Towards the centenial of the Armenian Genocide the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute is launching “A book of the month” project. Books will be selected very carefully: they must be the memoirs of the Armenian Genocide survivors, research papers and other publications of great importance. The aim of this project is to introduce the readers with rare and still unknown works related to the topic to make them aware of the subject and provide an in-depth knowledge about the Armenian Genocide.
The Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute marks the book of Swiss missionary Jakob Küntzler “In the Country of Blood and Tears” as the book of July. The book has a primary source value and describes the events of Urfa during World War I. The fact that the author of the book was an eyewitness to the events makes the memoirs more valuable for those who study the episodes of the Armenian Genocide implementation.
Arriving in Urfa in 1899 Jakob Küntzler started working at the hospital of “German Mission in the East” organization as an assistant to Swiss Doctor Hermann Christi. During World War I he was the only one who was able to provide medical assistance to the people of Urfa and the neighboring settlements.
J. Küntzler and his wife Elizabeth succeeded in saving many Armenians from imminent death.
The book is designed primarily to meet the needs of historians, researchers in Oriental Studies, as well as for wide audience.
Jakob Künzler was born on March 8, 1871 in Hundwil village, Switzerland. Becoming a member of protestant brotherhood of nurses, he started working at one of Basel hospitals where he met Hermann Christi. He was sent to Urfa by “The German Mission in the East” organization headed by Johaness Lepsius. At his invitation Jakob Künzler also arrived in Urfa becoming an assistant of Hermann Christi. Thanks to his mild character and diligence he managed to make good relations with the multinational population of Urfa.
The years of the First World War were especially tense for Jakob Künzler. Among those years there were moments when Künzler was the only person who could provide medical assistance in Urfa and around it. Between 1914-1918 Jakob Künzler and especially his wife Elizabeth saved many Armenians from imminent death.
After the war Jakob Künzler left for Switzerland together with his family. However, after a short time he returned to Urfa to continue his unfinished work. Soon Künzler began to collaborate with the Near East Relief (NER). When in 1922 NER decided to remove the Armenian orphans from Turkey to other countries Jakop Künzler had active participation in this work and until September of the same year he transported more then 8000 Armenian orphans to Syria and Lebanon.
Living in Ghazir village Künzlers were entrusted the principality of the Near East Relief Orphanage. Until his death, January 15, 1949, Jakob Künzler stayed in Lebanon supporting thousand of needy Armenians.