BRUSSELS (EAFJD)–On the initiative of the Armenian community of Aleppo–Syria–the Norwegian city of Kragero (11,000 inhabitants) has erected a statue honoring Bodil Catharina Birn–who spent 30 years of her life providing relief to the Armenia’s of Turkey before–during–and after the Armenian Genocide. The statue will be unveiled on Saturday–May 29.
After studying nursing in Germany–Bodil Birn–the daughter of a wealthy ship owner–left her native Krager in 1905 to go to Turkey. There–as part of benevolent evangelical missions–she provided aid to the Christian populations–and especially to the Armenia’s–who endured oppression under the Ottomans and were regularly victims of extortion.
Stationed in various regions of the Ottoman Empire (Van–Cilicia)–she was in Mush in 1915 when the Genocide began. She poured her energy into providing assistance to survivors there and later in Armenia–during the First Republic (1918-1920).
After the Sovietization of Armenia–she continued her philanthropic work in the Armenian orphanages of Syria and Lebanon–where she adopted an orphan she named Fridjof. She finally left the region to return to her country in 1936.
"It is a moral duty for Armenia’s to pay homage to the many honorable–just people–often women–often Scandinavians–who provided relief to the victims of the barbarity committed by the Young Turks. With this commemoration–Bodil Birn finally emerges from anonymity and takes her place beside Maria Jacobsen–Karen Jeppe–Alma Johansson–or Amalia Lange–her sisters in compassion," declared European Armenian Federation executive director Laurent Leylekian.
"In these times of questioning Europe’s borders–we are here to testify that Europe is foremost a matter of values and identity. In this regard–Norway–which is not a member of the Union is undeniably part of our European family. This is not the case of Turkey–however–which has a long and enduring record of fascism," concluded Leylekian.