İsmet İnönü

His Excellency
İsmet İnönü
National Chief
2nd President of Turkey
In office
11 November 1938  22 May 1950
Prime Minister Celal Bayar
Refik Saydam
Ahmet Fikri Tüzer
Şükrü Saracoğlu
Recep Peker
Hasan Saka
Şemsettin Günaltay
Preceded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Succeeded by Celal Bayar
Prime Minister of Turkey
In office
1 November 1923  22 November 1924
Preceded by Ali Fethi Okyar (as Prime Minister of the Government of the Grand National Assembly)
Succeeded by Ali Fethi Okyar
In office
4 March 1925  25 October 1937
President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Preceded by Ali Fethi Okyar
Succeeded by Celal Bayar
In office
20 November 1961  20 February 1965
President Cemal Gürsel
Preceded by Emin Fahrettin Özdilek
Succeeded by Suat Hayri Urguplu
Leader of the Republican People's Party
In office
11 November 1938  8 May 1972
Preceded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Succeeded by Bülent Ecevit
Chief of the General Staff of Turkey
In office
20 May 1920  3 August 1921
Preceded by Office established
Succeeded by Fevzi Çakmak
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey
In office
26 October 1922  21 November 1924
Prime Minister Rauf Orbay
Ali Fethi Okyar
Preceded by Yusuf Kemal Tengirşenk
Succeeded by Şükrü Kaya
Personal details
Born Mustafa İsmet
(1884-09-24)24 September 1884
İzmir, Aidin Vilayet, Ottoman Empire
Died 25 December 1973(1973-12-25) (aged 89)
Ankara, Turkey
Resting place Anıtkabir
Ankara, Turkey
Nationality Turkish
Political party Republican People's Party
Spouse(s) Mevhibe İnönü
Children Erdal İnönü
Religion Sunni Islam
Military service
Allegiance  Ottoman Empire (1903–1920)
 Turkey (1920–1926)
Service/branch  Turkish Army
Rank Orgeneral
Battles/wars World War I
Turkish War of Independence

Mustafa İsmet İnönü (Turkish pronunciation: [isˈmet ˈinøny]; 24 September 1884 – 25 December 1973) was a Turkish general [1] and statesman, who served as the second President of Turkey from 11 November 1938, the day after the death of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, to 22 May 1950, when his Republican People's Party was defeated in Turkey's second free elections. He also served as the first Chief of the General Staff from 1922 to 1924, and as the first Prime Minister after the declaration of the Republic, serving three terms: from 1923 to 1924, 1925 to 1937, and 1961 to 1965. As President, he was granted the official title of "Milli Şef" (National Chief).[2]

When the 1934 Surname Law was adopted, Mustafa Kemal gave him a surname taken from İnönü, where he commanded the forces of Army of Grand National Assembly as the Minister of the Chief of the General Staff (Erkân-ı Harbiye-i Umumiye Reis Vekili) during the Greco-Turkish War of 1919–1922. Afterwards these battles became to be known as the First Battle of İnönü and Second Battle of İnönü.

Family and early life

President İnönü (far right) with his family, c.1940s; from left: his wife Mevhibe, and their three children, Ömer, Özden (later Toker), and Erdal

İsmet İnönü was born in İzmir, Aidin Vilayet to Hacı Reşit (Turkish: [hadʒɯ reʃit]) and Cevriye (Turkish: [dʒevrije]) (later Cevriye Temelli), and was of Kurdish descent on his father's side and of Turkish descent through his mother.[3][4][5][6][7] Hacı Reşit was retired from the First Examinant Department of Legal Affairs Bureau of the War Ministry (Harbiye Nezareti Muhakemat Dairesi Birinci Mümeyyizliği),[8] who was born in Malatya and a member of Kümüroğulları family of Bitlis. Cevriye was a daughter of Müderris (professor) Hasan Efendi who was ulema[8] and a member of Turkish family of Razgrad.[9] Due to his father's assignments, the family moved from one city to another. Thus, Ismet completed his primary education in Sivas and graduated Sivas Military Junior High School (Sivas Askerî Rüştiyesi) in 1894. And then he studied at Sivas School for Civil Servants (Sivas Mülkiye İdadisi) for a year.

