The Mütareke (Truce) period, which lasted for five years after the defeat of the Ottoman state in the First World War, can be divided into three phases. The first phase lasted 18 months, from the signing of the Armistice of Moudros on October 30, 1918, to March 16, 1920, when the official (legal) and military invasion of Istanbul occurred. The second phase lasted for two and a half years, until the abolition of the sultanate on November 1, 1922, and the third phase for 9 months, during which time the Entente Powers continued to control the city until the Lausanne Peace Treaty was signed on July 24, 1923.

Mehmed VI (Vahdeddin) was the sultan during the first two phases, having ascended to the throne in July 1918, after the death of his older brother, Sultan Mehmed Reşad. During the third phase, the caliph, Abdülmecid Efendi, ruled over the caliphate until the beginning of March 1924; that is, for four months and one week after the establishment of the Republic.

In the histories that have been written about the Mütareke period, the Milli Mücadele (national struggle) of Anatolia typically overshadows Istanbul. From the beginning of the Mütareke until the occupation of Istanbul, seven governments were established. The following grand viziers headed up these governments: Ahmed İzzet Pasha, Ahmed Tevfik Pasha (second time); Damat Ferid Pasha (first time); Ali Rıza Pasha, Salih Hulusi Pasha, Damat Ferid Pasha (second time), and Ahmed Tevfik Pasha (third time). During this first phase of the Mütareke, the Entente Powers ensured that the prosecution of citizens who they deemed to be war criminals was carried out by the Ottoman rulers directly; however, at the start of the second phase, the İtilaf yüksek komiserleri (Entente high commissioners) took over this task. Indeed, this was the justification for the occupation. During the second phase (March 1920 to November 1, 1922), Damat Ferid Pasha’s final two (fourth and fifth) and A. Tevfik Pasha’s two-year-long (fourth) late Ottoman governments were established. From the time of the abolition of the sultanate to the liberation of Istanbul from the Entente Powers, Istanbul was ruled by a national government in Ankara in accordance with the decision of the Heyet-i Umumiye (Public Delegation), taken on October 13, 1923, to transfer the capital city from Istanbul to Ankara.

During the Mütareke era, Istanbul had a population of about 1,200,000; roughly half were Muslims, with approximately 400,000 Greeks, 120,000 Armenians, and 45,000 Jews; there were other foreigners and Levantines living in the city as well. (Although Istanbul’s Greek population had been exempted from the mandatory population exchange, during the first population census of the Republic in 1927, 120,000 people indicated Greek as their native language. There must have been about 200,000 individuals who were part of the Greek Orthodox Church). Following the Balkan wars, a great migration wave hit Istanbul. During the Mütareke, Muslim refugees continued to arrive. Following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, Russian aristocrats began to arrive in Istanbul as refugees; when the czarist armies were defeated at the hands of the Red Army, the rate of Russian immigrants increased. These latter Russians, in particular, the Vrangel Army, which was exiled from the Crimea in the autumn of 1920, fled to Istanbul. Russian immigrants fleeing the Communists were referred to as White Russians,1 implying their opposition to the “red” Communists.

1- Istanbul at the beginning of the 20<sup>th</sup> century

White Russians temporarily settled in Istanbul and Gelibolu, as well as on the northern Aegean islands. A majority of the White Russians in Istanbul left Turkey in 1923, after receiving French visas; however, they left a deep mark on the life of the city: the patisserie culture, cocaine, prostitutes (referred to as haraşo), and the venereal diseases they spread were all part of the Russian legacy. The Entente Powers—the connection to the czarist era in the war—were more interested in the White Russians than they were in the Ottoman authorities. As the White Russians were leaving, they published a French book entitled Spasibo (“thank” you in Russian). Although in the spring of 1922 a campaign to “help the starving in the Crimea” was launched in Ankara to help those suffering from the Russian famine, no similar effort was made in Istanbul.

In Mudros, Admiral Calthorpe told Rauf Bey that Greek ships would not be allowed to enter Istanbul or İzmir; he further emphasized his orders that Istanbul not be occupied. However, London did not comply with these requests; as early as November 16, 1918, 55 warships belonging to the Entente Powers docked in Istanbul Port. (Averof had docked in İzmir Port one month before the May 1919 campaign.)

