The Danish Peace Academy

Karen Jeppe : Denmark's First Peace Philosopher

By Eva Lous 2003


The story of Karen Jeppe could begin in many ways. For example, it might begin with a bronze statue of her in the State Library in Aarhus. Or it might begin with her birth in Gylling parish in 1876 – or it might begin in 1903, the year when she went to Turkey, more precisely to Urfa, East of the Eufrat.

Really the story should begin with the Danish linguist and author Aage Meyer Benedictsen (1866-1927).

I settle for the traditional intro, starting with the birth of Karen Jeppe.

Her father was a teacher at the school in Gylling, and very well educated for his time. He had studied in England and originated from Als, so he spoke both English and German. A modern man, he advocated the idea that women should also have an education. He started to teach Karen at an early age, and before she was six years old, she read the historic novels by Ingemann. By the age of 13 she was sent to her father’s relatives in Als to learn German After her homecoming, her father continued her education until 1893, when she became a resident pupil at the Ordrup Grammar School.

Here the legendary H.C.Frederiksen was headmaster, and boys and girls were taught together – not usual at the time. Karen became a sort of adoptive daughter to Frederiksen, called Friser, after she had insisted, knowing well that she could not live in their house, on having a place to sleep there. The outcome was that she stayed on, until her school certificate in 1895, and several years later.

Karen’s father intended her to become a doctor, but she would study mathematics and started, but she had to give it up. She felt that the work load was too heavy, and that she could not cope. She was ill for two years! Whether it was only due to disappointment and ‘nerves’, or whether there was also a physical cause for her long confinement, history does not say. But nevertheless she started teaching at Friser’s school – and a competent teacher she was, who took care especially of difficult and uncooperative pupils. At this school she also met her destiny.

One evening in 1902 Friser read aloud to the pupils at the school. It was an article written by Aage Meyer Benedictsen, and it dealt with the persecutions of the Armenian people at the end of the past century. When shortly afterwards Benedictsen lectured in Copenhagen, they went there to listen. An engaging orator, he ended his talk by a cry for help to the Armenian people – passed on from an old Armenian.

Åge Meyer BenedictsenAage Meyer Benedictsen was an unusual man. He was one of the first Danish cosmopolitans and champions of Human Rights – a true man of Peace. An educated philologist, he travelled to learn languages of East Europe, Kurdistan, Persia, India, Borneo, the West Indies, Ireland and Armenia. As time passed, the ethnologic studies occupied him more than the purely linguistic. He became an anti-colonialist, straining himself for the right of minor peoples to self-government and so also freedom of language and religion. In particular the persecution of the Armenians occupied him, and during one of his travels to Persia he visited the German Orient Mission in Urfa, which had started an orphanage, a school and a production of carpets for export. Leader was the German clergyman Johannes Lepsius. When Benedictsen returned to Denmark in 1902, he took the initiative to start The Danish Friends of Armenians.

Karen Jeppe was deeply moved by his lecture, and as Ingeborg Sick wrote in her book on Karen Jeppe: “The thought of the children, whom the massacres left in the streets and roads, would not leave her … And one day in the spring of 1903 the thought, refused by her, comes up from her subconscious with an imperative:”You must.”” (Sick, 1936, p.27)

She contacted Benedictsen, who could tell her that Dr.Lepsius was just looking for a woman teacher for the school. She would receive a salary, but would have to pay her passage.

The Danish Friends of Armenians had a sturdy friend in squire Hage of Nivaagaard, and he was willing to pay for Karen’s travel.

Then where was she going?

Since 1991 Armenia is an autonomous republic with much the same borders as original Armenia. Bordering on Georgia in the North, Azerbaidjan in the West, Iran to the South, and Turkey in the East.

The last great conflict in the region took place in 1994, when Armenia conquered a strip of land from Azerbaidjan to Nagorno Karabakh, where the majority consists of ethnic Armenians.

Armenia’s history goes back to very early times. The first written sources stem from Herodotus, who described the conquest by the Persian king Darius in 520 B.C. . The next 400-500 years were marked by changing borders with different rulers.

