-- Armen T. Wegner
The Corning Centre has just published a new lesson titled "Armin T. Wegner: Twice an Upstander," which can be accessed through our Online Lesson Portal. It invites students to analyze the importance of advocating for social justice concerns as global citizens through a study of Wegner’s involvement with the Armenian Genocide and Jewish Holocaust. He was an upstander during both of these events.
In 1915, Armin Theophil Wegner was a German medic stationed in the Ottoman Empire who disobeyed orders by smuggled out of the area news, documents and hundreds of photographs of victims. At the empire's request, he was arrested and deported to Germany. While some of his prints were confiscated and destroyed, he was successful in saving most of his negatives.
Twenty years later, just before the Holocaust, Wegner was again an upstander. He denounced the persecution of German Jews in an open letter addressed to Adolf Hitler. For his actions, he was arrested by the Gestapo, tortured and interned in several Nazi concentration camps.
He was honoured as one of the Righteous among the Nations by Yad Vashem in 1967. One year later, he was awarded the Order of St. Gregory the Illuminator by the Catholicos of All Armenians.
We are happy to make this lesson available to teachers and students in these weeks leading up to the centenary of the Armenian Genocide (April 24) and to Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 27 and 28). On this occasion, Raffi Sarkissian, founder and chair of the Corning Centre, stated, "Upstanders affect positive change in our societies and their life stories give us hope for a brighter future. By passing on the knowledge of their heroism, genocide educators use their life stories to inspire new generations of students to become forces for good in our communities."