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Mehmet Cavit Bey (1875–1926) was a Turkish economist, newspaper editor and leading politician during the last period of the Ottoman Empire. A member of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), he was part of the Young Turks and had positions in government after the constitution was established. In the beginning of the Republican Period, he was executed for alleged involvement in an assassination attempt against Kemal Atatürk.[1]


Early years and career

Cavit was born in Saloniki, then in the Ottoman Empire. (Now called Thessalonika, it is part of Greece). His father was Naim, a merchant, and his mother was Pakize; they were cousins, descendents of two siblings. They were Donmeh (convert in Turkish), whose Sephardic Jewish ancestors had followed Sabbatai Zevi, converted to Islam, and migrated to Salonika by the 1680s.[2] Cavit had two younger brothers.[3]

Cavit was educated in economics in Istanbul. Following his graduation, he worked as a bank clerk and later as a teacher.[4]

Later he became an economist and newspaper editor. Having returned to Saloniki, Cavit Bey joined the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP). After the proclamation of the Second Constitution in 1908, he was elected deputy of Saloniki and Çanakkale into the parliament in Istanbul. Following the 31 March Incident in 1909, Cavit Bey was appointed minister of finance in the cabinet of Grand Vizier Tevfik Pasha.[4]

Until the Armistice of Mudros in 1918 following the World War I, Cavit Bey played an important role in the CUP. Cavit Bey represented the Ottoman Empire in postwar financial negotiations in London and Berlin.[4]

Republican era

In 1921, Bey married Aliye Nazlı, the divorced wife of a prince. In 1924, heir son Osman Şiar was born. After Cavit Bey's execution, his son was raised by his close friend Hüseyin Cahit Yalçın. Following the enactment of the surname law in 1934, Osman Şiar adopted the surname Yalçın.[3]

In the early period of the Republican era, Bey was charged with involvement in the assassination attempt in Izmir against Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The government made a widespread investigation, using the assassination attempt as an opportunity to suppress the opposition. Cavit Bey was convicted and executed by hanging on August 26, 1926 in Ankara.[4] Thirteen others, including other CUP members Ahmed Şükrü and Ismail Canbulat, were found guilty of treason and hanged.[5]

The letters which Cavit Bey wrote to his wife Aliye Nazlı during his imprisonment were given to her only after his execution. She had the letters published later as a book entitled, Zindandan Mektuplar ("Letters from Dungeon").[6]

In 1950 Cavit Bey's remains were transferred and reinterred at the Cebeci Asri Cemetery in Ankara.[3]


  • Zindandan Mektuplar (2005) Liberte Yayınları, 212 pp. ISBN 9789756877913


  1. ^ Andrew Mango, Atatürk, PUBLISHER?, 1999, pp. 448-453
  2. ^ Adam Kirsch, "The Other Secret Jews", review of Marc David Baer, The Dönme: Jewish Converts, Muslim Revolutionaries, and Secular Turks, The New Republic, 15 Feb 2010, accessed 21 Feb 2010
  3. ^ a b c "Nazif Özge ve Gerçel Ailesi - Rüştü Karakaşlı" (in Turkish). SosyalistKültür. 2008-07-05. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Mehmet Cavit Bey" (in Turkish). %n1k. 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 
  5. ^ Touraj Atabaki, Erik Jan Zürcher, 2004, Men of Order: Authoritarian Modernization under Ataturk and Reza Shah, I.B.Tauris, ISBN 1860644260, page 207
  6. ^ "Zindandan Mektuplar" (in Turkish). KitapTürk. Retrieved 2009-07-14. 




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