Popular Articles

The last chief rabbi of the Ottoman Empire was an important figure during negotiations

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

Click an icon above to share, email, or save this article

The signing of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 brought about new borders with neighboring countries for a Turkish Republic, which renounced any claim to the Holy Land in the process. (Photo: historia-europa.ep.eu)

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

Click an icon above to share, email, or save this article

July 24th marked the anniversary of the Treaty of Lausanne that established the foundations of the Turkish Republic. Signed and ratified in 1923, it put an end to the War of Independence of the Turkish National Movement. Led by Mustafa Kemal, the Turks were undertaking a fight from 1919 onwards, against mainly Greece, but also UK, France and Italy that shared the remaining lands of the Ottoman Empire after its defeat at the WW1.

WW1 had put an end to the Ottoman Empire, after a little more than six centuries of glorious history as one of the leading powers of the Mediterranean. Defeated by the Allies along with the German and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, its partition became the subject of the Paris peace negotiations of 1919. 

The Treaty of Sevres between the Allies and the Istanbul Government of the last Sultan was signed in August 1920. Already, at that time all the Balkans were lost. The same was true for the Middle East. The British forces under the command of General Allenby took over these lands from the Ottomans. In December 1917, when he entered Jerusalem from Jaffa Gate, was the end of a long Ottoman domination which started at the beginning of the 16th century.

Both Jews and Arabs were quite happy to have the British there. That should not be a surprise since the McMahon letters (1915) addressed to the Emir of Hedjaz and the Balfour Declaration  (1917) addressed to Lord Rothschild on behalf of the World Zionist Congress, promised both people a national presence, in those lands named Palestine! 

Coming back to Istanbul… The city was in the hands of Britain. The many patriots who fled the capital joined Mustafa Kemal, who rejected the invasion of his country and the appeasement policy of the Sultan’s government against the Allies. The Ottoman army was dissolved, the politicians who somehow remained in Istanbul were arrested and taken to Malta. 

Just like the Treaty of Versailles humiliated the Germans, the Treaty of Sevres had the same effect on the Turks.

However, unlike the Germans and their weak Weimar Republic that surrendered to allied sanctions, the nationalist forces of Mustafa Kemal – known as kuvay-ı milliye – started a military struggle against the severe clauses dictated by the Treaty of Sevres. The first National Assembly of Turkey convened in April 1920 in Ankara, which was a small mid-Anatolian city at that time. Then on, it became the epicenter of the Turkish resistance.

According to the Treaty of Sevres, the Western part of Asia Minor was granted to Greece… then the Italians would have the Western Mediterranean part and the French the eastern Mediterranean and Southeastern part of Anatolia, next to Syria, which would be under their control, according to the resolution of the San Remo Conference in April 1920. By the same, the eastern part of the large peninsula was reserved to the Armenians, who were longing to have their independence for more than thirty years. The same was expected also by the Kurds who were living there, in tribes, under a feudal-like system.

Get thej.ca a Pro Israel Voice by Email. Never miss a top story that effects you, your family & your community

All Allied hopes and expectations faded with the victory of the Turkish forces.

Mustafa Kemal, the military genius who won the Gallipoli war back in 1915 against the British and French Navy and caused the fall of Lord Asquith’s liberal government in London, drove away all foreign armies and thus caused the Treaty of Sevres to become obsolete.

His efforts were followed closely in Germany, especially by the nationalist press that covered the Turkish War of Independence’s episodes. They were arguing the reasons why Germans could not stand up and dismiss the clauses of the Treaty of Versailles like the Turks had done. It was a feeling of admiration combined with frustration that started to dominate the German people, during the 1920’s.

The Treaty of Lausanne was accompanied by agreements between Greece and Turkey, in an attempt to bring peace to the region after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I. (Photo: Wikipedia)

However, to say that this admiration opened the path to National Socialism would be too much of a fantasy.

In fact, Mustafa Kemal, later Atatürk, the Father of Turks, would be a leader that would bring fresh air to his people, abolish the sultanate and caliphate. “Peace at home, peace in the world” would be his policy, and he would be engaged in the prosperity of a secular country.

As for Adolf Hitler, the Führer of Germany: We all know the tragedies he caused and the fate of millions killed because of his deep hatred and virulent attitude. 

Chaim (Haim) Nahum, born in Turkey in 1972, was a key figure representing Ottoman Jews as Chief Rabbi when the Turkish Republic was established. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)

The Treaty of Lausanne, signed in July and ratified in August 1923, has been the most decisive step in the recognition of the Turkish Republic, with well-established borders. Ismet Inönü, who would be the second president of the Republic after the passing away of Ataturk, was the head of the delegation representing Turkey at the talks. 

The last chief rabbi – hahambashi – of the Ottoman Empire Chaim Nahum Effendi, a controversial figure, was among the Ankara government’s representatives.

Born in 1872 in Manisa, next to Izmir, he followed his theological studies at a Tiberias yeshiva, then went on with linguistics, philosophy, history, and Islamic Law in the capital Istanbul. He also had a good command of French and Arabic.

He had close relations with the Young Turks that gained power in 1908 and deposed Sultan Abdulhamit II a year later. Officially he was representing the Jewish Community in the delegation. However, it is also said that he has been one of the translators during the negotiations.

What was brought to Turkey by the Treaty of Lausanne was new borders with Greece, Bulgaria, Syria and Iraq. Turkey withdrew all her claims she might have on the Middle East, leaving Britain and France to act in the region according to the Sykes – Picot agreement dated 1915.

Turkey also left the many islands in the Aegean Sea to Italy – all of them would pass to the Greek administration after WWII… Cyprus, de facto under British control, would not be claimed by Ankara any longer. And Mosul and Kirkuk – where already first oil wells were under operation, were to be renounced. 

All these have been the source of many antisemitic rhetorics. In fact, Rabbi Nahum has been and is still being accused of working for British and misleading the delegation with ill translations and advices. Many conspiracy scenarios are in circulation here and there, as attacking Jews for what they have or have not done has always been profitable.

From Sevres to Lausanne: It has been a long, hard and challenging way to go. The years between them have witnessed the birth of modern and secular Turkey… where it has ended at the moment would not undermine the endless efforts made with great devotion.

Marsel Russo was born in Istanbul and was raised in a secular Jewish family. He holds a Chemistry degree and an MBA. His deep interest in the Jewish history of the 20th century, as well as other topics, has appeared since 2005 in Shalom, the weekly newspaper of the Jewish community of Turkey.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

Click an icon above to share, email, or save this article

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print

Click an icon above to share, email, or save this article

Read More

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

cOMING SOON…….

Breaking News

Recent

Features

News

Current Events

Opinions

Politics

Religion

Culture

Memoriam and Obituaries

PodcastS

Terms and Conditions

Privacy Policy

About Us

Advertise with us

contact 

Subscribe Now

Receive the latest in community & international Jewish news direct to your inbox

© 2020 THEJ.CA, All Rights Reserved

Terms and Conditions

Privacy Policy

About Us

Advertise with us

contact 

Subscribe Now

Receive the latest in community & international Jewish news direct to your inbox

© 2020 THEJ.CA, All Rights Reserved

Subscribe Now

Receive the latest in community & international Jewish news direct to your inbox

Terms and Conditions

Privacy Policy

About Us

Advertise with us

contact 

© 2020 THEJ.CA, All Rights Reserved

Previous
Next