Bearing Witness to Humanity: Switzerland's Humanitarian Contribution During the Armenian Genocide in the Ottoman Empire 1894-1923
Munster: Aschendorff Verlag, 2018, 606 pages. ISBN 3402133148.
This book seeks to pay tribute to the Swiss people's unprecedented solidarity with the Armenians in their most trying times. After providing a comprehensive overview of Armenian history and the events leading to the massacres and genocide perpetrated against the Armenians, the author explains how it came to be that the Swiss people took a stand alongside their Armenian brothers and sisters in the Christian faith. A stark contrast emerges between the merciless policy of annihilation implemented by the Ottoman Empire and the shining examples of selflessness provided by aid workers from Switzerland, who - as doctors, nurses and educators - gave the Armenian people formidable assistance in the most adverse of circumstances. Two examples, among many, should be mentioned - Sister Beatrice Rohner (1876-1947), from Basel, who suffered a mental breakdown following all the horror she experienced as a teacher and director of an orphanage, and Jakob Kunzler (1871-1949), from Walzenhausen. Having been acquainted with Kunzler, Carl Lutz found him to be a great inspiration for his own heroic efforts saving Jews in Budapest in 1944. The Author of this book endows his Swiss 'witnesses for humanity' with a lively voice, without any loss of scholarliness, as is demonstrated by copious footnotes and references. His extremely wide-ranging research integrates previously unseen material from Swiss archives for the first time and forms the basis of this comprehensive work, which constitutes a significant enrichment of the subject.