Early military career

Ismet graduated from the Imperial School of Military Engineering (Mühendishane-i Berrî-i Hümâyûn) in 1903 as gunnery officer, and received his first military assignment in the Ottoman Army. He joined the Committee of Union and Progress. He won his first military victories by suppressing two major revolts against the struggling Ottoman Empire, first in Rumelia and later in Yemen, whose leader was Yahya Muhammad Hamid ed-Din. He served as a military officer during the Balkan Wars on the Ottoman-Bulgarian front. During World War I, he served with the Ottoman military rank of Miralay (arbitrarily the equivalent of Colonel or Senior Colonel (Brigadier)) and worked under Mustafa Kemal Pasha during his assignments at the Caucasus and Palestine fronts.

During the war, on 13 April 1916, Ismet married Mevhibe, who was a daughter of an Ashraf (Eşraf) of Ziştovi (present day Svishtov) Zühtü Efendi. They had three children: Ömer, Erdal and Özden (married to Metin Toker).[8]

Turkish War of Independence

After losing the Battle of Megiddo against General Edmund Allenby during the last days of World War I, he went to Constantinople (Istanbul) and was assigned Undersecretary of the Ministry of War and then General Secretary of the Documentation in the Military Council.

After the military occupation of Constantinople on 16 March 1920, he decided to pass to Anatolia to join the Turkish National Movement. He and his chief of staff Major Saffet (Arıkan) wore soldier uniform and left Maltepe in the evening of 19 March 1920 and arrived at Ankara on 9 April 1920.

He was appointed the commander of the Western Front of the Army of the Grand National Assembly (GNA), a position in which he remained during the Turkish War of Independence. He was promoted to the rank of Mirliva (arbitrarily the equivalent of Brigadier General or Major General; the most junior General rank with the title Pasha in the Ottoman and pre-1934 Turkish Army) after winning the First Battle of İnönü which took place between 9 and 11 January 1921. He also won the subsequent Second Battle of İnönü which was fought between 26 and 31 March 1921. During the Turkish War of Independence he was also a member of the GNA in Ankara.

İnönü was replaced by Mustafa Fevzi Pasha, who was also the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense at the time, as the Chief of Staff of the Army of the GNA after the Turkish forces lost major battles against the advancing Greek Army in July 1921, as a result of which the cities Afyonkarahisar, Kütahya and Eskişehir were temporarily lost. He participated as a staff officer (with the rank Brigadier General) to the later battles, until the final Turkish victory in September 1922.

Chief negotiator in Mudanya and Lausanne

After the War of Independence was won, İsmet Pasha was appointed as the chief negotiator of the Turkish delegation, both for the Armistice of Mudanya and for the Treaty of Lausanne.

The Lausanne conference convened in late 1922 to settle the terms of a new treaty that would take the place of the Treaty of Sèvres. Inönü became famous for his stubborn resolve in determining Ankara's position as the legitimate, sovereign government of Turkey. After delivering his position, Inönü turned off his hearing aid during the speeches of British foreign secretary Lord Curzon. When the secretary had finished, Inönü reiterated his position as if Lord Curzon had never said a word.[10]

Single-party period

Prime Minister

İnönü later served as the Prime Minister of Turkey for several terms, maintaining the system that Mustafa Kemal had put in place. He acted after every major crisis (such as the rebellion of Sheikh Said or the attempted assassination in Izmir against Mustafa Kemal) to restore peace in the country.

Statism in economy

He tried to manage the economy with heavy-handed government intervention, especially after the 1929 economic crisis, by implementing an economic plan inspired by the Five Year Plan of the Soviet Union. In doing so, he took much private property under government control. Due to his efforts, to this day, more than 70% of land in Turkey is still owned by the state.

Desiring a more liberal economic system, Atatürk dissolved the government of İnönü[11] and appointed Celâl Bayar, the founder of the first Turkish commercial bank Türkiye İş Bankası, as Prime Minister.

