Gariwo: the gardens of the Righteous

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Johannes Lepsius 1858 - 1926

he helped the survivors to the Armenian Genocide for a lifetime

Johannes Lepsius

Johannes Lepsius

Johannes Lepsius was born in Potsdam, in Germany, in 1858. An evangelical pastor, following the first massacres in Turkey (three hundred thousand victims), in 1895 he set up the Deutsche Orient Mission, the aim of which was to run orphanages for Armenian children who had survived the massacres.

In 1896 he published "Armenians and Europe", his first documented report on the atrocities committed by the sultan Abdul Hamid II, an ally of Wilhelm II. In aid of the Armenian victims of persecution he set up the Lepsius Foundation, with various branches in Anatolia. From 1912 to 1914 he took part in diplomatic moves and conferences on the Armenian question in Constantinople, Paris, London and Bern.

At the beginning of the Armenian genocide of 1915 he had a dramatic interview with Enver Pasha, minister of War, during which he tried in vain to prevent the systematic deportation of the Armenian people.

In 1916 he had his "The Condition of the Armenian People in Turkey" printed privately, defying the Turkophile German censorship, which nevertheless managed to confiscate a number of copies.

Taking refuge in Holland, he kept up his struggle on behalf of the Armenians from there. He wrote the documentary volume entitled "Germany and Armenia 1914-1918" in which he exposed German complicity in the genocide of the Armenians. He testified at the trial against Soghomon Tehlirian, the assassin of Tal'aat Pasha, Turkish minister of the Interior. Thanks also to his testimony, Tehlirian was acquitted. In 1923 he started preparations for the foundation of an Armenian Academy in Potsdam.

He died in Merano, Italy, in 1926.

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