Turkish War of Independence

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Turkish War of Independence


(in Russian, Greco-Turkish War of 1919–22), the national liberation war of the Turkish people against the imperialist powers’ intervention carried out by the Greek Army.

After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I and the conclusion of the Mudros armistice in 1918, the victorious powers set about to partition the empire, especially the areas inhabited by Turkish populations. They occupied the straits, eastern Thrace, and several regions in Anatolia, and they took control of the capital, Istanbul. On May 15, 1919, by decision of the Big Four (Great Britain, France, Italy, and the USA), Greek troops landed at Izmir. Simultaneously, at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919–20, the imperialist powers began to work out a treaty with the sultan’s government aimed at partitioning Turkey and enslaving the Turkish people. The national liberation movement that arose in Turkey, however, prevented the realization of these designs.

Unable to suppress the national liberation movement with the help of the sultan’s government, the imperialist powers occupied Istanbul with their own troops on Mar. 16, 1920, and then began open military intervention in Anatolia, to be carried out by Greece, which was promised significant portions of Turkish territory. On June 22, 1920, the Greek Army moved out of Izmir. By the summer of 1921 the Greeks succeeded in penetrating deep into Anatolia (as far as the Sakarya River, almost to Ankara) despite defeats in battles at inönü on Jan. 10 and Mar.31, 1921, with troops of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, which had been set up in Ankara in April 1920. The Turkish people were able to decisively repulse the interventionists, having countered them with their moral superiority, the able military leadership of Kemal Atatiirk, the commander in chief, and a material base that was being strengthened by extensive aid from Soviet Russia. Conclusion of a treaty of friendship and brotherhood on Mar. 16, 1921, between Turkey and the RSFSR was especially helpful in the consolidation of struggling Turkey’s position. As a result, the 22-day battle on the Sakarya River (Aug. 23 to Sept. 13, 1921) ended in the complete defeat of the Greek troops and their retreat westward to the Eskisehir-Afyonkarahisar line. The anti-Turkish imperialist coalition gradually began to disintegrate. In October 1921, France concluded a peace treaty with the government of the Grand National Assembly; Italy also put an end to armed struggle against Turkey. But these powers, together with Great Britain and the USA, continued to occupy Istanbul and did not want to satisfy Turkey’s national demands. Taking advantage of this and of the direct support from Great Britain, Greece refused to drop its territorial claims, thereby precluding the possibility of peaceful resolution of the conflict. At the end of August 1922, the Turkish troops, after careful preparation, launched a general attack. After defeating the Greek Army in the battle of Dumlupinar on August 30, they liberated Izmir on September 9, and by Sept. 18, 1922, they had completely driven the Greek interventionists out of Anatolia.

The Turkish War of Independence was ended by the Mudanya Armistice of 1922 and the Lausanne Peace Treaty of 1923, both of which freed Istanbul and eastern Thrace from foreign occupation and strengthened international recognition of Turkish independence.


Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 42, pp. 354–55.
Lenin, V. I. Ibid., vol. 45, pp. 238–39.
Frunze, M. V. “Doklad o poezdke v Angoru . . .” Soch., vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1926.
Kemal, M. Put’ novoi Turtsii, vols. 1–4. Moscow, 1929–34. (Translated from Turkish.)
Kemal, M. Izbrannye rechi i vystupleniia. Moscow, 1966. (Translated from Turkish.)
Korsun, N. G. Greko-turetskaia voina 1919–1922. Moscow, 1940.
Miller, A. F. Ocherki noveishei istorii Turtsii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1948.
Shamsutdunov, A. M. Natsional’no-osvoboditel’naia bor’ba v Turtsii. 1918–1923 gg. Moscow, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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