"National Chief" period


Roosevelt, İnönü and Churchill at the Second Cairo Conference on 4–6 December 1943.
Prime Minister İsmet İnönü in 1964.

After the death of Atatürk on 10 November 1938,[12] İnönü was viewed as the most appropriate candidate to succeed him, and was elected the second President of the Republic of Turkey. He enjoyed the official title of "Milli Şef", i.e. "National Chief".

World War II broke out in the first year of his presidency, and both the Allies and the Axis pressured İnönü to bring Turkey into the war on their side.[13] The Germans sent Franz von Papen to Ankara in April 1939 while the British sent Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen and the French René Massigli. On 23 April 1939, Turkish Foreign Minister Şükrü Saracoğlu told Knatchbull-Hugessen of his nation's fears of Italian claims of the Mediterranean as Mare Nostrum and German control of the Balkans, and suggested an Anglo-Soviet-Turkish alliance as the best way of countering the Axis.[14] In May 1939, during the visit of Maxime Weygand to Turkey, İnönü told the French Ambassador René Massigli that he believed that the best way of stopping Germany was an alliance of Turkey, the Soviet Union, France and Britain; that if such an alliance came into being, the Turks would allow Soviet ground and air forces onto their soil; and that he wanted a major programme of French military aid to modernize the Turkish armed forces.[15] The signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact on 23 August 1939 drew Turkey away from the Allies; the Turks always believed that it was essential to have the Soviet Union as an ally to counter Germany, and thus the signing of the German-Soviet pact undercut completely the assumptions behind Turkish security policy.[16] With the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, İnönü chose to be neutral in World War II as taking on Germany and the Soviet Union at the same time would be too much for Turkey, through he signed a treaty of alliance with Britain and France on 19 October 1939.[17] It was only with France's defeat in June 1940 that İnönü abandoned the pro-Allied neutrality that he had following since the beginning of the war.[17] A major embarrassment for the Turks occurred in July 1940 when the Germans captured and published documents from the Quai d'Orsay in Paris showing the Turks were aware of Operation Pike as the Anglo-French plan in the winter of 1939-40 to bomb the oil fiends in the Soviet Union from Turkey was codenamed, which was intended by Berlin to worsen relations between Ankara and Moscow.[18] In turn, worsening relations between the Soviet Union and Turkey were intended to drive Turkey into the arms of the Reich.[17] After the publication of the French documents relating to Operation Pike, İnönü had to fire Saracoğlu as Foreign Minister following Soviet complaints and signed an economic treaty with Germany that placed Turkey within the German economic sphere of influence, but İnönü would go no further towards the Axis.[17]

In the first half of 1941, Germany which was intent upon invading the Soviet Union went out of its way to improve relations with Turkey as the Reich hoped for a benevolent Turkish neutrality when the German-Soviet war began.[19] At same time, the British had great hopes in the spring of 1941 when they dispatched an expeditionary force to Greece that İnönü could be persuaded to enter the war on the Allied side as the British leadership had high hopes of creating a Balkan front that would tie down German forces, and which thus led a major British diplomatic offensive with the Foreign Secretary Sir Anthony Eden visiting Ankara several times to meet with İnönü.[20] İnönü always told Eden that the Turks would not join the British forces in Greece, and the Turks would only enter the war if Germany attacked Turkey.[21] For his part, Papen offered İnönü parts of Greece if Turkey were to enter the war on the Axis side, an offer İnönü declined.[21] In May 1941 when the Germans dispatched an expeditionary force to Iraq to fight against the British, İnönü refused Papen's request that the German forces be allowed transit rights to Iraq.[22]

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill travelled to Ankara on 30 January 1943 for a conference with President İnönu, to urge Turkey's entry into the war on the allied side.[23] Churchill met secretly with İnönü in January 1943, inside a railroad car at the Yenice Station near Adana. However, by December 4–6, 1943, İnönü felt confident enough about the outcome of the war, that he met with openly with Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill at the Second Cairo Conference. Until 1941, both Roosevelt and Churchill had thought that Turkey's continuing neutrality would serve the interests of the Allies by blocking the Axis from reaching the strategic oil reserves of the Middle East. But the early victories of the Axis up to the end of 1942 caused Roosevelt and Churchill to re-evaluate a possible Turkish participation in the war on the side of the Allies. Turkey had maintained a decently-sized Army and Air Force throughout the war, and Churchill wanted the Turks to open a new front in the Balkans. Roosevelt, on the other hand, still believed that a Turkish attack would be too risky, and an eventual Turkish failure would have disastrous effects for the Allies.

