Hosted by the Casa della Cultura in partnership with AGBU Milan, the event was part of the project “Ideas & their Consequences: Genocide and International Justice after 1919”, carried out by AGBU Europe in partnership with the Lepsiushaus in Potsdam, the European Union of Jewish Students and Phiren Amenca, with the support of the Europe for Citizens Programme of the European Union. The Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919. That summer marked the beginning of two contradictory movements: one, for international justice and for the rescue of the victims, as the allies established tribunals to try the perpetrators of atrocities and established the first High Commission for Refugees; but another movement set the ideological foundations of the worst atrocities the century was yet to experience. The project “Ideas and their Consequences: Genocide and International Justice after 1919″ aims to explore – and to educate a wider public in Europe about – the growth of these two opposing movements of ideas.
Moderated by Pietro Kuciukian, honorary council of the Republic of Armenia, the event was attended by a local public in Milan as well as by international followers online. Renown Italian historian Marcello Flores put forward the importance and the relevance of the theme of the evening – telling the truth. He described the progress made in the last 30 years in the field of historical research on the topic of the Armenian genocide and on the growing access to trustful sources of information. Flores also added that in terms of visual archives, Wegner’s photographs are considered the most important images of the genocide, along with those taken by the American and German consuls.
As a former assistant of Armin T. Wegner in the 1960’s and deputy chairwoman of Armin T. Wegner Society, Johanna Wernicke-Rothmayer presented the activities of Wegner as a writer during and after the genocide. She explained how the letters he wrote during his mission in the Ottoman empire are important eyewitness accounts of the great suffering and injustice endured by the Armenians. She also described how Wegner remained active after WW1 by giving public lectures to wide audiences in Germany to tell the truth about what had happened to the Armenians and warn the Germans about the threat of radical nationalism.
Wegner paid a high price for telling the truth and for his commitment to justice and human values. He was profoundly disturbed by the torture he endured in Germany following his personal letter to Hitler in 1933, in which he denounced the first persecution campaign against the Jews. Forced to exile, he lost his roots, and, as mentioned by his son Mischa Wegner during the conversation, Wegner suffered from this loss for the rest of his life.
This uprooting may have helped him understand even better the plight of the Armenians which preoccupied him all through his life. He may not have finished the great epic novel about the Armenians on which he worked for years, but his legacy as a human being guided by his profound commitment to tell the truth and to defend justice and human dignity remains remarkable.
To watch the live stream of the event, please click HERE.
The next event of this disseminations will take place on October 7th in Valence, France. The event, which will be in French, is entitled “Guerre, Génocide et Mémoire dans le Moyen-Orient Aujourd’hui” and it will host the journalist and author Vicken Cheterian as key-note speaker. Click here to find more information about the event.
To learn more about the project and upcoming events, please visit: https://www.genocideandjusticeafter1919.com/