The children and grandchildren of the people who came to Çanakkale from the Balkans a century ago to fight in the Battle of Gallipoli told the heroic story of their ancestors in a documentary titled “Çanakkale’de Unutulan Avazımız” (Çanakkale: Our Forgotten Cry). Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Feridun Cesur, the producer of the documentary, which will be broadcasted on TRT Avaz, said the stories of the fallen and veterans who came from the Balkans to Çanakkale to defend the Ottoman Empire has remained in the background during the studies on the Battle of Gallipoli.
To shed light on these forgotten stories, Cesur said they decided to film a documentary focusing on the sacrifices of Balkan people who lived in the Ottoman Empire for centuries. The documentary crew conducted field research in Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia. Cesur and the rest of the documentary crew shot hours of videos in Çanakkale, interviewed young people from the Balkans who came to Turkey to study and conducted research in the archives of the Directorate General of State Archives. Moreover, a total of 80 first-generation relatives of those who fought at Gallipoli were interviewed and support was received from religious scholars, as well as academicians.
Cesur said the relatives of those who fought shared photographs and correspondences with them. “They kept these documents under very difficult circumstances, as Muslim communities in the Balkans were suppressed during the political transition of the region. Muslim families were torn apart and they were forced to change their names. They were, unfortunately, exposed to such oppression,” said Cesur, adding the people whom they interviewed still have respect and love for the Ottoman state, as well as Turkey.
For the documentary, the daughter of Ahmet Ağa Hamzagic, who fought in the Battle of Gallipoli, was interviewed. The 90 year-old women, who lives in a small, old home, said that soldiers came to their house to rest following the war. She said her father met with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in Çanakkale and brought him gifts when he returned to his company. Saying that all of the people that they talked with in the Balkans pray for the safety of Turkey, Cesur continued: “We asked the relatives of those who fought at Gallipoli what they want from Turkey. Their only wish is to be able to see Çanakkale where their ancestors fought bravely.” Also speaking to AA, the director of the documentary, Muhlis Durak, said the 13-episode show is broadcasted every Sunday and Monday on TRT Avaz.
He said the documentary has turned into an important historical source, as it focuses on people who came from the Balkans to defend their empire, adding they received positive feedback about the documentary. Durak said the interviews conducted for the documentary are reviving historical awareness in the public as well as displaying the change that the Balkans have gone through. He said: “Very few first-generation relatives of the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Gallipoli are left in the Balkans. The grandchildren of these soldiers are trying to learn more about their relatives though these interviews. The documentary assumes a role to revive the feeling of fidelity to one’s country and push the traces of our civilization, which brings different ethnic elements to the forefront.”