Istanbul the morning after the great fire of democracy
Sela is called from the mosques
It is half past one in the morning, and from all the minarets in Turkey, this special, long call to prayer, which is used at times of death, resounds unrelentingly. As one ends, already the next starts up. The thundering of the fighter jets over our roofs mingles with this marrow-piercing call to prayer that for us heralds death. As the noises of battle turn to silence, announcements come from the mosques, calling for resistance against the military: “This is a Jihad. Take to the streets, for Allah!”
What do you do when you ask yourself whether the next morning you are going to wake up in the midst of a military coup or in an Islamic Republic?
That was a joke.
In his theorising of collective memory, Maurice Halbwachs writes 'it is in society that people normally acquire their memories. It is also in society that people recall, recognise and localise their memories'. The Holocaust, like the Rwandan genocide, or the atrocities committed in the Congo under King Leopold II, exceeds the bounds of traditional historical archives and methodologies. Even gathering information about numbers dead has proven difficult.
As Halbwachs demonstrates, our understanding of the scope of the atrocities of the Holocaust is informed by cultural documents, such as Primo Levi's Auschwitz Report. Levi's book narrativises the intergenerational exchange of personal, collective, and cultural trauma, prompting a dialogic engagement with the war. Articles such as the Auschwitz Report have laid the groundwork for events such as Holocaust Memorial Day.
The following extract is from the introduction to the Auschwitz Report and written with Leonardo De Benedetti, an Italian Jew interred with Levi at Aushwitz. To quote De Benedetti, the extract demonstrates how 'every story of survival in Auschwitz is a story of extraordinary circumstance', by revealing the minutiae of how the camps functioned, Levi and De Benedetti provide empiricist detail that legitimates the narrative accounts of Holocaust survivors to chilling effect.
As protest and revolt in Turkey continues, journalist and author Ece Temelkuran addresses Recep Erdoğan:
Roger that Commander!
We did not know that you have put up with us that long, Commander. You have been disgusted by us and hidden it from us. You have wanted us to be gassed and dispersed like insects for years? You never even wanted us to find a doctor when we desperately needed one? No lawyer should come to defend us. You wanted cops to come and take us and then nothing to be heard of us later. You even wanted us not to be able to breathe, to suffocate where we found shelter. Otherwise why would you order your cops and gendarmes to march on us, detain doctors and not even inform our lawyers where we are? You have always been disgusted by us, Commander. Come on, confess it. Confess and let's finish this game of lies.
How did you seal their hearts, Commander?