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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Adnan Menderes

In office
22 May 1950 – 27 May 1960
President Celal Bayar
Preceded by Şemsettin Günaltay
Succeeded by Cemal Gürsel

Born 1899
Aydın, Ottoman Empire
Died executed by the junta on September 17, 1961
İmralı, Turkey
Political party Liberal Republican Party
Republican People's Party (CHP)
Democratic Party (DP)
Spouse(s) Berrin Menderes
Alma mater Ankara University, Law School
Religion Muslim

Adnan Menderes (1899 – 17 September 1961) was the first democratically elected political leader in Turkish history. He served as prime minister between 1950–1960. He was one of the founders of the Democratic Party (DP) in 1946, the fourth legal opposition party of Turkey. He was hanged by the military junta after the 1960 coup d'état, along with two other cabinet members, Fatin Rüştü Zorlu and Hasan Polatkan. He was the last Turkish political leader to be executed after a military coup and is also one of the three political leaders of the Turkish Republic (along with Atatürk and Turgut Özal) to have a mausoleum built in his honour.


Early life and career

He was born in 1899 in Aydın, as the son of a wealthy landowner, whose roots are from Crimean Tatars[1]. After primary school, Menderes attended the American College in İzmir. He fought against the invading Greek army during the Turkish War of Independence and was awarded a medal of honour. He graduated from the Law School of Ankara University. In 1930, Menderes organized a branch of the short lived Liberal Republican Party (Serbest Cumhuriyet Fırkası) in Aydın. After this opposition party was banned as well, he was invited by Atatürk himself to join the ruling Republican People's Party and was elected deputy of Aydın in 1931. In 1945, he was expelled from the party with two other colleagues due to inner-party opposition to the nationalization policies of the then self-declared "National Chief" İsmet İnönü.

Rise to power

On 7 January 1946, he formed the Democratic Party (DP), the fourth legal opposition party in Turkey, after the Progressive Republican Party formed by Ret. Gen. Kazım Karabekir in 1924, the Liberal Republican Party established by Ali Fethi Okyar in 1930, and the National Development Party (Milli Kalkınma Partisi) established by Nuri Demirağ in 1945, all three of which were banned in at most a few months after their founding by the Republican People's Party (CHP), which was the party in power until the first democratic elections in Turkey in 1950. He was elected deputy of Kütahya in the fairly undemocratic 1946 elections, in which the votes were cast out in the open and were counted in secret by the state apparatus working for the governing CHP. He became the highest-ranking man in the party after Celal Bayar. When the DP won 52% of the votes in the first free elections in Turkish history on 14 May 1950 (in which votes were cast in secret and counted openly), Menderes became prime minister, and in 1955 he also assumed the duties of foreign minister. He later won two more free elections, one in 1954 and the other in 1957. No other politician has ever been able to win three general elections in a row in Turkey.

During the 10 years of his term as prime minister, Turkish domestic and foreign politics underwent great changes. Industrialization and urbanization, which were started by Atatürk, but staggered by nationalization policies of İsmet İnönü and the effects of war, underwent rapid acceleration in Turkey. The Turkish economy grew at an unprecedented rate of 9% per annum over his 10 year administration, a feat which had and so far has not yet been duplicated.[2] Turkey was admitted to NATO. With the economic support of the United States via the Marshall Plan, agriculture was mechanized; transport, energy, education, health care, insurance and banking progressed.[citation needed] In 1955, the Menderes government was blamed by his political opponents for orchesting the Istanbul Pogrom, which targeted the city's substantial Greek minority.[3]

Plane crash survival

On 17 February 1959, the Turkish Airlines aircraft Vickers Viscount Type 793, registration TC-SEV, carrying Adnan Menderes and a party of government officials on a special flight from Istanbul to London Gatwick Airport crashed a few miles short of the runway, near Rusper, Sussex in heavy fog and caught fire. Nine of the 16 passengers and 5 of the 8 crew lost their lives. Menderes, sitting in the back part of the plane, survived the accident almost uninjured and was hospitalized at The London Clinic 90 minutes after receiving first aid from Margaret Bailey, a local resident who rushed to the crash site.

He was on his way to sign the London Agreements on the Cyprus issue with the British Premier Harold Macmillan and Greek Prime Minister Constantine Karamanlis, which gave the three sides the right to intervene in Cyprus in case peace is broken by any of the parties.[4]

Menderes signed the London Agreement on 19 February 1959 in the hospital. He returned home on 26 February 1959 and was welcomed by even his arch-rival İsmet İnönü and a huge crowd.

Political style and beliefs

Menderes became quite famous for selling or distributing most of the estate he had inherited to small shareholders. He was more tolerant towards traditional lifestyles and different forms of practice of Islam than Atatürk and his party had been – he campaigned in the 1950 elections almost exclusively on the platform of legalizing the Arabic language Islamic call to prayer (adhan), which had been banned. He re-opened thousands of mosques across the country which had been left to rot like the banned churches in Soviet Union, and as such he was blamed by his political opponents for using religion as a tool for political gain. One of his first political moves was to exclude the pictures of İsmet İnönü on Turkish banknotes and stamps and instead put Atatürk pictures back, which were taken off when Inönü became President in 1938. Thanks to the public support and the legacy of Atatürk, it was a successful move, even if the Turkish law under the former President was stating that the image of the President of the country would be placed on the banknotes, in this case Celal Bayar.One of his speeches he said members of parliament can bring sharia back if they want.

