Gariwo: the gardens of the Righteous

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Giacomo Gorrini 1859 - 1950

he broke the silence in order to bear witness to the Armenian tragedy

Giacomo Gorrini

Giacomo Gorrini

Giacomo Gorrini was born in 1859 in Molino de' Torti, a small village in Northern Italy. A diplomat, he was the founder and first director in 1886 of the Italian Foreign Ministry Archives.

From 1911 to 1915 Gorrini served as Italian Consul in Trabzon, including the provinces of Erzrum, Van, Bitlis, Svas and Trabzon, and was eyewitness to the massacres and deportation of the Armenians. In August 1915, when Italy declared war on Turkey, Gorrini was forced to leave Trabzon.

During the First World War, he used press articles and numerous interviews to denounce the Turkish rulers' criminal acts against the Armenians, describing all the horrors of the genocide directed against them. "If everybody had known what I know and had seen what I have seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears", said Gorrini, "while still maintaining their neutrality, all Christians would have risen up against Turkey, cursed its inhuman government, its ferocious 'Union and Progress' committee and their allies and would have held them accountable. With their connivance and support, news of these foul crimes, unprecedented in both the past and recent history of mankind, is being suppressed".

After his return to Italy in May 1915 he gave an interview to the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero (August 1915) about the Armenian massacres reported in Bryce's Blue Book, as well as by Johannes Lepsius and Osip Mandelstam.

During his journey back to Italy, together with American Ambassador Morgenthau and the Vatican's Monsignor Dolci he saved 50,000 Armenians from deportation. From 1918 to 1920 he was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Italy to the Independent Republic of Armenia, the only ambassador of all the Western Powers in that short-lived Republic of Ararat. At that time Giacomo Gorrini tried to organize the intervention of two Italian warships in aid of the Armenians, but the operation was halted at the last minute by the newly appointed Italian Foreign Minister.

In 1920 Gorrini wrote a Memorandum for the Treaty of Serves in which he proposed that the Italian government should unreservedly support the independence of Armenia, including Kilikia. In his concluding remark, Gorrini stated: "If we don't solve the problem of Armenia, even partially, peace will be periodically disturbed throughout the world".

From 1920 to 1940 he helped many Armenians to migrate from Turkey to Italy. He also rescued a young Armenian girl from Bayburt who stayed with him till his deah. In 1940 Giacomo Gorrini wrote a short book in which he affirmed that it was high time the Armenians regained the lands they had lost (Kars, Ardahan,Van etc.).

Giacomo Gorrini died in Rome in 1950.

Righteous for the Armenians

remembered in the Wall of Remembrance of Yerevan

Every year on 24 April, the anniversary of the outbreak of Metz Yeghérn (the "Great Evil", that is to say the genocide against the Armenian people in 1915-1916) Armenians remember their rescuers with a procession to Dzidzernagapert, the “Hill of Swallows”, where the Mausoleum in memory of the victims of extermination was erected.
Since 1996 the ashes or the grave earth of the Righteous and rescuers or witnesses who tried to stop the massacres or risked their lives to denounce the Young Turks' genocidal plan and its execution are interred in the Remembrance Wall.
Pietro Kuciukian, founder of the International Committee of the Righteous for the Armenians,has been researching the Righteous figures into the survivors' pieces of testimony, the tales of their children, the writings by the eyewitnesses, the diplomatic documents and the broad literature that accompanies the events related to this genocide. He retraces their walks of life, he revives their memory by visiting the places where they are buried, he meets with the relatives and descendants who keep family memories of great intensity and then he transports their ashes or handfuls of their burial earth on the "Hill of Swallows" of Yerevan. The stones with the names of the "RIghteous for the Armenians", gathered in the Wall of Remembrance, are the tangible sign of the gratitude of the Armenian people and take on a universal kind of exemplary value.

Tales and testimony

Metz Yeghern stories

other exemplary stories featured by Gariwo