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Çanakkale (Dardanelles) and Gelibolu (Gallipoli) Battles Zones in the First World War

Date of Submission: 15/04/2014
Criteria: (vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of Turkey to UNESCO
Coordinates: N39 30 51.50 E28 53 1.38
Ref.: 5911
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Description

The Gallipoli Campaign also known as the Dardanelles Campaign was a First World War campaign that took place on the Gallipoli Peninsula in the Ottoman Empire between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916.

The Peninsula forms the northern bank of the Dardanelles, astrait that provides a sea route to what was then the Russian Empire, one of the Allied powers during the war. Intending to secure it, Russia’s allies Britain and France launched a naval attack followed by an amphibious landing on the Peninsula with the eventual aim of capturing the Ottoman capital of İstanbul. The naval attack was repelled and, after eight months fighting, with many casualties on both sides, the land campaign also failed and the invasion force was withdrawn to Egypt.

Gallipoli Peninsula National Historical Park established in 1973 and included in the UN List of Natioanl Parks and Protected Areas, covers 33.000 hectares (330 km2) at the southern end of the Gallipoli Peninsula on the European side of the Dardanelles. The Peninsula, a thin (5 km wide at its narrowest) and 80 km long finger of land, juts into the northwest Aegean Sea to form the southeastern extremity of the European continent. It is surrounded on the northwest by the Golf of Saros, one of the least polluted corners of the Aegean Sea, and the east by the Dardanelles, a 70 km natural channel connecting the Aegean Sea and Sea of Marmara.

The Gallipoli Peninsula, with its unique geographic setting enriched by a beautiful coast line, ondulating terrain  and  diverse  scenery,  reveals  interaction  and  continuity  between  different  cultural  zones  and displays non-interrupted settlement from the Neolithic Age on. The dramatic history of the area suggests the “bridge and barrier” predicament of the Peninsula. A bridge-head and a meeting place for different cultures over the centuries, the Peninsula also barred or deterred those in pursuit of territorial expansion. Controlling  the  Dardanelles,  an  inevitable  channel  connecting  major  inner-seas,  it  witnessed  dense maritime trade flows and took its share. By the same token, it always remained a major concern of military strategy and a site of wars across the ages.

Included in the Park are the sites of famous First World War Dardanelles naval and Gallipoli Peninsula land battles. The Park holds an extensive range of sunken ships, guns, trenches, forts, bastions and a myriad of other war related artefacts together with Turkish, Australian, New Zealand, English and French war graves and memorials.

The battlefields, war graves, monuments, and war related artefacts are registered as “historical sites and objects”. They should be conserved and their integrity must be retained.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The Gallipoli Peninsula is located at the intersection of three distinct cultural zones, Southeastern Europe (the Balkans), the Aegean and Anatolia. This implies that it is distant and isolated from the heartland of each cultural formation, and therefore marginal to all. As such, the Peninsula stands as a frontier or a barrier of cultures. During periods of political and economic integration of these cultural and ecological zones however, the Peninsula stands as a meeting place or a three-way cultural bridge-head on a major maritime route.

The Peninsula can be viewed also as a cultural bridge par excellence, transmitting evidence of earlier times and earlier times and earlier occupations, from the early Neolithic way of life today. The evidence suggests that once the Peninsula was partially settled, invasions using the so-called land bridge between Europe and Asia began: Thracians from Europe, Persians from Asia, Alexander the Great, the Galatians and Byzantines from Europe and Ottomans from Asia Just as the Peninsula forms a cultural bridge, so does the Dardanelles, linking north (the Black Sea) and south (the Mediterranean). In more stable times, the Strait that borders the east coast of the Peninsula acted as a cultural barrier between Europe and Asia, allowing Asian city-states and the early empires of, for example, the Hittites and Myceneans to flourish. The passage also acted as a defense or buffer zone for ancient Anatolia against the invasion of the Sea People, Thracians and Romans in succession, and in the 20th century, against the English, Australian and New Zealanders during the battles of the Dardanelles and the Gallipoli.