Decisive for the fate of the country was the fact that they became Christian. According to legends it was the very disciples of Jesus, Bartholomew and Thaddaeus, who brought the Gospel. Armenia has been officially Christian since ab.300, when the King declared Christianity the State religion. Gregorius – also called the Bearer of Light – became the first Armenian apostle, and by him the Armenian Church is called the Gregorian.

Located between the Byzantine and the Persian realms, Armenia was exposed on all sides, and ar. 1000 the Turks conquered the region – the result was a great emigration. Many Armenians went South to Cilicia – later called Little Armenia.

Here the Crusaders won an ally, and the close contact with the Europeans became significant among other things by a close contact to the Roman Catholic Church. During this period many convents and churches were built, which are there to this day.

Around the middle of the 1400s the whole area was incorporated into the Osman realm, but Armenia had its own patriarchs both in Jerusalem and Istanbul, where they functioned as go-betweens between the small Christian population and the highest Islamic authority. The Christian population was on the whole allowed to do its own affairs for many years, until the end of the 1800s, when the Osman realm began to fall apart. Scape goats were to be found for the incompetence of the rulers and for the economic deroute, and very naturally this was the little group of Christians, who for centuries had stuck to their own religion and therefore were a minority. At the same time many Armenians were bankers and tradespeople and received the same role as the Jews in Europe in the past century. During the previous centuries the Armenians had settled around the entire Osman empire with a concentration in what is now the Easternmost Turkey, and down along the coast to the South.

The Osman empire was not allowed to collapse, because Western powers England and France had an interest in controlling the passage between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, thereby keeping Russia out of the Mediterranean. The Germans also got involved, they wanted to build a railway from Constantinople (Istanbul) to Bagdad.

This conflict between the Great Powers ended at the outbreak of the First World War, but before that the Turks had tried to relieve the inner tensions by exterminating the strangers, those who were different, of another faith than the Moslem one. To begin with, about 30.000 Greeks had to pay, then ab. 10.000 Syrians, in 1876 the round came to ab.20.000 Bulgarians, and in 1894 it fell to the Armenians.

According to German accounts, during the years 1894 to 1896 more than 88.000 people were killed. 2500 villages were destroyed, and 568 churches met the same fate.

Especially hard hit was the district around Urfa. Here were already many refugees, driven from the land districts. The massacre became known in Europe, but here more attention was paid to the great political game – and the protests arising had little or no effect. American missionaries were in the area, among others running an orphanage, and they tried to take in and shelter as many as possible at the mission. The German Orient Mission was also present, and here Karen Jeppe was to work.

Before Karen could leave, she had to persuade her father that she had taken the right decision. True, he himself had travelled much, but to send his daughter into the middle of the Osman realm, down to the infidels wearing scimitars and practising polygamy - this did not seem right to him. Neither did the local pastor and close friend Otto Møller like the idea. But Karen was tough – she would do it– and just as when she, at the time, had herself lodged with Friser, this once also she had her way, and could leave with the blessings of both her father and the pastor.

The travel to Urfa

One of the narrow roofed streets in the bazaar.

October 1, 1903 Karen Jeppe left home – first by train via Berlin to Italy, from where she sailed to Istanbul, and on also by boat through the Marmara Sea to Ishenderun, where she was to have gone ashore, but there was an epidemic of cholera, so instead it was Mersin. During the travel she was in company with the Swiss diacon Jakob Künster, who was also to work at the orphanage.

Later Karen Jeppe wrote that she was at once fascinated by Asia – the grand lines of the landscape, the cupolas of Istanbul in silhouette, the strong colors of the sunsets.

From Mersion they went by train to nearby town Adana – here the rails stopped, and the rest of the trip was done first by horse wagon, then on donkeys.They were accompanied by a soldier, who was to protect them from robbers. The little company spent the night at a sort of inns, where people brought their own bedding and food, because there was only the bare clay floor. Karen found this exciting.

When they approached Urfa, hundreds of people rushed to meet them. They wanted to come and see the foreign lady from Denmark. They brought fresh water, tea and food and served them on blankets brought for the purpose, they even had a horse so that Karen Jeppe could enter the town in proper state, but she refused the offer and mounted the donkey to which she had got accustomed, in order to cover the last distance.

