Ataturk’s noble An­zac PS

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS -

It’s hard to re­mem­ber a war which ended with such mu­tual re­spect for once bit­ter en­e­mies.

The in­scrip­tion on this stone me­mo­rial over­look­ing Cook Strait in Welling­ton was writ­ten by Mustafa Ke­mal Ataturk, who served as a di­vi­sional com­man­der at Gal­lipoli in World War 1. He went on to be­come the first pres­i­dent and ar­chi­tect of mod­ern Turkey.

He was re­spond­ing to a let­ter in 1934 from the mother of a dead An­zac ask­ing per­mis­sion to visit Gal­lipoli and her son’s grave.

He sat down and wrote this much-quoted re­ply:

‘‘Those he­roes who shed their blood and lost their lives, you are now ly­ing in the soil of a friendly coun­try. There­fore rest in peace. There is no dif­fer­ence be­tween the John­nies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side in this coun­try of ours.

‘‘You, the moth­ers who sent their sons from far away coun­tries, wipe away your tears, your sons are now ly­ing in our bo­soms and are in peace. Af­ter hav­ing lost their lives on this land they be­come our sons as well.’’

Ataturk was the type of in­spired leader that bat­tlescarred Iraq and dan­ger­ous Afghanistan need so badly. (Per­haps all of us do.)

He united the Turk­ish na­tion, es­tab­lished high lit­er­acy lev­els and freed women and girls from out­dated male Mus­lim tyranny.

There’s a clear sym­bol of that in world files – Ataturk pho­tographed with his coun­try’s first woman com­bat pi­lot, one of eight chil­dren he adopted.

The me­mo­rial, whose top edge picks up the cres­cent moon sym­bol, over­looks straits as the Gal­lipoli bat­tle­ground did.

It’s an out­come of an agree­ment be­tween the Turk­ish, Aus­tralian and New Zealand gov­ern­ments.

In 1984, Aus­tralia asked Turkey if the cove on the Gal­lipoli penin­sula could be re­named An­zac Cove in mem­ory of the Aus­tralian and New Zealand troops who died there in 1915.

The Turk­ish Gov­ern­ment agreed to change the cove’s name from AriBurnu and also built a large mon­u­ment to all those who died in the cam­paign.

My grand­daugh­ter was there last week in what has be­come a pil­grim­age for thou­sands of New Zealand’s young over the years.

In re­turn, the Aus­tralian and New Zealand gov­ern­ments agreed to build mon­u­ments to Mustafa Ke­mal Ataturk in Can­berra and Welling­ton.

The dou­ble highly sig­nif­i­cant me­mo­rial in Welling­ton de­signed by Ian Bow­man has that mar­ble cres­cent on its top edge, with a bust of Ataturk, in­scrip­tions and soil from An­zac Cove.

When a paved fore­court and path were also planned, the Turk­ish Gov­ern­ment gave a grant to­wards the cost. Now that let­ter to an An­zac mother is read every An­zac Day by the Turk­ish am­bas­sador at the Na­tional War Me­mo­rial in Welling­ton.

One other to­tally peace­ful ac­cord af­ter a bru­tal war re­flects the ges­tures of the revered Ja­panese Gen­eral Nogi, re­ceiv­ing in 1904 the sur­ren­der of the Rus­sians in a war which had cost him his two sons.

He handed back the swords of the Rus­sian com­man­ders when they passed them to him – a ges­ture of ex­treme re­spect to­wards them and their fam­ily heir­loom blades.

Then he posed in a group photo with the Rus­sians, all markedly clutch­ing their swords.

Later in life he pres­sured for and got the Ja­panese Gov­ern­ment to erect mon­u­ments to the dead of both armies on var­i­ous bat­tle fields.

A white horse be­came the sym­bol of the end of the Rus­sia-Ja­pan war. The de­feated Rus­sian Gen­eral Stoes­sel gave his horse (iron­i­cally named ‘‘Ko­to­buki’’ – ‘‘Hap­pi­ness’’) to Gen­eral Nogi. It was the only Rus­sian horse not killed and eaten by his starv­ing troops.

In turn, Nogi, hero of the vic­to­ri­ous Ja­panese at­tack on Port Arthur, gave the white stal­lion to the Em­peror Meiji. That horse was the found­ing mount of a lux­u­ri­ous sta­ble of white, sa­cred horses which has also housed a white horse as a state gift from New Zealand. From the mail­bag: About proud names: ‘‘Please tell Pat Booth that his aside about the name ’Edgar’ in ref­er­ence to Cob­ber Kain (April 24) was un­called for. (The col­umn ref­er­ence was ‘who would ever have called him Edgar apart from his par­ents?’)

‘‘Why wouldn’t par­ents choose an hon­ourable name of an English king?

‘‘My name is Edgar and I was named af­ter my fa­ther’s first cousin and best friend who was killed fight­ing in the Cana­dian Army in April 1917 on the Western Front.

‘‘There must be lots of Edgars around, out of fash­ion but not en­tirely out of sight. Cheers.’’ – Edgar Ma­son, Three Kings

My apolo­gies to the writer and all the Edgars! About the law: ‘‘Your col­umn on ‘who judges the judges and coro­ners’ re­minded me of a quote ‘It is not the le­gal­ity of law I fear, it is the judge, or the un­known writer who said Good lawyers know the law; great lawyers know the judge.’

‘‘Again, your ar­ti­cle iden­ti­fies well the need for recog­ni­tion of the vic­tim in our ‘po­lit­i­cally cor­rect’ so­ci­ety.’’ – Grant Lim­pus About wa­ter: ‘‘Here are some fur­ther statis­tics re­lat­ing to wa­ter us­age which you may find in­ter­est­ing. Whereas it takes 2500 gal­lons of wa­ter to pro­duce 1lb of beef, it takes only 250 gal­lons to pro­duce 1lb of soya beans and 25 gal­lons to pro­duce 1lb of wheat. It has been es­ti­mated that the amount of wa­ter used to pro­duce one ham­burger would be equiv­a­lent to a shower every day for two and a half weeks.’’ – Jo­hanna Vroe­gop

The Welling­ton mon­u­ment

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