GENOCIDE OF ARMENIANS THROUGH SWEDISH EYES
by Goran Gunner
Alma Johansson, a Swedish missionary, worked among Armenians in the city of Moush in 1915 when the Armenian genocide began. Afterwards, Johansson told: "Through the windows we could follow most of what was going on. The Armenians did not go outside but stayed calmly inside their homes. It was not until the soldiers forced themselves into the bullet-ridden houses that the Armenians tried to defend themselves for as long as possible. ...The following day, we saw soldiers forcing groups of bleeding and wounded women and children through the city. ...One after another they fell wounded to the ground and all the time a soldier was ready to beat them with a butt. I will never forget that sight."
Contemporary Swedish diplomats, missionaries, travelers, politicians and writers have provided information on what happened during the genocide of 1915-16 as well as from the 1894-96 massacres while they worked to rescue survivors and refugees. A military attache told about "the extermination of the Armenian nation" and a missionary described what happened as a "veritable extermination of the Armenians." The explorer Sven Hedin wrote about "terrible atrocities" and the politician Hjalmar Branting used the word genocide. The Swedish material includes everything from detailed testimonies about horrifying atrocities and murders taken place in attacks on Armenian places of residence. Terrible sufferings during well-organized deportations and massacres were described, but what happened was also paraphrased as an evacuation. Overall, the Swedish material gives a clear picture of the genocide targeting Armenians and other Christian minorities in the Ottoman Empire.