This Week in Armenian History

Birth of Bohdan Gebarski (February 27, 1905)

In the 1960s, when claims for justice were still uncommon, a voice came from Poland to advocate for Armenian rights: Bohdan Gebarski. 

He was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, in the family of a Polish railway engineer, on February 27, 1905. He received his education in Russian schools and graduated in 1923. A year later, he moved to Warsaw (Poland) with his family. He studied at the Institute of Oriental Living Languages of Warsaw. He fought actively against Nazism during World War II and was a leading force in the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944. He was arrested and sent to a concentration camp, where he remained until the liberation. After the war he was engaged in public activities and participated in the work of repatriation of Polish children found in the camps. He also edited newspapers and journals. 

Gebarski had taught about Armenian culture and ancient and modern Armenian literature starting in 1935. He visited Armenia in 1956. He started dealing with the Armenian Cause in 1961. His first publication was an essay, “Letter to My Turkish Old Friend,” which appeared in the Polish magazine Kierunki in November 1961. He condemned the Armenian Genocide and advocated for territorial reparations for Armenians. The essay was translated into Armenian and English and caused a sensation in the Diaspora and Armenia, where it circulated clandestinely. 

Gebarski continued writing other essays, including “Letter to Turkish Intellectuals,” “Open Letter to the UN General Secretary, Honorable Mr. U Thant,” “Open Letter to His Excellency Sarvapali Radhkrishnani, President of India,” “Letter to My Armenian Readers,” “Three Letters to the Readers of the World,” “The Armenian Square Has Its Solution.” His essays provoked an official protest by Turkey, and he was forbidden to write articles on the Armenian Question. He was even the victim of a car “accident.” 

Besides his work as an essayist, Gebarski also wrote a novella, “The Ones Condemned to Death.” He also published the works of Armenian writers in two volumes. His works were published in Armenian translation in the 1990s. 

Bohdan Gebarski passed away in Warsaw on March 20, 1978. Catholicos of All Armenians Vazken I officiated a memorial service in Holy Etchmiadzin on September 10 and later donated a marble khachkar (stone cross) placed on the tomb of this remarkable soldier of the Armenian Cause.