In 1925, the Turkish government ordered the Austrian sculptor Heinrich Krippel a monument to Mustafa Kemal. The finished monument was erected in Istanbul’s Sarayburnu Park the very next year and became the first monument of the Republic of Turkey. Subsequently, a peculiar parade of monument and bust installation to Mustafa Kemal began throughout the country.
In order to understand the mechanism of the creation of a personality cult, it is worth having a look at the history of the establishment of a monument called the “Monument of the Revolution” in the center of Istanbul, namely, on Taksim Square.
The monument was made by Italian sculptor Pietro Canonica and installed in 1928. This monument can be considered a complete picture of how the personality cult was created in Turkey.
On the south side of the monument, you can see the figures of some of Kemal’s loyal supporters (İsmet İnönü, Mustafa Fevzi Çakmak, and others) surrounding their leader. Due to their deep disagreements with Atatürk, the composition does not contain images of either Kâzım Karabekir, or Rauf Orbay, or Ali Fuad Cebesoy, or others who have also been leaders in the “war of independence” along with Atatürk.
Behind Atatürk are visible statues of representatives of Soviet Russia M. V. Frunze and K. V. Voroshilov. These statues were erected in gratitude to the Bolsheviks for their assistance to the Kemalist movement.
The year before the installation of the monument, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk made his famous “speech” in which he gave his own interpretation of the recent events in the history of Turkey and “redistributed” the roles. According to Kemal’s interpretation, the main role of the leader and the only liberator was attributed to him.
After the proclamation of the republic, the above-mentioned figures remained in the opposite camp, and they would be charged with the harshest crimes. In fact, this was the beginning of the formation of the personality cult in Turkey, in parallel with which the processes of establishing sole power and creating a one-party system were going on.
By the way, in the organization of donations for the creation and installation of the “Monument to the Revolution”, the greatest contribution was made by Armenian Perch Kerestedzhyan (Պերճ Քերեսթեջյան) who would become a member of the Turkish Grand National Assembly.