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G17: “A time for noble enthusiasms”: Schools and Anzac Commemoration during World War 1.

Wed 8th April Meeting of 17 Group
The next meeting of the 17 Group will be held on Wednesday the 8th of April, the month of the centenary of Gallipoli, in unit 6 at 20 Drury St, West End at 7 pm. The topic:

A time for noble enthusiasms”: Schools and Anzac Commemoration during World War 1.

The speaker: Mark Cryle.

“A time for noble enthusiasms”: Schools and Anzac Commemoration during World War 1

Schools played a critical role in the establishment of Anzac Day. In April 1916, when the first anniversary commemorations took place, schools were in the vanguard of that movement – especially in Queensland and Victoria. They helped embed and shape the commemoration in quite specific ways. Despite claims from a Victorian Education Department publication at the time that “there was no endeavour on the part of teachers to glorify war or promote the war spirit”, much of the available evidence suggests otherwise. School observances were a significant vector in the promotion of the imperatives of those who organised Anzac commemoration. Anzac Day was used as a didactic opportunity to inculcate children with a pro-war world view at a time when the wider Australian community was increasingly divided around the issue of war and the nation’s role in it. Some teachers did, however, swim against the militarist tide. During the war years, schools were one of the few sites in which the hegemony of the Anzac mythology was contested.

Mark Cryle – After a thirty year career as a librarian, Mark enrolled as a PhD candidate in the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry at the University of Queensland. He is in the process of completing a thesis on the origins of Anzac Day entitled “Making the One Day of the Year: a Genealogy of Anzac Day to 1918.” In another life he is a songwriter and musician.

Leon, apprised of the subject of the meeting, suddenly went into a fit of abstraction, at first transported to the days when he had been the war correspondent of the Kiev paper Kievskaya Misl covering the Balkan wars. “It was September 1912” he said. “Serbia, Bulgaria, Rumania…”. But then, remembering Mustafa Kemal, the hero of the Gallipoli campaign, he recalled his reluctant letter to him from on board the Ilyich as it steamed through the Sea of Marmara carrying him into exile in Turkey. He was taken back to February 12, 1929. “I seem to have the page before me still” he mused, quoting from memory: “But those who exile seldom consider the wishes of the exiled.” “Couldn’t even speak Turkish”, he muttered. That seemed to be the only thing linking him to the Anzacs, we couldn’t help thinking, as we left disappointed yet again.

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