BECK index

Ottoman Fall and Turkey 1908-1950

by Sanderson Beck

Revolution by Young Turks 1908-11
Ottoman War Losses 1911-15
Armenian Genocide and the War 1915-18
Ottoman and Turkish Split 1919-20
Turkish War of Independence 1920-23
Turkey Republic under Ataturk 1923-38
Turkey Republic under Inonü 1938-50
Halide Edib, Karaosmanoglu, and Güntekin

This chapter has been published in the book Mideast & Africa 1700-1950.
For ordering information, please click here.

Revolution by Young Turks 1908-11

Ottoman Empire 1700-1907

Troops in Macedonia were frustrated because of arrears in pay, miserable conditions, and an upsurge by Christian terrorists. In April 1908 about 1,500 reservists in Ankara demanded to be sent home, and three hundred soldiers in Scutari occupied the telegraph office in May. Sultan Abdulhamid sent agents to investigate the unrest in Macedonia; but on June 11, 1908 Lt. Mustafa Necib shot the former police chief Omer Nazim in Salonica before he could return with his report. On June 21 the CUP’s gendarme force in Monastir assassinated the police commissioner Sami Bey. On July 3 the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) cell from Resen led by Adjutant Major Ahmed Niyazi broke into a military warehouse, stole money, and distributed rifles to volunteers. When their ruse was discovered, they fled to the hills to begin guerrilla resistance. The Sultan sent Semsi, who arrived at Monastir four days later but was assassinated. On July 10 an officer shot a regiment mufti in Salonica who had provided information to the palace in Istanbul. One week later the Monastir commanding General Osman Hidayet was warning troops to obey the orders of the Sultan when an officer shot him.

Imperial troops brought from Anatolia joined the revolution in Macedonia, and mass meetings were held to demand a constitution. A crowd of 20,000 Albanians gathered in Firzovik, and on July 20 their notables sent two telegrams demanding that the Sultan restore the constitution. On the same day the Monastir CUP branch banned the use of firearms and took over the town. The next day the Committee sent telegrams to all branches directing them to complete their revolutionary activities by July 23. If the Government continued to resist, military units and volunteers would begin marching on the capital on July 26. On the night of July 22 a force of 2,300 entered Monastir and abducted Marshal Osman, who had been put in charge by Istanbul. The Sultan replaced the Grand Vizier Ferid with Mehmed Said and made Kamil a minister without portfolio. The next day the Inspector General’s office was deluged with telegrams demanding the return of constitutional government and threatening to replace the Sultan. A constitution was proclaimed at Monastir, followed by other towns. On October 23 Major Enver sent a telegram to the European press announcing a constitutional regime.

After determining that the demand for reforms did not violate Islamic law, on July 24 Sultan Abdulhamid called for elections so that the Parliament could meet again. All were to be brothers, and crowds in Istanbul that included Turks, Greeks, Armenians, Bulgarians, and Jews chanted in favor of the Constitution and against the spies. On July 26 all the political prisoners in Istanbul were released, and the amnesty extended to about 80,000 Armenians and 60,000 Muslims in exile.

The CUP forced Mehmed Said and his cabinet to resign on August 4, 1908, and the more compliant Kamil became grand vizier. Abdulhamid had violated the 1876 constitution by appointing the ministers of War and the Navy. Money and valuables were found in the homes of arrested ministers. On August 7 Governor Ahmed Ratib of the Hedjaz was dismissed; he had been governor since 1893 and had acquired a fortune. Three days later the Erzurum governor Abdülvehab was removed, and the foreign minister ordered a stop to subsidies for foreign newspapers and embassies. Imperial decrees in early August abolished the secret police and ordered the police to act in accordance with the Constitution. The courts were to be independent, and no one could be imprisoned without cause. The Armenian Revolutionary Federation published its declaration on August 6, demanding free movement in the Armenian provinces, the return of unlawfully occupied land, and the release of Armenian political prisoners. In October the Armenians revised their goals to include many socialist ideas that included local autonomy, universal suffrage, primary education for all children, distribution of state land to peasants, collective ownership of mines and other natural resources, and progressive income and inheritance taxes.

By late August the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) had replaced most of the monarchists. They took control over the three European provinces, and they held their first secret congress on September 18. Muslims in the Arab provinces tended to oppose the CUP, and they supported the Liberal Union Party that was formed on September 14. The hodja Kor Ali gave a sermon rejecting the constitutional government on October 6, and he and fifteen others were arrested the next day. The Young Turks had little experience, and the Sultan appointed his own administrators. The CUP announced its program on October 6, making ministers accountable to the Chamber of Deputies. Turkish was made the official language. Every citizen was given equal rights and obligations regardless of ethnic origin or religion. Land reform was to be implemented, and modern agricultural methods were encouraged. The state would provide for schools, and all were to be taught in Turkish except for religious schools. Inflation increased 20% in the first two months, and strikes spread across the empire, starting with longshoremen at Salonica in August and spreading to a general strike in transport, printing, tobacco, baking, and tailoring. The CUP was the most organized party. The new party of Ottoman Liberals led by Prince Sabahaddin won only one seat. Of the 288 seats the Turks won a small majority with 147 to 60 Arabs, 27 Albanians, 26 Greeks, 14 Armenians, 10 Slavs, and 4 Jews. On December 17 Sultan Abdulhamid opened the new Parliament. The House of Deputies elected Ahmed Riza as its president.

On October 5, 1908 Bulgaria proclaimed its independence under Prince Ferdinand, and the next day Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina. Also on that day Crete, which the powers had evacuated in late July, revolted and announced it was joining the Greek union, which the Chamber ratified on October 12. The Porte began a boycott against Austrian, Bulgarian, and Greek goods that was successful, and they took measures to prevent uprisings against minorities. The Ottoman empire made an agreement with Austria in February 1909, and Russians mediated an agreement with Bulgaria in April that cancelled 40 of the last 74 payments of the Ottoman war indemnity. The 6.5 million Greeks demanded one quarter of the seats in the legislature, and the Armenian Dashnaks made similar demands.

Hafiz Dervish Vahdeti had begun publishing Volkan (Volcano) on November 10, 1908, and they organized the Society of Islamic Unity that resisted liberal reforms. They appealed to soldiers in the First Army and were supported by the Liberal party in opposition to the CUP. The Committee of young officers refused to give up control over the armed forces and voted to replace the new Grand Vizier Kamil with Hüseyin Hilmi in February 1909. The opposition was vocal, and Hasan Fehmi, the editor of an anti-unionist paper, was murdered on April 6. One week later the First Army Corps mutinied in Istanbul, marched to the Chamber of Deputies, and demanded the replacement of Unionist officers so that Islamic law could be restored. Hüseyin Hilmi and his entire cabinet agreed to resign. Yet the high-ranking ulema in the Society of Islamic Scholars declined to support the revolt, and they denounced it on April 16. About twenty Unionists were killed, and their headquarters and newspaper offices were sacked. CUP leaders fled from the capital. The rebels shouted, “Down with the Constitution!” On April 14 the Armenians in Adana rose up, but they were crushed by a pogrom that killed about 20,000. Abdulhamid pardoned the attacks on Armenians again. The Islamic deputies met and elected Ismail Kemal president with support from the Liberal Union.

The CUP was still strong in the provinces, especially in Macedonia. The Committee in Salonika sent the Action Army led by General Mahmud Shevket and his chief of staff Mustafa Kemal. They traveled by train and surrounded the capital. Both chambers sat together as a National Assembly and approved the army’s entrance into the city. The Action Army occupied Istanbul on the morning of April 24, 1909 without resistance. Mahmud Shevket declared martial law to discipline the mutineers and the Istanbul garrison, and counter-revolutionaries were quickly tried and executed. On April 25 the army of liberation used cannons to regain the Yildiz Palace. The National Assembly met with Said as chairman and, after obtaining an approving fatwa from the Shaykh al-Islam, unanimously voted to depose Sultan Abdulhamid on April 27. He was interned in the house of a Jew, and his younger brother Mehmet Resit became Sultan Mehmet V. Both the Liberal Union party and the Islamic Union were closed down, and on May 5 Hüseyin Hilmi was reappointed grand vizier.

The Parliament banned trade unions in the public sector and required arbitration that made strikes difficult. In May 1909 the Workers’ Federation of Salonica organized 6,000 people to march in protest against the legislation. Newly trained officers took over and reorganized the army. Students who did not pass their exams were conscripted into the army that now required non-Muslims to serve. Mahmud Shevket appointed himself inspector general of the three armies in Istanbul, Salonica, and Edirne and then minister of War. His military had control and came into conflict with the CUP, some of whom formed the People’s Party in February 1910. The Law of Associations passed on August 23 prohibited political associations based on ethnic or national groups, closing down Greek, Bulgarian, and other clubs in Rumelia. On September 27 the Law for the Prevention of Brigandage and Sedition formed army battalions to disarm and repress armed bands. Hüseyin Hilmi, the editor of Participation, founded the Ottoman Socialist party in September 1910, but it was banned the same year. The CUP split again in January 1911 as Col. Sadik and Abdulaziz Mecdi formed the New Party. They published their demands in April that aimed to protect historic Ottoman traditions.

The opposition groups combined to organize the Liberal Union Party in November 1911, and they elected a candidate in a by-election on December 11 by one vote; but in January 1912 the CUP parties used intimidation and bribery to win all but six of the 275 seats in the “big-stick elections.” The ministers and grand vizier were no longer responsible to the Sultan but to the Parliament, and the deputies could over-rule the Sultan’s veto with a two-thirds vote. Societies could be formed, but secret societies that threatened public order were banned. The collection of taxes was made more efficient, and the budgets of the army, navy, and police had increased substantially from 1901 to 1910. Terrorism in Macedonia and Anatolia was controlled by prohibiting the carrying of weapons.

Mahmud Shevket severely suppressed an Albanian revolt in 1910, but this provoked support from Montenegro. In August 1911 the Government granted the Albanians their own parliament, and the Albanians revolted again in June 1912, demanding complete independence. Albanian rebel leaders in the north demanded autonomy and reforms on August 9, and the Ottoman government granted them on September 4. During the Balkan War the European powers accepted the independence of Albania on December 12, and Serbia and Montenegro in the Treaty of London agreed to withdraw from the territory they had invaded.