The town had ca. 50.000 inhabitants, the houses had one or two stories, the streets so narrow that a loaded camel could just pass. Legend has it that Urfa is situated where the Ur of Abraham was. To Karen Jeppe all was new and much different from what she had been able to imagine: “… a whole world rushed over me.”(Cedergreen Bech, p.22)

Karen Jeppe’s work

Before she could begin teaching, she had to learn the language. When after about a year she started work, she spoke Armenian, Arabic and Turkish, and she introduced new methods of teaching. This aroused attention, because ‘her’ children learnt to read and write far quicker than those in the other schools.

The leader of the Orient Mission wrote after a visit: “Our school work has influenced considerably the system of teaching in a wide area around Urfa. Miss Jeppe has introduced sound and visual instruction with the result that normally gifted children, within a year, do not only learn to speak the language fluently, but have also acquired a writing capacity which hitherto took 2-3 years to achieve. From far away teachers come to get familiar with the method. A renewal of the entire Armenian school system seems to radiate from here.” (Cedergreen Bech p.23)

Undoubtedly, during her teaching days at the Ordrup Grammar School Karen Jeppe got to know the textbooks of the educationalist Kirstine Frederiksen (see Dansk Biografisk Leksikon) from 1889, where as something quite new she, among other things, warmly recommends visual instruction.

Practical Liberation Philosophy

Karen Jeppe together with Misak
and Hadjim Pasha

Karen Jeppe proved to have a formidable talent for organizing. At the children’s home she got things in order, she thought ahead. No good for the children to get an education by books, if there were no possibilities of supporting them. She created workshops where the children, from an early age, learnt different crafts, a weave shed with corresponding dyeworks also got started. She also had plans for silk production, aiming at sale. The mission needed money for schools, food and housing. She wrote to the Danish Friends of Armenians, asking for help. No money in the till, but author Ingeborg Maria Sick encouraged her to send some of the famous Armenian needlework home, then the Friends of Armenians would sell them and send the money to Karen.This became the beginning of an extensive collecting and production of Armenian embroideries, later to be of great significance.

In 1908 Karen Jeppe went home to Denmark, partly for a holiday, partly to travel around the country and tell about her work among the Armenian refugees. While she was at home, the conflict was aggravated between the Young Turks and the old Osman regime. During many years, the Armenians had put their trust in the promises given by the Young Turks, that Christians and Moslems were to live peacefully side by side, when they came into power. But the promises proved to be empty. The Young Turks were strongly nationalist, wanting a state consisting of Moslems.

New massacres took place in Cilicia, where 20.000-30.000 Armenians were murdered. The Young Turks blamed the government and deposed it. The Young Turks, when they came into power, did not give the Armenians the legal status promised to them. Nevertheless conditions got better for the Armenian population in the years up to World War 1. On the whole there was no persecution, and several started different kinds of crafts, whereas others returned to cultivate their land.

Karen Jepep, who had come back in 1908, untiringly continued her work to provide the daily bread for the Armenians. For a long time she had harbored plans of setting up minor agricultural settlements. Many refugees were former peasants, so she bought a piece of land in the mountains, where she, among other things, planted vineyards. To begin with, she lived in a small tent, and the locals did not understand that she dared at all stay so far away from the mission station,. But slowly she built up a good relationship to the Kurds and Arabs passing. She set cool water at the entrance drive, greeted them in their own language: “God bless your father”, she offered cigarettes and coffee, a common custom with the Arabs. Karen Jeppe got great help from the son – Misak – whom she had adopted, a few years after she had come to Urfa. Like many others he was an orphan, and at a time had confided in Karen Jeppe that when she first came to Urfa, he believed she was to be his foster mother. Karen Jeppe had also adopted a girl – Lucia. She and Misak were married in 1913, on the anniversary of Karen Jeppe’s arrival in Urfa. All looked well – the vineyard and the growing of vegetables were a success, the workshops associated with the children’s home functioned well, and conditions for the Armenians looked tolerable.

The Turkish Genocide on the Armenians

Armenian victims ine one of the countless massacres.

But the peaceful times were shortlived. World War 1 proved a catastrophe for the Armenian people. Turkey entered the war on the German side. In 1915 the Turks resolved that the Armenians were to be moved – they were an unreliable population element !

The Turks were efficient. Before the war there were ab. 1.8 mio. Armenians in Turkey, after the war there were ab. 450.000. A few hundred thousands managed to flee either to Caucasus or to Syria.

