(Persia Digest) – Bibi Maryam Ilkhan Bakhtiari, daughter of Hossein-Gholi Khan Ilkhani, was a women’s rights pioneer and defender of Iran’s national rights against the invading Russian and British forces during WWI. She was an educated, intellectual woman of her time who advocated women’s rights. She learned combat and military techniques from her father and brothers and played her part in WWI. She used the material and spiritual capitals of her family to form a national regiment and combat the occupying Russian and British forces in Iran during WWI.
When the Russians invaded Isfahan at this time, the German chargé d’affaires, von Kardoff, took refuge in Maryam Bakhtiari’s house and stayed there for the next three months. Kaiser Wilhelm II sent Maryam an enamled, diamond-studded figurine and the Iron Cross, Germany’s most important military medal dating back to the 19th century. It is said that she is the only woman to receive the Iron Cross.
Presently, author Parichehr Soltani Zarasavand, has gathered historical documents in Iran and compiled a book on Bibi Maryam Bakhtiari. She has spent two years on researching documents and newspaper articles, including one titled ‘Padash-e Fotovat’ [‘The reward of chivalry’] printed in the Kaveh Persian-language newspaper in Germany during WWI. It mentioned that a woman named Bibi Maryam has saved German officers and Kaiser Wilhelm II is happy today.
At a commemoration ceremony for Bibi Maryam during the launch of the book entitled “Sardar Bibi Maryam Bakhtiari – Sardar of Freedom”, her bust statue was also unveiled at the National Library of Iran. The said book is being translated into English and will be introduced at international book fairs.
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