Ashot N. Hayruni
Key words – Karen Jeppe, Urha, Genocide (Mets Yeghern), Johannes Lepsius, German Eastern Mission, Humanism, children, religious propaganda, ateliers.
This article is a new attempt to fully cover the work of Karen Jeppe, a woman who, unlike many other friends of the Armenian people and humanists, not only raised her voice of protest against the Turkish genocidal policy and informed the civilized world about it, but also undertook a specific mission of salvation and dedicated her whole life to that mission.
The activity of Jeppe in the Armenian children’s home of Urfa before the First World War is described in the first part of the article. In 1902, thanks to the publications and presentations of Aga Meier Benedictsen, the friend of the Armenian people, Agе Meyer Benediktsson, the founder and the head of the Danish Committee for Assistance to Armenia, young Karen Jeppe learned about the terrible situation of Armenians who survived the massacres in the 1890s and, against the will of their parents, she decided to go to Armenia and devote herself to the needs of the Armenian people. Jeppe informed Benediktsson of her decision and when she learned that J. Lepsius was looking for a teacher for an orphanage in Urfa, she addressed to the latter and received his consent. On October 4, 1903, she left for Urfa, where she soon became the de-facto head of this institution.
In 1915, when the mass eviction of Armenians began, Karen Jeppe temporarily sent most of the children from the orphanage to their relatives to spend the summer holidays. The staff of the orphanage tried to do their best to save local Armenians from persecution. After the first arrests in Urfa, Jeppe regularly provided information to the American and German consuls in Aleppo about the continuing illegality, urging them to use their influence in support of the Armenians. At the same time, Jeppe harbored many innocent Armenians in her home who were threatened with death.
In the fall of 1917, when the government no longer pursued the surviving Armenians as before, Jeppe sent the Armenians hiding in her house to the south of Urfa to Arabs where they could be safe. She also temporarily sent her two foster children to a Kurdish leader and left for Europe in December … to return soon.