Ottoman War Losses 1911-15

Italy demanded Tripolitania (Libya) and declared war on September 29, 1911. The Ottoman navy could not stop the 50,000 Italians who invaded Tripoli on October 4 nor ship reinforcements. The Ottoman garrison had only 15,000 men, and the Italians gained control of the coast while meeting resistance inland. The CUP accepted a coalition government on September 30 with Said as grand vizier. The Freedom and Accord Party demanded an investigation of the Italian war, but the CUP was still more organized and won the elections again. Major Enver brought about fifty officers by way of Egypt to lead the Arab resistance in Tripolitania. The Italians bombarded the entrance to the Dardanelles in April 1912 and took over Rhodes and the Dodecanese Islands in May. Turks rallied behind the CUP, which gained seats in Said’s cabinet. On November 5 Italy proclaimed their annexation of the Tripolitanian provinces even though they only controlled the coast. The Ottoman empire organized a boycott of Italian goods, and they fought a guerrilla campaign at Derna, Tripoli, Benghazi, and Tobruk. A treaty was finally signed on October 18, 1912; but the resistance continued for twenty years, and the Italians refused to evacuate the Dodecanese.

When the CUP became autocratic, Col. Sadik formed a group called the Savior Officers with rebel officers in Rumelia and brought the government down. Mahmud Shevket lost his authority and resigned on July 9, 1912, followed by the grand vizier eight days later. On July 21 Sultan Mehmet replaced Said with the war hero Gazi Ahmed Muhtar and a coalition cabinet that included several former grand viziers. The Sultan dissolved the Chamber of Deputies on August 5 and called for new elections. The cabinet proclaimed martial law three days later and suspended the CUP’s organ Tanin on September 3.

In March 1912 Serbia and Bulgaria had begun negotiating how they could divide Macedonia, and in May they formed a military convention. On October 2 Greece and Montenegro joined with Serbia and Bulgaria in demanding control of Macedonia and mobilized for war. The Ottoman government had only 250,000 men in arms but refused to give up its sovereignty. On October 8 Montenegro invaded northern Albania, and in the next few days the Balkan states declared war. The Ottoman army did not withdraw and was defeated at Kirklareli and Lüleburgaz by the Bulgarians and at Kumanovo by the Serbians, who also took Kosovo and then Pristina and Novipazar with the Montenegrans. Having taken Thrace, the Bulgarians also surrounded Edirne and Istanbul. The Muhtar cabinet resigned, and Kamil became grand vizier again at the end of October. In November the Balkan allies advanced within forty miles of Istanbul, and violent demonstrations broke out in the capital. The Ottomans agreed to an armistice on December 3. At the London conference they asked the European powers to give up their capitulary provisions that had allowed them to control customs duties and avoid taxes.

On January 23, 1913 Enver led a coup d’état by CUP officers in Istanbul who shot dead the minister of War Nazim and forced the Grand Vizier Kamil to resign. General Mahmud Shevket became grand vizier and War minister, and Cemal Bey was made commander of the First Army in Istanbul. They refused to give up besieged Edirne and suspended the talks. A Committee of National Defense was led by the Sultan, and on February 14 general amnesty was proclaimed. Janina fell to the Greeks on March 6, and starving Edirne submitted on March 28. After a second armistice in April the Ottoman empire signed the Treaty of London on June 9, ceding its European territory west of a line from Enos on the Aegean Sea to Midia on the Black Sea. After Mahmud Shevket was assassinated on June 15, the CUP launched a campaign to crush opposition. A new cabinet was appointed that was dominated by the CUP with Said Halim as grand vizier. Cemal put the capital under martial law again. The military government was dominated by the pashas Enver, Talat, and Cemal for the next five years. Talat had served in the CUP government, mostly as minister of the Interior.

Bulgarians, dissatisfied with the territorial results, launched a pre-emptive strike against Serbia and Greece on June 29, but they were defeated by Serbia, Greece, Montenegro, and Rumania. During this second Balkan War the Ottoman army led by Enver managed to recapture Edirne from Bulgaria on July 23. Bulgaria lost its recent gains in Macedonia in the Treaty of Bucharest on August 10 and Edirne in a treaty signed on September 29. Bulgaria did retain some of eastern Macedonia, giving them eighty miles of coast on the Aegean Sea. In these wars the Ottoman empire lost five-sixths of its European territory, more than two-thirds of its population who were mostly Christians, and revenues and food that supplied Istanbul. The Asian portion of the empire remained, but the capital was stressed and turned to strong leadership. The capitulations to the Europeans were abolished, and the same laws applied to everyone. They gave local administrators more authority and attempted to end corruption. Elementary education was made free and compulsory, and Turkish was used in all schools. Enver became minister of War in January 1914, and he organized an elite force led by Suleyman Askeri, who promoted pan-Islamism and pan-Turkism.

Ziya Gokalp (1876-1924) was the first sociologist at the University of Istanbul, and in 1911 he began helping Yusuf Akçura publish Turkish Homeland. He advocated reforming education with equal opportunities for women. He also wrote poetry and children’s stories based on Turkish legends to instill Turkish traditions. He taught that tribes developed into religious communities and then into nations. Culture is national, but the advances of civilization are international. Thus the scientific and technological advances of the West could be adopted while retaining Turkish culture. Gokalp emphasized the ethical aspects of Islam that would not interfere with modern Turkish culture. Gokalp has been called the “father of Turkish nationalism,” and in 1911 he suggested that Turks are the “supermen” described by Nietzsche. He believed that nationalism was the new religion of the twentieth century. He also emphasized modernity and took Japan as a model.  He has been accused of advocating that Muslims should dominate others. In 1915 he proposed that the religious courts, schools, and foundations be secularized, and this was implemented in the next two years. Gokalp also urged the CUP to give women equal rights in marriage, inheritance, education, and in economic and social reforms. Women could attend schools, but in the higher schools and colleges they had to attend separate classes from men. In 1916 a law was passed that enabled women to divorce a husband for adultery, polygamy, or violation of the marriage contract.

Germany caught up with Britain and France in its economic involvement in the Ottoman empire. After the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist on June 28, 1914, Cemal asked the government in Paris for an alliance; but France and Britain declined the Ottoman offer. Enver proposed a defensive alliance with Germany to the German ambassador Wangenheim on July 28. Enver, Talat, and Grand Vizier Said Halim secretly negotiated with the Germans and signed an agreement on August 2, one day after Russia mobilized against Austria and Germany. Both sides would be neutral in an Austro-Serbian conflict; but if Russia forced Germany into the war, the Ottoman empire would join the Central Alliance; Germany would protect the Ottoman empire. The agreement was to be ratified within a month by the Kaiser and Sultan and would remain secret. The Sultan ratified the agreement without the Chamber of Deputies by sending them home until the end of November. Enver founded the Special Organization (Teshkilati Mahsusa) to eliminate Armenians from the Ottoman empire.

On August 1 Winston Churchill of the British Admiralty had commandeered two new battleships that the British had built and sold to the Ottomans, making Turks who had contributed to this purchase angry. Two German ships had bombarded French bases in North Africa on August 3 and were pursued by the British navy. Enver let them pass into Ottoman waters, and he responded to British complaints by taking them into the Ottoman fleet to help defend the Dardanelles. The Ottomans cancelled the capitulations to the Europeans on September 7, and one week later Navy minister Cemal authorized Admiral Souchon to attack Russian ships. Enver wanted more time to prepare for war, but he gave in to German pressure and financial guarantees on October 25. Two days later Admiral Souchon led a naval squadron to attack the Russian fleet in the Black Sea and destroyed several ships. Russia declared war on the Ottoman empire on November 2 and was followed by Britain and France three days later. The British annexed Cyprus, and on December 18 they promised to protect independent Egypt. On November 11 the Sultan declared war and called upon all Muslims to help fight a holy war against the British, French, and Russians. Three days later the sheikh-ul-Islam Mustafa Hayri formally declared a jihad in Istanbul. Armenian men between the ages of 20 and 45 were conscripted into the army, and a few months later men 45-60 were put to work in army labor battalions.

The British captured Basra on November 21, but their advance up the river toward Baghdad was very slow. Russians attacked on the Caucasus front in November; but the Ottoman army stopped them, and Enver led a counter-attack in December. However, the Turks were defeated at Sarikamish in January 1915, and only 12,000 of 90,000 troops survived the winter cold. Also in January 80,000 Ottoman troops led by Cemal tried to take over the Suez Canal, but they were defeated. A second attempt in 1916 also failed. The early defeats led to making Armenians the scapegoats, and on February 25 the Armenians in the army were disarmed and  put in the labor battalions. Dr. Behaeddin Shakir was put in charge of the Special Organization in the east, and he formed killing squads to exterminate Armenians. British and French warships attacked the Dardanelles Straits in February and March 1915. An amphibious attack on Gallipoli by British and Australians began on April 25, but they could not overcome the Ottoman defenses. More landings occurred in August, and in January 1916 the Entente troops withdrew. The British suffered 213,980 casualties and the Ottomans 120,000.

Entente forces invaded Greece on September 12, 1915 but had to pull back as the Austro-German-Bulgarian alliance conquered Serbia in October. The Austrians occupied Albania, and the Bulgars invaded most of Macedonia.

Armenian Genocide and the War 1915-18

Thousands of Armenians joined the Russian army, and many Armenians deserted the Ottoman army. The Russians offered the Armenians an autonomous state in the Caucasus and in Anatolia. On February 25 an Ottoman order was given to disarm the Armenian soldiers. At the end of March 1915 the CUP central committee decided to relocate all Armenians from the war zone to Syria and Mesopotamia. On April 8 the first deportation of Armenians was ordered from the town of Zeitun, which had resisted the massacre in 1895. On April 17 Armenians in Van refused to obey Jevdet, who had been ordering executions during the winter. The Turks attacked Van, and the Armenians resisted. Armenians were nearly half the population of Van, and in April they revolted while the Russian army began advancing toward Van. They slaughtered Muslims in mid-May as the Ottoman garrison retreated. They set up an Armenian state that attracted 250,000 Armenians by July. A reinforced Ottoman army pushed the Russians back, and about 40,000 fleeing Armenians died. Learning of Armenian massacres, on May 24 England, France, and Russia issued a joint declaration warning the Ottoman government that the Allies would hold them personally responsible for such massacres by their agents.