On December 21, 1918, the Meclis-i Mebusan (Chamber of Deputies) was closed down on the orders of the sultan. Even though, according to the Kanun-ı Esasi (the Ottoman constitution of 1876), new elections were to be held in four months, the final Ottoman Meclis was convened on January 12, 1920. This was during the government of Ali Rıza Pasha, which had begun in December 1919. Subsequent to this the Milli Mücadele started in Anatolia.

Immediately after the truce, on November 5, the İttihat ve Terakki Fırka (Committee of Union and Progress) faction held a congress and made the decision to dissolve the party, establishing the Teceddüd Party. Many new parties were also established. Dr. Esad (Işık) Pasha brought these together under the umbrella organization Milli Kongre (National Congress). A similar initiative was the Milli Blok or Vahdet-i Milliye (National Unity) movement. Actually, the members of the İttihat ve Terakki, whose leaders had fled abroad, wanted to maintain their political ideas; they tried this at one point by establishing the Halk Şuralar Fırkası (People’s Council Party). The Müdafaa-i Hukuk Cemiyetleri (Defense of Law League) established the civil foundation for the Milli Mücadele and set up branches in various places in the country; these were formed from the units of the İttihat ve Terakki, known as klüp (club). At the same time in Istanbul, the İttihat ve Terakki group formed a secret organization known as the Karakol (Black Arm); in contrast to the associations that gathered under the name Anadolu ve Rumeli Müdafa-i Hukuk Cemiyetleri (Association for the Defense of Rights for Anatolia and Rumelia), the Karakol tried to act independently of Mustafa Kemal Pasha; as a result, this organization was banned in 1920, and the Mim Mim (Müsellah/Müstahberat-ı Milliye or National Arms/Intelligence) Group was established in its place.

2- Beyoğlu during the years of occupation

In the final Meclis-i Mebusan elections, no non-Muslim candidates ran for office (later, this fact was used by the sultan as justification for abolishing parliament). Almost all of those elected demanded liberation from the Armenian occupiers in the East and the Greek occupiers in the West. In a special (but not secret) session of the parliament, held on January 28, the principles determined by the congresses in Anatolia were formally adopted as the Misak-ı Milli (National Pact). In brief, this text asserted that the administration had an irrevocable right over regions that had not fallen to enemy forces during the truce and areas where Turks formed a majority.

However, the deputies wanted to exceed the borders of the regions that had been designated during the Mütareke, and to enlarge the scope of a clause in the Misak-ı Milli that read “hatt-ı mütareke dâhil ve haricinde”—that is, all Ottoman territory, whether it was included or excluded from the treaty. This text was used during negotiations with foreign powers as if it had a clear meaning. However, during a secret session of parliament, Mustafa Kemal Pasha stated that no such thing had occurred and that the new Turkish state would acquire all the land it could.

During the final days of World War I, Mustafa Kemal Pasha left the soldiers of the Yıldırım Army, who had been transferred to his command by Liman von Sanders, on the Mesopotamian Front and came to Istanbul. He did not spend much time with his mother, who was living in Beşiktaş-Akaretler, instead renting a home in Şişli (where he lived for five months starting in mid-December 1918). With the help of some good friends, Mustafa Kemal Pasha inquired into the possibility of joining Ahmed İzzet Pasha’s cabinet as the minister of war. Mustafa Kemal Pasha later began to debate with friends, such as Rauf (Orbay) Bey, Kâzım Karabekir, and Ali Fuat (Cebesoy) pashas, whom he regularly invited to his house, about how to liberate Turkey. Following independence, the Şehremaneti (city council) awarded Mustafa Kemal Pasha the title of honorary townsman, while naming the street on which his home was located Halaskâr Gazi, meaning Savior Warrior. (The house has since become a museum.) Due to the dissenting attitudes of Istanbul’s media and intellectual circles, Mustafa Kemal Pasha had a falling out with the city for eight years and only visited it again on July 1, 1927.

