Türkiye Cumhuriyeti

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Çanakkale Savaştan Barışa Uzanan Yol fotoğraf sergisi, 23.04.2015

This year we commemorate the centennial of the Battle of Çanakkale. To this end, a Peace Summit is being held today in Istanbul attended by  Heads of State and Government along with numerous dignitaries, which will be followed by a series of ceremoniesat Çanakkale/Gallipoli tomorrow and the observance of ANZAC Day on the 25th of April.

Today, the 23rd of April, also marks the 95th anniversary of the inauguration of the Turkish Grand National Assembly in 1920 in Ankara.  The opening of the Parliament composed of deputies from all across Anatolia  was the first step towards the creation of the Republic of Turkey. Following the proclamation of the Republic on the 29th of October 1923, Atatürk dedicated the 23rd of April as the National Sovereignty and Children’s Day for the children as they were the future of the new nation.

We are extremely happy to celebrate these two  important milestones in the history of our nationhood,  today, together with you.

The Ottoman Empire had joined the war on the side of the Central Powers at the end of 1914 and soon after the Çanakkale Naval Battle started with the naval attack on the Turkish Straits by Anglo-French naval forces on the 18 th of March 1915. This attempt to penetrate theDardanelles however failed and three battleships were sunk by the mines laid by the Turkish ship Nusrat. 

Following this victory, the Allied forces staged a large scale troop landing on the Gelibolu Peninsula on the 25 of April 1915. This was the beginning of the Çanakkale Land Battles, which would last for nine months at great human cost until the defeat and retreat of Allied forces on 20 December 1915.

For us the Çanakkale Battles are a heroic saga and a major turning point that changed the fate of the Turkish nation and perhaps even the course of history, as it in many ways prepared the ground for the birth of the new Turkish Republic, whose founding father and First President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, was at the time the Commander of the 19th Division at Gallipoli and the struggle itself formed the basis for the Turkish War of Independence which followed a few years later.

The Çanakkale Battles which caused more than half a million casualties from both sides are considered one of the bloodiest battles of World War I. Nevertheless, they are often also refered to as the last “gentlemen’s battle” of the century as soldiers from both sides not only adhered to the millitary codes of conduct and ethics in combat but also displayed great dignity, humanity and compassion on the battlefield.

It is also known as one of the rare battles where foe turned into friend in the intervals of combat, where a lasting friendship replaced the hostilities of the war as the name of our exhibition today "Çanakkale: Road to Peace Out of War" implies. The sentiments that remained arecaptured in the famous moving words of Atatürk, eched forever in our collective  consciousness, addressed to the ANZAC mothers of fallen soldiers who found a new homeland on Turkish soil,which you will find in the next room.

I hope you will enjoy this exhibition of faded photos that have travelled over time to remind us of this chapter of history and the rare friendship that grew out of combat on Turkish territory, which are not only snapshots of the military dimension of the Battle of Çanakkale but also the humane relationship across the trenches between the soldiers on opposing fronts.

    Thank you.