History of the Republic of Turkiye

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1960 May 27

1960 Turkish coup d'état


As United States aid from the Truman doctrine and the Marshall Plan was running out and so Prime Minister Adnan Menderes planned to visit Moscow in the hope of establishing alternative lines of credit. Colonel Alparslan Türkeş was among the officers who led the coup. He was a member of the junta (National Unity Committee) and had been among the first 16 officers trained by the United States in 1948 to form a stay-behind counter-guerrilla. As such, he explicitly stated his anticommunism and his faith and allegiance to NATO and CENTO in his short address to nation, but he remained vague on the reasons of the coup.

In a press conference on the following day, Cemal Gürsel emphasized that the "purpose and the aim of the coup is to bring the country with all speed to a fair, clean and solid democracy.... I want to transfer power and the administration of the nation to the free choice of the people" However, a younger group within the junta around Türkeş supported a steadfast military leadership, an authoritarian rule similar as it was with the Committee of Union and Progress or during Mustafa Kemal Atatürk's regime. This group then attempted to discharge from their offices 147 University teachers. This then led to a reaction from the officers within the junta who demanded a return to democracy and a multiparty system, following which Türkeş and his group were sent abroad.

The junta forced 235 generals and more than 3,000 other commissioned officers into retirement; purged more than 500 judges and public prosecutors and 1400 university faculty members and put the chief of the General Staff, the president, the prime minister and other members of the administration under arrest. The tribunals ended with the execution of Minister of Foreign Affairs Fatin Rüştü Zorlu and Minister of Finance Hasan Polatkan on İmralı island on 16 September 1961, and Adnan Menderes on 17 September 1961. A month after the execution of Menderes and other members of the Turkish government, general elections were held on 15 October 1961. The administrative authority was returned to civilians, but the military continued to dominate the political scene until October 1965.

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