Gülsema Dalgıç / An Oral History Study on Turkish Veterans of the Korean War

An Oral History Study on Turkish Veterans of the Korean War

This thesis is a study of oral history comparing written documents to the memories of twenty-five veterans who went to the Korean War between 1950-1953. It includes how personal memory recounts the Korean event and the relationship between personal and collective memory. By looking at way the individuals who experienced the war as a basis, the expressions made at that time, and veteran's present statements, we can see how the past has been reconstructed.

The interpretations of the veterans related to the events of the past have been affected by the experience of being a veteran, the Association of Veterans and official ideology. Discussion is made on points they make by creating the image of The Turk as modern veteran. We get clues about the reconstruction of the past by looking at the impact of knowing the consequences of an event on the building of reason-result relationships. Oral history techniques cannot show us the historical events as they actually happened, regardless of how many testimonies have contributed to it, but the oral sources can enrich history writing and provide added details although they cannot be said to be more realistic or objective.

Interviews with twenty-five veterans were conducted. The narratives of Korean War veterans, the newspaper of 1950-1953, military books, personal photos and notes are the sources accessed for this study. The recordings of the interviews were turned into transcripts after each interview. Comparison was then made between these transcripts and with the written sources. With these comparisons, it has become possible to see the similarities and differences in the accounts. The collective memory and mission of being a veteran state what can be told and what cannot be. In this sense, the impossibility of seeing their own past as it is by veterans is shared by historian.

(Approved by Prof. Dr. Zafer Toprak, Assist. Prof. Duygu Köksal, Assist. Pro. Leyla Neyzi)