Karen Jeppe tried to help as best she could. She hid refugees under the floor of her house, she organized food and water for the caravans of Armenians driven through Urfa – on to their last travel. The Turks were not so sophisticated in mass destruction, so their methods were to herd the men together and shoot them. The young women were often sold as house slaves, older women and children were also driven together, but these were sent out wandering, until they died of thirst, hunger and exertion.

Karen Jeppe stayed on in Urfa during the war. Once she was attacked by spotted fever, and it was arranged for her go home together with a missionary, but she refused as long as she had refugees in her house. She helped many to flee by disguising them as Kurds and Arabs. By 1918 all refugees had left her house, and there was no more for her to do. For a year and a half she had had refugees living in a cellar dug under her house. Sick and nerve-racked she went home to Denmark. She was unhappy, she had had to leave her two children to an uncertain destiny.

Karen Jeppe stayed in Denmark for three years. She more or less recovered, but the strength and energy which she had possessed earlier on, never came back. She said herself that something inside her had died.

At the end of the war the Turks had lost, but they refused to honor the peace agreement laid upon them. Great parts of the land were occupied. Asia Minor (Cilicia), Syria and Lebanon by the French, Palestine and Jordan by the English. The Armenian state which the Western Powers had promised to set up, was very short-lived. The Russians conquered the original Armenia and incorporated it into the Soviet Union.

Karen Jeppe in Aleppo

Armenian children in lined up at the soup kitchen.

Karen Jeppe decided to leave and find “her people”, wherever they might be. In 1921 she went to Aleppo in Syria, where she knew that many Armenian refugees had ended up.

She was received by Misak and Lucia in Beirut. Danish Friends of Armenians had started publication of the periodical The Armenians’ Friend (Armeniervennen), and after her arrival in Syria Karen Jeppe wrote an article headed: “Home Again.” (Armeniervennen no 9-10,1921) Undoubtedly it was here that her heart was. Besides Misak and Lucia there were other well-known faces from Urfa, and the rumour that ‘the girl from Urfa’, as she was called, had arrived in Aleppo, spread quickly.

She began to build up a children’s home, a soup kitchen, a medical clinic and a dressmakers’ workroom. The beginning was hard. There were only very few elderly women survivors from the war, and these were the ones who knew the ancient patterns and techniques. Incidentally one of the boxes with old embroideries, which Karen Jeppe had sent home to Denmark from Urfa during the war, had stranded in Aleppo, and no less incidentally it came to light now, and the workroom got going. Embroideries sent to Denmark brought as much money as the voluntary contributions. The idea behind the workrooms was still that the Armenians were to be educated to support themselves and get out of the refugee camps.

By 1922 the situation worsened seriously. Refugees came pouring in, especially from Cilicia, where the French troops were in withdrawal. Many Armenians had gone back to their homes, believing that they would be protected by the French.

Karen Jeppe and the League of Nations

Henriette [Henni] Forchhammer. Source: The State Library, Kvindehistorisk Samling, 2005

In 1921 Karen Jeppe was asked to join the League of Nations’ committee for release of Armenian women and children. The Danish delegate Henni Forchhammer, as one of the three women (the two others were professor Kristine Bonnevie of Norway and Anna Bugge Wicksell of Sweden) who had a seat in the League of Nations, had worked hard to have Karen Jeppe put on the budget of the League.

Ever since the turn of the century, Henni Forchhammer had worked on the issue of the so-called White Slave Trade, where women were either abducted and forced into prostitution, or the problem arisen during World War 1, where women were deported and lived under slave-like conditions. Already before she went to the first Assembly in 1920, she had investigated the matter, and she used the contacts made in Geneva to obtain further information, especially about the Armenian women.

From the information gathered she could assess that most of the deported persons were Armenian women, and that by 1920 there were still at least 30.000 of these either in Turkish harems or with Arab nomads. Most of them lived under constraint, hoping for liberation. Quite a few statements about this had secretly reached the European and American mission stations working in the area.

When Henni Forchhammer was able to provide this information about conditions such as these, it was because she had, for a long period of years, worked internationally among other things as Vice President of the International Council of Women (ICW), and thereby had contacts not only to women-political circles, but also to a number of politicians. Besides, the International League of Women for Peace and Freedom, who had their main office in Geneva, were well informed and gave great help. By 1920 they succeeded in having a commission set up especially to investigate the matter of the deported women and children of Armenia, Asia Minor, Turkey and the bordering countries. At the time Henni Forchhammer did not know Karen Jeppe personally, and at first she was not intended as a member of the commission, but instead a French woman, known as strongly in favour of the Turks, was appointed. From friends of Armenians all over the World protests were raised against the appointment of the French woman, and here Karen Jeppe was mentioned as the most likely candidate. She knew the local conditions and spoke both Armenian and Turkish. Henni Forchhammer did the hard work, ending in Karen Jeppe as a member of the commission the next year.

Karen Jeppe herself, however, had second thoughts about the matter. During her travel to Aleppo she wrote in her diary:

”It appeared in letters from Miss Robinson (The Armenian Committee in London) that I am almost appointed to the Commission, and it overwhelmed me, since the difficult character and size of the entire task, if it is to be of any use, is too much for me. How would I supply for all these people ? It is quite certain that if I have got them out of the harems, then I will also be responsible for what becomes of them.And who will finance this huge enterprise ? I have very little trust in the whole affair.
But it may a vocation. Well, then I must apply myself to it, however much I resist.”
(Quot. from Memories of Karen Jeppe, p.14).

As it appears distinctly, Karen Jeppe was not eager to shoulder the task – in particular the problem of providing for yet more people worried her. Later on, her work in the League of Nations proved an advantage to her.

In 1922 the League of Nations granted the first money to the liberation of women and children, and Karen Jeppe stsrted working.

By 1923, Henni Forchhammer was anxious to know whether luck would have it that the support continued. In one of her travel letters to her family at home she wrote:

”…I have been very busy, partly with committee work, partly with talking to people to interest them in the work of Karen Jeppe. The case has been brought before the committee, I spoke, if I may say so, very well, after that professor Murray very warmly supported the proposal, then Karen Jeppe spoke quietly, but earnestly, it had a great effect, several spoke in favour, nobody against, and finally the motion was carried unanimously, and I was elected chairman of the Assembly, which meant that they have made me a deputy member instead of technical delegate to our delegation. But there is a long way ahead yet; when a grant is about, it has to be laid before the Finance Committee and also a Control Committee, and they are all people who only look at the ciphers and have no time to acquaint themselves with the realities of the case, so these must be influenced separately.” (Quot. after Hanne Rimmen Nielsen, p.189)

In a meeting a year later, where the economic support was again on the agenda, it was said: “It is so little use,” at which Karen Jeppe made maybe the shortest speech in the League of Nations, answering: “Yes, it is only a little light, but the night is so dark.” (Quot. from Dansk kvindebiografisk Leksikon, p.214).

Fight against the white slave trade

One of the Armenian women
tattooed in Arabic captivity.

To Karen Jeppe the economic support from the League of Nations meant that she could start work on liberating the deported women. Together with her faithful helpmate – Misak – she created rescue stations during 1922 and ‘23, and a number of search stations. Both were geographically spread out, and the rumour of a way to rescue had the effect that many women and children fled and sought refuge in these small stations, from where they were later taken to Aleppo. Other women were simply bought off their Arab ‘owners.’ One big problem was that many women had had children by their new ‘owners’, and found it difficult to leave them. Karen Jeppe has described how some of these men came to Aleppo to fetch their children, considered in fact the property of the man. In most cases they had to yield the child to the father, in other cases they succeeded in buying the child, and there were cases too when the mother chose to follow the man so as not to lose her child.

Another problem was that many of the women, living in Arab families, had had their faces tattooed, so that it could be seen, to which tribe they belonged. In her report to the League of Nations Karen Jeppe wrote:

“… the tattooing which has aroused much attention at home. The moral consequences of this procedure are often very distressing, because the poor girls go around feeling that they have been branded in their faces for life, which in fact has often prevented them from getting home, they simply dare not show themselves to their countrymen.
Physically it is a very painful treatment to go through, but if luck will have it that the poison does not get into the blood, it is harmless.” (Karen Jeppe, Report p.5. 898).

