It Was Stated in Book Launch of “From The War to The Sacred Defense: Text and Margins”

History of Gathering Memories/Oral History

Adjusted by Reihaneh Mohammadi
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


Without loss of generality, we can say that this history was established almost after World War II. People didn't wait for official historians and they themselves started writing and interviewing. In doing so, I know that Ms. Khani, having one or two questions, usually have something to say; she is not a passive interviewer. Because of the vast domain of World War II, it was necessary for all soldiers to sit and speak individually. In Germany, the 47 Group was formed. That is, two years after end of World War II; World War II ended in 1945. In 1947, two years later, a group was formed and began collecting memories and conducting interview. If I am not mistaken, three of these soldiers who wrote their memories, received Nobles. The last Nobel was given to Gunter Wilhelm Grass for writing “The Tin Drum” when he was a soldier. Heinrich Theodor Böll also received Nobel prize in the mid-1970s.  They were soldiers and the war had been over; they were hungry and looking for something to eat. The group 47 did such effort. It started, and they no longer waited for formal work. So, without loss of generality, we can say that from 1945 onwards, they began collecting this oral history both themselves and their families, even when their soldiers and their prisoners of the war returned. Almost it has been continued until today. So it was conducted in Iran too. Even in the Bosnian war it was done; that is, Bosnians, despite having a civil war and lasted three years, the Bosnian Army established a community called “Bosnia and Herzegovina War Achievements Association”. They set up a war memorial conference a few years ago; people from Germany, Italy, and France attended. The conference was in Sarajevo. I went there too. Our lectures in that conference were so notable; because a long time had passed from their war and they had a big distance with it; however, our war was recent and we hadn’t such distance. An article that I presented there was that the soldiers are standing. If a soldier writes his war memories, he will stand forever. If he does not write his memories of his presence in war, he would had left his war incomplete; It is not ended. Soldiers who write memories tell their nation that we have completed our war. Where it was needed we stood against bullet we breasted; we wrote to you also where we should have been writing. This is considered a national asset because it is narrated by an eyewitness. Eyewitness, in newspapers, in the press, and in events, has first-grade validity. There may be an accident on Taleghani Street in Felestin Square; it is a very misadventure, it might even Minister of the Interior to speak about it, even Chief of Shahrbani and Traffic Police, but speaking of a shopkeeper who was opposite and close to the incident, this florist, that pharmacy, that juice store with its own words, says, "It was around 3 p.m., a lady had come and ordered a juice. I was giving to her when suddenly we heard a sound and I saw it happened." For us as journalist, his word is preferable to, for example, the chief of traffic police. He is an eyewitness. Witnesses return from the war and start writing; they start telling. Sometimes it is said that this is an ordered literature while it is not the case anywhere in the world. A soldier who has been held captive for 8 or 10 years, when returns home, every night has nightmares. But they say these issues.

For a long time, one of the captive kids got up at 2 p.m. and stood up. His daddy says repeatedly dear Daddy sleep. He said we acclimatized and our prison was tight. One had to stand upright so that others slept comfortably; there was about one span and four fingers. This means the kids had no room to roll. These are what happened in the war; no one knows them. no one can prevent this captive and says write or don’t write. It is a human suffering that rises like lava of hot volcano, then it is poured on paper. No one can control this; we can't really, either. We have a lot events now. Some Iraqi captives who were here are still frown. We gave three meals to almost 60,000 Iraqi prisoners here. While they say they weren’t in a good situation but their condition was very good. They insulted the most beautiful things we had. But we had to give them three meals because we didn't have two kitchens; we had one. The same food that an Iraqi captive ate, was eaten by a garrison commander, a camp commander, our guard officer and soldier; even I as a reporter who came out of there, I had the save food in camp. Their food was far better than our newspaper office meal.



I should also say One more point about visualization and painting; Mr. Sadeghi knows its story. With help of Mr. Behboodi, we once held a contest in three fields of memory-writing, painting and poetry among Iraqi prisoners. We mostly worked with their memories, but two or three of them had painted behind these office folders, which its front side is striation and its back side is clear; we felt it was not work of an ordinary person because I can’t draw a painting at all. Neither Mr. Behboodi nor me know something about painting. We piped this painting and went to Mr. Khosrojerdi, Habib Sadeghi and Kazem Chalipa. We told them we do not understand such painting. We showed it. We said it was work of an Iraqi prisoner; they said no, it is for a master. With two lines, it determines Halabja. It was very strange; we still have them. We were ordered to find the painter. We found the painter among so many people. He was a man over 40 named; he had been summoned as reserve soldier. He had to come to Halabja. He was for seven to eight days in Halabja, then the guys attacked and he was also captured. He was here for nearly two years. He painted about two hundred paintings for us which are in repository of Hozeh Honari. 50 of them belong to Halabja. He was captured there and drew what he saw. At the same time, we held painting exhibition for them. Later Mr. Zam wrote a letter to the leader saying that such a painting is captured here. He also said - you know that in this case, only commander-in-chief can release a captive- he wrote a letter to release this person in respect of art; then he was released and joined Hozeh Honari. He designed cover page for us for a while. Later he went to Majid Niazi. His expertise was sculpting marble from Italy. His wife was also in Italy; As if he had divorced. He said if you give me three meters of marble, I will sculpt Imam funeral for you on stone. Because it was one of my happiness to see greatness of the funeral. Anyway we provided three meters of marble. We went Shoosh Square with one of the guys and found three one-meter marbles. We also found graver, hammer and metal. We took these to the camp where you cannot even take a peg. Now at the ground floor of Hozeh Honari the relief is on the wall. Once you come Hozeh Honari visit it. It is signed on the relief: Guest of the Islamic Republic so called. Asir al Araqi (Iraqi captive), Abu Hairat. He was from Basra. I said these because they were close to our discussion. This is also one of the wartime artworks. They said a statue near University of Baghdad is his work. He had fled one year in order not to participate in the war. He had hidden in her grandmother's house. He knew us very well. We went to Mashhad with him for a trip. I said I want to buy a ring for you what you like. He said only Nishapur turquoise. It was heavy too, I bought it for him.

Ms. Khani worked very hard for this book; interviewing, sitting in front of them, adjusting, compilation, implementing- all of which is a hard work. That's basically our job, and is efficiency of late. This work has also been efficiency of late, and has been done with hardworking. I congratulate Ms. Khani that she sees result of his hard work abundantly.[1]

Related: Interview with Minoo Khani on “War to Holy Defense”

Photo Report/Book Launch and Review of the Book "From The War to The Sacred Defense; Text and Margins"


[1] Remarks by Morteza Sarhangi at the book launch of "From The War to The Sacred Defense; Text and Margins" by Minoo Khani, which was held in No. 514, West Taleghani Street, Vartan House on December 02, 2019.

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