On the night of April 24 the Government arrested 250 Armenian intellectuals in Istanbul. The cabinet approved the relocation policy in late May, and during the summer the Armenians were removed from central Anatolia. In the next year the Armenians in the west were also deported. Talat and some of the CUP leaders along with provincial leaders wanted to exterminate the troublesome Armenians, and those who refused to cooperate were often overruled or replaced. After being arrested, the men were marched out of town to a desolate place, where they were shot or bayoneted to death. After a few more days the women and children were forced to walk until they died of thirst, hunger, or exhaustion. Most of these massacres occurred between June 14 in Erzurum and August 19 in Urfa. Many were sent south into the Syrian desert. Many of those interned by the Euphrates River died of exposure, starvation, and disease. Many Armenian girls were taken into Muslim homes and were converted. Of about 1,900,000 Armenians in the Ottoman empire somewhere between 600,000 and 1,500,000 died in what has been called genocide. About a third of those who survived were forced to become Muslims, and most of the rest were destitute by the end of the war. In January 1916 Talat sent a cable to Aleppo saying that thousands of refugee Muslims needed food and protection, and therefore “it is not expedient to incur extra expense by feeding the children left by Armenians.”2

In March 1915 Russian diplomats persuaded the French ambassador and the English cabinet that Russia should possess the straits and Istanbul after the war. The English and French discussed what they wanted, and in April the Italians negotiated the region next to Antalya as their portion of the Ottoman empire. After the Russian capture of Erzurum on February 16, 1916 more than a million Muslims were killed as they fled with the Ottoman forces toward Erzincan. The Russians took Trabzon in April and Erzincan in July.

Negotiations between Mark Sykes and Georges Picot led to a secret agreement on May 16, 1916 to divide up the Asian portion of the Ottoman empire, but this contradicted previous agreements the British had made with Arab leaders such as the one with Abdulaziz ibn Saud on December 26, 1915. The Sykes-Picot agreement remained secret until the Bolsheviks exposed it while renouncing Russia’s claim to the straits and Istanbul after their revolution in November 1917.

In 1916 British forces were still moving up the Tigris toward Baghdad, but 13,000 were forced to surrender at Kut al-Amara in July. However, in the second half of 1916 the Russians advanced into Anatolia and took Trabzon, Erzurum, and Van. The British persuaded Sharif Huseyn, the hereditary governor of Mecca, to initiate an Arab revolt against the Ottoman empire. The British expeditionary force took Baghdad in March 1917, but they were not able to break through in Gaza until December. Meanwhile the Ottoman army was suffering from hunger and disease, and many died of cholera from bad drinking water.

The Ottoman army reached its maximum strength of 800,000 in 1916; but more than a half million deserted, and only 100,000 remained in October 1918. The ineffective Grand Vizier Said Halim resigned on February 3, 1917 and was replaced by Talat. After the November 1917 revolution the Bolsheviks renounced the secret treaties and took Russia out of the war. In the treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany on March 3, 1918 the Soviet Union agreed to evacuate eastern Anatolia. In December 1917 anti-Bolsheviks in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan had formed the Republic of Transcaucasia with the capital in Tblisi. On December 18 an Ottoman delegation accepted a ceasefire at Erzincan, and the same day Ottoman troops signed a truce with the Republic but occupied the area to try to restore the border.

When Armenian national units began massacring Turkish farmers, Enver launched an offensive led by Vehib that took over Erzincan in February 1918, Erzurum in March, and Batum and Kars in April. The Transcaucasia Republic collapsed in May when Georgia formed its own state under German protection. The Armenians and the Turkish Azerbaijanis also became independent, and the Germans promised the Russians they would keep the Ottomans away from Georgia and Baku. On June 4 the Ottomans made peace treaties with Georgians, Armenians, and Azerbaijanis at Batum. Enver led Ottoman troops into Azerbaijan in September to take over the Baku oilfields. Enver ordered the Ottoman divisions returning from Europe in 1918 to go to the Caucasus. The Unionist leadership also created the Guard (Karakol).

The British occupied Iraq, taking Kerkuk on May 6, 1918. The German commander Liman von Sanders and Mustafa Kemal gathered their strength in Syria; but the British and the Arab revolt took over Nablus on September 20 and Haifa and Acre three days later. Damascus fell on October 1, followed by Aleppo and Homs. The French occupied Beirut on October 6, and the Ottomans fled from Tripoli and Alexandretta toward Adana in Anatolia. Bulgaria had joined the Central Alliance in 1915; but a British-French force from Salonika defeated them on September 29, 1918, and they surrendered three days later. This left the western Ottoman empire open to an Allied invasion.

Sultan Mehmet V had died on June 28, 1918, and he was succeeded by his brother Vahdettin as Mehmet VI. The CUP triumvirate cabinet of Enver, Talat, and Cemal resigned and was replaced by General Ahmet Izzet. On October 18 his government decided to let Armenians and other refugees return to their homes. Hüseyin Rauf Orbay led the Ottoman delegation that signed the armistice with the British at Mondros on October 31. The straits by Istanbul were opened in November, and the Ottomans surrendered to the Allies, who were responsible for food supplies. On November 2 Talat, Cemal, and Enver fled on a German freighter. CUP was disbanded, and its property was confiscated. CUP leaders were accused of the coup on January 23, 1913, entering the war with the Central Powers, massacring Armenians, deporting Greeks, maltreating POWs, ruining the economy, war profiteering, and other corruption. However, the Karakol helped them escape, and few were ever tried. Four British officers arrived at Istanbul on November 7, and the Ottoman cabinet resigned the next day. Also on November 8 the British occupied Mosul. Col. Raymond of France came to Adana on November 25 and told CUP leaders to leave. The French occupied Adana on December 21.

In the war the Ottomans drafted about three million men into the armed forces; about 325,000 were killed in battle, and about 240,000 died of disease. The Turks placed hope in the 12th of Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points which stated, “The Turkish portions of the Ottoman Empire should be assured a secure sovereignty.” By the end of the Great War the Ottoman empire had been reduced to little more than Anatolia, a Turkish population with Greek, Kurdish, and Armenian minorities. The armistice called for military occupation of the straits and control of the railway and telegraph lines. Ottoman forces were to be demobilized and disarmed except small contingents for law enforcement. Article seven gave the Entente powers the right to occupy the Ottoman empire to protect their security, and the British occupied Mosul a few days after the armistice. Societies for the Defense of National Rights were founded in Edirne, western Thrace, and Kars in November, in Izmir and Urfa in December, and by Trabzon and Erzurum in February 1919. By December 8, 1918 the Allied military administration was established in Istanbul, and troops were quartered throughout the city. A revival of political activity opposing the peace settlement and the Allied occupation led Sultan Mehmet VI to dissolve the Chamber of Deputies on December 21.

Ottoman and Turkish Split 1919-20

Without the legislature meeting, the Government could rule by decree. Taxes affecting the poor were doubled, tripled, and doubled again. Istanbul University eliminated troublemakers. Secular courts were curbed and were replaced by religious courts. Intellectuals such as Ziya Gokalp, Fuat Koprulu, and Huseyin Cahit were arrested, and early in 1920 they were sent to detention on Malta. A secret Outpost Society (Karakol Cemiyeti) within the government blocked Allied demands and sent arms to Anatolia. National Forces (Kuvayi Milliye) were organized as voluntary militias or guerrilla bands.

In January 1919 a court martial dismissed the absent Enver and Cemal from the army, and other CUP leaders were prosecuted. On January 25 Diyarbakir’s former governor Dr. Mehmet Resit escaped from prison and chose suicide rather than recapture. Damat Ferit’s Freedom and Concord party campaigned against Tevfik, who formed a new government on February 24. The next day Franchet d’Esperey demanded that 36 alleged war criminals be put on trial. Sultan Mehmet VI refused to approve, and Tevfik resigned. The Sultan appointed his brother-in-law Damat Ferit grand vizier on March 4, and four days later a court martial was decreed, which the Sultan approved. CUP leaders were arrested on March 9. That day British troops landed at Samsun and then occupied Merzifon. Greek bands revolted and slaughtered Muslims.

The resistance moved toward a war for Turkish independence when Mustafa Kemal’s colleague Ali Fuat Cebesoy was sent to command the 20th Army corps in Ankara in March. After Kemal Bey was convicted of deporting Armenians and was hanged on April 10, such large demonstrations had to be suppressed that executions stopped. On April 13 the military hero Kazum Karabekir left Istanbul and went to take command of the 15th Army at Erzurum. He was also in charge of resistance in Van and Trabzon. He took over a force of 18,000 men and began collecting war material to keep the British from shipping it to Istanbul. After the British gave Kars to the new Armenian republic, he joined the Society for the Defense of the Rights of the Eastern Provinces to fight for Anatolia.

A small Turkish Communist Party began from prisoners in Russia, and some attended the All-Russian Congress of International Prisoners of War in Moscow in April 1919. On July 25 the Congress of Turkish Radical Socialists was formed. In Turkey they opposed the Allied policy of using the straits to send ships, men, and arms to fight the Bolsheviks in southern Russia.

On April 29 Italian forces landed at Antalya to take over what was assigned to them in secret agreements among the Allies. On May 14 British, American, and French warships delivered a Greek division at the harbor of Izmir, and the next day they landed, and casualties included about 350 Turks and 100 Greeks. Greek mobs roamed the streets, killing and looting Turks while Allied authorities were arresting Turks. News of this aroused Turkish nationalist sentiment throughout the country. The leading nations meeting at Paris agreed on a Greek mandate for Izmir, pushing the Italian zone south. The government in Istanbul protested, and on May 23 a mass demonstration took place. The Greek army moved into Anatolia, plundering and raping. By July they had overcome Turkish defense forces and controlled the Menderes valleys.

On May 5 Mustafa Kemal was appointed inspector general of the 9th Army, and he landed with his chosen staff of fifteen officers and two cipher clerks at Samsun on May 19 and began organizing resistance. Kemal was also in charge of the civil service in the region. In Amasya he met with Rauf Orbay, Ali Fuat Cebesoy, and Refet Bele, and on June 21 they signed the Amasya Protocol that was also accepted by Kazim Karabekir. This call for a national movement was based on the realization that the Istanbul government could not be responsible and that national independence was in danger. They proposed a national committee free of external control to review the situation and make known the people’s desire for justice. They decided to hold a National Congress at Sivas and invited three representatives from each province. This subject was to be kept secret. On June 23 the British government complained to Istanbul, and Mustafa Kemal resigned his commission. Kemal met with a Bolshevik delegation led by Col. Semen Budenny, who provided arms to stem the Armenian expansion in the Caucasus, but Kemal postponed accepting Communist ideology.

