[GREEKS IN ISTANBUL / ALPHABET / HRONIKA RAID IN 1929] ΜΕΓΑ ΤΟΥΡΚΙΚΟΝ ΑΛΦΑΒΗΤΑ (Mega Tourkikon alfavita) = Büyük Türk alfabesi. Pros ekmathisin: Anes Didaskalou

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KESISOGLOU, PANANOS [PANANOU] N., Tipois A. Koromila, Constantinople, 1929.

Original wrappers. Demy 8vo. (21 x 14,5 cm). In Greek and Turkish. [xxiv], 96 p., ills. Occasionally creasing on the front cover’s right corner and fading on the pages, slightly chipped on the spine. Otherwise, a very good copy.

First and only edition of this scarce alphabet book published to teach and introduce the new Latin letters to the Greek minorities in Istanbul one year after the Letter Revolution in Turkey in 1928.

This rare book had a goal to teach the Turkish language and introduce the new letters to Greek society, especially living in Istanbul with some bilingual reading passages which are useful for readers. The preface and last word written by Kesisoglu, the editor-in-chief of the newspaper, praise Atatürk and the Letter Revolution in 1928. According to Kesisoglu, this revolution is one of the best modern steps for the Westernization process, and the new letters would be easier to read, write, and overall learn for the Greek students, readers, and other citizens living in the New Turkish Republic.

The book was published immediately after the “Hronika” newspaper raid in 1929 caused by an article related to the Tatavla Fire (January 22, 1929). In this article published on February 27, "Hronika" was published by some individuals because it insulted “Turkishness”, and when the newspaper's editor-in-chief Pananos Kesisoglu could not be found in the newspaper, the administrative office was destroyed.


The fire that broke out in the first days of 1929 in Tatavla, a quarter of Constantinople predominantly identified with the city’s Greek identity and past, brought about large-scale physical destruction. In a period when the Greco-Turkish relations were extremely strained due to the unresolved diplomatic issues stemming from the 1923 population exchange and the internal political atmosphere was chiefly determined by Turkish nationalism the ensuing developments and the provocative press coverage on which the Ankara government’s influence cannot be dismissed resulted in the instrumentalization of the fire following the nationalist agenda. In this sense, the Tatavla fire, which had been initially considered a calamitous event, quickly evolved into an opportunity to Turkify the urban space. That is how the historical Greek district Tatavla became “Kurtulus” (i.e., Salvation). (Source: Alpan: “Bir felâket olan yangin meger pek hayirli bir sabahin aydinligi imis" - Tatavla Nasil “Kurtuldu”?).


The newspaper Ta Hronika a Greek language newspaper which was published in Istanbul was closed on March 3, 1929, by the decision of the Council of Ministers because of the word "Agriotera" which was written in an article published by the Greek Imerisios Tipos newspaper on February 28, 1929. Following this, Eleni Mihailidi, the newspaper's general manager, was sued for insulting Turkishness, and after a trial of approximately four months, she was sentenced to three years imprisonment. However, after the corruption of the decision in the appeal court, the case was reopened in November and this time the expert delegation reports that the word was not used in the sense of “brutal” but rather “violent" and thus it did not insult Turkishness. The court accepted this rationale and on February 5, 1930, the newspaper started to publish again. Reasons for the conviction stemmed from the sensitivity of the Republic regarding the Turkish identity in the context of creating a Modern Turkey and the general attitude towards the Greek language newspapers serving the Greeks who remained in Istanbul according to the Lausanne Treaty. However, the decision of acquittal was substantially related to the process which was leading to the signing of a friendship agreement between the two countries in which all the problems of Turkish-Greek relations were resolved. (Yellice: The Trial of Ta Hronika: The Newspaper Ta Hronika and the trial of insulting Turkishness, 1929-1930).

Overall, this fine and very scarce book, both in scarce institutional holdings and market rarity, was an important book on the subject with the background of the non-Muslim minorities’ social history in the period of the early Turkish Republic. 

As of December 2023, we cannot trace any copies in the OCLC & the Turkish and Greek National Libraries.