Original classification rating: PG.
This clip chosen to be G
The rules of the Returned Servicemen’s League (RSL) originally stated that no group that had fought against Australia could march on Anzac Day. After many years and much persistence by Turkish Australians, the RSL finally accepted that Turks too, could march on Anzac Day.
This is a truly uplifting story. The great Turkish leader, Atatürk, wrote movingly about how the enemy dead at Gallipoli were to be forever honoured by his countrymen. It took a little longer for Australians to accept Australian Turks, who had also lost family at Gallipoli, into the ranks of the marchers on Anzac Day. The opening sequence of photos of Diggers with music and a voice reading Atatürk’s statement to the foreign mothers is very moving, and effectively sets a strong emotional tone, which is then shattered by Bruce Ruxton’s brutal rejection of the Turks in Australia.
This clip shows archival black-and-white photographs of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) and Turkish soldiers in the Gallipoli campaign during the First World War, a war cemetery and a transport ship unloading soldiers. A narrator reads from Atatürk’s famous tribute of 1934, and former New South Wales Turkish community leader Muzaffer Orel reflects on the compassionate quality of Atatürk’s words. More recent scenes of Turkish people in Australia and of an Anzac Day parade, including a shot of then Victorian state Returned Services League (RSL) president Bruce Ruxton marching, are also shown. The later part of the clip is narrated by Geraldine Doogue, presenter of the television program Compass.
Educational value points
- Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Turkish military leader and the first president of the Republic of Turkey is featured. The Ottoman Empire entered the First World War on the side of Germany in October 1914, with German General Liman von Sanders as commander of the Ottoman Turkish forces on Gallipoli. Atatürk (1881–1938) made his name as military commander of the 19th Turkish division, which repelled the Allied advances and forced their withdrawal from the Gallipoli peninsula. In October 1923 the Republic of Turkey was proclaimed and Atatürk was unanimously elected president.
- Atatürk made a number of important laws that helped transform Turkey after centuries of Ottoman rule. His many achievements include the introduction of the Roman alphabet and educational reform, secularisation of the state, including the judiciary, and the political and social emancipation of women. In 1934 the name Atatürk, meaning 'father of the Turks’, was bestowed on him by the Turkish National Assembly. He was previously known as Mustafa Kemal.
- Words from Atatürk’s now famous tribute to the Anzacs who lost their lives at Gallipoli are quoted in this clip. Ataturk emerged from the battles of Gallipoli to become a great Turkish statesman. These words, delivered by him in 1934, commemorate the losses on both sides. The speech is inscribed on the memorial at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, and on the Kemal Atatürk Memorial, Anzac Parade, Canberra.
- The clip shows footage from an Anzac Day parade in Melbourne, Victoria. The anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War on the Gallipoli peninsula was commemorated in Australia, New Zealand and England in 1916 and the date, 25 April, was officially named Anzac Day by acting Australian prime minister George Pearce. By the 1920s Anzac Day commemorations were held throughout Australia.
- Both Allied forces and Turkish forces suffered disastrous losses in the Gallipoli campaign. The Allies aimed to capture the Gallipoli peninsula to make way for an advance on Constantinople (now Istanbul), thus opening a route to assist Russia in fighting German and Austrian forces on the Eastern Front. The Turkish defenders may have been victorious but their losses were great. The numbers of casualties recorded for the Gallipoli campaign by authorities varies. The Department of Veterans’ Affairs in Australia records 86,692 Turkish deaths and approximately 44,000 Allied deaths, 8,709 of whom were Australians. Men were killed in action and by sniper fire, or died from wounds, dysentery or other diseases, and from exposure.
- Turkish-Australian descendants of those who fought at Gallipoli have marched in the Melbourne Anzac Day parade since 1996, the first year in which Turkish veterans were allowed to march. In 1996 Turkish army veterans had set up their own RSL sub-branch in Melbourne. It was not until 2006 that official RSL policy allowed the descendants of Turkish veterans to march. The ruling by the Victorian RSL only applies to the descendants of First World War Turkish soldiers.
- For both Turkey and Australia the Gallipoli campaign was an event of major historical significance. For the Turks the campaign was the first time an Ottoman army had defeated a Western army. The campaign was the first time Australia had entered a war as a nation and despite their defeat, the young soldiers proved their courage, fighting qualities and endurance. Anzacs and 'Johnny Turk’ are now seen as having shared the same fate as fellow sufferers rather than as victors and defeated.
- Bruce Ruxton, who was President of the Victorian RSL from 1979 until 2002, opposed the participation of Turkish-Australians in the Anzac Day march. Later, in response to the acknowledged status of the Turks as allies in the Korean War, Ruxton (1926–) was persuaded to change the ruling in Victoria. Ruxton became an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1981, a Member of the Order of Australia Medal (AM) in 1996 and was admitted to the French order of distinction, the Legion of Honour, in 1999.
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