1918-1923 1939-1945

Turkey in the years 1923-1939

Administration . The title Sultan of the Ottoman Empire was abolished in 1922; the title of (Ottoman) Caliph abolished in 1924. The Treaty of Lausanne 1923 brought international recognition of the Republic of Turkey.
From 1923 to his death in 1938, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk served as president. The office of PM was held by Ismet Inönü (CHP) from 1923 to 1924 and again from 1925 to 1937, by Ali Fethi Okyar (CHP) from 1923 to 1924, by Celal Bayar (CHP) from 1937 to 1939, by Refik (CHP) Saydam from 1939 to 1942. A republican constitution was adopted in 1924. The Republic of Turkey began as a multiparty democracy, and was transformed into a one-party state in 1925-1926. Ankara was chosen as capital.
In 1924-1937 Islamic canon law was replaced by a modern civil code modelled after the Swiss, and a modern penal code modelled after the Italian.

Foreign Policy . In an arrangement with Greece, the mutual exchange of ethnic minorities was agreed upon. In 1929, Eleftherios Venizelos, prime minister of Greece suggested Kemal Atatürk for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Treaty of Lausanne meant that the Republic of Turkey was internationally recognized, but as the successor to one of the empires defeated in World War I it suffered diplomatic ostracism. In 1923, the Republic of Turkey and the USSR entered into diplomatic relations.
In 1923-1926, Turkey contested Iraq's claim to the Mosul Region; in 1926 the League of Nations decided the matter in favour of Iraq.
Turkey joined the League of Nations in 1932.
From 1936 Turkey argued the status of the Sanjak of Alexandrette (hitherto part of the French mandate over Syria) in the League of Nations; in 1938 the Sanjak, under the name Republic of Hatay, received autonomy; in 1939 it was annexed by Turkey.
In 1934, Turkey, Greece, Yugoslavia and Romania formed the Balkan Pact, intended to promote regional peace.

The Economy . The Turkish Lira replaced the Ottoman Lira in 1926. The Central Bank of Turkey, in Istanbul, opened in 1931.
In 1924, Turkey produced 1.67 million metric tons of wheat, in 1939 4.32 million (IHS p.159).
The Turkish State Railways were established in 1927. In 1923, Turkey had 3,756 km of railroad, in 1939 7,324 km (IHS p.685).

Social History . The census of 1927 counted 13.6 million inhabitants of the Republic of Turkey, the census of 1935 16.1 million, the census of 1940 17.8 million (Lahmeyer).
In 1923 Greece and Turkey agreed upon a population exchange. About 1.5 million Greeks and Christians speaking other languages were forced to leave for Greece; in return Turkey received c.500,000 Turks and other Muslims from Greece and Bulgaria.
In 1934, Turkey introduced universal womanhood suffrage.

Ethnic and Religious Minorities . Turkish was the only language of administration, education and jurisdiction. In the aftermath of war, genocide and exodus, what was left of the Armenian and Greek population within the territory of the Republic of Turkey was concentrated in and around Istanbul (c. 200,000 Greeks in 1924). The muslimic Kurdish minority (or minorities, as there is no standardized Kurdish language, but a number of regional dialects) were denied political/cultural autonomy. The Republic of Turkey faced a numbr of Kurdish rebellions, the Sheikh Said Rebellion 1924-1927, continued by Shekh Said's brother Abdurrahman 1927, the Ararat Rebellion 1927-1930 (Republic of Ararat) and the Dersim Rebellion of 1937.
The constitution of 1924 defined the Republic of Turkey as a secular state. Education was made a state responsibility; schools were required to be secular. In 1924 the Ministry for Religious Affairs was established.

Cultural History . In 1928, the Tutrkish alphabet was introduced, replacing the Arab script hitherto used.
In 1934 Turkish citizens were required to have family names; feudal titles were abolished.
In 1935 the Hagia Sophia, since 1453 a mosque, was turned into a museum.
Turkish athletes participated in the Summer Olympics of Paris 1924, Amsterdam 1928 and Berlin 1936. In Berlin 1936, a Turkish wrestler won the country's first gold medal.

From the Ashes of an Empire. Mustafa Kemal, the man who changed the destiny of the Turkish people. from World Conflicts Document Project
Turquia, d'ença de la caiguda de l'Imperi otoma (1923) fins a 1960, from La Pagina de la Historia, in Catalan
Entry Kurdistan, from Footnotes to History by James L. Erwin
Articles Republican People's Party (CHP), List of Prime Ministers (Turkey, Ismet Inönü, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Atatürk's Reforms, Turkish Constitution of 1924, Secularism in Turkey, Kemalist Ideology, Ministry for Religious Affairs, Abolishment of the Ottoman Caliphate, Treaty of Lausanne, Turkish Alphabet, Turkish State Railways, Single Party Period of the Republic of Turkey, Greeks in Turkey, Population Exchange between Greece and Turkey, Armenians in Turkey, Kurds in Turkey, Sheikh Said Rebellion, Republic of Ararat, Dersim Rebellion, Turkey at the 1924 Summer Olympics, Turkey at the 1928 Summer Olympics, Turkey at the 1936 Summer Olympics, from Wikipedia
Hikmet Öksüz, The Reflections of the Balkan Pact in Turkish and European Public Opinion, in : Turkish Review of Balkan Studies 2007 pp.147-171
DOCUMENTS Ataturk speech of 1927, posted by the Ataturk Internet Library, abridged, in English translation
Republic of Turkey, bilateral international agreements, from Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Estimates of Death Toll in 1937 Dersim Massacre (of Kurds), posted by Matthew White, scroll down for Turkey
World Statesmen : Turkey, by Ben Cahoon
Historical Population Statistics : Turkey, from Population Statistics (Jan Lahmeyer)
REFERENCE A.L. MacFie, Profiles in Power : Atatürk, Harlow : Pearson 1994 [G]
Violet Conolly, Soviet Economic Policy in the East, London : Oxford UP 1933; pp.31-53 on Turkey [G]
Article : Turkey, in : Statesman's Yearbook 1924 pp.1336-1349, 1925 pp.1344-1357, 1926 pp.1306-1319, 1928 pp.1347-1361, 1929 pp.1321-1334, 1932 pp.1335-1350, 1937 pp.1367-1380 [G]
Article : Turkey, in : Americana Annual 1927 pp.838-842, 1928 pp.771-773, 1930 pp.758-759, 1931 pp.752-755, 1932 pp.702-705, 1933 pp.758-760, 1934 pp.586-589, 1935 pp.709-711, 1936 pp.723-726, 1937 pp.697-699, 1938 pp.693-694, 1939 pp.760-762 [G]
Article : Turkey, in : New International Year Book 1925 pp.704-706, 1928 pp.756-758, 1929 pp.805-807, 1930 pp.761-762, 1932 pp.793-794, 1933 pp.796-798, 1934 pp.695-697, 1935 pp.709-711, 1938 pp.731-733, 1939 pp.767-769 [G]
Article : Turkey, in : New International Year Book 1932 pp.509-510, 1933 pp.499-501, 1934 pp.505-506, 1935 pp.504-506, 1936 pp.495-497, 1937 pp.496-498, 1938 pp.496-498, 1939 pp.511-512 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2002, last revised on June 6th 2008

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