The First News About the National Struggle and Mustafa Kemal Pasha in Italian SourcesMevlüt Çelebi
After World War I, the Turkish nation’s war of independence was a universal movement under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha against the invaders in Anatolia. This war was followed with interest in many parts of the world for various reasons. It was a rebellion against the order the Allies wanted to establish. Therefore, the course and outcome of the war concerned other nations as well as Turks. One of the countries that closely followed the National Struggle Movement was Italy. Because Italy occupied a large area in Anatolia, the war was also fought against the Italians. This in itself was enough to show the relevance of the issue to Italy. The Italian news and evaluations about the Anatolian movement took two forms: the reports sent to Rome by Italian soldiers and civil servants in Anatolia and the news in the Italian press. This struggle has a special place in the history of the world and should be examined through foreign as well as Turkish sources to reveal all its aspects. This article examines the first news about the National Struggle Movement and its leader, Mustafa Kemal Pasha, that are found in Italian archives and newspapers.
İtalyan Kaynaklarında Millî Mücadele ve Mustafa Kemal Paşa Hakkında İlk HaberlerMevlüt Çelebi
I. Dünya Savaşı’ndan sonra Türk milletinin Anadolu’da Mustafa Kemal Paşa liderliğinde işgalcilere karşı verdiği bağımsızlık savaşı evrensel bir harekettir. Bu savaş, çeşitli nedenlerle dünyanın pek çok yerinde ilgiyle takip edilmiştir. Bu savaş, galiplerin kurmak istedikleri düzene karşı bir isyandır. Dolayısıyla savaşın seyri ve sonucu Türkler kadar diğer ulusları da ilgilendirmiştir. Millî Mücadele hareketini yakından takip eden ülkelerden birisi de İtalya’dır. Anadolu’da geniş bir bölgeyi işgal ettiği için savaş, aynı zamanda İtalyanlara karşı da yapılmaktaydı. Bu bile başlı başına konunun İtalya ile ilgisini göstermeye yeterlidir. İtalyanların Anadolu hareketi hakkındaki haber ve değerlendirmeleri iki şekilde olmuştur. Anadolu’da bulunan İtalyan asker ve sivil görevlilerinin Roma’ya gönderdikleri rapor ve diğer yazılarla İtalyan basınındaki haberlerdir. Dünya tarihinde özel bir yere sahip olan bu mücadelenin Türk kaynaklarıyla olduğu kadar yabancı kaynaklarla da incelenerek bütün yönleriyle ortaya konulması gereklidir. Biz bu yazıda Millî Mücadele hareketi ve lideri Mustafa Kemal Paşa hakkında İtalyan arşivlerinde ve gazetelerinde rastladığımız ilk haberleri inceleyeceğiz.
After World War I, the Turkish nation’s war of independence under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha was a universal movement against the invaders in Anatolia. This war was followed with interest in many parts of the world for various reasons. It was a rebellion against the order the Allies wanted to establish, and thus the course and outcome of the war concerned other nations as well as Türkiye.
One of the countries that closely followed the National Struggle Movement was Italy, and because Italy occupied a large area in Anatolia, the war was also fought against the Italians. This in itself is enough to show the relevance the issue has to Italy. The Italian news and evaluations about the Anatolian movement took two forms: the reports sent to Rome by Italian soldiers and civil servants in Anatolia and the news in the Italian press. This struggle has a special place in the history of the world and should be examined through foreign sources as well as Turkish sources to revealed all its aspects. This article will examine the first news about the National Struggle Movement and its leader, Mustafa Kemal Pasha, that occurred in Italian archives and newspapers.
Italy had entered World War I with high hopes and was treated as if it had been practically defeated at the Peace Conference held in Paris after the war. At least that’s how the Italians felt and thought. Once Italy had entered the war, England, Russia, and France signed the secret London Treaty on April 26, 1915. Article 9 of this treaty promised Italy a large region in Anatolia. After the war ended, England claimed the treaty to have been invalid, after which Italians established good relations with the Turks regarding settling in Anatolia. At the same time, Italians had occupied places in Anatolia such as Antalya, Konya, Muğla, Kuşadası, Marmaris, Söke, and Kuşadası.
On May 15, 1919, the Turks started a war of independence under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha against the Greeks who occupied Izmir. However, this war was fought not only against the Greeks but also against the Italians, who followed this war closely in Anatolia. Italians felt the need to follow the developments in Anatolia from two perspectives. The first directly concerned how the struggle against the Greeks, their biggest rivals in Anatolia, would progress and whether it would be successful or not. The second forced the Italians to follow the War of Independence closely, as the the Turkish-Greek conflict was taking place right next to the areas they themselves occupied. The Kuvayımilliye [National Forces] fighting against the Greeks used the Italian occupation zone, and the Italians preferred to remain silent about this.