3a- Occupation commanders and soldiers in Istanbul (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Atatürk Library)

3b- Occupation commanders and soldiers in Istanbul (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Atatürk Library)

3c- Occupation commanders and soldiers in Istanbul (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Atatürk Library)

3d- Occupation commanders and soldiers in Istanbul (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Atatürk Library)

At the same time, accompanied by Fethi (Okyar) Beg, Mustafa Kemal Pasha put his mind to getting the critical newspaper Minber published. The military had for the most part been dissolved, and the efe and zeybek bands, who were nothing more than patriotic highwaymen in the western parts of Anatolia, had started their own resistance against the Greeks. Mustafa Kemal Pasha, as a military officer, wanted to get help from regular armies as soon as possible. The only country to which he could apply was Soviet Russia. When czarist Russia fell, anti-Bolshevik regimes had emerged in the Caucasus: these consisted of the Dashnak government in Armenia, the Mensheviks in Georgia, and the Müsavat (Equality) Party in Azerbaijan, which was supported by England. Thus, a wall had been erected between Turkey and Russia. Mustafa Kemal Pasha correctly understood that if this “Caucasus wall” was brought down, Soviet help could be obtained.

At the beginning of 1919, some of the Russian villages in the Black Sea region complained to the Entente Powers about harassment by “Muslim bands”; they succeeded in persuading the grand vizier to propose a solution. It was thought that sending a high-ranking military official to the area would solve the problem. Mustafa Kemal Pasha had himself recommended for this role through his friend Ali Fuad Pasha and the minister of the interior, Mehmed Ali Beg. As Mustafa Kemal Pasha had earlier accompanied Vahdeddin, while the latter was still heir to the throne, on a trip to Germany and still acted as Vahdeddin’s honorary aide-de-camp, this was found to be acceptable. In the end, after taking on the role of military inspector, and taking control of a large area of northeastern Anatolia in mid-May, Mustafa Kemal Pasha went to Samsun. From there he continued to the Congress of the Eastern Provinces in Erzurum and the Anadolu ve Rumeli Müdafa-i Hukuk Cemiyetleri unification congress in Sivas; he was elected the chairman of the representative delegations of these committees.

4- Occupation ships at Sarayburnu

During World War I, the Entente Powers had decided how to divide up the Ottoman lands amongst themselves. In much the same way that provinces were divided into sanjaks over a period of time, the Entente occupation of Istanbul was divided into the districts of Istanbul (the Historic Peninsula/Suriçi (inner city walls), Beyoğlu, and Üsküdar (the Asian side), which were assigned to the French, British, and Italians, respectively, with Russia being taken out the picture by the Bolshevik Revolution. Britain had been promised the provinces of Baghdad and Basra, while France was to be given the province of Damascus, the sanjak of Lebanon, and part of the provinces of Harput and Diyarbakır. Libya, the 12 islands in the southern Aegean, parts of the provinces of Antalya and Konya, and the north of İzmir had been set aside for Italy in accordance with the treaties of London and St. Jean de Maurienne. Greece was not included in this division. Greece had long been on the side of the Entente powers and later, through the encouragement of France, had become part of the Entente Power block. However, Greece had not fought against the Ottomans during World War I. In the summer of 1914, Greece was making efforts to bring back the Ottoman Greeks who had been forced to migrate from the Aegean region. After the war, Greece was allowed to occupy İzmir and its hinterlands in order to force the Ottomans to accept the severe peace conditions. The chief supporter of the Greeks was the British politician Lloyd George of the Liberal Party; he headed up the coalition government that had been formed with a majority of Conservative Party politicians. This support for the Greeks led to the Italians falling out with the other Entente Power states and siding with the Turks. The French had employed Armenian troops in Urfa and Antep in 1920, but following the 1921 London Conference, they preferred to extend the hand of friendship to the Turks. This period came to an end on October 20, 1921, with the Ankara Agreement, which Henry Franklin-Bouillon signed on behalf of France.

