awful events.

Maria Jacobsen ( Nov 6, 1882-Apr 6, 1960) was a Danish missionary and a key witness to the Armenian Genocide. See “Diaries of a Danish Missionary, Harpoot 1907-1919”). The Norwegian missionary, Katherine Bodil Biorn (1871-1960) was a missionary nurse in Mezereh, Kharbert (aka) Harpoot province and later in Mush, Western Armenia. Bodil documented the tragic events through her testimonial diary and her photography which is important not only for the high quality of her images but for her notations telling the names of the people and places in the pictures.

For more information about the Armenian Genocide and to see the photographs of Bodil Biorn go to this site: www.genocide-museum.am/eng/museum_info.php. Especially heartbreaking is the photograph of teacher Margarid Nalbanchian surrounded by the children in her class at the day school in Mush who were murdered by the Turks in 1915.

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