CLIO mr brice - page 28

This man’s haunted recollections of the 1941 Anglo-
Soviet invasion reveal a dark segment of history that
is often hidden away from the textbooks, and paints a
rather disturbing picture of the reality of Allied atrocities
during World War II. The scene he depicts starkly
contrasts with Iran at the turn of the 20th century, and
of the Allied forces that we remember as being wartime
heroes.
At the turn of the 20th Century, it could be argued that
Iran was the most advanced nation in the Middle East,
despite being a mere shadow of the formerly resplendent
Persian Empire. These were the days when the nomads
of Saudi Arabia roamed in relative poverty, as they had
yet to discover the vast reserves of oil hidden beneath
their feet. The Ottoman Empire, once a defining force in
international relations, was collapsing under a military
coup d’état. Turkey seceded rule over the Arab World,
with Kemal Atatürk hoping this would help the country
to culturally integrate with Europe. Iran, despite living
independently from neighbouring troubles, found itself
embroiled in a crisis. The ‘Vox Populi’ was beginning
to cry for Constitutional Revolution, against an archaic
monarchy that was backwards, and Iran's geopolitical
significance made it a central focus for the colonial
ambitions of Russia and Great Britain. Over the course
of the century, Iran’s inevitable fate of internal revolution
coupled with foreign interventions was to silently unfold
with untold amounts of bloodshed.
Iran, which had been a completely backward, divided,
and isolated country under the rule of the Qajar Dynasty,
was now rapidly evolving into a modern industrial state
under the Pahlavi monarchy. The Pahlavi monarchy had
no real roots in tradition, seeing how it was established
in 1921 only after Reza Khan failed to set up a republic
in a constitutional revolution. To him, a monarchy was
the means to which he could control the country, and
make it strong, his aim being to develop Iran so that it
could be truly independent, to modernize it so that it
could deal with other global powers on an equal footing.
“I was twenty-two during World
War II. First the English invaded us
from the south, then the Russians
invaded us from the north. They had
a lot more men than us and the city
completely ran out of food. I saw
many horrible scenes. My job was
to distribute bread from the bakery.
Crowds would gather and wait for the
handouts. One winter night I found
a mother sitting against the bakery
wall, nursing her child. I went to give
her a loaf of bread, but only the child
was alive.”
The Anglo-Soviet
Invasion of Iran
By Shan Jun
Lu
28
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