The British had insisted on prosecuting a number of Turkish officials, accusing them of war crimes and the Armenian Massacre. They initially did this through the Ottomans by way of parliamentary inquiries and the Martial Law Courts. The governor of Diyarbakır, Dr. Reşid, who was culpable of these allegations, committed suicide on February 6, 1919, thus avoiding prosecution. On April 10, the court martial under Nemrut Mustafa hanged the district governor of Boğazlıyan, Kemal Beg. His funeral became a huge demonstration against the Entente Powers. After the occupation of İzmir by the Greeks in mid-May, protests took place in Istanbul and in other cities. The largest demonstrations were in Sultanahmet, Fatih, Üsküdar, and Kadıköy. In mid-January 1920, in the days leading up to the occupation of Istanbul, a protest that brought together 10,000 people took place in Istanbul.

5- Rally organized at Sultanahmet to protest the occupation of Izmir

Intellectual circles in Istanbul had differing opinions as to what stance needed to be taken concerning the occupation of Istanbul. Many held the belief that the unity of the Ottoman state could only be secured if it were protected by a larger state (Mandate). Some of the high-ranking young soldiers were hoping to end the occupation through armed resistance. Meanwhile, university instructors were divided between those who supported the Milli Mücadele and those who did not. In the spring of 1922, the nationalist Darülfünun (university) students published a notice of Ali Kemal (who was a minister in the Damat Ferid cabinet), Rıza Tevfik (who signed the Sevres Peace Treaty), Hüseyin Daniş (Bölükbaşı), Cenap Şehabeddin, and Barsamyan—calling for their resignation and, failing that, their dismissal. Based on the assertion that the university committee lacked authority, no decision was made regarding this demand. The students’ strike came to an end when the Darülfünun Divanı (University Senate) decided that these instructors were to be considered as being on permanent leave, thus severing their relationship with the university.

During the Mütareke period in Istanbul, in addition to the official newspaper Takvim-i Vekāyi, newspapers such as the pro-Ankara Tevhîd-i Efkâr, İleri, Vakit, İkdam, and Vatan, and the anti-Kemalist Peyâm-ı Sabah, Alemdar, and Serbestî were published. The former İttihat ve Terakki nationalist publication Tanin supported Ankara. In addition to Refik Halit Karay’s Aydede, there were satirical magazines like Karagöz, Diken, and Zümrüt. In addition to newspapers published by minorities in their own languages, there was the French La Turquie Nouvelle, which looked favorably upon Mustafa Kemal, as well as the Orient News, which practically functioned as an official British paper. There were also many other publications, which have not been researched much, with a low circulation and a short lifespan.

In reality, the Thracian borders were determined during the Balkan wars. Bulgaria, which joined the Allied Forces during World War I and was defeated along with them, had given its territory along the Ottoman border to Greece. In September of 1922, when the Greek army in Anatolia was pushed to the Aegean Sea, the Greek generals wanted to send their forces to western Thrace, toward Istanbul, in order to occupy the city and have more cards at the bargaining table. As the Turks to the west of Istanbul did not have the means to resist them, this was a good calculation on the part of the Greeks. The British government, however, was wary of a potential reaction from the Muslims in India and did not allow the Greeks to march on Istanbul.

6- Rally organized at Üsküdar Doğancılar to protest the occupation of Izmir (Üsküdar Municipality Archives)

The Ottoman army, which had numbered around 2,000,000 during the First World War, was quite weak during the Mütareke period. When Atatürk arrived in Samsun, eight corps existed in three army zones (in addition to the independent corps in Diyarbakır). Heading up the First Army in Istanbul was Fevzi Çakmak, while Mersinli Cemal Pasha headed the Second Army in Konya. The first Damat Ferid Pasha government appointed Mustafa Kemal Pasha as head of the Third Army (he had initially been appointed as the inspector of the Ninth Army) in Erzurum (this army zone included the sanjaks of Canik and Erzincan as well as the provinces of Van, Erzurum, and Trabzon). Additionally, the Fifteenth Corps, under the leadership of Kazım Karabekir, was strong, as it had taken over the military staff and equipment of the Caucasian Islamic Army, which the İttihad ve Terakki had prepared for the conquest of Central Asia. With Karabekir Pasha as commander of the 15th Corps, Ali Fuat (Çebesoy) Pasha was assigned to the 20th Corps in Ankara. Of those who were still colonels, Refet (Bele) Bey was given leadership of the 3rd Corps in Sivas, Fahrettin (Altay) Bey was given the 12th Corps in Konya, and Cafer Tayyar (Eğilmez) Bey was given the 3rd Corps in Sivas. Colonel İsmet (İnönü) Bey was the undersecretary of Ahmed İzzet Pasha, who was the acting Minister of War. Fevzi Çakmak was appointed as Minister of War in the cabinet of Salih Pasha. After the military occupation of Istanbul, both of these commanders went to Ankara.