While remaining pro-Western, he was more active than his predecessors in building relations with Muslim states. Menderes had a more liberal economic policy than earlier prime ministers, and allowed more private enterprise. In general his economic policies made him popular among the poor half of the population, but it also brought the country to insolvency due to an enormous increase in imports of goods and technology.

He was most intolerant towards criticism, so he instituted press censorship and had journalists arrested, as well as attempting to oppress the opposing political parties and take institutions such as universities under his control. Menderes who was well liked by the people in general and also had the support of the Army Chief of Staff General Cemal Gürsel who, in a personal patriotic memorandum, had advocated that Menderes should become the president of the republic to secure the national unity, became increasingly unpopular among the intellectuals, university students and a group of radical young officers in the military, who feared that the ideals of Atatürk were in danger. This eventually brought about his fall from power.

Coup, trial, execution

On 27 May 1960, a military coup organized by 37 "young officers" deposed the government, and Menderes was arrested along with all the leading party members.[5] They were charged with violating the constitution. He and all the leaders of the DP were put on trial by a hastily formed quasi-military kangaroo court on the island of Yassıada. In addition to the charges of violating the constitution, the trial also referenced to the Istanbul Pogrom, for which he and his fellow defendants were blamed.

Menderes was sentenced to death for violating the Constitution, ironically by the same officers who themselves had violated the Constitution by conspiring against a democratically elected government. Despite pleas for forgiveness by Head of State Cemal Gürsel, and similar pleas from several world leaders, including American President John F. Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth II of the UK, Menderes was executed by the junta at the gallows on the island of İmralı on 17 September 1961. Two months later, Menderes' nemesis İsmet İnönü formed a new government under military tutelage, in coalition and with the help of the newly emerging Justice Party (in Turkish: "Adalet Partisi"), after these two major parties among themselves took the majority of the votes in 1961 elections. Adalet Partisi, which was seen as the successor of the heritage of Menderes, would win victories in later elections especially under the leadership of Süleyman Demirel.


On 17 September 1990, the 29th anniversary of Menderes' execution, he was posthumously pardoned and his grave was moved to a mausoleum named after him in Istanbul. Fatin Rüştü Zorlu and Hasan Polatkan, who were the Foreign Affairs Minister and Finance Minister, respectively in the last Menderes administration, and who were hanged with Menderes by the junta in 1961, were also posthumously cleared of any misconduct. Adnan Menderes University in Aydın and Adnan Menderes Airport in İzmir are named after him. Two high schools, Istanbul Bahcelievler Adnan Menderes Anadolu Lisesi and Aydın Adnan Menderes Anadolu Lisesi, also adopted his name. There are numerous city districts, boulevards and streets named after him by democratically elected city councils in cities large and small, all across Turkey.

In 2006, Mehmet Feyyat, Attorney General of Istanbul at the time, suggested that "İsmet İnönü and Cemal Gürsel placed phone calls to the prison's administration for Menderes' execution to be halted but the Communications Office of the junta cut the lines off" (see below).


An extremely important document that sheds light on the past has been revealed. Testimony from eyewitnesses at the time helped make known that the letter had been modified after May 27, but the location of the original letter was unknown. This important document adds a new dimension to the coup d'etat conspired against his democratically elected government on May 27, 1960. We have come face to face with a new document that changes our written history. It was my greatest wish to obtain just such a document; not for my own satisfaction, but for my father, to prove this reality and obtain genuine evidence. I was thrilled when I heard about this.
Mr. Aydın Menderes, Author, the Son of Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, September 2006
They cut off our phone lines. Adnan Menderes was hanged against the regulations. I was supposed to oversee the execution. The revolution tribunal's chief prosecutor Altay Egesel conducted the execution despite not being authorized. İsmet İnönü and Cemal Gürsel were already phoning for him (Menderes) not to be executed but the telecommunications' office cut off the lines and Egesel made use of the (communication) gap to conduct the execution.
Mehmet Feyyat, District Attorney General, Istanbul Province Prosecutor General 1961, The Administrator of the Imrali Prison, The Lawyer of the Year, Senator., Reported by Özkan GÜVEN, STAR Newspaper, November 13, 2006 with a summary in Turkish at Law in the Capital

Film and television

See also

Notes and references

  1. ^ AYDEMİR, Şevket Süreyya. "Menderes'in Dramı", Remzi Kitabevi, Istanbul 1984
  2. ^
  3. ^ 6–7 Eylül Olayları (Turkish)
  4. ^ BBC ON THIS DAY | 17 | 1959: Turkish leader involved in fatal crash
  5. ^
  6. ^ Hatırla Sevgili official website (Turkish)

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Mehmet Fuat Köprülü
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey
Succeeded by
Fatin Rüştü Zorlu
Preceded by
Şemsettin Günaltay
Prime Minister of Turkey
22 May 1950–27 May 1960
Succeeded by
Cemal Gürsel
Party political offices
Preceded by
Celal Bayar
Leader of the Democratic Party
9 Jun 1950–27 May 1960
Succeeded by
Süleyman Demirel of Adalet Partisi and Necmettin Erbakan of National Salvation Party


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