Childhood

 

İsmet İnönü was born in September 24, 1884. In accordance with his disciplined nature his father Reşit Bey registered his birthday at the back page of Kur’an-i Kerim. Mustafa İsmet was born in İzmir. He opened his eyes on a Wednesday day in İzmir in a plain wooden and rented house which was situated in a street back then called English Slope which was later on called 842th numbered street. Mustafa İsmet was born in İzmir but neither of his parents was from İzmir. His mother Cevriye Hanım was from the Tunaboyu Deliorman Turks (Ludogorie Turks). She was from Razgrad. His father Reşit Bey was a descent of Kürüm. And these people used to live in Bitlis. Cevriye Hanım was from a well-educated family and the daughter of Müderris Hasan Efendi of Razgrad. After her father’s death they moved to İstanbul with her 2 brothers and a sister. In 1880 Cevriye Hanım married Reşit Bey of Malatya in İstanbul.

Mustafa İsmet was born as the second child of five children. Later, the first-born son became a military doctor. Little boy Rıza Temelli got a start in business. His youngest brother Reşit Hayri died at a very young age at a marine accident. His sister Saniha married an artillery major Abdürrezak Okatan. The year İsmet was born his father was working as an associate investigating magistrate at the İzmir Courthouse. After 40 days of İsmet’s birth he was appointed to investigating magistrate of Foça. Afterwards he worked in Boldan and returned to İzmir 4 years later. Mustafa İsmet at that time was very interested in soldier games and the sounds of harmonica and horn. After İzmir, Reşit Bey worked in Sivas. The family arrived Sivas after a long journey and Mustafa İsmet started going to school there. As childhood memories he remembered Sivas. Their house with big sofas and cedars in ottoman style would resemble a square. His father Reşit Bey was quite precise and sincere Muslim about morals. His way of discipline was harsh. Inönü talked about this later saying: “I tried raising my kids as my friends.” His father was good at chess. Thus, Inönü began recognizing the chess pieces from ten years of age upward. Because his father was an investigating magistrate and went to work at all sorts of time, he used to feed horses in the yard. So his acquaintance with horses also began at a very early age.

In Sivas he went to a primary school in Mahkeme Çarşısı for about six months. His father also dealt with his education. İsmet had two choices ahead of him. He would either go to unmilitary or military school. In Sivas there was a military secondary school. Mustafa İsmet’s interest in military service made easy for him to decide and in 1892 he started his secondary school education in a military school. His name badge number was 32. During those times, students used to carry the name of the district they were living in as their last name together with the name badge number. Because they were living in Ali Baba district in Sivas, his identification tag was “İsmet Effendi Ali Baba.”

When İsmet İnönü talked about those times he used to say: “I was a child whose abilities were discovered a bit later. I failed a year in Sivas military secondary school.” But this incident taught him a lesson. He finished secondary school in 5 years instead of 4. He commemorated the arithmetic teacher captain Ömer Efendi who failed him with gratitude and mercy. He even named his second son Ömer. During these years, he started learning French. In 1895 he completed the secondary school. But he was very young. So he studied in the fifth grade in Mülkiye senior high school in Sivas for a year.

While he was in Sivas, he met his grandfather Abdülfettah Effendi. His grandfather came to Sivas from Malatya. Mustafa İsmet loved his grandfather very much. Then, they went to Malatya and there İsmet had his circumcision feast. İsmet İnönü said afterward: “It was the first time I have ever seen Malatya and we really enjoyed ourselves by running around the vast apricot garden. My grandfather attended the Crimean War in 1854, so he was telling us war stories. In the family, except for the medicine, I was the only one who went to Military. My grandfather battled in Crimean War in1854 and my father in Russo-Turkish war in 1877. Thus I have followed them.”

When İsmet finished the fifth grade in Mülkiye Senior High School, his father brought him to İstanbul and he took the exams of Artillery Military School. He was among 12 students to be accepted in the school. His exams in high school had good scores. He gained advantage from studying for a year in the Mülkiye Senior High School before the military high school. Now he was the top of all the military artillery courses. When he was 19 years old in 1903 he graduated as a lieutenant from the military high school. The ones who finished the school successfully would go to the Military Academy. And Mustafa İsmet went to the Military Academy in Pangaltı. In 1906 he graduated as staff captain.

Later on, İnönü talks of his childhood memories as follows: “During my education, I was raised in a middle class family who did not have vast opportunities. We were tenant in a small house across the Valide Mosque in İstanbul. Later we lived in Rumelikavağı for about a year or two for a change of air. I spent my summer holidays in İzmir for 6 years of my military education. For me to go to my uncle’s place has always been a chance to freshen up and be happy. The small and modest house with a sea view in the Değirmen Mountain still looks like the most beautiful mansion of the world to me. I used to rest and go around the city. I read French newspaper -le matin- and learned and followed the significant events happening in my country. I prepared for the next year’s lessons and sometimes took language lessons. My younger uncle was a doctor and interested in literature. And for me it was so much fun to be with him. So İzmir has been a city I truly love since I was 13.”