Unknown Armin Wegner: new research on one of Genocide’s key eyewitnesses

Yerevan – A new publication on Armin T. Wegner, the German medic within the Sixth Turkish Army led by General Colmar von der Goltz, has been published by Dr. Tigran Sarukhanyan, the Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the Armenian National Academy of Sciences Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography.

One of the key eyewitness chroniclers of the Armenian Genocide, “Wegner is still venerated by most of the Armenians as a “hero”, “martyr”, “victim” of injustices. It took me much time and tremendous energy to go further in my Wegner research,” writes Sarukhanyan. “This required learning German at the Goethe Institut in Germany, to attend all German archival institutions, to read tens of thousands of pages of research material in German on Wegner and the Armenian Genocide. The outcome was sensational.”

Sarukhanyan’s newly-published article is entitled “Armin T. Wegner’s (1886-1978) WW I Media Testimonies and the Armenian Genocide” examines the “early testimonies” by Armin T. Wegner on the Armenian sufferings, witnessed by him in the Ottoman Empire.

Following his return from the Ottoman front Wegner worked in the German Propaganda Service, published about 70 articles on Turkey, where he paid highest tribute to the Young Turk leaders: Talaat, Jemal and Enver, Germany’s war-time allies.

In these articles Wegner described Armenians as “traitors” of the Turkish state whom the Turks “spared” by relocating into the southern parts of the Empire. Austrian writer Franz Werfel publically chided Wegner for this position towards Armenians.

But with the end of World War I in 1918, Wegner became an advocate on the plight of Armenians, publicly protesting their treatment and testifying in defense of Soghomon Tehlirian who assassinated Talaat in Berlin in 1921.

The original research “Armin T. Wegner’s WWI Media Testimonies and the Armenian Genocide” was published as part of the volume “Orientalische Christen und Europa” edited by Martin Tamcke and publisjhed by Harrassowitz Verlag in Wiesbaden, Germany in 2012 (ISSN 0340-6326 ISBN 978-3-447-06757-7). Sarukhanyan can be contacted at tsarukhanyan@hotmail.com.

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