In this photo the children with carefree and innocent eyes are the Armenian girls of the Mush orphanage with their teacher Margaret. The photo was taken by a Norwegian missionary Bodil Katharine Biørn - a member of the Scandinavian organization “Women Missionary Workers”. Before the tragic events of 1915, Bodil Biørn worked in the orphanages of Mush and Mezre.
In summer 1915, during the massacres of the Armenian population in Mush, the city was set on fire by the Turkish army: thousands of Armenians were burnt alive in their houses. According to the note left by Bodil Biørn on the back of the photo, the teacher Margaret and her children were also burnt alive. A witness of the Turkish crimes, Sister Biørn suffered intense anguish losing all the children of her orphanage in one day, to whom she had gave her maternal love and care over years. The screams and calls of help of the helpless children were embedded in the memory of Bodil Biørn.
In 1916, coming back to Mush, together with her Armenian assistant Karapet Yeghiazaryan Bodil gathered 34 orphans from the streets and abandoned houses, fed and gave them shelter saving from the impending death, something she was unable to do for her orphanage children.
“After losing my orphans I have psychically suffered a lot, but the desperation failed to intimidate me to leave immediately and turn back to my homeland. I stayed in Kharberd for five months. Looking forward to an opportunity to return to Mush and investigate if I could find some of my orphans alive and my heart gets rest”.
A Witness of the Armenian Genocide
The source of the photograph The Collection of the Norwegian Royal Archive
From the book "100 PHOTOGRAPHIC STORIES ABOUT THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE".