On July 22nd of 2008, the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute held the memorial plaque dedication ceremony in honor of the famous Norwegian missionary Bodil Biørn.
The ceremony began at the AGMI’s Gomidas Hall with the presentation of the film “They call me mother”; a featured movie at the 2008 “Golden Apricot” Film Festival. Attending the ceremony were the members of Bodil Biørn’s family traveling from Norway to Armenia.
The ceremony also featured the presentation of a photo album of Eastern Armenia captured by Bodil Biørn. This greatly preserved album included photos of the Armenian Genocide and images of life after the horrible events of 1915. Moreover, the presentation introduced letters, journals and other testimonial documents that authenticate the genocide. On this occasion, the directing board of the AGMI awarded Jussi Biørn, the grandson of Bodil Biørn, with a certificate of acknowledgment and a silver medal.
The ceremony was concluded with the placement of a soil brought from the tomb of Biørn in Norway, at the “Memorial Wall” of the Tsisernakaberd Memorial Complex.
Bodil Biørn was born in 1871 in the Norwegian city of Kragerø. In 1905, while working for the “Women Missionary Workers” organization, she was sent to the Ottoman Empire, first at the city of Mezereh, and later in Mush, where her primary interaction was with widows and orphans. Biørn became an eyewitness of the Armenian Genocide and documented the developments of massacres through her photography, journals and other testimonial documents.
In 1917, she returned to Norway for a short amount of time, before she left to the newly formed Armenian Republic where she established an orphanage and took care of Armenian refugees from the genocide. Furthermore, after establishing an orphanage in Armenia she moved to Syria and established another orphanage for the survivors in the city of Aleppo. Up until 1934, she continued her services to the Armenian people and her engagement in the life of orphan survivors. Bodil Biørn past away in 1960, but her memory and her legacy will remain alive in the hearts of Armenians forever.