Last weekend, I visited “remembering Gallipoli” exhibition at Sydney’s Customs house which was held to commemorate the Gallipoli campaign. It included 20-30 photos each showing a picture of a soldier who fought in the battle projected by exhibiting photos each showing a projected picture of a soldier who fought at the battle with one or two of his descendants. Each photo is accompanied by a caption note describing the name, profession and relationship of the soldier and his descendant.
The aim of the artist, Mine Konakci, of this exhibition is claimed to be: “to rekindle the powerful connection and dialogue between the three societies”. I seriously doubt that the best way to achieve that aim is by reminding those societies of their wars. It’s like showing pictures of Holocaust to rekindle the powerful connection and dialogue between Jewish communities (like Israel) and Germany.
Other than the weirdness of the aim and mediocre-to-poor quality of the whole exhibition, there was something abnormal going on that caught my attention. After reading the captions of photos, I came to realise that the occupations of almost all Turk soldiers were recorded “soldier” (the only exceptions were one judge, one teacher and one barber-farmer). On the other side, almost none of Australia-New Zealanders (Anzacs) was a professional soldier (the closest exception was a policeman).
The reason for this can be one or a combination of the following:
- Ottoman Empire only used professional soldiers in the battles and no one volunteered or was forced to participate in the war
- The living Turks, who participated in this exhibition, had no clue what their ancestors actually did for living.
- Australians and New Zealanders volunteered or were forced to go to war
- Intentional attempt to clear the past by descendants who are against war or aware of the bad connotations of actively participating in wars.
- An attempt to dehumanise the enemy: We were forced to war but the “others” were all professional soldiers and they chose to be killed.
I’m not in the position to confirm any of the possibilities and leave the final decision to you. And just to conclude, here is my favourite in the whole exhibition:
A philanthropist serving at Otago Mounted Rifles.