İnönü knew very well the hardships which his country had suffered during decades of incessant war between 1908 and 1922 and was determined to keep Turkey out of another war as long as he could. The young Turkish Republic was still re-building, recovering from the losses due to earlier wars, and lacked any modern weapons and the infrastructure to enter a war to be fought along and possibly within its borders. İnönü based his neutrality policy during the Second World War on the premise that Western Allies and the Soviet Union would sooner or later have a falling out after the war.[24] Thus, İnönu wanted assurances on financial and military aid for Turkey, as well as a guarantee that the United States and the United Kingdom would stand beside Turkey in the event of a Soviet invasion of the Turkish Straits after the war. In August 1944 İnönü broke off diplomatic relations with Germany and on 5 January 1945, İnönü severed diplomatic relations with Japan.[25] Shortly afterwards, İnönü allowed Allied shipping to use the Turkish straits to send supplies to the Soviet Union and on 25 February 1945 he declared war on Germany and Japan.[22]

The post-war tensions and arguments surrounding the Turkish Straits would come to be known as the Turkish Straits crisis. The fear of Soviet invasion and Joseph Stalin's unconcealed desire for Soviet military bases in the Turkish Straits[24] eventually caused Turkey to give up its principle of neutrality in foreign relations and join NATO in February 1952.[26]

Multi-party period

İnönü's tomb at Anıtkabir

Under international pressure to transform the country to a democratic state, İnönü presided over the infamous 1946 elections, in which votes were cast in the open with onlookers able to observe to which party the voters had cast their votes, yet counting of the votes were not open for the public to observe.

In 1950, his party lost the first free elections in the republic's history. The Democrat Party used a slogan: "Geldi İsmet, kesildi kısmet" ("Since Ismet came, fortune was cut" ) for their election campaigns. İnönü presided over the peaceful transfer of power to the Democratic Party of Celâl Bayar and Adnan Menderes. İnönü served for ten years as the leader of the opposition before returning to power as Prime Minister after the 1961 election, held after the military coup-d'etat in 1960.

Although the opposition was imprisoned during the 1961 elections, he still did not win a majority and had to form coalition governments until the 1965 elections. He lost both the 1965 and 1969 general elections to Süleyman Demirel and then in 1972 he lost his party's leadership race to Bülent Ecevit.

İsmet İnönü was, by the standards of his time, a highly educated man, speaking Arabic, English, French and German in addition to his native Turkish.

İnönü died in 1973. He was interred opposite to Atatürk's mausoleum at Anıtkabir in Ankara and a massive tomb was constructed there.


İnönü University and Malatya İnönü Stadium in Malatya are named after him, as is the İnönü Stadium in Istanbul, home of the Beşiktaş football club.


