Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons! is the only website which allows you to post your ancestor’s story of hardship. Read, share, learn and interact with true stories about people’s ancestors from the Holocaust, Civil War, Armenian Genocide, World War Two, etc. Learn about different events in history and the people who experience them. is essentially an online archive that can preserve people’s ancestors' stories of hardship. Join now for free and share your ancestor’s lost cry.

Trains of No Return-Witness:Turkish Attache Reşit Conk

Date of Birth
Reşit Conk
Your Relationship
Nephew Or Niece
SaphiensLexSaphiensLex 30 Pts
edited February 2018 in Holocaust
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.'



  • 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:
  • Amazing story!
  • Very informative and detailed story of your uncle!
  • @SaphiensLex, another great story.  
    Your 2nd great uncle showed kindness and was caught up in an unfortunate situation. He seemed to be lucky to return to Turkey at the right time.
Sign In or Register to comment. | Share Your Ancestor's Story - Holocaust Stories, War Stories, And More

© 2019, All rights reserved. | Dedicated To Tsilya Gershman Zaslavsky - Holocaust Survivor

Contact us
Terms of Service

Get In Touch