On July 7 Kemal was stripped of his rank and declared a rebel. On that day he advised his commanders not to disband national organizations nor surrender their command or weapons except to cooperating officers. He continued working for Turkish independence in cooperation with officials in Istanbul. The Society for the Defense of National Rights in Anatolia and Rumelia met at Erzurum in July. Kemal was elected chairman, and Kazim Karabekir refused to arrest him. Kemal argued that only in Anatolia could a national administration control the country free of outside interference. That Congress passed a resolution for a war of independence, aiming to preserve the six eastern provinces in the integrity of the Ottoman empire. They would not allow the bestowing of new privileges on Christians, but they re-affirmed the legal rights of non-Muslims. They asked the central government to convoke a national assembly, and they chose a Representative Committee with Kemal as president to work for national unity. If congress was not sitting, the Representative Committee was to act as a provisional government. A local congress met at Alasehir in August to support the national movement.

Only 38 delegates attended the National Congress that met September 4-11 at Sivas, and they elected Mustafa Kemal president. On September 11 Kemal told the commanders loyal to the movement to take over the telegraph offices in their areas, and two days later he ordered their civil administration to be under the authority of the Representative Committee of the Congress. Hundreds of officers were removed from office and arrested or were assassinated. Kemal instigated the sending of telegrams to the Sultan demanding dismissal of the government. Kemal met with Americans to assure them that Anatolia is Turkish and needed no mandate. On September 24 nationalists arrested the governor of Trabzon, and two days later Governor Cemal of Konya fled from approaching nationalists led by Refet. Defense of the Rights of Turks committees were set up in Konya, Bursa, and other towns. Many Muslims had taken over land, property, and businesses of deported Greeks and Armenians.

Damat Ferit resigned as grand vizier and was replaced by Ali Riza on October 2. He sent his navy minister to negotiate with Kemal, and they produced the Second Amasya Protocol. They agreed on the Erzurum and Sivas resolutions, but Salih could not get the cabinet in Istanbul to ratify their agreement. On October 7 Kemal lifted the ban on communicating with the capital, and the Representative Committee was allowed to send telegrams to the Society’s branches. In the November elections the Greeks and the opposition parties boycotted because they believed the nationalists would not permit free elections. Thus many nationalists in Anatolia and Thrace were elected, including Kemal from Erzurum; but the new Chamber of Deputies was still going to meet at Istanbul under the influence of the Allies despite the Amasya Protocol. In November the Harbord Commission report recommended a United States mandate to include Armenia and much of Turkey but proposed that all revenues be controlled by Turks, including the Public Debts Commission. Previous commercial agreements should be abrogated, especially the hated Capitulations, and all foreign governments and troops should leave the country.

Mustafa Kemal did not trust the Allies and stayed in Anatolia, but he moved the Representative Committee to Ankara. There support was solid because an Armenian community had been displaced, and Muslims did not want them back. On January 20, 1920 he founded the newspaper National Sovereignty (Hakimiyet-i Milliye). That month the last Ottoman Chamber of Deputies met in Istanbul. The British insisted that the minister of War and the chief of the general staff be replaced, and on February 3 the latter position was given to the conservative but capable Fevzi Çakmak. Kemal was nominated to be president of the Chamber, but this was deferred. Before the British prorogued them, the Chamber on February 17 accepted the National Pact (Misak-i Milli) affirming the independence of the nation. This noted that the armistice called for a plebiscite, and they accepted a plebiscite in Kars, Ardahan, and Batum. They recognized that Istanbul must be protected, and they honored decisions regarding the use of the straits. They confirmed the rights of minorities, and they demanded complete independence and sovereignty. British authorities were irate. Ali Riza condemned the national resistance and began sending funds to forces opposing them in Anatolia. The Circassian bandit Ahmet Anzavur led a revolt and was supported by British arms in capturing territory north of Balikesir. Grand Vizier Ali Riza resigned on March 3.

On March 15, 1920 they arrested 150 leading civil and military officers and intellectuals in Istanbul and interned them at Malta. The next day the 50,000 Allied forces (including 30,000 British) put Istanbul under martial law, and police arrested fourteen leading nationalist members of the Parliament, which was dissolved on March 18. Mustafa Kemal appealed to the Islamic world, and they began planning a government in Ankara. Halide Edip and her husband Adnan Adivar along with Kemal’s best friend Ismet Inonü and Celaleddin Arif, the last president of the Chamber of Deputies, moved to Ankara. His claim that the Chamber had been dissolved in violation of the Constitution enabled Kemal to assume governmental power.

Turkish War of Independence 1920-23

On March 19, 1920 Mustafa Kemal announced that the Turkish nation was establishing its own parliament, and he sent a circular to civil governors and military commanders to hold an election of five representatives in each district. Ninety-two members of the last Ottoman chamber joined the 232 deputies elected to the assembly at Ankara. Kemal ordered British officers in Anatolia detained, and Major Rawlinson became the main hostage in Erzurum. Salih  refused to disavow the nationalists and resigned on April 2. He was replaced by Damat Ferit, an enemy of the nationalists. On April 11 the seyhulislam Durrizade Abdullah issued a fatwa that killing the rebels was a religious duty, and the Martial Law Council set up in Istanbul condemned them to death in absentia. Prices which had quadrupled during the war quadrupled again. Severe shortages of coal and wheat were eventually supplied by imports from England and America.

The assembly met at Ankara for the first time on April 23, 1920 and Mustafa Kemal was elected president. The Grand National Assembly was given legislative and executive functions, and a Council of State was chosen from the Assembly and made responsible to it. During the civil war various bands rose up to seek power, and on April 29 the Assembly prohibited “crimes against the nation” and established Independence Courts in which deputies could try and execute violators without appeal. Usually only deserters who became bandits were hanged. Sentences were commuted for those who volunteered to serve at the front. On May 11 the nationalists sent Bekir Sami as their ambassador to Moscow, but he did not arrive until July 19. Russia sent them arms and ammunition.

The San Remo Conference in April organized the League’s mandate system and authorized Greek occupation of Aydin province and eastern Thrace. In the south the French agreed to an armistice for twenty days. In May a Communist group led by Mustafa Suphi took over the Turkish Communist Party. The Greek offensive in southeastern Anatolia resumed, and on June 22 the Greeks crossed the Milne line, moving east and north. Ali Fuat Cebesoy commanded the nationalist forces, but they were outnumbered by the Greeks who occupied western Asia Minor and Thrace. In July the Greeks moved into Alasehir, Balikesir, Bandirma, and Bursa while the British took Gemlik and Izmir. The Greeks occupied Edirne on July 25, and two days later the Turkish nationalists in Thrace under Col. Cafer Tayyar surrendered. The Greeks advanced in eastern Thrace, but the Allies kept them from taking Istanbul. In August the Greeks captured Gallipoli and Usak in Anatolia.

On July 18, 1920 the National Assembly vowed they would accept nothing that was not in the National Pact. On August 10 the Ottoman government accepted the Allies’ Treaty of Sevres which separated the Arab provinces, gave Aegean islands to Greece, and the Dodecanese to Italy.  President Wilson was to determine the borders of Armenia, and the League of Nations would decide if Kurdistan was to be independent. The Ottoman army was to be limited to 50,000 men and be advised by foreign officers. The National Assembly rejected the Treaty of Sevres, and on August 19 they branded as traitors all who signed it. On September 14 they followed Islamic law by prohibiting alcohol.

Armenians began attacking from the east in May 1920. Karabekir was appointed commander on June 15, but his 15th Army of 30,000 was used against the Greek offensive that began one week later. Then Karabekir attacked the Armenians on October 30 and took Kars two days later. They signed a treaty on December 2 that established the eastern border and a smaller Armenia; but before the Dashnak government could ratify the treaty, the Bolsheviks incorporated the Armenian nation into the Soviet Union.

Ahmet Anzavur had led a conservative force supported by the Ottoman government and the British that revolted against the nationalists in the fall of 1919, but they were defeated by Çerkes Ethem in April 1920. Anzavur raised another army; but he was killed by nationalists on May 15, and his army dispersed. The Green army had been organized in the winter and mobilized Turkish peasants to support the national forces. They wanted to establish socialism and attracted opposition groups. Kemal had supported them, but late in 1921 he had them disbanded. Leftist guerrillas led by Çerkes Ethem had fought Greeks near Izmir in 1919, and for a while they fought for the nationalist movement against the rightist Caliphal Army and anti-Ankara movements. Then they began plundering the people and allied with the Green Army. Kemal sent an army that drove them into exile in January 1921. Local rebellions in Bolu, Yozgat, and Düzce were led by the Çapanaglu derebey family; but the nationalists defeated them, and the leaders were hanged in Amasya in August 1920. Kemal tolerated Communist supporters in 1920, and the Turkish Communist Party was formed on October 18. However, when they tried to unite the leftist groups in the Turkish People’s Socialist Party, Kemal turned against them; but they were given light sentences. On January 5, 1921 Çerkes Ethem was defeated by the Greeks in a battle at the Inonü River and defected.

On January 20, 1921 the Assembly passed the Law of Fundamental Organization, and it became the first constitution for the nation called Turkey. The provinces were made autonomous over “religious foundations, religious schools, public schools, health, economics, agriculture, public works, and social aid” while the Grand National Assembly was responsible for political affairs, “religious law, justice and the military, international economic relations, general government taxation, and matters concerning more than one province.” Elections for provincial assemblies were to be held every two years. The Assembly accepted the National Pact and declared null all treaties, contracts, and other obligations of the Ottoman government after March 16, 1920.