They succeeded in freeing ab.2000 women and children. In connection with work in the League of Nations offices were also created, which were to try to bring families together that had been dispersed during the war. 80% were lucky and found one or more relatives alive.

To Karen Jeppe work in the League of Nations was stressing, but it also had its advantages Traveling to Geneva took time, a lot of reports had to be written about the progress of the work; but money came in, very much needed, and she was issued a car with the signature of the League of Nations painted on its side. This gave opportunities and a freedom of movement not earlier available. At the same time it gave status in the sense that now she did not come on her own errand, but as official emissary.


In 1925 she got two Danish helpers, Jenny Jensen and Karen Bjerre. This was a welcome relief, and it helped Karen Jeppe now to concentrate on her new project.

In Urfa her little farm had seemed to succeed, if it had not been stopped by the war. She herself had grown up with the Jutland soil under her feet, and the thought that the Armenians would be able to provide for themselves by cultivating the land, had never left her. In 1923, during a visit to Denmark, she had been promised economic support from the leader of the Swedish section of the World League for Peace and Reconciliation, Natanael Beskow.

Back in Aleppo she contacted a Bedouin sheik, Hadjim Pasha – who owned much land East of the Eufrat. She packed her little travel tent and drove by car out to his camp, wher she was his guest for a week. It aroused quite some attention that a white woman lived in a small white tent side by side with him and his family in their black tents.

In fact the French government had offered to create an agricultural colony for the Armenian refugees in the Eufrat valley, but nobody joined in. The Armenians had lost confidence in the French after their withdrawal from Cilicia, which brought so fatal consequences to many of their countrymen.

After negotiations with Hadjim Pasha the outcome was that Karen Jeppe rented part of his land at a fair price. 30 families set out to build houses, repair old dams, and not least plough and sow. The first harvest was no success, but the settlers found that they had a good market for their vegetables with the bedouins living around. More refugees came, and little by little a small colony of farmers grew up. Karen Jeppe built a house for herself, and it was a beloved place not only for herself, but also for visitors coming from both inland and abroad. Now she was a well-known person – the French airforce flapped their wings when they flew over her house, and French officers were frequent guests. From Denmark among others came Henni Forchhammer in 1926 – a travel which she has described in a small book: A Visit to Karen Jeppe. Sketches from a Voyage to Syria.

Hadjim Pasha became a good friend of Karen Jeppe, He helped her with practical things, and his status in the region had the effect that the settlers could be secure.

For instance his cousin was, to begin with, envious at the contract which Hadjim had made with the settlers, and maybe he also thought that this was not accceptable among beduins, to hire one’s pasture land to farmers – in any case he sent his camels on to the cultivated fields. Hadjim took up his gun and began shooting at the camels.After that there was no more trouble. Of course there were difficulties, and Karen Jeppe wrote in a private letter: “If you have a colony in Mesopotamia with tractor– and bedouin problems, then you are really in for it.” (Cedergreen Bech, p. 58).

Outside Aleppo there are still some of the six small villages founded by Karen Jeppe’s settlers, for instance Tel-Armen (The Armenian Hill) and Tel-Samen (The Butter Hill), but no sign of farming. Karen Jeppe’s intentions were good enough, but she was no agricultural expert. The soil was not fit for farming year after year. Besides there was too little water for irrigation, which is necessary during the repeated dry periods.

The end

Karen Jeppe is punktured in the desert. The car which came with the work for the League of Nations became a great aid for her in the work. Now she had the possibility to attend the settlements and at least keep the contact with the search stations established to search for Armenian women and children.

Karen Jeppe’s health grew no better over the years. She still visited Denmark at even intervals, but here there was not much holiday for her. The many sections of the Friends of Armenians wanted to hear news from her personally, and she lectured both here and there. Autumn 1933 saw her last visit to Denmark. On her return she fell ill, but recovered partly and continued her work. In the summer of l935 she went to her white house in the agricultural colony, and here she had an attack of malaria, which she had also had earlier, but this time it was more serious. She was taken to the hospital in Aleppo, where she died on July 7, 1935, at the age of 59.

To the Armenians, dependent on her initiatives, this was a great loss. They buried her in Aleppo, where her tomb may still be seen.

