A major new exhibition on the Gallipoli Campaign opened in Istanbul on March 9, marking the centennial commemorations of the iconic conflict.
Organized by the İş Bankası Museum, the exhibition hosts military objects and uniforms, pictures showing life during the war, and documents compiled from the domestic and foreign archives on the tragic battle.
The exhibition, entitled “From the Depths to the Trenches: Gallipoli 1915,” focuses on the unknown history of the war.
HDN Speaking in a press conference at the opening of the show, exhibition advisor Professor Haluk Oral said their aim was to give details of the human side of the conflict, rather than just tell the history of what happened.
“Everybody knows the history, but we actually wanted to reveal the details of the war that the majority of people do not exactly know,” Oral said, describing each object included as a “door opening onto history.”
“The exhibition will achieve its purpose if it can make visitors feel and sense those days. Although there are many written books about the campaign, there are still many stories to tell and secrets to disclose,” he added.
The 1915 battle took place in the Dardanelles strait in the northwestern province of Çanakkale’s Gallipoli district. The victory against the Allied forces, who were trying to force their way to occupy the Ottoman capital Istanbul, gave the Ottoman Empire a massive moral boost during the war, and also surprised many who had not expected the Ottomans to fight so tenaciously.
HDN ‘Holding my grandfather’s hand’
Savaş Karakaş, the curator of the exhibition in Istanbul, said he is a grandson of Gallipoli war veteran Hafız Hilmi Coşkun.
“I remember that I was afraid of war in my childhood. I was afraid of my grandfather’s hand for 20 years because his hand had been disfigured during the war. But İş Bankası has given me the opportunity to hold my grandfather’s hand without fear,” Karakaş said.
“We lost my grandfather in 1974 but I followed his traces in the seas, witnessing the discovery of many submarines and war ships, along with famous underwater researchers from Turkey and across the world. My grandfather named me ‘Savaş’ [war in English] in order to keep the memories of the war alive,” he added.
Describing all war relics as “time capsules” sent from the past to the present, Karakaş said the aim of the exhibition was to explain “the sufferings of those people who sacrificed themselves for us.”
The exhibition at the İş Bankası Museum, located in the Eminönü neighborhood of Istanbul, is open every day except Monday through Aug. 15.