The Allies tried to get the nationalists to accept a modified version of the Sevres Treaty at London in February and March 1921 without success. However, the French diplomat Franklin-Bouillon became the first of the Allies to recognize the Ankara government. On March 11 the French foreign minister Briand made an agreement with Bekir Sami to withdraw from Cilicia in exchange for economic concessions. Two days later Italy’s Count Sforza made a similar agreement with Turkish nationalists. The Turkish-Soviet Treaty of Friendship was signed at Moscow on March 16, 1921. They agreed not to recognize any international agreement not accepted by the other. They also promised not to support seditious groups in the other’s territory, giving Kemal justification for suppressing Turkish Communists. Talat was in Germany and was killed by an Armenian assassin on March 15, 1921. When Bekir Sami returned to Ankara, the Assembly forced him to resign; his agreements with the French and Italians were rejected. After the London conference the Greeks launched another offensive on March 23, taking Adapazari and Afyon Karahisar. The second battle of the Inonü took several days until the Greeks retreated on April 6. The Turkish forces lacked supplies and had fewer guns, but they were soon getting support from the Soviet Union.

On May 10, 1921 Mustafa Kemal formed the Group for the Defense of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia, and they began formulating policy. Other groups joined the Society for the Protection of Sacred Institutions. Kemal had a majority, and Italy yielded to the nationalists in the south. The Greeks burned Izmit and massacred the inhabitants before abandoning it on June 28. A replenished Greek army advanced between Kutahya and Eskisehir on July 13. Ismet retreated to the Sakarya River, and the Turkish army had lost 40,000 men.

Karabekir was leading the opposition to Kemal, who agreed to take command if he could have dictatorial power for the next three months. He was allowed to confiscate 40% of stores for future payment including clothing, food, and other equipment for the army, and he called in all the reserves. On August 13 the Greeks began to advance toward Ankara. For eleven days they attacked the town; but then the Turks counter-attacked on September 8, and five days later the Greeks fled, leaving behind nearly 15,000 men. Kemal ordered a general mobilization and returned in triumph to Ankara, where he was named marshal of the army. The Soviet Socialist Republics of Russia, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan signed a treaty with Turkey in Kars on October 13. One week later France agreed to withdraw from Cilicia. A treaty enabled the Turks to transfer soldiers and weapons from the south. The British agreed to exchange the detainees at Malta for their prisoners. The Assembly extended Kemal’s commander-in-chief status for three months on October 31, and it would be renewed again in December and March, May, and July of 1922, the last extension having no time limit.

The Second Defense of Rights Group led by Karabekir, Rauf Orbay, and Refet Bele opposed Kemal’s military policies, but they had only 118 of 437 members in the Assembly. As president Kemal was forced to give up chairmanship of the Council of Ministers to Rauf Orbay. Yet his rivals only opposed him behind the scenes so as to present a united front against the Greeks. Kemal insisted that the Allies withdraw before negotiations. He was able to purchase war material from private firms in France and Italy. His foreign minister Yusuf Kemal got the Assembly’s permission to go to Europe, and he went first to Istanbul.

In March 1922 the Turkish nationalists replaced the Turkish Homeland Society with the Turkish Hearth, and units were established in every city, school, and public organization. Mustafa Kemal gave credit to the peasants as the true producers, owners, and masters of Turkey. On March 22 the Allies proposed an armistice between Greece and Turkey, but four days later the Allies’ recommended peace settlement was published. Edirne and part of eastern Thrace were to go to Greece, and Turkey’s army was to be reduced to 85,000 men. Turkey would not accept these, and Kemal suggested a meeting in Izmit. When Greece’s foreign minister George Baltazzis said that only the Greek occupation of Istanbul would bring peace, the British warned them on July 29 that any violation of the neutral zone would be resisted by the Allied forces.

The Communist Mustafa Suphi had been murdered on January 29, 1922 in Trabzon, and his murderer Yahya was shot on July 3. CUP leaders Cemal and Enver went to Moscow and Central Asia. Cemal was assassinated by two Armenians in Georgia’s capital Tiflis (Tblisi) on July 21. After Kemal defeated the Greeks at the Sakarya in September, Enver left Turkey and worked with Muslims against the British and Russians in Central Asia. He was killed by Russian forces on August 4 near the Afghan border.

On August 26, 1922 the Turkish army of 208,000 men launched a great offensive, and using more heavy guns and stronger cavalry they defeated the 225,000 Greeks at Dumlupinar on August 30. Kemal Mustafa ordered his men to march toward the Mediterranean. His forces took Balikesir, Aydin, Manissa, Izmir, and Bursa before heading for the Bosphorus. The retreating Greeks set houses on fire, destroying most of the houses in Alasehir and Manisa. Gemlik and Mudanya fell on September 11, and thousands of Greek soldiers and peasants at Izmir were taken on Allied ships back to Greece. The Turks took over the civil government, and on September 13 a fire started in the Armenian quarter. Buildings were soaked with gasoline, and fire hoses were cut. The fire consumed 25,000 buildings in one day, destroying half the city, and 213,000 people evacuated. The last Greek troops left western Anatolia from the Urfa peninsula on September 16.

The Turks kept marching. After the French and Italians abandoned their positions at the straits, the British general Harrington persuaded Kemal he could do better at the peace table if he accepted a truce. Kemal persuaded the Greek fleet to leave Istanbul on September 27, and he accepted the truce two days later. Kemal refused to make concessions. The Greeks agreed to hand over eastern Thrace, and the Armistice of Mudanya was signed on October 11. Because there were more Greeks in eastern Thrace and more Turks in western Thrace, many people migrated. Eastern Thrace was handed over by November 26. The city of Edirne had 83,000 people in 1911 but was reduced to 35,000 by 1927.

Grand Vizier Tevfik still led the Ottoman government in Istanbul, and on October 27 the Allies invited both the Ottoman and the Turkish governments to the peace conference at Lausanne, Switzerland. Yusuf Kemal resigned, and the Assembly elected Ismet as foreign minister to lead the Turkish delegation, which consulted with Ankara, not knowing British intelligence was intercepting their messages. On November 1 the National Assembly abolished the sultanate and left the caliph as nothing more than the top Muslim religious dignitary who was to be chosen by the National Assembly. Three days later Tevfik’s cabinet resigned, and the official Ottoman newspaper published its last issue. The Assembly provided severance pay for bureaucrats, and many joined the Ankara government. Sultan Vahideddin left on a British destroyer on November 16 and went into exile at San Remo on Malta. Kemal announced that the Caliph had no more power. Abdulmecit II was appointed and lessened opposition to the Ankara government. Ismet Inonü represented the Ankara government at Lausanne and refused to compromise Turkish sovereignty.

Kemal organized the People’s Party on December 6, and the First Turkish Economic Congress was held at Izmir in February 1923. The Lausanne Conference did not recess until February 4, and on March 8 the National Assembly wrote its own peace proposals, which Ismet took back on April 23 for three months more negotiating. The Assembly changed the election law to allow serving corps commanders to be deputies. Even more significant was that any allegations of impropriety in the elections were to be judged by the government. On April 8 the Society for the Defense of National Rights in Anatolia and Rumelia was dissolved into the new People’s Party which took over its assets. In June the new prime minister Fethi and his cabinet resigned and refused new appointments, and Mustafa Kemal proposed an amendment to make Turkey a republic with a president elected by the assembly who would appoint the prime minister. The president would also be commander-in-chief of the army and the intelligence services. Elections for the Assembly were held in two stages in June and July. Kemal vetted the candidates, and none of the opposing Second  Group were elected.

The Treaty of Lausanne between Turkey, Greece, Britain, France, and Italy was finally signed on July 24, 1923. Turkey retained eastern Thrace but gave up the Aegean islands to Greece except for Imbros and Tenedos that protected the Dardanelles. Britain retained Mosul and held Iraq as a mandate. Turkey had to accept contract obligations from before October 20, 1914. The war debt of about £178 million to losing Germany was written off. The Ottoman public debt was allocated to the different parts of the former empire with Turkey’s portion being 65% or £78 million. The Turkish Republic protested this and made no payments until 1929, when it was allowed to change its customs tariffs. The payments were reduced in 1933, and the bonds were paid off by 1944. Foreign subjects had to accept Turkish courts. Turks were allowed to rebuild their military, but the border with Thrace was given a demilitarized zone. Both sides mutually renounced reparation claims for wartime damage. Foreign countries could no longer supervise the rights of minorities, and Turkey promised to protect all inhabitants regardless of birth, nationality, or language. Non-Muslim Turks would be allowed to operate religious, educational, and charitable institutions. The Straits were internationalized under a mixed commission with a Turkish chairman.

Greece and Turkey agreed to exchange populations, and in the next two years 188,000 Greek Orthodox nationals migrated from Turkey to Greece, and 355,000 Muslims moved from Greece to Turkey. All together about 1,100,000 Ottoman citizens of the Greek Orthodox faith migrated to Greece, and about 380,000 Muslims mostly from Macedonia and Crete migrated to Turkey. Some 150,000 Greeks left Istanbul. The Assembly approved the treaty by a vote of 227 to 14. British troops were scheduled to be evacuated by October 2, 1923.

Rauf resigned as prime minister, and on August 13 the National Assembly elected Mustafa Kemal president without opposition. On that day Ismet (Inonü) returned from Ankara. The Turkish national army marched into Istanbul on October 6, and a week later the Assembly made Ankara the official capital. The republic accepted a new constitution on October 29, and Kemal was unanimously elected president for the same four-year term of office as the Assembly. He appointed Ismet prime minister. In the Great War and the War of Independence about 2.5 million Anatolian Muslims died. The mortality rate of 20% was ten times higher than that of France, which was the highest in Europe. The shortage of labor in agriculture led to famines and epidemics such as cholera and typhoid. During and after the Great War the number of Armenians in Turkey was reduced from 1,300,000 to 100,000, and the Greek population fell from 1,800,000 to 120,000. As a result the population of Anatolia went from being 80% Muslim to 98%. Turkish was the majority language, and the only major minority spoke Kurdish. Between 1911 and 1923 foreign trade fell by about two-thirds.

Turkey Republic under Ataturk 1923-38

When the Republic of Turkey made Ankara its capital, tens of thousands of civil servants in Istanbul became unemployed. After receiving a letter from the prominent Indian Muslims Aga Khan and Ameer Ali, the bar association president Lütfü Fikri wrote an open letter asking for more influence by the Caliph; but it was published in Istanbul before it reached Prime Minister Ismet (Inonü) in Ankara. An Independence Tribunal was sent to Istanbul to investigate, and on December 9 the Tribunal ordered Lütfü Fikri and the three editors arrested for high treason. Later the newspaper editors were acquitted, but Fikri went to jail for five years. On December 19 the National Assembly voted that military officers in the Assembly must resign from one or the other. Huseyin Rauf’s criticism that the People’s Party was becoming despotic began to split the party. In January 1924 the first major labor law required employers to give workers Friday off, but the Assembly failed several times to reduce the work week to sixty hours.

