The Reasons for the Purge of Foreign and Non-Muslims from Companies with Foreign Capital in Turkey (1922-1923)
Atatürk Üniversitesi, Atatürk İlkeleri ve İnkılap Tarihi Enstitüsü, Erzurum/TÜRKİYE
Keywords: Foreign Capital, Nationalization, Security, Companies, Purges.
At the Lausanne Peace Conference, one of the most important issues to be resolved between the Government of the Grand National Assembly and the Entente States was the status of companies with foreign capital operating in Turkey. On the one hand, the conference process was going on, on the other hand, due to the rising nationalist sentiment, demands for the purge of foreigners and non-Muslims working in companies with foreign capital began to rise. This demand was fueled by the perception that foreigners and non-Muslims were economically better off than the Muslim/Turkish segment, thanks to capitulations and other privileges. In line with the objections and criticisms from the Muslim/Turkish section, the purges that started immediately after the victory intensified with the signing of the Lausanne Peace Treaty and continued throughout the 1920s.
It is possible to summarize the reasons for these purges against foreign and nonMuslim employees in companies under three headings: purges as a nation-building project, economic reasons and security-related reasons.
The new Turkish state, which defined itself as a nation-state, naturally wanted to homogenize the population inherited from the Ottoman Empire. Accordingly, it began to pursue policies that excluded non-Muslims who were considered unreliable in the process of building a nation from the definition of “nation”. One of the most well-known of these policies was the elimination of non-Muslims from companies. In fact, with these purges, the new Turkish state, on the grounds of providing economic independence as well as political independence, eliminated foreign and non-Muslims who were active in working life and who were now considered unreliable, and put into effect policies that would replace the reliable Muslim/Turkish element.