Adnan Menderes

Başbakan, Devlet Adamı, Siyasetçi

17 Eylül, 1961
Ankara University Law School

Politician, Statesman, and Prime Minister (B. 1899, Çakırbeyli Village / Koçarlı / Aydın – D. the 17th of September, 1961, İmralı Island / Bursa) His full name was Ali Adnan Ertekin Menderes. In 1934, with the surname law, he took Ertekin as surname. During his second term deputyship, when he graduated from Ankara University, Law School, he changed his surname as Menderes, inspired from his own region.

He was born into a rich farmer family. His father, İbrahim Ethem Bey, worked as a clerk in the government office and later started farming. His mother, Ali Rıza Pasha's daughter Tevfika Hanım, was coming from one of the most rooted families of the region. He was the father of Aydın Menderes, politician. His grandfather, Hacı Ali Pasha, was a Crimean Tatar and emigrated to Tire from Eskişehir. Adnan Menderes, whose sister had died at a very young age, was raised as an only child. After primary school, he graduated from Kızılçullu American College. During the World War I (1914-18), he was educated as the reserve officer. However, he did not take place in war because of falling sick. He fought in the War of Independence and earned the war of independence medal. He graduated from Ankara University, Law School in 1935.

Adnan Menderes' politic career started, after he joined in the Liberal Party (Serbest Fırka), which was founded by Fethi Okyar in 1930. The great attention shown to this party in Aegean Region, made Menderes, the master of Çakırbeyli Farm, take part in it. However, after a very short period, Okyar dissolved the Serbest Fırka personally. During his trip to the Aegean region, which was made for researching the reasons of the great opposition movement created by the Serbest Fırka, Atatürk met young Adnan Menderes. Atatürk gave special interest to this young man, who gave brave and logical answers to his questions, and immediately offered him to join the Cumhuriyet Halk Party (CHP). Adnan Menderes, who accepted this offer, was nominated in 1931's elections and was able to join the parliament as a deputy. However, in 1945, because of his intraparty opposition movement, he was dismissed from the party. After the permission was given for the multi-party system, he was one of the founders of the Demokrat Party (DP), which was founded on the 7th of June, 1946 as Turkey's first legal opposition party. In 1946's elections, he became the second most important figure in the party, right after Celâl Bayar.

Adnan Menderes' long and continuous deputyship, from the very first day, on which he joined the parliament, to the establishment of Demokrat Party, with his own words, was a self-education period. In these years, he not only studied at Ankara University’s Law School, but he also dealt with the main problems of sports in Turkey. He was himself an old sportsman. While he was a student, he used to play football and basketball at the İzmir Karşıyaka Sports club.

After Celâl Bayar had announced his intentions about founding an opposition party, he signed the famous “memorandum of the four”, quit the CHP eventfully, and became one of the Demokrat Party's founders. After that day, his name was mentioned with Celâl Bayar, Refik Koraltan and Fuat Köprülü. Demokrat Party could not come into power in 1946's elections. However, Menderes eventually became a name, which was widely known all around the country. Upon having won the elections in 1950, Menderes was charged with forming the government with Bayar, who was elected as the President of Turkish Republic. Thereby, he became the first and the last prime minister of the Demokrat Party, whose government lasted for ten years.

The first democratic election in Turkey was held in 1950. Previous elections were always held under the gendarme's oppression. Such a strange application, namely 'open vote, hidden count' was used in those elections. People had to disclose their votes to the gendarme and during the hidden counting, their votes were being changed in the favor of CHP. In 1950, people voted secretly and counting was held open to the public.

In the first democratic elections held on the 14th of May 1950, Demokrat Party so to say, walked over the Cumhuriyet Halk Party. In this election, people scattered their 487 representatives as such: Demokrat Party: 415, CHP: 69, Independents: 2, Millet Party: 1.

Voters rushed to ballot boxes to vote for the Demokrat Party, of which the motto was, "Enough is enough!” specifically written against CHP.

After the elections, importation of agricultural machines started immediately, which was a result of Menderes' brave decisions. Convenience offered by the Ziraat Bank during loan allocations, which had never been provided until that time, made beaten and crushed Turkish villagers very happy. Menderes, himself having an agricultural background, had a feeling for the villagers. The community found money, fullness, and independence that they had never seen before. With the Demokrat Party, which ended dishonored time of single party regime and replaced with an honorable period, citizens were no more afraid of the public officers. Road, drinking water, school, and other benefits of development were brought to villages, those used to be abandoned to their faith. An end was brought to the gendarme pressure, and there were no more torture on the public such as the six-lira-road duty and stone breaking obligation. Tens of thousands tones more seed than what CHP had been able to give in four years were given to people in harvest season. Roads, dams, bridges, harbors, power plants, irrigation facilities, airports were constructed with a meteoric speed. Turning into a work-site, the whole country's economic life arose with richness.

On the second day of May 1954, in the second democratic elections, the Demokrat Party gave 488 deputies to the parliament, while the CHP could only give 31 deputies. These numbers became the unbreakable record of all times. CHP could not give any deputies, except from three cities: Malatya, Kars and Sinop.