On March 2, 1924 the People’s Party decided to pass three laws. The first would abolish the ministry of canon law and religious foundations and the ministry of the general staff. The second would institute public education for all children. The third was passed on March 3 and abolished the caliphate, banishing all members of the Ottoman dynasty that had ruled for more than six centuries. Religious properties were administered separately, and their revenues went into the national treasury. That month the Law on the Unification of Education secularized the schools. The religious colleges (madrasas) were abolished and replaced by schools for preachers and by the theologians at the University of Istanbul. The Government provided free elementary education and made it compulsory. By 1940 the number of schools and teachers had more than doubled as the literacy rate doubled to 22%. On April 8 the courts of Islamic law were closed, and their judges retired. Polygamy was abolished, and women could marry a non-Muslim and could divorce their husbands. Alcohol was legalized but under a Government monopoly.

A republican constitution was adopted in April 1924, but the President was not allowed to dissolve the Assembly. Yunus Nadi (Abalioglu) founded The Republic (Cumhutiyet) newspaper in May to promote Turkish nationalism and Kemal’s reforms. British and Turkish troops clashed over Mosul on October 9. Turkey appealed to the League of Nations, which on October 27 defined the a line between the British and Turkish occupation, pending a full inquiry. In September 1925 the League of Nations included Mosul in Iraq.

Kazim Karabekir resigned his army command on October 26, 1924, followed four days later by Ali Fuat (Cebesoy). Many criticized the widespread corruption in the resettlement of Muslims from Greece on the property of the Greeks who left. On November 9 Hüseyin Rauf (Orbay), Refet (Bele), Adnan (Adivar), and thirty others resigned from the People’s Party, and eight days later with Karabekir and Fuat they founded the Progressive Republican Party (PRP). The People’s Party changed their name to the Republican People’s Party (RPP). On November 21 Prime Minister Ismet (Inonü) in a secret meeting of the party proposed imposing martial law. When a majority rejected this, he resigned. Mustafa Kemal chose the speaker of the Assembly, Fethi (Okyar) to organize a new government, and he chose hard-liners such as Recep (Peker) and Ihsan (Eryavuz), the president of the Istanbul Independence Tribunal. Despite the Assembly rules, deputies began carrying handguns. On February 9, 1925 a quarrel led to shots being fired, and the “Mad” Halit was mortally wounded by Ali (Çetinkaya), who was acquitted on self-defense. On February 17 the Assembly abolished the tithes that had been a burden on the peasants. On February 26 the Turkish state took over the French-run tobacco monopoly Régie. On April 5 a law authorized the state to set up sugar mills.

As the Armenians left eastern Anatolia, the Kurds became more influential and were no longer united with the Turks against the Armenians. In 1918 they formed the Society for the Elevation of Kurdistan in Istanbul with branches in Kurdish areas among those speaking Kormanci and Zaza who were Sunnis and Alevis (Shi’a). During the War of Independence the Kurds in Dersim (Tunceli) rebelled but were suppressed. Most Kurds supported the national movement even though the British held out the hope of a Kurdistan in the Sevres Treaty. The Kurds in the southeast were about a fifth of Turkey’s population, and they wanted autonomy. In 1923 some militia officers founded the Freedom (Azadi) Society, and at their congress in 1924 Sheikh Sait of Palu from the dervish Nakshibendi order emerged as a leader. Without the caliphate the Kurds were no longer as bound to the Turks. The national government tried to repress the Kurds by prohibiting the public use or teaching of Kurdish. Some wealthy landowners and tribal chiefs were resettled in the west.

The distant garrison at Beytussebap rebelled in August. A revolt planned for the following year broke out prematurely when gendarmes in Piran shot Kurds on February 8, 1925. Most of the Zaza tribes and the two largest Kormanci tribes joined the insurrection, but Alevi Kurds attacked Sunnis. They threatened Diyarbakir but could only take over Elazig briefly. The Assembly was informed of the rebellion and on February 25 declared martial law in the eastern provinces for one month. The High Treason Law was extended to include the political use of religion. Prime Minister Fethi asked the PRP leaders to disband. They refused, though party chairman Kazum Karabekir supported the government. When Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) took a hard line, Fethi lost a vote of confidence 60-94 and resigned. Kemal appointed Ismet (Inonü) prime minister again on March 3, and by a vote of 122-22 they passed the Maintenance of Order Law, which allowed the administration to ban any organization or publication in the entire country.

Sheikh Sait led an attack on March 2, and a few days later Kurdish rebels entered Diyarbakir but were beaten back. On March 24 three hundred Kurds sacked Elazig before being driven out two days later. The rebels retreated to the mountains, and Sheikh Sait was captured on April 15 while trying to escape to Iran. The 15,000 Kurdish rebels had been defeated by 25,000 Turkish soldiers who had been assisted by some Kurds. Sait and 46 of his followers were convicted by an Independence Tribunal in Diyarbakir and were hanged on June 30. Small guerrilla groups continued during the summer. The Independence Tribunal ordered all dervish lodges in the eastern provinces closed. In 1926 a new Kurdish rebellion began on Mount Ararat that would last four years, but it did not spread. Many Kurdish leaders were executed, and more than 20,000 Kurds were deported from the southeast to the west. During the Kurdish resistance 660 people were executed. Uprisings continued in the mountains of the southeast, and in 1937 another major insurrection by Kurds erupted.

The Maintenance of Order Law was also used to shut down eight periodicals in Istanbul and several provincial papers, leaving the government with the only two national newspapers, National Sovereignty in Ankara and The Republic in Istanbul. Nine journalists were sent to Diyarbakir for trial; they promised to submit and were returned to Istanbul. On June 3 the Council of Ministers decreed that the Progressive Republican Party was dissolved. The Republican People’s Party only allowed free discussions inside its closed meetings, and all members voted in the Assembly for whatever the majority of the party decided.

Kemalist reforms continued to make Turkey more secular. The Turkish Women’s Union was founded in 1924, and women worked for the right to vote. Mustafa Kemal went on a tour and spoke against wearing Islamic turbans, fezes, bonnets, and head-dresses. When he returned to Ankara on September 2, the Government issued a decree closing all dervish lodges and restricting the wearing of turbans and robes to Islamic officials. In November 1925 religious shrines and dervish convents were closed, and the fez was prohibited and replaced by western-style hats. On December 17 Turkey made a new friendship treaty with the Soviet Union.

On January 1, 1926 Turkey adopted the European calendar and clock. Turkey also adopted the Swiss civil code in February, the Italian penal code in March, and German commercial laws. Kemal founded a law school in November at Ankara which later was expanded into a university. Courtesy titles such as pasha, bey, and efendi were abolished except in the army. Turkey and Iran agreed to a treaty on April 22, and on May 30 a convention regulated relations with France in Syria and Lebanon.

On June 5, 1926 Turkey gave up its claim to Mosul to the British for ten percent of its oil revenues. On June 15 when Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) was about to visit Izmir, those plotting to assassinate him were arrested. The Ankara Independence Tribunal arrived three days later and began arresting the political opponents of the regime. PRP members of the Assembly were arrested, and their houses were searched. After the first trial thirteen condemned men were hanged in Izmir. In August more than fifty former Unionists were tried. Four leaders were hanged; five were sentenced to ten years in prison; and 37 were acquitted. At the RPP congress in October 1927 Mustafa Kemal spoke for 36 hours over six days describing the Turkish national movement from May 19, 1919 to 1927 and concluding with an appeal to the youth. Ismet (Inonü) served Kemal as prime minister 1925-37 and was generally allowed to run the government. Kemal often talked with supporters and friends late into the night while eating and drinking, and these decisions became plans and policies. Kemal sometimes overruled his prime minister and cabinet, and twice he made a minister resign without consulting Ismet.

In April 1928 all references to Islam were removed from the constitution. In May the international numerals, which were derived from Arabic numerals, were adopted, and in 1931 Turkey began using European weights and measures. In June 1928 Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) set up a committee in Ankara to plan how to adapt the Roman alphabet to Turkish phonetics. In August this alphabet replaced Arabic and Persian letters, and on January 1, 1929 it became compulsory in public communications.

In 1929 the Agricultural Credit Cooperative was established. On September 2 Turkey showed its disregard for Islamic dress customs by allowing its first beauty contest. The leftist Arit (Oruc) was allowed to publish the newspaper Tomorrow (Yarin), but in 1931 a new press law let the government close down any newspaper contradicting the “general polices of the country.” The world economic crisis that began in 1929 caused the price of wheat to decrease by more than half by 1934. By the end of 1929 Turkey’s trade deficit was approaching $50 million, and by 1932 total exports were less than $50 million. Yet in the 1930s the new customs duties changed the trade deficit to a surplus.

In August 1930 Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) became concerned about dissent and suggested that his friend Fethi (Okyar) found a new party. Only fifteen representatives joined the Free Republican Party (FRP), and their manifesto was similar to the policies of the Progressive Republican Party. In the local elections of October 1930 the FRP won 30 of the 512 councils. When Fethi accused the governing party of electoral fraud on November 15, he was accused of treason. Kemal ordered the FRP to dissolve on November 17. Turkey made a friendship treaty with Greece in December because they were both concerned about Bulgaria.

  On December 23 the dervish Mehmet proclaimed himself the messiah (mahdi), announcing that he had 70,000 supporters. When he waved a gun in the town square of Menemen, Lt. Kubilay fired his gun with a blank. Mehmet claimed he was impervious to bullets and shot Kubilay, who died from his wound. Two watchmen fired on the crowd and were killed. A regiment arrived and killed Mehmet and five supporters. Martial law was declared in western Anatolia. The Nakshibendis were judged guilty by association, and 28 were hanged on February 4, 1931.

In 1930 women were allowed to vote and run in local elections, and women voted in village councils on October 26, 1933. The Turkish Hearths had been activated by the minister of education, Hamdullah Suphi (Tanriover), and they grew to 30,000 members in 267 branches; but in 1932 they were replaced by People’s Homes in towns, and by People’s Rooms in villages.

