The collection of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute was replenished with recently discovered extremely valuable exhibits that were presented to the organization by Sargis Keshishoghlyan who lives in Greece.
The donated items (photos, personal books, and other items) belonged to Danish missionary Mary Anna Østergaard who has since 1927 worked in Greece, helping to settle and organize the care of Armenian refugees who had found themselves in the country after the Armenian Genocide.
It is difficult to name the exact number of Armenian refugees who had fled from the Ottoman Empire to Greece due to the lack of statistics and also due to the constant movement of refugees.
According to the book “From the History of the Greek-Armenian community” by Petros Kokinos, there were 17,520 orphans in Greece, distributed between local shelters as follows – 7,500 orphans in Etopos, 3,300 in Loutraki, 2,720 in Corfu, 2,000 in Oropos, and another 2,000 in Japion. Subsequently, this number would reach 20,000.
Unfortunately, not much is known about Mary Anna Østergaard. In 1927, she settled in Athens. She has served as the director of the Danish Trusteeship Center which has functioned until 1961. Even after the closure of the center, Mary Anna Østergaard continued her mission in Greece.
Østergaard’s efforts in Athens allowed for the establishment of the Center for Christian Guardianship where she together with Srbuhi Hovsepyan from Izmir and Eudikea Hionidu from Greece took care of the sick and the elderly.
At the insistence of her relatives in 1987, Mary Anna Østergaard returned to Denmark. She would pass away in Denmark several years later.
Østergaard had an excellent command of the Armenian language. For her activities launched in Greece in 1955, she was awarded a Danish order of chivalry and became a member of the Danish Nurses’ Organization (Danish: Dansk Sygeplejeråd, DSR).
Among the materials donated to the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute are also documents connected to Srbuhi Hovsepyan and Eudikea Hionidu.
The donor Sargis Keshishoghlyan was personally acquainted with Mary Anna Østergaard, Srbuhi Hovsepyan, and Eudikea Hionidu and has cooperated with them since the late 70s.
Any gift that opens a new page for studying the history of the Armenian Genocide is extremely important for Armenian history. The Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute Foundation expressed its gratitude for the important archival materials. These materials will be studied and stored in their rightful place both in the permanent exhibition and in temporary exhibitions.