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Jochen Mangelsene Hamburgi haykakan hamajnqum 26.11.2011On November 26, 2011 at the Armenian Cultural Union in Hamburg took place the eighth presentation of the book “Planet Armenia: Pilgrimage to an Unknown Land” by Dr. Jochen Mangelsen.

The book was released in Frankfurt am Main in September 2011 by the “Armenian Media” publishing house and has 187 pages. The book is rich in brilliant illustrations which are made by the Bremen-based Armenian painter Marietta Armena. Published in September the book had 8 presentations in 2 months organized by different Armenian communities and German organizations.

Jochen Mangelsene grqi nerkajacman jamanak Hamburgi haykakan hamajnqum 26.11.2011Mangelsen’s book was also noted by the German media: immediately after being published, one of the best read newspapers, the Weser Kurier on September 4, 2011, as well as the Radio Station Suedwestrundfunk SWR on September 19, 2011 and the Radio Bremen/WDR – Funkhaus Europa on November 13, 2011, discussed it. Moreover, in January an one-hour program devoted to the book is expected on the Nordwestradio by the Radio Bremen

The opening speech of the presentation in Hamburg was made by the president of the German-Armenians’ Central Council and the Union of the Armenian Academics Azat Ordukhanyan who said, “Within a month Jochen moved from the north of Armenia to the south, reached Artsakh and his book managed to be in 8 cities within 2 months travelling from Bremen to Stuttgart, Frankfurt am Main, Halle, Leipzig, Berlin and Hamburg. They say, in general there are no irreplaceable people but Mangelsen is exceptional both as a friend and as a press advisor to the German-Armenians’ Central Council”.

The book is a result of a several-week journey during which the author moved from region to region, from monastery to monastery and through spiritual adventures reached Artsakh.   The South Caucasus politically risky and uncertain conflict concerned him as much as the country’s fantastic legends, history of millenniums, people, culture and political events pushed him forward. He throws a bright look to our country situated on the slope of Mt. Ararat and provides a new perception about it, presenting it as a colorful and gorgeous planet. He describes his book as a political feleton.

Jochen Mangelsen Ofelya Sargsyan in Hamburg Haykakan hamajnqum 26.11.2011The book also includes text-miniatures - short novels which despite being only a few lines reflect the unique magic of the country. The book is truly exclusive and original and has already had a large sale. Therefore, with some small additions the second edition is expected after January and there will also be new presentations.

Dr. Jochen Mangelsen was born in 1942, is a journalist, lives and works in Bremen, for many years worked as a spokesman for the Bremen Radio. He began his journalistic career after studying oration, drama studies, German language and philology. He was married with the Armenian Seda Murdayan. His daughter, Sona, was baptized in Armenia and in October, 2011 got married at the Armenian Church St. Hripsime under the Armenian rite. Also, the same day Mangelsen’s grandchildren were baptized at St. Hripsime. According to him the roots that Seda instilled in her daughter’s soul have deep foundations.

The motivation that has brought Mangelsen to the topic “Armenia” over 40 years, Mangelsen took from his own, German, history. The holocaust committed by the generation of his parents makes him sensitive towards the Armenian Genocide, the impunity of which, many believe, encouraged the organizers of the Jews’ massacre in Europe. The history of Germany and its approach to the history are linked with the question of how modern Turkey treats to its past, to the Genocide against its Christian neighbors organized by the Young Turks, the position of Germany towards this tragedy as well as with the responsiveness of the future generations. These are the facts and circumstances that served as a basis for Mangelsen’s activity. He created an Armenian-German circle in Bremen then in Hannover, worked for the “Armenian-German Correspondence” magazine editorial, became its co-editor and currently is a media consultant to the German-Armenians’ Central Council.

Intensive, personally based, politically motivated years of connection with Armenia confirm his love for this country. Mangelsen himself says, “What charms me in Armenia? Perhaps, it is just as follows: we fall in love with a place, its nature and people and at one time we go to discover them and that journey takes us to our souls. Armenia, as well as Artsakh are miraculous countries full of legends, thousand-year-old cultural monuments, deeply affected by Christianity, mythology and the causalities of the modern history. Conclusion: I have been enchanted with Armenia for about 40 years”. The proof of it is also his novel “Ofelya’s long journey to Berlin published in 2001. The book raises the Genocide issue of 1915 - 19 during which 1, 5 million Armenians were sent to innocent death. The novel also describes the fate of many Armenian families who live abroad but are unable to forget the horrific events of the past and feel abandoned and forgotten by the world. In the first plan of the book is a family story, in the background is the slaughter of millions of Armenians. Alfred remembers his ancestors’ massacre and their migration from Western Armenia. As for Ofelya, she had to accompany her relatives on the hard ways of escapade from Persia. Mangelsen does describe the turnovers and upheavals of their lives painstakingly and the book reflects his compassion towards a multiply smitten country.

Afterward, Mangelsen shifts from fiction to travel literature genre and in 2006 with Alexander Schmitt he published a book about his Jacob´s pilgrimage to Spain. His readers expected that the Jacob´s pilgrim would also pass through Armenia and Artsakh with his traveler’s crook. At last, in 2010 the expectations of the writer’s fans were satisfied: Mangelsen traveled to Armenia and Artsakh and summed up his vivid impressions of the Nairian land in his third book which is a pilgrim’s unique love confession to Armenia and Armenians.

Ofelya Sargsyan

Flensburg, Germany