Usttegmen (Captain) Joseph Arditti, on the left, and a Turkish Army comrade training in Turkey, 1954.Dr. Joseph Arditti
Uttegmen (Captain) Joseph Arditti sitting on a jeep during a Turkish Army training exercise, circa 1954-55.Dr. Joseph Arditti
Usttegmen (Captain) Joseph Arditti, Turkish Army, 1955.Dr. Joseph Arditti
Dr. Joseph Arditti, Saint John, New Brunswick, July 28, 2010.Historica Canada
"We never heard anything about the Holocaust in Turkey, nothing was mentioned."
During the Second World War, Turkey was friends with the Germans. This goes back to the First World War where they fought the war together and they lost the war, Germany and Turkey. Turkey remained friends with Germany; and Germany, when they were advancing in Europe and came to Russia, they came to the border of Turkey. Because of being friends, they did not advance to the Turkish soil.
During those years, during the war, Turkey recalled all the reservists in the army. Up to 50 years of age, everybody was enlisted for the second time or third time, whatever, for the war. They were prepared to go to war in case the Germans move in. There was rationing in everything in Turkey. Everything was with little coupons to go and buy a loaf of bread. For almost four years, there was tremendous shortage of food. It was one loaf of bread per family of six and there were no eggs, no sugar, no meat. And this is mostly how we survived by eating lentils or chickpeas, or beans. A lot of memories about those years.
I was about 14 or 15 years of age. This is in the war. We never heard anything about the Holocaust in Turkey, nothing was mentioned. Turkey played a very crucial role in staying neutral from the war. And Istanbul was the rendezvous of all the attachés [diplomatic staff], all the foreign ministers, that they came in and out. But they never mentioned in the news, in the papers or anything, everything was hidden.
It was very hard, very harsh. It was a matter of survival. I remember going to a bakery where the bread was being prepared and waited for three, four hours to get a loaf of bread. 200 or 300 people waiting on, no lines, fighting one on top of another. It was not easy.
So then gradually they started to have some more food, some more elements of nutrition. And so at that time, I was a high school student, teenager and just being prepared to go to university.