The German-Armenian Society of Johannes Lepsius – 1914

The German-Armenian Society of Johannes Lepsius

In the summer of 1914, at the initiative of German public figure and doctor of theology Johannes Lepsius, the public organization German-Armenian Society was founded.

For many years engaged in the Armenian issue, Johannes Lepsius has been collecting funds for the construction of shelters, schools, hospitals, and industrial enterprises for Armenians of Asia Minor and Armenian refugees who have found shelter in various countries. The activity of the German-Armenian Society, of which he was the chairman until the end of his life, is strongly connected with Lepsius personally.

In June 1914, the first meeting of the society was held in Berlin. During the meeting, Chairman Johannes Lepsius, his deputies Paul Rohrbach and James Greenfield, and Secretaries E. Styr and Avetik Isahakian discussed the tasks of the German-Armenian Society.

A year after the foundation of the organization, when the leadership of the Ottoman Empire began the massacres and deportation of Armenians, Lepsius arrived in Constantinople, where he met Enver Pasha and demanded to immediately stop the mass killings of Armenians. Enver refused.

After his return to Berlin on October 9, 1915, Lepsius presented a report on the genocide and deportations of Western Armenians at a meeting of the German-Armenian Society. The participants of the meeting addressed a letter to the German Chancellor with a request to prevent the atrocities against the Armenians. However, this request remained unanswered – the German government took no action.

On April 22, 1918, the German-Armenian society sent an appeal to the Reichstag demanding to take the necessary measures to stop the Armenian Genocide. This appeal was also ignored.

Lepsius and his associates had no choice but to contribute to the organization of care for Armenian women and children who escaped from the massacre. “At the moment, only under our care are 2,700 children who will die of starvation if left without food… Our goal is to save as many victims as possible, especially children,” Lepsius wrote in one of his reports.

Lepsius made immense effort to objectively introduce the German public to the situation in the Ottoman Empire. The German media was under strict censorship, however – only pro-Turkish and far-from-reality publications were published.

Lepsisus took a bold step, deciding to publish a book containing the collected facts on the situation of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Overcoming many obstacles, in complete confidentiality, the German-Armenian Society published collections of documents describing the tragedy of the Armenian people, including “Germany and Armenia, 1914-1918”, “The extermination of the Armenian people, 1919”, which confirm the fact of the deliberate and planned genocide against Armenians.

In 1919, Lepsius published the book “The Death of the Armenian People,” for which reason he was exiled to the Netherlands, a country that maintained neutrality.

It should also be noted that, despite the humanitarian activities for the Armenians, the German-Armenian Society during WWI under the conditions of the Turkish-German alliance could not refrain from political propaganda. However, the organization made a great contribution to saving the fragments of the Armenian identity from inevitable death.

The Armenian people will always be grateful to the great humanists for their activities in defense of the Armenian people. The land brought from the grave of Johannes Lepsius is now immured in the Memorial Wall located next to Armenian Genocide memorial complex Tsitsernakaberd.

In 2008, the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute held an international conference dedicated to the 150th anniversary of Johannes Lepsius and issued a personalized postcard.

As part of the program of events dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, in 2013, Haypost, the Armenian postal service, also launched the “Johannes Lepsius” stamp.

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