New Approaches to the Official History Writing in the Inonu Era: An Analysis of a Revision

Celik H. S.

CTAD-CUMHURIYET TARIHI ARASTIRMALARI DERGISI, vol.12, no.24, pp.80-121, 2016 (ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 24
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus, TR DİZİN (ULAKBİM)
  • Page Numbers: pp.80-121
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Although the Inonu Era has been examined comprehensively from various aspects, we do not have many detailed studies on the changes experienced in terms of the official history writing in this era. However, the changes experienced in this field are highly illustrative of the character of this era. A "theory" called the Turkish History Thesis had been put forward during the Ataturk era, when the nationalist enthusiasm was strong, as a reaction to the prejudiced publications describing Turks as a nation who is only good at fighting. Thus, it was aimed to change the Turkish image in the public opinion of the Western societies, utilizing history for nationalist and Westernisation aims and to overcome rival nationalist assertions on Anatolia. According to this highly assertive theory, the Turks were described as the autochthonous people of Anatolia who are pioneers of all great civilisations. In an age when it was almost obligatory for a nation to prove it was civilized before the Western powers to found a State, an effort such an attempt was found necessary; and such kind of claims were seen in the nationalist movements in Europe, as well. Yet, this thesis was not very persuasive for the Europeans, who had passed this phase substantially; besides, it could not be widely acknowledged among the Turkish intellectuals, as well. Considering the vital importance of the national history for nationalism, the thought of adopting a more persuasive approach in this field prevailed from the very beginning of the Inonu Era. Additionally, the thought that it was more favourable to study for illuminating the history of Anatolia, hosted many great civilizations, for a cultural propaganda was also espoused. In this direction, while keeping the nationalist and Westernisation aims for official history writing, those theses which were found "extreme" were smoothened and a new approach, which was also to herald some new tendencies to appear in the forthcoming years, was adopted. The main objective of these studies was to rebuild the historical continuity without contradicting with the principles of the new regime.