Turkish Revolution : 1923 What is the Turkish Revolution?




The Turks were the only one of the Central Powers able to overturn immediately the vindictive settlements imposed by the Allies following World War I. Because Turkish resistance ultimately was led to success by Mustafa Kemal, it long has been assumed that he created it as well. He did, indeed, do more than anyone else to create the Turkish Republic on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, but he accomplished this by bringing together elements of resistance that had already emerged. He coordinated their efforts, expressed their goals, personified their ambitions, and led them to victory.


The National Resistance Forces

Resistance appeared from the first days of the occupation while Mustafa Kemal still was in Cilicia. It came initially from within the Istanbul government itself, where many of the officials organized the secret Outpost Society (Karakol Cemiyeti) shortly after the armistice and used their positions to thwart the Allied demands as well as to send arms and ammunition to Anatolia. Small boats were loaded in the capital in the cover of darkness and sent out into the Aegean and the Black Sea to deliver their valuable cargoes. There is considerable evidence that Talat Paşa himself stimulated the first resistance movements in Thrace before fleeing the country and that resistance in Istanbul was organized within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. When Mustafa Kemal, Kâzim Karabekir, and other leading officers returned to Istanbul to protest the demobilization orders, they were warmly received by the sultan and others and appointed to important positions in the areas remaining under direct Ottoman authority, where they could lead opposition almost under the noses of the Allies.



1. Turkey was called ‘Sickman of Europe.

2. The disintegration of the Ottoman Empire began in the 19th century and was completed after Turkey's defeat in the First World War.

3. The Allies wanted to establish their domination over Turkey itself and to give away parts of Turkey to Greece and Italy.

4. The treatment meted out to Turkey by the Allies had led to a mass upsurge in India directed against Britain. This upsurge is known as the Khilafat Movement.

5. The nationalist movement in Turkey was organized to prevent the domination of the country by the Allied Powers and the annexation of parts of Turkey agreed to the terms dictated by the Allied Powers.

6. However, even before the treaty was signed by the Sultan, a national government had been established under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha with its headquarter in Ankara.

7. Following the treaty with the Sultan, Turkey had been invaded by Greece.

8. The Turks under Kemal's leadership were able to repel the invasion and the Allies were forced to repudiate the earlier treaty. The Allied troops were withdrawn from Turkish territory and the areas which were to be annexed by European countries remained in Turkey. Thus, Turkey was able to win its complete independence.

9. The success of the Turks in winning the complete independence of their country was followed by a program to modernize Turkey and to end the influence of backward-looking feudal elements.

10. Turkey was proclaimed a republic on Oct. 29, 1923, and Kemal became the first President of Turkey. He ruled the new republic for 15 years (1923-38). The Turkish Sultan had carried the title of Caliph (Khalifa); the new government abolished the institution of Caliph (Khalifa) in 1924. Education was taken out of the hands of the religious leaders. Religion was separated from the State.

11. Mustafa Kemal Pasha is known as the 'founder of modem Turkey' and 'Ataturk' (the father of the Turks).


What is the Turkish Revolution? This revolution refers to a wider change than the word “ Revolution “ first suggests. Today, our country is governed in the best way that has abolished all the others that were practiced in many centuries.


The bond among the individuals that the nation suggests for its existence has changed its form and essential character, in other words, the nation has instituted its unity by the bond of “Turkish Nationality” instead of the bond of religion and sect.

The nation acknowledges the fact that science and the means that can be a nation’s reason of existence and power in the international struggle, can only be found in contemporary civilization, as a solid principle.


These changes that our great nation has performed in the course of its life are in summary one of the most magnificent revolutions that is much deeper than any revolution. 

The real revolutionaries are those who know how to penetrate the true tendency in the souls and conscience of the people they want to direct to the revolution of progress. I would like to take this opportunity to stress that the true owner of the political and social revolutions, and the wonders the Turkish nation performed in the last years, is the nation itself. It is you. If this progress and capacity hadn’t existed, nothing would have been sufficient to create it. Undoubtedly, the impossibility of taking a society that is at a certain level of civilization to a much higher level in no time is obvious. This is the main principle of the revolutions we’ve made and we are still making. It is definitely essential to get rid of the mentality that cannot accept it. Until now, there have been many that have this mentality that benumbs and rusts society’s mind. The fabricated nonsense in the minds will surely be expelled. Unless it is completely expelled, it is impossible to restore the mind to its true light. 


A destructed country on the edge of the cliff ... Bloody battles against many enemies ... Year-long war ... And then, a new motherland, a new society, a new government that is esteemed at home and abroad, and continuous revolutions to reach these goals ... Here is a summary of the Turkish revolution.


Which one should be preferred for Turkey, gradual or sudden progress? There are two ways. One of them, as you all know, is the way of the French Revolution: Regimes would change, counter-revolutions against revolutions would be made, a century and a half would pass while the left thrashing the right, the right stomping on the left .... Does this nation have that much blood in its veins and that long time to wait? 


The law of the revolution is superior to the existing law. As long as we are not killed and the movement started in our minds is not suffocated, the revolution we have started will not stop even for a single moment. 


The revolution is as bright, as hot, and as far from us as the sun. I always find my direction using this sun, and go forward, forward, forward until it is too scorching and bright to get any closer. Then I stop and redirect myself using the sun.


There are some periods in a nation’s history when all the physical and moral forces must be united and aimed in the same direction to reach certain goals. In recent years, our nation perceived the important results of such a movement of unity.


All the nationalist and republican forces must unite their power to defend the revolution and the country against internal and external threats. Forces of the same kind must unit in the same manner 1931.

Let all the world know that there is only one side, that I am on the side of the republic, the political and social revolution. On this matter, I do not even want to think that any citizen of the new Turkish Republic feels any different. 1924 


Those with fresh ideas are those with real ideas who see and perceive the right path. This is the main desire and the point of view of the nation we all must comply with. 1925 


Friends, for the revolutions we have made and we are still making, we follow the light and the enlightened; our goal and skill is to enlighten the illiterate and encourage them to walk with us to reach the light. It would not only be ignorance, but also treachery to resort to a referendum which would hinder us from taking our republic to the level of contemporary civilization. In a country where 80 % of the population is illiterate, revolutions can not be decided by plebiscites!


We will perform all the requirements of the republic trusting the nation’s sharpness and capacity to progress, and never suspecting its determination. We know that we face many hindrances and difficulties. We will solve all of these problems one by one with determination and faith, and the unbeatable power of the love of the nation. It is that love of the nation, which is the source of never-ending power, fire, and endurance in our hearts in spite of everything. 1924 


Our nation is a self-sacrificing one for its motherland, independence, and freedom; This is a fact it has proven. Our nation is also jealously protective of the revolutions it has made. No one, no power can keep a nation that has such inbred virtues in its heart from treading the right path it walks on. 1924 


As the height of the sun of a revolution that rose on the horizon of Turkey, increased spreading its warmth, the heart of the Turkish nation filled with the warmest love towards the world’s great and worthy feats, and all the principles of progress have been fully adopted. 1923 


The obstacles that want to slow down the social and intellectual pace of our nation which is capable of every progress and maturity must absolutely be eliminated. 1924 


We have made a great revolution. We have carried the country from one era to a new one. We have broken many old institutions. Those institutions have thousands of followers. We must not forget that they are waiting for the right time and opportunity. Even the most advanced democracies have employed hard measures to protect the regime, and we need the measures that protect the revolution even more than them. 1925

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