Istanbul in times of war: The startling 1918 memoirs of the German private Georg Steinbach / Richard Wittmann & Ruben Gallé

Orient-Institut Istanbul

Tarih : 14-03-2018 19:00

Georg Steinbach’s War Memoirs recounts the experiences of a German soldier deployed to Istanbul during the First World War. In the spring of 1918, as a 19-year old conscript, Steinbach volunteered for the German Asia Forces, —the “Pasha Army.” Rather than fighting in the trenches of the eastern front, however, Steinbach, was to spend the final months of the war exploring the Ottoman capital, where he notes his impressions of unfamiliar people and exotic landscapes, written with an endearing boyish excitement of being in the “mysterious” Orient and discovering the endless treasures of Constantinople. Alongside descriptions of the strange and outlandish (such as the howling dervishes), Muslim festivals, and visits to the city’s sites, are the more personal observances and experiences of a young German soldier. The account takes us from the Taksim barracks to swimming in the Bosphorus and a visit to the German cemetery at Tarabya, where Steinbach pays his respects to Von der Goltz Pasha and other German military personnel buried there. Steinbach’s memoirs provide a unique glimpse of life in Istanbul during the First World War, and is all the more important for the dearth of other such personal accounts.

We are fortunate for being able to present the diary jointly with Ruben Gallé who facilitated the publication of his great-grandfather’s war memoirs as part of our Memoria series.