Teacher Tells of War Fronts

I would take the Camera on me!

An interview with Mohammad Hussein Qadami

Sara Rashadizadeh
Translated by Abbas Hajihashemi


Mohammad Hussein Ghadami was a teacher when he took to the fronts of the Iraq-imposed war on Iran. He took his camera with him to relay the gravity of those days to later generations.

One of his stories has been adopted by Revayate Fath Group for a televised program. Revayate Fath (literally, Narrative of the Conquest) group is a renowned Iranian filmmaking team which focuses on the stories of the Iran-Iraq war and depicts real narratives of the war. The group was put together by Martyr Morteza Avini who was killed years after the war by explosion of a trapped mine left from the war.

Ghadami has also penned several memoirs about the Sacred Defense. The books have sparked lots of interest among avid readers of war books.

He published his first book in 1993. Entitled as "On the Bank of Khin River," the memoir focuses on the stories told by mother of Martyr Sistani about her son. Ghadami's latest book focuses on the memories of a veteran about liberation of the city of Khorramshahr. 

The following is the summary of his exclusive interview with Oral History Weekly.

-Very shortly, who are you?

I am Mohammad Hussein Ghadami, born in 1951 and a retired teacher. For the time being, I am mostly engaged in recording the Sacred Defense relics and memories.

-As a school teacher, what brought you to the war fronts?

Like every other Iranian citizen, I wanted to defend my country against the enemy. I began as a cultural agent but little by little turned into a comrade and a fighter.

-Would you take your students with you?

During the war, I worked as a clerk in the Education Administration and cooperated with the Islamic Revolution Guardian Forces (IRGC). This allowed us to take students to certain areas for some cultural activities. We also partook in several operations during the war.

-How were you sent to the war fronts?

In the beginning years of the war, it was not an easy job to take leave for taking to the fronts, but I would do my best.

-Tell us about one of your recollections of those days?

I remember the first time that we were sent to the fronts on a bus fleet. When we arrived in Karkheh, southwest of Iran, they told us we were near the Iraqi border and an assault from the enemy was eminent, requiring us to keep on standby over the night. A couple of hours later, we were woken up by a loud explosion and volley of shots, supposedly from the enemy. There was turmoil in the entire place. In the end, they told us it was a practice and was just organized by the Iranians.

We spent some time for training before we were given rifles and other weaponry for fighting the enemy in the fronts.

-Who is the martyred guy whose body is in the arms of his comrade in one of your pictures? Do you remember him?

Yes, I do. I myself was hit by shrapnel during the war. That guy was called Jan-Mohammadi, our commander. This is how he was killed: Before Karbala V Operation, Martyr Jan-Mohammadi and I were wounded in the western city of Mehran and had to retreat. They forcefully gave us leaves to go home for a while but before arriving to Tehran, I heard the news that my father had already been martyred. Because I was fighting at the fronts, they could not have told me the news. Only by accident I was able to attend his funeral. I believe that the shrapnel was supposed to bring me back home for my father's funeral.

Not a week had passed when Martyr Jan-Mohammadi called me from his home in the city of Varamin, south of Tehran, and said several operations were on the go at the front and we would have missed them if we had not joined them as soon as possible. "My father has already been martyred. Let me finish my stay at home and we will go together," I told him. But he had made his mind already and was about to leave for the fronts. Even though my family disagreed, I joined him in the trip and we both went to the front for the second time. When I took a picture from him upon our arrival to the front, he told me not to waste my pictures and keep them for the intriguing situations that were yet to come during the course of the operations. Guess what! He was the first one in our division to be killed during the operation. The one who is endorsing his body is Hussein Mozaffar, our comrade who was also a teacher from Tehran.


-One of your images shows a capsized tractor which has fallen on its driver. What is the story behind this image?

Our car broke down on our way to Halabja. So we decided to keep on the trek to our destination. While we were walking, we saw this tractor coming to us. We waved hands calling on the driver to take us with him which he declined saying that the vehicle had no room for the two of us. A few moments later we heard shouts ahead of us. The tractor had capsized and the driver was left under. We tried a lot but could not salvage his body. I took the picture during the efforts to save his life.

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