Menderes, the energetic prime minister of that time, managed to change the ordinary system and was able to keep in contact with the community till his last days. CHP, becoming an opposition party, was fed up after being in power for 27 years; moreover, it had traces of exhaustion. Consequently, all these reasons made CHP extremely bureaucratic, in contrary to the DP. In comparison to the CHP, the DP was much better in coping with community's problems and Menderes, undoubtedly, had a great chance in such a party. However, Menderes' free enterprise and private sector policies lost their first paces in oncoming years. Several old friends moved away from his party and him. Therefore, this dynamic and energetic man became more and more lonely and started to turn into an ill-tempered man. Economic situation was also resenting in a quite different condition than the first years of the DP government.

In the meantime, while second round of negotiations about the Cyprus dispute was being held in London, on the 6th of September, 1955, at night, some newspapers wrote about a plantation of a bomb in Atatürk's house in Thessaloniki. This caused incidents against the minorities. In these incidents, predominantly taken against Greeks, several churches, holy spring of orthodox Greeks, cloisters, 4340 shops, 110 hotels and restaurants, 21 factories and 3600 houses were attacked. One priest was killed during these incidents. These incidents went down in history as "6-7 Eylül Olayları" (a.k.a the Istanbul Riots). The DP Istanbul deputy, Aleksandros Hacopulos said "It is obvious that incidents were premeditated." and pointed out the neglect shown by law enforcement officers during the incidents. Upon this, with the effects of media pressure and arrest of opposition party's deputies, insurmountable obstacles occurred between Menderes and intellectual public opinion. By the way, on the 17th of February, 1959, while going to England for trio-negotiations about the Cyprus dispute following the dual agreement signed in Greece, even though Menderes' airplane fell of and crushed near London Gatwick Airport, he survived even without taking wounds. This accident resulted with a short-term moderation between the opposition party and government.

On Sunday the 27th of October, 1957, at the general elections, the Demokrat Party got into power for the third time. The DP had 421 deputies in assembly, while the CHP had 173, the Millet Party had 4 deputies elected from province of Kırşehir, and the Hürriyet Party had 4 deputies from Burdur. İsmet İnönü, who provoked the army, universities, and students, was about to imply that the CHP could not get in power without the support of the army, or in a democratic way, by saying "Metin, our job is really hard." to his journalist son-in-law, Metin Toker.

In fact, with the help of provocations by the CHP, several student movements and rebellions initiated on the day of 28th April 1960 in Istanbul, 29th April – 5th May 1960 in Ankara. Istanbul and Ankara Universities published notifications. Upon this, authoritarian administration was started by the government in both of aforementioned cities. On the 21st of May, 1960, War Academy students made a huge protest in Ankara. On the night of the 27th of May, 1960, Turkish Armed Forces claimed that they seized the administration in order to prevent the incidents and go to the polls as soon as possible.

Being in Eskişehir at that time, Adnan Menderes went to Kütahya, where he was elected as the deputy for the first time, when he learnt the military coup made on the 27th of May, 1960. He was captured in Kütahya and brought to Ankara. He was arrested so as the President, all ministers and deputies of the DP. Despite Armed Forces had claimed that they seized the administration in order to "prevent the quarrel of brothers", with the reports made by professors, it became obvious that intervention delegitimized the DP government. Menderes and all prisoners were taken to Yassıada where a special Supreme Court of Justice (the Yassıada Court) was formed. They were on trial there for about one and a half year. The President Celâl Bayar, Finance Minister Hasan Polatkan, foreign affairs minister Fatin Rüştü Zorlu, Adnan Menderes, and fourteen other people were sentenced to death while thirty one others took life imprisonment. Fatin Rüştü Zorlu and Hasan Polatkan were executed on the 16th of September, 1961. On 17th day of September 1961, one of four founders of the DP, the general president and prime minister of the part for the last ten years, Adnan Menderes was executed in İmralı Island and buried there.

Honors of Adnan Menderes and his friends, who were executed in the same time period with him, were re-established by the Turkish Grand National Assembly, with a law, accepted on the 11th of April, 1990. In accordance with the mentioned legislation, his corpse was transported to a mausoleum, specially made for him in the Vatan Avenue, a construction of his era, with the attendance of President Turgut Özal and hundreds of thousands on the 17th of September 1990, or in other words, on his 29th death anniversary. This same street had been opened for service by Menderes himself in 1958 and its name was changed into Adnan Menderes Avenue with the proposal of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, mayor of that time, in 1994.

In Menderes' premiership, soldiers were sent to help Korea, fighting against China. This act paved Turkey's way for joining in NATO. This situation was interpreted as gaining power against the USSR. In 1958, Menderes gave permission to the United States of America for establishing military bases in Turkey, thus country took the same side with the Western World.

His name was given to the international airport in Izmir, the university established in Aydın, to the avenue, which was constructed along the Seyhan Barrage Lake in his premiership period, and several streets and education institutions in several cities throughout Turkey.

The Demokrat Party, whose leader was Adnan Menderes, took huge amount of support from the community because of changing the rigid attitude against the freedom of religion and thought. In particular, azan, which was banned during the single-party period, was released again and religious educations started again. These acts pleased the community very much. On the other hand, during Menderes' period, country's public works hastened. With the liberalization policy on politics and economy, a new era started for free enterprises which helped the investments to speed up. Political parties, which followed Menderes’ moderate and liberalist policies, gained more success and public’s courtesy than CHP which was considered to have less tolerance.


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