1915 Çanakkale and Gallipoli battles hindered the Allied forces from taking İstanbul, paralyzing and perhaps dismantling the Ottoman (ie Turkish) Empire; their helping the Russian Empire against Germany and thus ending the First World War for another two years.

There are national commemoration services and there are those with an international character. Not only Turks but also the Australians and new Zealanders come to commemorate the Gallipoli battles and their fallen. The events of 1915 are deeply engraved respectively in the national consciousness of the members specifically of these societies, without necessarily accompanied with feeling of enmity to the other side, but of respect and understanding.

From the Troian War to the 1915 Dardanelles (Çanakkale) battles of the First World War, the motive for belligerencies always remained the same: controlling the Peninsula, a channel-gate and a bridge-heat in one. Nations, armies, commanders and heroes, however, changed. A large collection of major historical personalities ranging from Xerxes, Agamemnon, Priamos, Alexander the Great, Çaka Bey, and Mehmet the Conqueror, to Churchill, Liman Von Sanders, Ian Hamilton, Enver Paşa, Kazım Karabekir and Mustafa Kemal Atatürk have been involved in the area, either to attack, to defend, to fortify or to cross.

Criterion (vi): Çanakkale and Gallipoli battles constitute a landmark in the world military and political history. This is frequently acknowledged. The significance of these battles in the world cultural history however, is not well known. Examples of battles which turn prejudiced foes into admiring and respecting counterparts, and make war look more like a sports event or an adventure, and a the same time offer periods of calmness allowing individuals to introspect and explore the meaning of life and human experience through their immediate environment (rich in archaeology, history, flora and fauna), are extremely rare. Indeed, with large  number  of  personal  diaries  kept,  letters  and  poems  written,  observations  sketched,  sceneries painted, collections made and instances of friendly encounters with the foe. Gallipoli battles constitute the only where ‘war’ turns into a unique social and cultural happening and becomes an open invitation for mutual understanding, respect and tolerance, better said, for ‘peace’.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Following the establishment Turkish Republic in 1923, largely destroyed and abandoned settlements in the area were repopulated and resbuilt. In the meanwhile, the area was declared a National Park. The Ministry of Culture declared whole Peninsula a historical, archaeological, cultural and natural heritage site in one, in 1980. Twelve years later in 1992, this decision was reviewed and historical, natural, cultural and archaeological sites in the park were defined separately.  Historical heritage site areas are 13,650 hectares. It is important to note that the historical site covers the entire front: the battlefields and behind the lines facilities. In this connection, historical heritage sites are divided into two: dense (intensive) battlefield zones, and extensive battlefields. The actual combat zones (battle zones) marked by trenches constitute intensive zones and are different in nature than the rest.

Comparison with other similar properties

The Dardanelles naval and Gallipoli land battles are famous First World War episodes. They differ from other battles of the First World War in so many ways that they stand out as unique chapter not only in the First World War but the world history of battles. First, they are politically and strategically outstanding and involve dramatic ideological references. The underlying strategy of the Dardanelles operation as suggested by Churchill was a pure and simple as it was creative and challenging. It promised ending the World War by capturing İstanbul, dismantling the Ottoman Empire and opening the supply routes to the Russian Empire fighting against Germany, all at the same time.

The Dardanelles naval battles witnessed the mightiest fleet of its times. The battleships in the Allied naval force with impressive names ie, Bouvet, Irresistible, Ocean, Triumph, Joule, Goliath and Mejestic, shared dramatic end results. The former three were sunk on 18 March killing about 800 soldiers, and the rest later in 1915. Gallipoli land battles, examples of trench-warfare on the other hand, were truly international in character and involved mobilization of forces, around 450.000 soldiers and sailors from distant and different countries with different cultures. These battles combined landings, establishing beach-heads and trench warfare and employed for the first time unprecedented amounts of ships, submarines, aeroplanes, field guns, mines, rifles etc., in one and the same theater of battles. As the first major international joint navy and army operation, a precursor of later amphibious operations like the 2nd World War Normandy landing, these battles were unique.