Statesman and politician, prime minister (B. 1887, Ödemiş/Izmir – D. December 27th 1953). His full name was Mehmet Şükrü Saraçoğlu. He completed the primary and secondary schools in Ödemiş, and graduated at the top of one's class from Izmir High School and completed his higher education at the School of Civil Service (Mekteb-i Mülkiye). After he graduated from School of Civil Service in 1909, he began to work as officer of attendance at the Governorship of Izmir. Saraçoğlu, who worked at Izmir High School as a mathematics teacher, was appointed as the principal of İttihad ve Terakki Ticaret Mektebi (T.N. Business School) in 1911.
He went to Belgium for education with a state grant in January 1914, but he returned to Izmir immediately due to World War I. He studied in the Academy of Political Sciences in Geneva, Switzerland for four years and graduated from there with a degree. After the Armistice of Montrose, together with Mahmut Esat Bozkurt, he established the Union of Turkish Students in Geneva and took on the publishing of the committee’s magazine in French. He wrote articles criticizing the Armistice of Montrose and asserting the rights of Turkish people. He asserted the rights of the Ottoman Empire through the Union of Turkish Students for he was the manager of the union and he tried to spark negative reactions against the Armistice of Montrose in Europe.
He joined the national struggle and tried to establish Kuva-i Milliye (T.N. National Forces) in Kuşadası, Nazilli and Aydın. He performed as militia first in the Aydın Front and then in Kuşadası. He struggled to bring arsenal in Burdur to Nazilli upon the capture of arsenal in Afyon by the hostile forces.
He was elected as deputy of Izmir in the Ottoman parliamentary but he didn’t accept it. He attended to the Grand National Assembly in its second period as the Izmir Deputy in 1923. He performed as the Minister of Education (1924-25) in the cabinet of Fethi Okyar and presided to the Commission for Composite Population Exchange in 1926. He had held office in every cabinet until he was elected as Prime Minister himself. He became the Minister of Economy, Justice and Foreign Affairs. He presided to the board going to Paris to solve the Ottoman Public Debt issues in 1932 and he completed that duty successfully with an agreement in 1933. With that agreement, economy of the young Turkey could breathe a sigh of relief.
One of the important contributions of Saraçoğlu to economy was the foundation of Central Bank in order to keep the value of Turkish money, which had been reduced by foreign banks, according to the seasons of domestic and foreign trade (1930). The same year, he had to quit due to his illness. He was sent to the USA to do researches and surveys on economic problems of Turkey (1931). Upon his return to Turkey, he prepared a report which laid the foundation of cotton industry. While he was the Minister, he established the law of attorney and magistracy, levy and bankruptcy laws and he had prisons based on labor established and had İmralı, the first example of those prisons, founded.
In the second cabinet of Bayar (1938-39) and of Refik Saydam (1939-42) he performed as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and upon the death of Refik Saydam in 1942, he was assigned as the Prime Minister by President İnönü on July 9th, 1942. During the World War II, he tried hard to keep Turkey out of war and tried to have a friendly relation with contiguous countries. He resigned from this duty leaving his seat to Recep Peker when Soviet Russia requested Kars, Ardahan, Artvin and Sarıkamış from Turkey during the World War II in 1946.
During the presidency of Saraçoğlu, the system of “open vote-secret counting”, which was an undemocratic approach, hit the headlines. According to this system, you could know for whom every elector voted but counting would be secret. In the other words, everyone would have to vote for the CHP (Cumhuriyet Halk Party). The CHP won 1946 elections, in which that system was applied, again.
He was elected as the President of the Grand National Assembly in 1948 and remained in this position until 1950 and was the president of the Fenerbahçe Sports Club for sixteen years. He retired from politics in 1950 when he was not elected as a deputy. Saraçoğlu, who had three children, passed away on December 27th, 1953 at his house in Istanbul and was laid to rest in Zincirlikuyu Cemetery. The home of the Turkish football club Fenerbahçe, Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium, is named after him on July 22nd, 1998.