Toynbee´s relationship with Kemalist Turkey and its protagonists :
a retrospective by Arnold J. Toynbee.

Toynbee, Arnold J., Acquaintances, London: Oxford University Press, 1967, pp. 249-51 _

  • "In all my dealings with or about the Turks, Personal relations had been, for me, the key; and this thought was uppermost in my mind on the evening in the spring of 1923 on which I was Atatürk's guest for dinner at Ankara. In this encounter with Atatürk, as in my encounter with Hitler thirteen years later, I had the opportunity of making only a single point; so, in speaking to Atatürk, I tried out on him my conviction of the paramount importance of personal relations in all fields, public as well as private. When Atatürk disagreed with what someone had said, he intimidated the other person visually, before opening his mouth, with a frown that brought the whole of his forehead down, like a thunder-cloud, upon his brows; and I was confronted by this lowering face while he was telling me that I was entirely wrong. Personal relations, he said to me, were of little importance; they produced no appreciable effect. Impersonal public relations were what mattered.

    Our exchange of ideas was brief, but it told me that I was in the presence of a mind that was powerful but was also 'monadic' in the Leibnizian sense. Atatürk's mind had, 1 knew, conceived at least one idea that was a stroke of genius. Atatürk had realized that, for the Turkish people, national salvation lay in renouncing their imperial role in order to concentrate all their energies on the cultivation of their ovm long-neglected garden. The weakness of this vigorous and imaginative mind was that, when it had conceived an idea of its own, it closed like a clam, and so debarred itself from the possibillty of having second thoughts; for the most fruitful source of second thoughts is an exchange of ideas between one's own mind and others. This clam-like closure of Atatürk's mind was, I suppose, the price of his demonic will-power. Atatürk's will-power had saved his country, but his obstinacy was a high price for the country to pay now that he had become her dictator.

    In raising with Atatürk the issue of personal versus impersonal relations, I had been guided by my own experience and not by an appreciation of Atatürk's character; but, as it happened, I had hit a blind spot in him. Atatürk did in truth have no use for personal relations; and he had no use for them because the quality that was lacking in him was love. Atatürk had both intelligence and will-power in a high degree, but the faculty that makes a human being human had been denied to him. If Atatürk can be said to have loved anything at all, what he loved was an abstraction. He loved Turkey (if love is the right word in this connexion), but he did not really love any Turks; and this was unnatural; for, in the heroic resistance movement in which he had taken the lead, he had had a number of human-hearted comrades-among them, my friends Adnan and Ra'ûf. These comrades of Atatürk's in a great common experience and common achievement had given him their loyalty, and they would have given him their affection too if there had been any answering feeling in him to give their own feelings access to him. Unhappily, Atatürk's relations with his comrades had left him cold. When the national crisis was over, Atatürk saw in his former companions merely so many objects that were getting in his light; and he dealt with this nuisance by driving into exile fellow-patriots who were noblerminded than himself. By the time of Atatürk's death, only two leading figures of his own stature had escaped this fate. One of the two was Fethî Bey Okyar; the other was Ismet Inönü.

    Well, I do not agree with Atatürk. For me, personal relations are the most precious thing in life. So, in thinking of my Turkish friends, my thoughts run back to the Adivars, with whom my friendship was the closest of all. My last sight of my old friend Halidé Hanum Adivar was in Istanbul on 19 November 1962. She was still living in the quarter between the Conqueror's Mosque and the shore of the Marmara in which she and Adnan had settled after their return home from exile. (In choosing to live in the heart of Istanbul proper, the Adivars had been ignoring the Turkish intelligentsia's current fashion, which was to migrate to Pera, the Frankish suburb of Istanbul 'beyond' the Golden Horn.) In 1962, Halidé was still where I had found her before, but now she was alone and lonely. Adnan had met the same death as Lawrence Hammond, of whom he had reminded me so strongly. Heart-failure had carried off Adnan Adivar too, and Halidé was left grieving, as Barbara had been. Halidé's grief, too, was sad to see; yet it had brought out a side of her character which had been latent while Adnan had been alive. When I had seen Halidé and Adnan together, I had been conscious of an impetuosity in her that had been tempered, but not entirely overcome, by Adnan's influence. Now, when Adnan was no longer there, the old impetuosity had given way to tenderness. Adnan's widow was living in her love for him. 1 could not wish her to go on living a life that was so sad; and, when the news of her death reached me, I felt that this had been, for her, a happy release. Halidé's life had ended sadly, but she had not lived in vain. As a writer, as a patriot, as a woman, and, above all, as a human being who had loved and been loved, Halidé had lived to the full."

A text sometimes used in seminars by Hans-Lukas
sent to Pr Dennis R. Papazian, Professor of History, Director Armenian Research Center The University of Michigan-Dearborn