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During the traumatic experience of the Asia Minor War (1918-1922) opposing Greek and Turkish forces, the Turkish National Assembly reinstituted the conscription to labor battalions for non-muslims. Many Christian men from Anatolia were sent to these camps in the Anatolian hinterland to build roads for the war effort. Within approximately two months, backbreaking work in the mountains and ravines, along with hunger, and exposure to severe weather conditions killed most who served in these “battalions of death.”
This historical documentary looks at the case of 3000 men from Aivali near Smyrna who were sent to these battalions. Only 24 of them survived. Among them was Ilias Venezis. How, when and why did it happen? This most remarkable story is told with the help of the Ten-Day-Diary of his beloved brother Agapi Moliviatis Venezis.
This diary is the sad epic chronicle of a hero, Kemalettin, a Turkish citizen who did not hesitate to risk his life and career while trying to save Ilias Venezis from the war battalions. Agapi and Kemalettin proved beyond any shadow of doubt that when people want to, even in the midst of war, they can create a piece of heaven here on earth, a place where solidarity beyond nations prevails and where humanity has the upper hand.