In 1933 Franz Werfel's epic novel "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh" was published to huge acclaim. Werfel was then at the height of his powers, an internationally known author. He told the story of Armenian villagers who, in 1915, resist deportation & annihilation by Turkish forces on the holy mountain of Musa Dagh led by an Armenian émigré who has returned to his ancestral home at this most fateful time. Set against the Ottoman Empire's attempts to deport or destroy its Armenian populations, in the middle of a terrible war, which resulted in the murder of somewhere between 800,000- 1.2. million Armenians. These acts of mass murder led to an international outcry during WW1 and a campaign of denial both by the Ottoman empire and the successor Turkish government after 1923. Germany, former ally of the Ottoman empire, also rejected any guilt by association but the assassination of Talaat Bey, former Ottoman Minister of the Interior and key architect of the Armenian extermination, gunned down in Berlin in 1921 by an Armenian, caused a furore. The subsequent trial became a major media event and exposed the knowledge of the German government about the massacres. The fate of the Armenians was widely discussed and many on the right explicitly linked them with the 'Jewish question' as Hitler rose to power.
Franz Werfel, already a famous poet and well-known author, touring the Middle East in 1929 with his new wife, Alma Mahler, encountered pathetic Armenian refugee children. Their plight was the spark for his vast work. For both Werfel and its many readers "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh" was not just an epic tribute to Armenian resistance and survival but a warning to the Jews of Germany & Austria. Werfel's works were burned and banned in Germany soon after the Nazi's took power. A Turkish government request to have Musa Dagh removed from German bookshelves was eagerly embraced by Joseph Goebbels. Werfel & Alma Mahler fled Germany first to France & then to America. As early as 1933 Hollywood attempted to film Musa Dagh, a hit in the States, precipitating close to a 50 year campaign by Turkey's ambassadors to make sure no film would ever be made by Hollywood. Maria Margaronis tells the extraordinary story of an extraordinary book with biographer Peter Stephan Jungk in Vienna, members of the Armenian Musa Dagh diaspora & Alma Mahler's grand daughter Marina.
With Anton Lesser as the voice of the book.
Producer: Mark Burman…read more