Bands known as the Kuva-yı Milliye (National Forces) had been the first to undertake the Milli Mücadele since the regular military forces were inadequate. The most famous of these was Çerkez Ethem’s Kuvve-i Seyyare (mobile force). At the end of 1920, while the Armenian Dashnak forces were being defeated on the eastern front, on the western front the transition to a regular army took place with the defeat of Çerkez Ethem’s revolt.

The successful First and Second İnönü Wars, waged against the Greeks at the beginning of 1921, the later Kütayha-Eskişehir defeats, and the Sakarya War that are explained in detail in modern Turkish history, known as the history of the revolution. However, in order to make it seem as if the Milli Mücadele was not aimed solely against the Greeks and the British–French alliance that supported them, but also included the Damat Ferid Pasha governments in Istanbul, which were collaborating with the occupation forces, this standard account fails to state that, due to the pressure inflicted by the invading forces, the last government of Ferid Pasha resigned on October 17, 1920 and that Tevfik Pasha’s cabinet brought the anti-Kuva-yı Milliye activities to an end. However, Mustafa Pasha (nicknamed Nemrut, or Nimrod) and members of the Divan-ı Harb were tried by an Erkân Divan-ı Harbi (higher court martial) and convicted, with all verdicts they had delivered in the past being made null and void. Moreover, it is impossible to think that the grand vizier of Istanbul would leave the ground to the Ankara representatives at the London Conference before the capital punishment decreed for Mustafa Kemal Pasha had been lifted, or the corresponding religious rulings (fatwas) that supported it.

7- Occupation forces leaving Istanbul (Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Atatürk Library

In fact, the aim of the final sultan, who the last parliament accused of being a traitor, was to protect the unity of the state; however, he followed the lead of Damat Ferid Pasha (his brother-in-law) and believed that this could be done by submitting to the British. One of his daughters, Ulviye Sultan, was married to the son of Tevfik Pasha, İsmail Hakkı (Okday). İsmail Hakkı was a member of the general staff who had been educated in Germany; he had gone to Ankara and served in the military, winning the İstiklal (Independence) Medallion. Also, Adülmecid Efendi, Vahdeddin’s heir, was openly supportive of the Milli Mücadele, and made this support explicit through various means. It is even said that he was initially invited to Ankara, but he did not answer the invitation in order to avoid disunity; when he later wished to go to Ankara, he was denied permission. The victories of Sakarya and Dumlupınar were celebrated with ceremonies in Istanbul as well; the environs of the palace were included in the festivities. For example, on September 9, the day on which the Turks recaptured the city of İzmir, a mawlid (poem praising Prophet Muhammad) was recited at the Hagia Sofia Mosque in Istanbul; some 25,000 people attended.

A similar situation prevailed in the relationship between the Anatolian military officers and the Ministry of War, which was located in Istanbul. Following the truce, many of the soldiers who had left their military units settled in Istanbul. There was a substantial amount of weapons and ammunition in the city depots. With the connivance and support of the ministry, many soldiers and officers and a large amount of equipment and ammunition were transferred to Anatolia. During the era of Mehmed Ziya Pasha, who was the minister of war during the last government of Tevfik Pasha, the ministry maintained a record of the military officers who were fighting in Anatolia. Their employment rights, records of their promotions, and the awarding of medals were all facilitated through Istanbul.