Obituaries weere written from many sides – one of the most touching comes from an Armenian writing:”Mother, your dust will still shield, and when we build our own capital at the foot of Ararat, we will build a memorial shrine to you. The heart of any Armenian is really a Pantheon to you. Armenians, let us bare our heads and fall on our knees – a messenger from God has left us. “ (Quot. after Chr.Winther, p. 40)

The Armenians looked upon Karen Jeppe as their patron angel, which the following story goes to prove. After the great earthquake in 1927, with many casualties and great damage,.an Arab and an Armenian spoke to each other. The Armenian said that here in Aleppo nothing happens, for here a holy person lives, and the Arab asked who that was. Karen Jeppe, was the answer.

Karen Jeppe is one of Denmark’s great women, known to most of the World as the woman who without hesitation gave her whole working life to a people whom she came to love. She set out and worked in the German mission, but she never did any missionary work herself. After a short while she became aware that the Armenian people needed no conversion, but help to helping themselves, and here her formidable talent for organization came to full bloom She managed to create friendly relations between bedouins and farmers – an exploit in itself, but she also opened the eyes of the Western world to the ethnic persecution which the Armenians underwent. She was what to-day we should call a liberation philosopher, who with all means tried to create possibibilities of survival for the people without a homeland.

In 1927 she received the Medal of Merit in gold.

Translator: Hans Aaen, 2004.


Håndskriftsamlingen, Statsbiblioteket
Nr.896: Protokol for De danske Armeniervenner, Århus, I og II 1920- 1938.
Nr.897: Breve vedr. Karen Jeppe og arbejdet for armenierne.
Nr.898: Løse bilag til håndskrift nr. 896.

League of Nations Archives in Geneva.
Karen Jeppe was actually employed (from May 15, 1921) in The League of Nations (United Nations) in a period as commissary in Armenian affairs, and received som economical and political support from there, there exists letter correspondences and reports in Switzerland, with Rachel Crowdy, Dr. Kennedy (British), Miss Kushman (American) and Madam Gaulis (French), Karen Jeppe's letter correspondence with Miss Robinson (Armenian committee in London), Inga Nalbandian (Denmark). and with the (Armenian committee in Paris).


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Nalbaldiàn, Inga: Armeniens Saga. H. Aschenhough, 1922?.
Nansen, Fridtjof: Gjennem Armenien, 1927.
Nielsen, Hanne Rimmen: I Folkeforbundets tjeneste – Henni Forchhammers rejsebreve fra Genève 1920-37, i Hjort, Karen og Anette Warring: Handlingens kvinder. Roskilde Universitetsforlag 2001.
Riggs, Henry: Days of Tragedy in Armenia : Personal Experiences in Harpoot 1915-1917. Ann Arbor, Michigan : Gomidas Institute, 1997? - ISBN 1-884630-01-4
Schütte, Gudmund: Åge Meyer Benedictsen : en dansk Ildånd. I: Islandsk Aarbog, 1935.
Sick, Ingeborg Maria: Pigen fra Danmark. Et rids af Karen Jeppes liv og gerning. Gyldendal 1928.
Sick, Ingeborg Maria: Karen Jeppe. Gyldendal 1936
Thyssen, Nikolai: Nægter folkedrab. I: Information. 05/114/2002.
De undertrykte nationers tolk (The voice of suppressed people) Chosen articles and memorial. Nyt Nordisk forlag - Arnold Busck, 1934.
Vejlager, Johannes: Karen Jeppe. 32 Aars opofrende arbejde blandt Armenerne. Kolding 1936.
Winther, Chr.: Armenien og Karen Jeppe. Faglig Læsning nr. 84. Tidsskrift for Skole og Hjem. 1936
Armeniervennen 1921-1948


Peoples League (UN) A film about Karen Jeppe's burial. Can be found at; Det Danske Filmmuseum, Møllemarken 29, 2880 Bagsværd Danmark DK. Telephone: (+45 42 98 56 06, Fax: (+45) 44 49 06 10. The title of the film: Folkenes Forbund + Karen Jeppes Bisættelse. 20 minutes. 29,3 seconds. + 3 minutes. 15,1 seconds. Danish version, black & white, format 1,37:1.

Eva Lous is research librarian and head of the Womens' Historical Collection in the State Library.

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