According to the Italians, the development that had forced the Turks to wage a war of independence was the Greek occupation of Izmir. According to official documents, “The occupation of Izmir has activated the Turks’ sense of defense of their homeland.” Again, according to this document, “The Turks’ war is a reaction to Greece’s occupation of Izmir.” L’Epoca newspaper stated, “The Turkish rebellion movement” started a few days after the occupation of Izmir. Of course, the “rebellion” mentioned here was not an armed rebellion. However, it did point out the outrage caused by the unjust and bloody occupation of Izmir in the Turkish public.
According to Italian military authorities, the Turkish war against the Greeks started immediately after the occupation of Izmir. General Giuseppe Battistoni, Commander of the Eastern Mediterranean Expeditionary Forces in Rhodes, recorded important information in the telegram he sent to the Commander-in-Chief on May 24, 1919: “According to rumors, the Turks are forming gangs in Milas, Muğla, and Aydın to defend their homeland against the Greek occupation.” This is the first document this study encountered in the Italian archives about National Forces, although the name is not directly mentioned. The Italian Representative of the Inter-Allied Police Control, Colonel Balduino Caprini, wrote in his telegram sent to the Commander-in-Chief on June 16, 1919 that the Muslims’ responses to the occupation of Izmir were increasing daily and that they had agreed to form national organizations to defend their country. Toward the end of June, Italians were seen to have gone beyond naming the Turkish troops resisting the Greeks in Anatolia as “bande” [gangs] and to have begun using expressions closer to the Turkish terminology. As a matter of fact, the date of the first document in which the expression “Kuvayımilliye” appears in the Italian archives is dated June 22, 1919. Chief of Staff of the Naval Command, Augusto Capon, gave information about the events in Bergama and Menemen in the letter he sent to the Prime Ministry, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and War, and the Commander-in-Chief, dated June 22, 1919. After stating “The Turks swore on the Qur’an that they would not allow the invasion of the Greeks,” he also shared remarkable information about the Kuvayımilliye. He explained that preparations were made for a resistance organization called “Forza Nazionale Turca [Turkish National Forces] by Turkish officers along the Salihli, Alaşehir, Uşak, Afyonkarahisar, Akhisar, Soma, and Balıkesir front. According to the Italian documents, “The primary purpose of the National Forces troops that had emerged due to the Greek oppression of the civilian population is to liberate the regions occupied by Greece.”
Italian newspapers had also referred to the Turks fighting against the Greeks as Turkish gangs. The first newspaper to write about this was La Tribuna on June 3, 1919. In the news article “Turks Against Greeks in Aydın Province,” the newspaper referred to National Forces as “bande turche” [Turkish gangs] and reported that they had attacked the railway bridge in Aydın. In late June and early July 1919, Italian newspapers are seen to have talked about the Turks starting a war against the Greek occupations in Anatolia. The article written in Istanbul on June 26 about the situation in Izmir stated that a war had started against the Greeks occupying a wide region from Ayvalık to Aydın, and the Turkish “difesa nazionale” [national defense] units had started a war against the Greeks. Official military documents and newspapers also provided various information about the number of these Turkish forces. The number given in June 1919 was 25,000, while the figure given in July 1920 was approximately 100,000. However, according to Turkish sources, these numbers are exaggerated. The information provided by the Italian press and some of the archive documents about the Turkish forces fighting against the Greeks is incorrect.
The only name mentioned in official documents and in the press regarding the commander of the Turkish troops fighting against the Greeks was Mustafa Kemal Pasha. The date of the document that mentions Mustafa Kemal Pasha for the first time is June 1, 1919. General Pietro Badoglio, Deputy Chief of General Staff of Italy, gave information about Mustafa Kemal Pasha in the telegram he sent from Abano to the Italian delegation at the Peace Conference on June 1, 1919. The first news article encountered about Mustafa Kemal Pasha in the Italian press appeared in the Corriere della Sera newspaper on August 10, 1919. His name was mistakenly written as “Kamil” and that Mustafa Kemal Pasha had rebelled against the government.
Italians wanted to communicate with the movement that had started under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Pasha in Anatolia. The first relationship was established in Sivas in November 1919. Lieutenant Luigi Villari, representing Italy in Sivas, met with Mustafa Kemal Pasha. In general, Italians sympathized with and supported the War of Independence, but they also knew the war opposed them. In 1921, they started to evacuate the places they had occupied.