Cemal Gursel

Erzurum 1895 - Ankara 1966

Cemal GurselCemal Gürsel was a Turkish army officer and a political leader, born in Erzurum and lived between 1895-1966. Gursel's father was an officer of the Ottoman army so after the middle school he was graduated from Kuleli military highschool in Istanbul. He fought during World War I and in most of the military campaigns during the War of Independence (1920-1923) led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. He was even captured as a prisoner of war by the British for two years during a campaign in Palestine. He served in the army a total of 45 years.

In 1958 Cemal Gursel became the commander of Turkish ground forces as a four-star general. Due to a memorandum he sent to the Minister of Defence, expressing his views on Adnan Menderes who, according to Gursel, should become the next president, he was suspended from his post and forced for an early retirement. But, since he was a popular army figure, he was chosen as the leader of a military coup on 27th of May 1960 run by young army officers, which overthrew the government of Adnan Menderes. After the military court on Yassiada island, Gursel tried to stop the execution of Menderes on Imrali island, but no avail.

Cemal Gürsel resisted attempts to continue military rule. He was elected as the fourth President of the Republic in 1961 and played an important role in the preparation of a new Constitution and return back to the democracy after the coup. Because of his illness which progressed quickly and took him into a coma, his presidency was terminated by the Parliament, and then he was succeeded by Cevdet Sunay on March of 1966. Cemal Gursel died of apoplexy on September 14th of the same year, in Ankara. He's now buried at the Turkish State Cemetery.