In the second period of the Mütareke, the Ankara government formed by the Grand National Assembly (Turkish Parliament) sent Hamid Bey to Istanbul as the representative of the Turkish Red Crescent; he functioned in Istanbul as if he were Ankara’s envoy. Some of the ambassadors to Istanbul from the Entente Powers, including Britain, France, Italy, the United States, Greece, and Japan, began to be referred to as high commissioners (for example, the British High Commissioner, Sir Horace Rumbold), as though the Ottoman land had been colonized. In addition, a Joint Occupation Forces Military Command (Müttefik İşgal Kuvvetleri Askerî Komutanlığı) was formed under the leadership of the British.

During the beginning of the third phase of the Mütareke period, Refet Pasha was given the duty of accepting the surrender of Thrace in Ankara on October 11, 1922; he marched into Sirkeci with 100 gendarmes on October 20. After the abolition of the sultanate on November 4, in a meeting of the generals of the British, French, and Italian occupying forces (the British General Harington, the French General Charpy, and the Italian General Monbelli), it was declared that Sirkeci had now come under the administration of the Grand National Assembly. After Vahdeddin sought refuge with the British, Refet Pasha established relations with the new caliph on behalf of Ankara. On November 22, Selahaddin Adil Pasha was brought to the military headquarters in Istanbul. Dr. Adnan (Adıvar) was appointed as the Istanbul government representative on December 16.

After the signing of the Lausanne Peace Treaty, the occupying forces left Istanbul and on October 6, 1923, Turkish troops entered the city with a ceremony, headed up by the commander Şükrü Naili (Gökberk) Pasha. Meanwhile, the first session of the parliament had come to an end, and new elections were to take place, with the new term beginning on August 11. It was during these days that the discharge of soldiers who did not participate in the Milli Mücadele commenced in keeping with Law No. 347, dated September 25, 1923. An extraordinary judicial organ, a military commission (heyet-i mahsuse) that had been established in Bursa, executed this purge. The title of the law is:

Law describing the procedure of treatment of the high-ranking officials (brigadier general, lieutenant general, field marshal), senior officers (major, lieutenant colonel or colonel) and officers (first and second lieutenant, captain) as well as government officials and military functionaries who either did not participate in the Milli Mücadele or remained outside the national borders; and defining the retirement procedure of those who did participate in the national struggle.

In a similar vein, on April 3, 1924, a motion to weed out civil servants was presented to parliament; however, two years later, on May 26, 1926, under Law No. 854, a special civilian unit known as the special commission for civil service (mülki heyet-i mahsusa) was formed. The Supreme Decision Committee (Âli Karar Heyeti) was formed in 1928 in response to allegations of injustice in the decisions of the aforementioned special commission; this task of re-examination was later transferred to the Civil Service Department (Mülkiye Dairesi) of the State Council (Devlet Şurası). The problem was finally resolved on June 29, 1938, with the Law of Amnesty No. 3527. The apprehension felt by the military and civil administrators in Anatolia about taking part in the Milli Mücadele is understandable. It must not be forgotten that although the members of the Ottoman Meclis-i Mebusan (parliament) supported the national struggle, only half of them joined the Grand National Assembly in Ankara when invited.

When one looks at the movements of workers and the political left during the Mütareke, several developments can be seen. Between 1910 and 1912, during the Second Meşrutiyet (Constitutional Era), Hüseyin Hilmi had established the Ottoman Socialist Party and published the weekly magazine İştirak; with the establishment of the İttihat ve Terakki, Hüseyin Hilmi and his supporter in Paris, Dr. Refik Nevzat, were both exiled, one within Turkey and the other outside the country. However, during the Mütareke era, Hilmi revived his former organization as the Turkey Socialist Party in 1919 and began publishing the daily newspaper İdrak. Hilmi, who organized workers during this time and led several successful strikes, had some rivals, including the Sosyal Demokrat Fırka (Social Democrat Party), the Mesai Fırka (Labor Party), the Türkiye İşçi Sosyalist Fırkası (Turkish Workers Socialist Party), the Müstakil Sosyalist Fırka (Independent Socialist Party), and other similar organizations. The TSF, which was inactive in May of 1920, came to play an important role during the May Days of 1921 and 1922.

