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Link: http://www.armenocide.net/armenocide/armgende.nsf/$$AllDocs/1917-10-01-DE-001
Source: DE/PA-AA/R14097
Central register: 1917-A-34435
Edition: Genocide 1915/16
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Translated by: Vera Draack (Translation sponsored by Zoryan Institute)
Last updated: 03/23/2012

From the Swedish nurse, Alma Johansson, in Stockholm to the Armenian,
Father Arsenius Djendojan, in Vienna

Private Correspondence

Stockholm, 1 October 1917
Word-for-word transcript.

Honoured Father Djendojan,

I received your letter and, oh, how I wish that I did not have to reply to it! It is always a pleasure to pass on good news, but how difficult it is if one can only report on blood and tears.

You are correct in thinking that I lived in that house for some years, together with a teacher of 70 girls, until everything was over. Your brother-in-law, Bedros, was already killed several weeks before the massacre. They lived in a small house near the Catholic church. As far as I know, none of them are left. I saw your sister the evening before the bombardment of the town began. The Armenian parts of the town were completely bombarded and burned down, and with the exception of several 100 women and children, who were found alive and then killed, the Armenians all died in their homes. Can you understand how it was to watch everything and be able to do nothing and yet still stay alive; can you understand that my soul is so wounded that it can never be healed here in this earthly life.

I buried the first 3 martyrs among my children in the garden in front of the house. Then the government officials, the commanding officer and a staff of officers and a great number of soldiers came and took all the children away. Although they gave their word of honour to assure me that nothing would happen to them, those that were still alive are to be sent to Mesopotamia. All of my pleas and interventions were to no avail. I was only allowed to keep 3 of the older girls as servants; later I miraculously managed to get the 3 female teachers back, and because it was finally possible to travel I took them with me to Mamuret-ul-Aziz. All of the others as well as the children from the orphanage and our employees were all murdered; most of them were burned alive in their homes. There were some Armenians who succeeded in leaving Mush before the massacre, and some of them managed to flee to the Russians. Missionaries in Tiflis met them. As you know, Ariush was a Catholic village; some of the inhabitants of this village were able to hide and came out of hiding later on. Since the government was of the opinion that no more Catholics and Protestants were alive now, it issued permission to live for these people! Thus, Mush is practically in ruins. I do not know whether the Catholic Bishop is still alive; the former bishop, Vartan Vartabedian from St. Garabed, who was the representative bishop of the Gregorians, was deceived in the most awful manner and then shot by the Baladie doctor, who also shot the pharmacist, Mekerditch, whom you surely know, and thus was shot by an Armenian doctor.

But this is enough blood and tears for today. I have written very openly, because I believe that you have already heard so much that you were prepared for such bad news. Please let me know whether this letter gets through! And if there are any Armenians there, please give them warmest regards from someone who, in suffering so much and for so many years, has become a part of your people as they have become a part of her. The roots of my heart are in Armenia; will I ever see it again?

May God, who comforts all, comfort your heart. God and His grace be with you!

With heartfelt greetings, I remain,

Your faithful friend,

[Alma Johannsen]

Father Arsenius Djendojan VII/2 Mechitaristenstrasse 4, Vienna.

[Various comments by the Deputy Head of the General Army Staff, ending with:]

The letter will not be sent.

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