In 1931 the Republican People’s Party (RPP) congress declared Turkey a one-party state and adopted the economic policy of statism. Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) published his manifesto on April 20 presenting his six “fundamental and unchanging principles.” The party program was described as republicanism, secularism, nationalism, populism, statism, and revolutionism. The RPP congress adopted them the next month, and they were put in the Turkish constitution in 1937. Republicanism is the people electing representatives to govern. Secularism separates the state from the institutions of religion. Nationalism transformed the multinational Ottoman empire into the nation of Turkey. Kemalist populism meant the equality of citizens regardless of class, rank, religion, or occupation. Statism refers to the economic development that mixes private enterprise with governmental supervision of some public programs “where the general and vital interests of the nation are in question.”3 Revolutionism is the radical process that transformed Ottoman society in one generation. Also in 1931 the Turkish Historical Society was founded to show that the peoples from Central Asia have Turkish origins.

In July 1932 Turkey joined the League of Nations, and three years later it became a member of the International Court of Justice at The Hague. Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) convened the first Turkish linguistic congress, and they founded the Society for the Study of Turkish Languages. Kemal worked on reforming the language and even gave speeches in the new language in 1934 that few could understand. In 1935 Kvergic formulated the Sun-Language theory that Turkish is closest to the primal language. This fit with the historical theory that the Turks in Central Asia were the source of the European, Near Eastern, and Chinese people. The ancient Sumerians and Hittites were considered proto-Turks, and Attila and Genghis Khan were praised for their influence on civilization. Even the Arabic call to prayer was replaced by Turkish.

Ismet (Inonü) visited Russia in 1932 and received a loan of $8 million in gold to finance a textile mill designed by Soviet engineers. Yet also in 1932 Marxists were persecuted, and the poet Nazim Hikmet (Ran) was imprisoned. In 1933 Turkey adopted its first five-year plan for the economy based on Soviet advice. The Sumerian Bank was founded for industry, and in 1935 the Hittite Bank became responsible for mining. State-owned businesses could borrow from the Central Bank at one percent interest. Also in 1933 the House of Sciences became part of the University of Istanbul; but two-thirds of the staff lost tenure as only those loyal to Kemalism were retained.

In 1934 everyone in Turkey was required to choose a family name by the end of the year, and the Assembly bestowed the name Ataturk, meaning “Father-Turk,” on Mustafa Kemal. The “History of the Turkish Revolution” was made a required course in schools and colleges. Turkey and Greece formed the Balkan Entente Treaty with Yugoslavia and Romania in February 1934, and the next year Turkey extended its Treaty of Neutrality and Friendship with the Soviet Union for another ten years. With Soviet advice Turkey implemented its first five-year plan in 1934. A second one was planned in 1936 and began in 1939. Finally on December 4, 1934 women were allowed to vote in national elections, and eighteen women were chosen to be in the Assembly.

In 1935 only some 5,000 villages out of 40,000 in Turkey had schools, and Ismail Hakki Tonguç led an alphabetization drive to combat illiteracy. He tried to train teachers for primary schools and also taught technical and agricultural skills. The training institutes were successful, but the Democratic Party abolished them in 1950. Despite this effort most people remained illiterate. Also in 1935 the Turkish Women’s Union was disbanded because they had gained the vote. Sunday replaced Friday as the official day of rest. The composer Paul Hindemith came to advise Turks on musical education. After Italy invaded Ethiopia in October 1935, Turkey participated in the League of Nations sanctions. The modernist Sait Nursi had been one of the Young Turks, and he was resettled during the Kurdish revolt. He preached against both secularism and nationalism and was arrested for using religion politically several times between 1935 and 1953. His writings were banned, but his disciples copied them by hand.

In April 1936 Turkey proposed demilitarizing the straits. The Straits Commission was abolished, and commercial traffic was free to all countries not at war with Turkey. The comprehensive Labor Law of 1936 set the work week at 48 hours and provided some safeguards to workers but prohibited trade unions, strikes, and lockouts. In September 1936 France announced it was annexing Alexandretta (sancak) into Syria. Ataturk named it Hatay  and objected. Turkey took it to the League of Nations, which decided that the sancak should be a separate entity in May 1937. Hatay became an independent democracy, and in elections on July 5, 1938 Turks won 22 of 40 seats in the new parliament. On June 23, 1939 France ceded Hatay to Turkey, which agreed to a nonaggression pact with France and then with Britain.

In 1937 Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan formed the Sadabad Pact. In September an argument led to Ismet Inonü’s resignation after twelve years as prime minister. That year Ataturk was suffering from cirrhosis of the liver because of his excessive drinking and smoking. His health deteriorated seriously after March 1938, but the public was not informed of his condition. A newspaper that mentioned it in October was closed for three months. Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) died on November 10, 1938. His body was embalmed, and public viewing of the corpse was allowed. On November 17 police were unable to control a crowd, and eleven people were trampled to death.

Turkey Republic under Inonü 1938-50

The National Assembly unanimously elected Ismet Inonü president of the republic on November 11, 1938. His prime minister Celal Bayar disagreed on economic policy and resigned on January 25, 1939. Dr. Refik Saydam was appointed prime minister and served until his death in July 1942. He was succeeded by the foreign minister Sukru Saraçoglu until August 1946. On October 19, 1939 Turkey agreed to a mutual-assistance treaty with Britain and France, but Turkey did not have to fight in the war unless its interests were threatened. Turkey was also loaned £16 million in gold and given a credit of £25 million to buy military equipment. The National Defense Law passed in January 1940 gave the government the right to fix prices, requisition materials, and impose forced labor.

Turkey avoided war by maintaining neutrality, and the German ambassador Franz von Papen persuaded them to close the Straits to all nations which prevented the Allies from helping Russia. Turkey agreed to a Treaty of Friendship and Non-Aggression with Germany on June 18, 1941. On December 3 US President Franklin Roosevelt extended lend-lease aid to Turkey. In the summer of 1942 Germany loaned Turkey 100 million Reichsmarks to buy their arms. Inonü mobilized the Turkish army to more than a million men while doubling the military budget. Like other nations, Turkey raised revenues by taxing capital holders. In November the Government passed a Property Tax on assets, but it discriminated against the few non-Muslims (mostly Greeks, Jews, and Armenians) who paid 53% of the total tax revenue. Those who did not pay by the end of July 1943 could be deported to labor camps. Defaulters were released on March 15, 1944, and the tax, which had raised £28 million, was terminated. The effect of this unfair tax was a blight on Turkey’s reputation.

President Inonü met with Winston Churchill on a train near Adana on January 30, 1943, but he would not commit Turkey to war. Efforts by the British to place forces in Turkey’s territory were delayed. In February 1944 the British stopped re-equipping Turkey, which was shipping chromite to Germany. On April 20 Foreign Minister Menemencioglu announced that the chromite shipments ceased, and on May 26 Turkey agreed to reduce its other shipments to Germany by half and prefer orders from the Allies. Finally Turkey broke off diplomatic relations with Germany on August 2. Severe shortages and printing money caused extreme inflation as the price of food multiplied by eleven between 1938 and 1944.

Turkey declared war on Germany on February 23, 1945 in time to become a charter member of the United Nations. The Land Distribution Law in June gave state and foundation lands to landless peasants along with machinery to cultivate the land. In Turkey 99.75 percent of the farms were less than 125 acres. In densely populated areas up to three-quarters of the farms over 50 acres could be expropriated. Peasants were also given interest-free loans for twenty years. Turkey’s friendship treaty with the Soviet Union lapsed in March 1945, and Molotov made two demands—first that the border revert to where it had been in 1918, taking territory from Turkey, and second that a joint Turkish-Russian defense force be established in the Bosphorus and Dardanelles to guard the entrance to the Black Sea. Turkey rejected these but in a diplomatic manner. On November 2, 1945 the United States proposed an international conference to revise the Montreux convention, re-affirming free passage of warships by Black Sea powers but excluding the establishment of Soviet bases.

In 1945 former prime minister Celal Bayar, historian Fuat Koprülü, landowner Adnan Menderes, and lawyer Refik Koraltan expressed criticism and new ideas in the American-oriented Vatan (Fatherland) newspaper and the leftist Tan (Dawn). On September 21 Koprülü, Menderes, and Koraltan were expelled from the Republican People’s Party (RPP). Five days later Celal Bayar resigned from the Assembly, and in solidarity on December 3 he quit the RPP. The next day student mobs ransacked the offices of Tan and the daily Country and World (Yurt ve Dünya) as well as bookstores that carried Communist literature. On January 7, 1946 the four men founded the Democratic Party. On November 1 President Inonü declared that Turkey’s democracy needed an opposition party, and he proposed that the 1947 elections be free with a secret ballot and direct without the two-stage voting for an electoral college. These electoral reforms were passed by the Assembly in May 1946, but to defeat the new Democratic Party the RPP moved up the national elections one year to July 1946. The Democratic Party won 62 of the 465 seats in the Assembly, but the RPP still held 395. Despite Inonü’s wishes some RPP used their positions to influence the election results. After an inquiry Celal Bayar claimed that the DP had won 279 seats.

The new prime minister, Recep Peker, disliked the Democratic Party, and he tried to weaken them by adopting some of their liberal policies. Socialists and Communists both formed small parties in June 1946 and organized trade unions. On December 1 Peker applied martial law to arrest the leaders and ban the newspapers and the unions. In January 1947 the Democratic Party held its first congress and adopted the Freedom Pact advising their members to boycott the National Assembly if the Government would not withdraw certain undemocratic laws. President Inonü in June tried to reconcile the two parties, and on July 12 he declared that the state should be impartial to both parties. He gained enough support to force Peker to resign on September 9, and Inonü appointed the liberal Hasan Saka to be the new prime minister.

In January 1947 the Association of Istanbul Traders was organized, and they criticized statism for holding back economic progress. Another five-year plan was rejected, and the new Turkish Development Plan was adopted. The two parties had similar policies except that the Democratic Party wanted to sell off state industries. The Trade Union Law allowed workers to join unions, but strikes and lockouts were still prohibited. The Ministry of Labor was established and secured the eight-hour day, paid holidays, accident insurance, labor exchanges, and maternity benefits.

