Author, Human Rights Activist. He is remembered for documenting the Armenian Genocide while he was a German medic assigned to the Ottoman Empire Army during World War I. Born in the present-day city of Wuppertal, in the German Rhineland region, he came from an old aristocratic Prussian family. After completing his Doctorate Degree in Law, he worked odd jobs and traveled abroad. Between 1909 and 1913 he published his cycle of poems "Faces of the Cities," that set him as one of the promising pre-expressionist poets of the time. When Germany entered World War I in July 1914, he enlisted as a medic and was awarded the Iron Cross for his courage in assisting wounded soldiers under fire, and rose to the rank of 2nd lieutenant. He was then attached to the Ottoman 6th Army at Baghdad in present-day Iraq and while there, he witnessed the atrocities against the Armenian people by the Turkish forces. Disobeying orders, he gathered information and took numerous photographs in the Armenian deportation camps and was eventually arrested by the German military and sent back to Germany. Although many of his pictures were confiscated and destroyed, he managed to hide some of the negatives in his belt and smuggle them out of the country. In 1919 he published "The Road of No Return," a collection of letters written about the Armenian atrocities and advocated the creation of an independent Armenian state. From 1927 to 1928 he visited the Soviet Union, including the Soviet Socialist Republic of Armenia and based on his travels, he wrote "Five Fingers Over You," in which he alluded to the political violence of the Soviet Communist government. When the Nazi political party took control of Germany in 1933, he wrote a letter to Adolph Hitler in which he denounced the persecution of Jews. He was then arrested by the Gestapo and imprisoned in several concentration camps, after being beaten and interrogated. After his release, he escaped to Rome, Italy and took the assumed name of Percy Eckstein to hide his identity and lived there for the remainder of his life. In 1956 he was awarded the Highest Order of Merit by the Federal German Government and in 1962 his native city awarded him the Eduard Von der Heydt prize. In 1967 he was given the title of Righteous Among the Nations by Israel's Yad Vashem, honoring non-Jews who risked their lives, liberty, or position to save Jews during the Holocaust. The following year he was awarded the Order of Saint Gregory the Illuminator by the Catholicos of All Armenians. He died in Rome at the age of 91. He was cremated and some of his ashes were taken to the Armenian Genocide Memorial at K'aghak' Yerevan, Armenia and deposited there. (bio by: William Bjornstad)
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Happy October birthday! -
boo Added: Oct. 16, 2015
Thank you for your compassion for the plight of the Armenians during World War I and for the Jews during World War II. Given the circumstances, you did all that you could do to help bring their suffering and persecution to light. May your soul be at pea...(Read more) -
William Bjornstad Added: May. 11, 2015