First World War Poetry Digital Archive

Initial Considerations

The following card was written by a Turkish soldier stationed somewhere in Europe (possibly on the Russian front). Turkey had joined the Central Powers (i.e. Germany and Austria-Hungary) in its fight against the Allies when Russia declared war on it on November 2nd 1914, followed by Britain and France on November 5th of the same year. In other words, regardless of its political ambitions, Turkey did not decalre war on the Allies itself. The Turkish soldier was often vilified in Allied propaganda and looked upon as uncivilised (e.g. see the cartoon from The Grey Brigade, a trench newspaper published in 1915). Yet in the postcard below (translated from the Turkish by Celia Kerslake, University of Oxford) the soldier, by the name of Kerem, expresses emotions that would be all too familiar to Western writers - longing for his family, hope for peace, fear of future fighting, love of small comforts, and so on.

Reverse of postcard containing Turkish writing
Front of postcard

Mulheim, 12 February 1918

My dear brother Ibrahim,

I was delighted to receive your [letter?] of 3 February the other day, and yesterday a card from you. I'm sending the stamps you asked for, and a photograph of little Kemal. Of course, you'd better make sure you send it [or them?] back when you've looked at it [or theml. Don't try to get away with not leffing me have it [or them] back. If you do, we'll have a row, and I won't be responsible for the consequences. Ibrahim, I've found a bit more thick leather for you. I'll send it to you when I have time.

Praise and thanks be to God, there's been a peace agreement with the Russians as well. God willing, by the summer the British and French too will be forced to make peace. Then we'll be able to get through to Istanbul more easily, won't we?

Turkish troops are going to be coming here soon. Actually there are said to be lots of them in the city of Cologne. They're sending them all to the western front. The Germans are going to go on to the offensive with all the allied Turkish, Bulgarian and Austrian troops.I think we're going to have a really fearsome fight. You can be sure that these chaps will win at the end of the day. At the moment we're very close to confrontation. I wonder how many battles we shall see.

The workers' strike in Berlin has been suppressed. The government immediately conscripted most of the rebels and sent them to the front. Thank goodness there was no such action in the factories here.

Contenting myself with this much for today, I pray God for the continuance of your good health, brother.

Your brother Kerem [or Kerim?]

If you should find any more saccharin [?] and bread, send them to me. I'll be very grateful to you.