Gallipoli Music Memorial 2015

The path to reconciliation

After the armistice in 1918, the victorious powers (England, France, Greece) set about partitioning the Ottoman Empire. Kemal [Ataturk] was sent to disband the Sultan’s armies in Anatolia in April 1919, but instead brought them to the cause of an independent Turkey. The Greeks began landing in Western Turkey in May 1919.

The War of Independence took place all over Turkey. The Allies and Greeks were eventually forced to negotiate and sign the Treaty of Lausanne in July 1923.

Part of the settlement involved the agonising exchange of two million people between Greece and Turkey, based on religious identity, Christians to Greece, Moslems to Turkey. It was complete by 1927. The Turkish one party government under Ataturk then embarked on a remarkable programme of reform: abolition of the sultanate and creation of the republic; the unification of education; the introduction of a secular civil code and penal code; the recognition of equality between the sexes and granting of political rights to women on 5 December 1934; adoption of new Turkish alphabet 1928;adoption of law on family names 1934; admission to League of Nations 1932.

All these changes brought the new state in as a full partner to other advanced nations and provided the background for Ataturk's famous speech at Gallipoli in 1934.

A nurse with French sailors on Lemnos 1915,
© Imperial War Museums (Q 13636)