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  • Trains of No Return-Witness:Turkish Attache Reşit Conk

    An important footnote, neither Atatürk nor most of the Republican Party members or military, were in favour of any Axis policies. In fact tensions with Mussolini,due to his Roman phantasia, were in peak since 1911(Invasion of Libya) With Germany,it was rather 'ok', however the emigration of many German intellectuals(from jewish origin or anti-fashists including Ernst Reuter) but with strong leadership and mutual respect from 150 years of friendly relations, even a sociophat like Hitler did not want to burn the bridges.
    Nevertheless,after Ataturk's death and start of the war, it did not guarantee Turkey's neutrality and until Operation Barbarossa,many believed that German invasion was imminent.Below is a link from Quora, that might be useful for a general understanding on Turkish support against Holocaust and Nazism:

    https://www.quora.com/Why-was-Turkey-neutral-in-World-War-II-Less-than-20-years-after-WWI-Turkey-stayed-out-of-the-conflict-What-were-the-factors-to-maintaining-neutrality
    billANeverForget
  • Trains of No Return-Witness:Turkish Attache Reşit Conk

    Turkey, being a former ally of Germany;von Papen's consultation with Hitler and most importantly great diplomacy of İsmet İnönü(whose generation suffered from 10 years of warfare) managed to stay neutral during WW2 and be able to help European Jews,with the help of Turkish Passport, to emigrate to Turkey. In this short story, my 2nd great uncle Reşit Conk,was appointed as  commercial attache to Germany in 1939, months before the invasion of Poland. As an educated member of a rebuilding society and being the son of a German speaking veteran of WW1 and later War of Independence, he was welcomed with great prestige and hospitality.

    Of course the news weren't that visible that times and as the war has not yet started,except Kristallnacht which was a global shock,but known in the Turkish society.Mr.Conk tried not to ask questions regarding internal policies of Nazi Germany, but instead diplomacy and friendly relations with the Turks to warm up the mood. A few days later, he was in a train station,waiting for his train from Berlin to elsewhere in Germany. As you know, Dachau was operating in Germany since mid 30's. Mr. Conk saw the enclosed train,waiting to transfer to Dachau with people begging for water. Slowly approaching the train, he managed to give some water, only to be shouted at my an SS officer at gunpoint. He was lucky enough to warn him,being the Turkish Attache, in German;which definetely saved him from persecution or worse. After this encounter, he requested the Turkish government to be resigned from Germany and be transferred elsewhere.

    Luck wasn't much with him 'elsewhere' either, as he witnessed the march of the German troops to the Netherlands in 1940 and forcefully returned with other diplomats to Turkey. The news(in 1939) also gave a big shock to his father (General Cemil Conk) who spend almost 3 years in Berlin in 1890's for military training and respected the Germans.

    This story was shared to me from my late Grandmother,(his niece) in the morale of the story, she told me:'As experienced in history even the most corrupt,humiliated nations can thrive in their weakest moment with right strategy; this is also relevant vis verse, the nation of modern philosophers,artists and scientists destroyed his own sons and daughters future for hundres of years for greed and power within 20-30 years.'

    NeverForget
  • The Revenge of The Thunder Brigade- Witness: Lieutenant Erdogan Erkan

    The Turkish Brigade entered into the Korean War in 1950, as the result of Marshall Plan and Soviet threat of invasion; after the deaths of Lenin(1924) and Atatürk (1938). App.14,936 man were send to Korea in the Allied/NATO front against North Koreans and later Chinese. The Brigade, my paternal grandfather was in called The Thunder Brigade "Yildirim Tugayi" (also the name of my oldest uncle "Yildirim") leading the first assault with the Allied forces against North Koreans. The event took place, shortly after the Chinese involvement to Korean War in 1951. I have to pause for a second and explain another story regarding the event. My second uncle, as a kid, found one day a photo of death soldiers lying on top of each other. (like Mongols did to their enemies during the Khan's Era) Immediately after seeing the photo in my uncle hands, my grandfather (it must be 1960's at that time) slapped my uncle and took the photo form his hand. Years later, he learned and told us the story, much after my grandfather (2001) passed. The reason, why the Thunder Brigade became so violent, was the result of the Chinese offensive. Sadly, our family could not remember the real place and time of the event and my grandfather(as my uncle told) refused to told them, as a respect for his comrades, that suffered from PTSD years onwards. The Chinese attacked the stationed troops at a midnight raid in 1951 in North Korean grounds, killing most of the soldiers(they didn't take any prisoners) The unexpected attack gave the soldiers even more anger and morale to stay to avenge their comrades. Although the superiors (like my grandfather, who was also at their age but a member of the Academy and a lieutenant) tried to convince them to calm down. A few day later, the soldiers planned a well arranged ambush on the Chinese encampment at dawn. There has been a rumour around Turks, that the Chinese were afraid of trench warfare, due to religious reasons. The Turks, on the other hand, mastered this technique for the 10 year(1911 to 1922) warfare experience of their fathers and commanders at the lack of technology, that forced them to use this strategy, during those dire times. The result of this attack was a massacre for the Chinese rather than an ambush, were uncontrolled Turkish soldiers, simply dismembered and decapitated running Chinese soldiers. When the sun begin to rise, the troops piled up the horrified bodies of Chinese soldiers on the hill and begin shouting and chanting to the frontline. Seeing his men in this situation, my grandfather wept for the first time, he has arrived there. The military cameraman took a photo of the "victory" and my grandfather kept it as a sign of Terror of War. He resigned from the Military,after his service is done in 1969 as Lieutenant Commander and a War Hero. Until his death, as my father and uncles told me, my veteran grandfather never brag not even said any good thing, about the Korean War; and none of his comrades nor friends complained against his thoughts against war.

    This story is dedicated to My Grandfather, all the veterans and martyr of the Korean War and "Göktürk" my grandfather's adopted son(who may still live in Korea, but was never found after the War) in Korea and all victims of the Korean War.

    aarongAncestorStorybillANeverForget

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