The story of the transportation of Sacred Relics, consisting of religious artifacts like Prophet Muhammad's belongings sent to the Ottoman Sultans between the 16th century to the late 19th century, from Istanbul to Anatolia in a secret operation during World War II has become the subject of a documentary feature film. Supported by the General Directorate of Cinema of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the film will be directed by Zehra Yılmaz and produced by Ümran Safter.
Research for the film “48 Vagon” (“48 Railroad Cars”) has been completed, and shooting will start soon in Turkey’s Istanbul, Niğde, Adana and Ankara provinces along with London and Paris.
Co-produced by Zeki Ilker Görenel, “48 Vagon” will feature the views of local, foreign and art historians and tell the story of how Turkey protected its important treasures.
When Hitler's armies reach the Turkish border in the thick of World War II in 1942, government officials predicted that Istanbul would be bombed. For this reason, defensive preparations were made and measures were taken to prevent damage to historical items in palaces and museums in the city. It was decided that the treasures would be placed in secret locations in areas outside the range of Germany's aircraft.
Major artifacts – including the sultans' thrones, jewels, holy relics, the Holy Mantle of Prophet Muhammad (Hırka-i Saadet) along with his banner and swords, the blood-stained Quran of Caliph Uthman which he was reciting when he was assassinated and the wooden pier on which Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk stepped during his arrival in Samsun in 1919 to launch the War of Independence – were put onto 48 railroad cars and sent from Istanbul to Niğde.
Meanwhile, guards were deployed around the buildings where the artifacts were placed. No one was allowed in and no one was allowed to discuss the subject.
In addition, a team of 30 employees headed by Lütfü Turanbek, the submanager of Topkapı Palace, stayed in Niğde with their families for four years to protect Turkey's treasures.
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