A unique exhibition featuring stories of the prisoners of war from both sides, Alliance and Entente powers, at the Ottoman Front is currently on show at the Turkish Cultural Centre in London. It contains philatelic and archival documents selected from the private collection of Kemal Giray, a documentarian of World War 1.
“Passed by Censor” shows letters, postcards, original photographs and documents. Its title refers to the wording of a special stamp sealed on letters and envelopes confirming that the item is seen and censored by an official.
Curated by Fahri Aral and designed by Sadik Karamustafa and Ayse Karamustafa, it gives a literary and photographic insight of life inside prison camps in and after World War 1.
These include such striking subjects as demand of hockey balls by English prisoners, a poster for the announcement of a theatrical performance by Ottoman war prisoners, a photograph showing an Ottoman PoW arm in arm with his Austrian friend whom they escaped together from the camp, an escape plan sent to a PoW hidden in bananas as well as several photographs captured the sports activities at the camps.
In combining philatelic and documentary items with a graphic design and photography performance, photomontages and digitised snapshots, this exhibition creates a compelling body of work which combines century-old documentation with modern elements of photography and graphic arts.
During the war the Ottomans fought against Britain, France, Russia, Italy and Romania along many fronts such as Gallipoli, Palestine, Mesopotamia and Russia. Thousands of Ottoman troops were captured during these battles and, for months afterwards, lived in camps located in several different countries.
Also British, Australian, New Zealanders and Indian soldiers who fought for the British Army were captured on the various fronts and held in camps located in several cities in Anatolia.
The exhibition was previously hosted by David Burrowes, Conservative MP for Enfield Southgate, at the Houses of Parliament from 31 to 17 July, organised with the partnership of Yunus Emre Institute London and ITSEB, the Association of Turkish Speaking Health Professionals.
Passed by Censor: PoWs in the Great War on the Ottoman Front, continues until Friday 31 July 2015. Monday to Friday: 10:30 am – 8:00 pm; Saturday: 10:30 am – 6:00 pm. Yunus Emre Institute London, 10 Maple Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 5HA. Tel: 020 7387 3036. Admission: Free of charge.