On March 12 President Truman proposed that the United States give $400 million in military and economic aid to Turkey and Greece to protect them from Soviet Communism. The US Congress allocated $300 million to Greece and $100 million to Turkey. On September 7 the Government decided to devalue the Turkish lira by 120% in order to be accepted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). At first Turkey was turned down by the Marshall Plan because it had not sustained destruction in the war and could contribute to Europe’s reconstruction. In February 1948 Sadak admitted the facts but argued that Turkey could not pay for equipment and machinery. A few months later Turkey was accepted by the Marshall Plan, and on July 8 the Assembly ratified the Economic Cooperation Agreement between the United States of America and the Republic of Turkey. They were also admitted into the Organization for European Economic Cooperation. In November an economic congress was held in Istanbul to promote liberal economic policies. By the end of 1949 Turkey had received $183 million in economic aid. Between 1945 and 1950 Turkey’s economy grew at an annual rate of 11%.

On January 16, 1949 Prime Minister Hasan Saka was replaced by a compromise candidate, Semsettin Günaltay, a university professor who favored Islam. His government promised free elections, economic programs to help the poor, tax reforms, and optional religion classes in elementary schools. The personal income tax system replaced the old profits tax. By the end of 1949 there were 83 trade unions with 73,873 members. Literacy passed 34%, and the population of Turkey was over twenty million. The opposition demanded free and fair elections supervised by the judiciary instead of the administration, and a compromise was reached on February 15, 1950. The parties were given equal broadcasting time, access to halls for public meetings, and a free press. The results of the election on May 14 were astonishing. About 8.5 million people voted, nearly ninety percent of those eligible, and Democratic candidates won 53% to 40% for the RPP. Since members were chosen by the majority in each district, the Democratic Party won 408 seats to 69 for the RPP, which did not win any in the developed western portion of Turkey. The RPP still had power brokers in the less developed Anatolia who controlled the vote. Inonü gave up power as Celal Bayar was elected president.

Turkey and Greece were not included in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) when it was founded on April 4, 1949, but in June 1950 Turkey began contributing to the United Nations police action in Korea. In the first three years Turkey received $477 million in American military aid. In 1950 the annual amount had reached $233 million. With American support Turkey passed a nine-year plan to develop a national highway system of 13,437 miles. In September 1950 the Turks declined an associate membership in NATO, but Turkey would be admitted as a regular member in 1952.

Halide Edib, Karaosmanoglu, and Güntekin

Halide Edib was born about 1883 into an aristocratic Turkish family in Istanbul. Her father was Sultan Abdulhamid’s secretary, and she was tutored at home in English, French, Arabic, and mathematics before attending a Greek school. In 1897 the Sultan gave her an award for translating the children’s book Mother by Jacob Abbott. In 1901 she was the first Turk to graduate from the American College for Women in Istanbul. She married her math tutor, Salih Zeki, and they had two children. After he took a second wife, they were divorced in 1910. In 1908 Halide began writing articles on education and the rights of women in the newspaper Tanin, and the government hired her to reform the girls’ schools in Istanbul. She was one of the founders of the organization, the Elevation of Women.

In 1912 Halide Edib wrote The New Turan (Yeni Turan) about the Pan-Turkish movement. During the Great War she inspected schools in Damascus, Beirut, and Mount Lebanon. She headed a large orphanage of mostly Armenian children, and Cemal ordered her to give them Muslim names despite her concern it would cause a reaction. At meetings of the Committee for Union and Progress (CUP) she met the family doctor Adnan Adivar, and they were married in 1917. She became famous with her bold speech at Sultanahmet Square on May 19, 1919 during the occupation of Izmir. She escaped the British attempt to send her to Malta in 1920, and she went with her husband Adnan to Anatolia to fight in the War of Independence. In 1926 she was accused of treason and escaped with her husband to Europe. They did not return to Turkey until after President Mustafa Kemal died in November 1938. Halide Edib’s autobiography was published in English in two volumes as Memoirs in 1926 and The Turkish Ordeal in 1928. She traveled and lectured, teaching at Barnard College in 1931. Gandhi invited her to India in 1935, and she taught in New Delhi. In 1939 she became a professor of English literature at the University of Istanbul. In 1950 she was elected as an independent to the National Assembly, and she resigned in 1954.

Halide Edib Adivar wrote 21 novels in Turkish and English. Her novel Shirt of Fire (1924) uses a quote from T. S. Eliot about love as the title, and it is about the heroine Ayse, who is like herself. Ayse is a skilled nurse in the war and urges her two male friends in a love triangle to go to Anatolia and fight for Turkish independence. They are fighting against the imperialists who used the Sevres Treaty to occupy their country. She dedicated the novel to the warriors who fought the victorious battle at Sakarya in September 1921. This novel has been adapted into films three times. Halide Edib’s most acclaimed novel, The Clown and His Daughter, was written in English and was published in 1935, and her Turkish translation in 1942 won a literary prize awarded by the People’s Republican Party.

Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoglu was born on March 27, 1889 and knew Halide Edib during the War of Independence. He was also planning to write a novel called Shirt of Fire, but he never used the title. He was educated at a French school in Cairo and at Izmir before moving to Istanbul in 1908. He joined the Dawn of the Future literary movement and was a journalist during the War of Independence. He wrote eighteen novels. He is best known for Nur Baba (1922) which exposes the corruption of the Bektashi religious order. He warned against imitating Western culture and opposed the separation of religion from the state. His novel The Night of Judgment (1927) is about the party struggles after the constitution of 1908 was adopted. He began publishing the socialist Kadro magazine in 1932.

That year Karaosmanoglu published his novel, The Alien (Yaban), which is about an intellectual, Ahmet Celal, who loses an arm fighting at Gallipoli in 1915. After the war the crippled soldier cannot stand to live in occupied Istanbul and takes refuge among the peasants in an Anatolian village with his former orderly. Karaosmanoglu portrayed the hardships of the Anatolian peasants and has been accused of showing them in a harsh light. The problem is the large gap between the peasants and the educated elite. To the villagers any educated person seems like an alien. Celal tries to win them over; but because he reads every night, they think he is a sorcerer. The peasants believe that Mustafa Kemal is an unbeliever at war against the Caliph. Thus many peasants are loyal to the Sultan, who has capitulated to the occupying Europeans, the enemies of the Turks fighting for independence. The peasants welcome the soldiers but are raped and robbed by them. Celal believes that Kamel is like the shepherd that Jesus talked about, trying to gather the people together. Celal also blames the intellectuals for not helping the peasants.

Karaosmanoglu was a member of the National Assembly, but he was suspected for his leftist politics. In 1934 he was sent as ambassador to Tirana in Albania. That year he wrote his novel Sodom ve Gomore about occupied Istanbul after World War I. He also served as an ambassador at Prague, The Hague, Tehran, and Berne.

Res¸at Nuri Güntekin was born in Istanbul on November 25, 1892. His father was a major in the Army, and he went to school in Çanakkale and Izmir. He earned his degree in literature at the House of Science in Istanbul and worked as a teacher and an administrator in Bursa and Istanbul. Güntekin represented Çanakkale in the National Assembly from 1933 to 1943. He was a chief inspector of education, and as the cultural attaché in Paris in 1950 he was Turkey’s representative to UNESCO.

Güntekin wrote many short stories and 17 novels. His first novel Çalıkuşu (The Wren) in 1922 was translated as The Autobiography of a Turkish Girl and made him famous. This novel was serialized in the newspaper Vatan (Motherland) and was later made into a film in 1966 and a television series in 1986. In Çalıkuşu the orphan girl Feride is educated in a French convent in Istanbul, and she falls in love with her cousin Kamran. The night before their wedding she runs away after a woman tells her that she was Kamran’s lover in Switzerland. Feride becomes a teacher in a remote village school where the only subject is religion. She is harassed and moves from village to village, trying to maintain her ideals. She adopts a sweet little girl who had been abused by her stepmother. Feride is pursued by both single and married men. She finally marries an older doctor who gives her and the child a home, but their marriage is not consummated. The dying doctor secretly sends her diary to Kamran and asks him to marry her after his death. The widow Feride meets Kamran after his wife died, and he has a child too. The writing is famous for its excellent language, characterization, and description of the peasant life in Anatolia.

Güntekin published his novel, The Green Night, in 1928. Şahin is a young teacher in a madrasah (Muslim school) in a poor village. His father wanted him to be in the green army, but he dropped out of the madrasah to go to a Teachers College. He notices the conflict between modern men who wear the fez and the devoted Muslims in turbans. Şahin studies history and becomes skeptical of the religious life, noticing that it has become divisive and corrupt. He tries to improve the school but is attacked by other teachers. Village leaders burn a shrine and blame a teacher. Şahin tries to build a new school; but the builders he hires are afraid of being attacked by the spirits of saints, and they leave. Prostitutes are sent to seduce Şahin so that he can be accused of adultery. However, these attempts fail, and honest officials support him. When the Great War starts, Şahin stays in the village to help the people and the army. Many of his friends are killed by Greeks, and he is banished to a Greek island. When he returns after the war, he finds the religious men in modern dress and positions of power. They try to reform things but are still corrupt. Şahin attempts to follow a middle path between the traditional and the modern. He finally realizes that “revolution cannot happen overnight.”


1. British Foreign Office Documents, ref. 371/6501 quoted in Caravans to Oblivion: The Armenian Genocide 1915 by G. S. Graber, p. 108.

2. Oriente Moderno, May 1931, p. 225-6 quoted in The Emergence of Modern Turkey by Bernard Lewis, p. 286.

Copyright © 2009-10 by Sanderson Beck

This chapter has been published in the book Mideast & Africa 1700-1950.
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Ottoman Empire 1600-1907
Ottoman Fall and Turkey 1908-1950
Persia (Iran) and Afghanistan 1600-1950
Arabia, Yemen, and Iraq 1600-1950
Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan 1600-1950
Palestine and Zionism 1600-1950
Egypt, Sudan, and Libya 1600-1950
Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco 1600-1950
West Africa and the French 1600-1950
West Africa and the British 1600-1950
Ethiopia and Somaliland 1600-1950
East Africa 1600-1950
Congo, Angola, and Mozambique 1600-1950
Southern Africa 1700-1950
Summary and Evaluation



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Chronology of Asia & Africa to 1800
Chronology of Asia & Africa 1800-1950
Mideast & Africa to 1950

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