March 18th is a significant starting date in what we call the Battle of Gallipoli in World War I. The Turks use the term Cannakale but I also think that's their name of the Dardanelles. Every year they show this cartoon version of the campaign. As a matter of fact, this cartoon is very similar to the movie Galipolli by Mel Gibson. The cartoon is extremely bloody and violent and I think we watched all 25,000 Ottomans and 25,000 enemy troops (lots of Aussies and New Zealanders commemorate their soldiers with a visit on Anzac Day, April 26) die in the cartoon version.
I was curious about this film and the showing of it to young children so I inquired about it at my Monday night English conversation club. They all were quite familiar with the film, probably having seen it often, and were understanding of the content. But one student, a history buff, said something that really caught my attention and made things clear to me. He explained that WWI was the end of the Ottoman Empire but the real tragedy for Turkey was the end of the educated leadership and the educated citizens. That loss effectively closed Turkey off from the rest of the world for more than 60 years and they are still trying to recover. It wasn't until the 1980's when the president Turgut Ozel brought things like telephones, electricity and television to places like Malatya that things began to turn around for the citizens of Turkey.
I can still feel the effects of WWI today. Although I have high speed internet, many things people believe or do is reminiscent of the way I remember them 30 years ago. Cleaning commercials are one example. Another is the freedom of the men to be out galavanting at night. There is a shortage of information about the world and the younger generation has a very limited knowledge of anything but Turkish geography and history. One24 year old girl asked me the other day if I'd heard of Afghanistan and where it was because she'd seen on the news that Turkish helicopter has crashed there and many soldiers and several citizens had died. The maps of Malatya and Turkey hanging on my wall are always of interest to friends coming over. (I wish I'd brought a world map, too.)
Back to the movie..I can see why such a significant battle in the course of their history might be shown to their school children. And, I'm trying to relate to similar topics we may have studied in our history..the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and Pearl Harbor?