İSMET İNÖNÜ (1884-1973)
İsmet İnönü was a famous commander in the War of Independence, a successful diplomat at the Lausanne Peace Agreement, and Turkey’s first prime minister and second president. He is regarded as the ‘second figure,’ after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, among those in the vanguard of the foundation of modern Turkey.
İsmet İnönü’s father was an examining magistrate at İzmir Court, Hacı Reşid Bey of Malatya, and hıs mother the lady Cevriye (Temelli) from Bulgaria. He was born in İzmir, but completed his primary education in Sivas on account of his father’s work. İnönü was by no means a successful student at the Sivas Military Middle School, which he entered at an early age. After studying for one year at the Sivas Civil Service High School, he entered the high school department of the Artillery War Academy in Istanbul, graduating with honours. He continued this success at the Artillery War Academy, which he entered next. Graduating from there at the head of his class he earned the right to join the Advanced Military School, which was then a training school for officers.
During his student years, İsmet İnönü was as deeply interested in the problems facing the country as he was by his courses. He began learning French while still in middle school, and learned German at the Military Academy, and was easily able to follow publications in both languages concerning military and political matters. Sultan Abdülhamid’s increasing constraints and the Ottoman Empire’s foreign policy led to dissatisfaction in the youthful patriot. İnönü’s schoolmates felt the same concerns. They would frequently meet to discuss the situation facing the country. That led to his receiving a first disciplinary warning, although the respect he had gained among his teachers and those close to him prevented him being expelled.
In 1906 he was posted to the 2nd Army at Edirne as a staff captain, and at the end of 1907 secretly joined the Committee for Union and Progress. Following the declaration of the second constitutional monarchy in 1908, he became an influential member of the committee in its Edirne headquarters. In November the same year he was promoted to senior captain. At Yeşilköy he joined the Mobile Army, which suppressed the March 31 incidents in 1909, working for a time at headquarters. He then attended the Committee for Union and Progress congress as 2nd Army delegate. At that congress he shared the views of Mustafa Kemal, who believed that the army should remain outside politics, and acted in concert with him. That view attracted some support, but nevertheless remained a minority one. Following the congress, İnönü’s links to the committee were severed.