Turkish filmmaker sorry for 'disgraceful' concentration camp re-enactment at Istanbul premiere

Premiere for Mustafa Uslu's wartime spy thriller Çiçero featured strewn clothing, barbed wire and guard dogs


A Turkish filmmaker has apologised for recreating a concentration camp scene at the Istanbul premiere of his new spy thriller Çiçero.

The gala event for the film, which depicts the story of an Albanian-born Nazi spy, featured abandoned shoes and blue-and-white striped camp uniforms strewn across barbed wire, as well as extras dressed to resemble Wehrmacht officers.

Photographs from the last month’s premiere showing the film’s cast and crew walking past the installations in formal evening wear triggered public outrage in Turkey.

Ishak Ibrahimzadeh, the president of the Turkish Jewish Community, said it was “disgraceful” to stage an entertainment event with a concentration camp theme.

“The misery [of the Holocaust] was not endured so you could decorate your gala,” wrote Ahmet Hakan, a columnist for the daily newspaper Hürriyet.

“I call it crudeness, I call it vulgarity, I call it a disgrace, I call it cruelty, I call it a lack of consciousness, but I don't think even that would account for what has been done here.”

Mustafa Yeneroğlu, an MP for the governing AK Party, tweeted: "There can be no explanation for using the massacre of millions of people in concentration camps, one of the most tragic and calamitous crimes in the history of humanity, as material for entertainment at a film gala."

But Mustafa Uslu, the film's producer, said they had intended only to convey the grave tone of the subject matter.

Our objective was to prepare our guests for the mood of the film," Mr Uslu told Show Radyo on Thursday.

“There most certainly was no other objective. If we unintentionally upset our Jewish citizens, I apologise to them.”

The film, which was released in Turkey last month, tells the story of Elyesa Bazna — also known as Ilyas Bazna — who fed intelligence to Nazi Germany while working as a valet for the British ambassador to Turkey during the Second World War.

He used the codename Cicero to supply the German embassy in Ankara with documents including telegrams on plans for Allied attacks such as the D-Day invasion.

But Berlin made little use of the information he supplied. German officials also paid him in forged British pounds, meaning he could not spend his takings after the war.

Bazna was never convicted for his espionage work. He later moved to Munich, where he eventually worked as a night watchman until he died in 1970.

His story was also depicted in a 1952 American spy film, 5 Fingers.

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