Why was New Zealand involved in Gallipoli

First World WarGallipoli - an Australian myth

Tattoo in downtown Sydney. It is four in the morning, still pitch dark and bitterly cold. It mizzles. Nevertheless, a few thousand people crowd around the monument to the Unknown Soldier on Martin Place. Like every ANZAC day. Every April 25th, the landing of Australian troops in Gallipoli is commemorated, a rugged Turkish peninsula from which almost 9,000 Australians are not supposed to return.

In France, on the Western Front, three times as many Australian soldiers were killed as in Turkey - at Fromelles alone 5,000 men died in just a single day. It was the blackest 24 hours in Australian history. "Still, Fromelles is just a place name," says military historian Joan Beaumont. Gallipoli, however, is folklore.

"We remember Gallipoli because it was the first major military campaign in World War I that Australia was involved in. Not as a colony, but as an independent confederation. This first battle concerns us to this day, because Gallipoli is considered Australia's baptism of fire."

From a military point of view, Gallipoli was a disaster. The British high command let the Australians land on the wrong bank section, the losses were high. "The bitter trench war that followed claimed even more victims," ​​said Ashley Ekins of the Australian Military Museum in Canberra. Even so, Gallipoli became Australia's D-Day over the years.

"Gallipoli stands for courage, willingness to make sacrifices and perseverance. Our soldiers didn't just land on a beach in a hail of bullets - they fought for eight long months: malnourished, plagued by diseases and constantly under fire. That is the true story of Gallipoli."

Tough, stoic, unwavering and courageous, conspiratorial, fearless and side by side in horrific conditions: the solidarity of the soldiers in Gallipoli has since been a symbol of the supposed Australian character. Politicians and the Veterans Association turned a crushing defeat in Australia into a moral triumph.

Became a million dollar business

Veterans parade on non-working ANZAC Day: Former soldiers, children and grandchildren marching with medals and decorations on their chests instead of their fallen fathers and grandfathers: Gallipoli has long been the symbol of Australia's military past - and a million dollar business. Year-round cruises to Turkey, tours of the battlefield, monuments, sports and community events. Gallipoli, criticized the Australian Afghanistan veteran James Brown, had degenerated into a military Halloween.

“It says a lot about the importance of the ANZAC tradition in Australia that we spend twice as much money as the British on celebrations that commemorate 100 years of World War I. Our conservative government is saving everywhere, but to glorify our war dead spared no expense. "

For the 100th anniversary next year, the Australian government has specially appointed a Gallipoli minister, 8,000 Australians will make a pilgrimage to Turkey. To commemorate what James Brown calls "a festival for the dead". The survivors of other conflicts would be forgotten.

"The legend of the Gallipoli soldiers is being told over and over again, but Australia's recent military operations in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan are being ignored. The biggest scandal, however, is that we spend three times as much on memorial services as we do on medical care every year of soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress today. "

Courage, perseverance, willingness to make sacrifices and camaraderie - when volunteers in Australia fight bushfires or help flood victims today, the spirit of the ANZACs is often spoken of. But there was selflessness in Australia even before Gallipoli. But the first victim in war is always the truth.