See also


  1. TSK Genel Kurmay Baskanlari
  2. Howard, Douglas Arthur (2001). The History of Turkey. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 109. ISBN 0-313-30708-3.
  3. N. Pope, H. Pope, Turkey Unveiled: A History of Modern Turkey, Overlook Press, 1998, ISBN 1-58567-096-0, ISBN 978-1-58567-096-3, p.254 (... president of republic, including Ismet Inönü and Turgut Özal, had Kurdish blood. Several cabinet ministers in 1980s and 1990s had been Kurdish...) – reference found in Turkish Wikipedia article
  4. Romano, David, The Kurdish nationalist movement: opportunity, mobilization, and identity, (Cambridge University Press, 2006), 118; Despite his own Kurdish ancestry, Inonu had apparently embraced Ziya Gokalp's notions of Turkism, which allowed him to advance to the highest post of the new republic.
  5. Erik Jan Zürcher, "The Young Turks – Children of the Borderlands?" at the Wayback Machine (archived 12 January 2008) (October 2002)
  6. "Demek İsmet Kürttür. Hem de koyu Kürt! Biz bu heyetin başından Abaza diye Rauf’u attırdık. Türk diye bir halis Kürt getirmişiz, vah yazık!", Rıza Nur, Hayat ve Hatıratım: Rıza Nur-İnönü kavgası, Lozan ve ötesi, İşaret Yayınları, 1992, p. 235.
  7. "Even Ismet Inonu, Ataturk's long time ally and successor, was discouraged from revealing his Kurdish heritage.", Nader Entessar, "The Kurdish Mosaic of Discord", Third World Foundation, Third World Quarterly, Vol. 11, No. 4, Ethnicity in World Politics (Oct. 1989), Carfax Publishing Co., 1989, p. 93.
  8. 1 2 3 T.C. Genelkurmay Harp Tarihi Başkanlığı Yayınları, Türk İstiklâl Harbine Katılan Tümen ve Daha Üst Kademlerdeki Komutanların Biyografileri, Genkurmay Başkanlığı Basımevi, Ankara, 1972. (Turkish)
  9. Günvar Otmanbölük, İsmet Paşa Dosyası, Cilt 1, Yaylacık Matbaası, 1969, p. 6. (Turkish)
  10. Cleveland, William L., and Martin P. Bunton. A History of the Modern Middle East. Boulder: Westview, 2013. Print.
  11. Lord Kinross, Ataturk: A biography of Mustafa Kermal, Father of Modern Turkey (New York: William Morrow & Company, 1965) p. 449.
  12. Nicole Pope and Hugh Pope, Turkey Unveiled: A History of Modern Turkey (New York: The Overlook Press, 2004) p. 68.
  13. Nicole Pope and Hugh Pope, Turkey Unveiled: A History of Modern Turkey, p. 75.
  14. Watt, D.C. How War Came : The Immediate Origins of the Second World War, 1938–1939 ,London: Heinemann, 1989 page 278
  15. Watt, D.C. How War Came : The Immediate Origins of the Second World War, 1938–1939, London: Heinemann, 1989 page 282
  16. Watt, D.C. How War Came : The Immediate Origins of the Second World War, 1938–1939, London: Heinemann, 1989 page 310.
  17. 1 2 3 4 Weinberg, Gerhard A World In Arms, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005 page 78
  18. Weinberg, Gerhard A World In Arms, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005 page 970
  19. Weinberg, Gerhard A World In Arms, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005 pages 196-197.
  20. Weinberg, Gerhard A World In Arms, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005 pages 216-216.
  21. 1 2 Weinberg, Gerhard A World In Arms, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005 page 219.
  22. 1 2 Weinberg, Gerhard A World In Arms, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005 page 226.
  23. Andrew Mango, The Turks Today, (New York: The Overlook Press, 2004) p. 36.
  24. 1 2 Andrew Mango, The Turks Today, p. 37.
  25. Weinberg, Gerhard A World In Arms, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005 page 809.
  26. Andrew Mango, The Turks Today, p. 47.

Further reading

External links

Military offices
New title
Office established
Chief of Turkish General Staff
Succeeded by
Fevzi Çakmak
Political offices
Preceded by
Yusuf Kemal Tengirşenk
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey
Succeeded by
Şükrü Kaya
Preceded by
Ali Fethi Okyar
Prime Minister of Turkey
Succeeded by
Ali Fethi Okyar
Preceded by
Ali Fethi Okyar
Prime Minister of Turkey
Succeeded by
Celal Bayar
Preceded by
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
President of Turkey
Succeeded by
Celal Bayar
Preceded by
Emin Fahrettin Özdilek
Prime Minister of Turkey
Succeeded by
Suat Hayri Ürgüplü
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP)
Succeeded by
Bülent Ecevit
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