During World War I, Turks who had gone to Germany as workers, interns, or students established the Turkish Workers’ and Farmers’ Party. After being affected by the social events during the Mütareke, the publication of the magazine Kurtuluş began in early May 1919. These young Turks, many of whom returned to Istanbul after a few weeks, joined forces with some other youth who had been educated in France and established another monthly magazine, also called Kurtuluş; they changed the name of the party in Berlin by adding the word “socialist,” thus creating the Türkiye İşçi ve Çiftçi Sosyalist Fırkası (Socialist Party of Turkish Workers and Farmers). Istanbul’s Kurtuluş, which published five issues until February 1920, was closed down after the second phase of the Mütareke period. The same group of people worked to establish the Aydınlık magazine in the second half of 1921. (This magazine would go on to publish 31 issues, with brief interruptions, until the era of Takrir-i Sükûn, Law on the Maintenance Order)

The May Day protests of 1921, imbued with a general sentiment against the foreign forces that were occupying the city, were organized by the TSF. Tram, city ferry, and commuter rail train workers participated, as well as workers from the Feshane, Baruthane, and Zeytinburnu factories. May 1, 1922, started off with a march to the Kağıthane district led by a committee representing various left-wing parties, including the Turkey Workers Association (established by the Socialist Party of Turkish Workers and Farmers), the International Union of Workers (Beynelmilel İşçiler İttihadı, predominantly Greek), and merchant groups and their representatives. A large number of speeches were read in Kağıthane. May 1, 1923, was also celebrated by the General Workers Union (Umum Amele, more in the spirit of honoring Mustafa Kemal Pasha), as well as with other left-wing organizations. This initiative by the federation of workers’ unions under the leadership of Şakir Rasim aimed to gather the newly developing left-wing movement under the auspices of the Peoples’ Party, which had not yet acquired the “Republican” label; however, because the initiative put its hopes in an oppositional wing within the Peoples’ Party, its efforts would be obliterated in a short period of time. The May 1, 1923, declaration that was published by the Socialist Party of Turkish Workers and Farmers circles led to the arrest of a great number of Communists. The defendants in this case had held that the Hiyanet-i Vataniye (Treason against the Country) Law had not been properly implemented in Istanbul. They were later pardoned in conjunction with the clause concerning amnesty in the Lausanne Treaty.

The left-wing and workers’ movements in Istanbul were led by workers who supported union rights and intellectuals who were directed by the Comintern. However, a neo-nationalist tone was apparent throughout the movement; this was directed toward the conditions of the occupation, and could be labeled as anti-imperialist. At that time, there were two related problems in Istanbul: unemployment and a lack of trained workers. That meant that workers’ wages were very low. Lignite needed to be extracted from the mines in Thrace and brought to the Silahtarağa Electricity Station in Istanbul. For this purpose, the British brought in workers from China. It was possible to read in the media: “They could at least have brought in Chinese Muslims; they would have adapted better.”


Criss, Bilge, Istanbul under Allied Occupation: 1918-1923, Istanbul: İletişim Yayınları, 1993.

Johnson, C.R. (ed.), İstanbul 1920, tr.Sönmez Taner, Istanbul: Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları, 1995.

Himmetoğlu, Hüsnü, Kurtuluş Savaşında İstanbul ve Yardımları, II vol., İstanbul: Ülkü Basımevi, 1975.

İşgal Istanbul'undan Fotoğraflar (1919), Istanbul: Türkiye Ekonomik ve Toplumsal Tarih Vakfı, 1996.

Temel, Mehmet, İşgal Yıllarında Istanbul'un Sosyal Durumu, Ankara: T.C. Kültür Bakanlığı, 1998.


1 This term has nothing to do with Byelorussia (now Belarus) or Minsk, which became part of the Soviet Union.

This article was translated from Turkish version of History of Istanbul with some editions to be published in a digitalized form in 2019.

Related Contents