Independence War Museum
(I. Turkish Grand National Assembly Building)
History of the Building
The building is located in Ulus Square, Ankara. Initially it was planned as the Committee of Union and Progress Party building and designed by the pious foundation's architect Salim Bey and the construction, which started in 1915, was supervised by the Army Corps architect Hasip Bey.
The two-storey building is in Turkish architectural style and its most prominent characteristic is the use of Ankara stone (andesite) in its masonry walls.
When the decision was given to gather the National Assembly in this building on 23 April 1920, the construction was not yet complete. It was completed as a result of the enthusiasm and contributions of the people.
The building functioned as the I. Turkish Grand National Assembly between 23 April 1920 and 15 October 1924. Later, it was used as People's Republican Party headquarters and Law School. In 1952 it was transferred to the Ministry of Education and restoration works started in 1957 to convert the building for a museum. It was opened to public as the Turkish Grand National Assembly Museum in 23 April 1961.
In the beginning of 1981, the new restoration and refurbishment work started by the Antiquities and Museums General Directorate of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism within the programme of Atatürk's centenary birth celebrations. The building reopened to the public as the Independence War Museum on 23 April 1981.
Opening of the I. Turkish Grand National Assembly
Crowds of thousands of people gathered around the building for the opening of Assembly on 23 April 1920. After the ceremonies the Assembly had its first meeting with 115 representatives. The first speech was made by the President of the Assembly, elected for being the oldest member, Sinop representative Serif Bey.
“Honourable members of the Assembly,
It is well known that the Capitol of Caliphate and the Government has been occupied in temporary terms by the enemy forces and our independence has been restricted in every respect. Submission to these conditions means acceptance of captivity imposed by the foreign powers. However, eternally free and an independent nation of ours, determined to exist in absolute independence, rejected this captivity with final determination and by gathering its representatives, brought into being this Grand Assembly of ours. In the name of the speaker of the Grand Assembly and by the help of God, I declare the principals of absolute independence and self determination of the nation to the whole world and open the National Assembly.”
After this opening speech, Ankara representative Mustafa Kemal had his turn to speak and explained the method implemented for the election of members to form the assembly:
“As you all know, our Grand Assembly is constituted by the reelected honourable members charged with extraordinary powers and honourable members fleeing from the Government Capital which was attacked and occupied. The constitution of this Grand Assembly was made possible only by the new election system, which included those who were able to flee from the capital and join us. Presently your Assembly is meeting with all legalities.”
The second session of the Assembly held on 24 April 1920 and Mustafa Kemal unanimously elected as the President of the Assembly.
Mustafa Kemal made a lengthy and significant speech in this meeting. Saying, “There is no power above this Grand Assembly anymore...” indicated the importance of this Assembly.
Independence War concluded by the successful leadership of Gazi Mustafa Kemal and the decisions taken in the First Turkish Grand National Assembly. Among those decisions are, approval of the First Constitution on 20 January 1921, approval of the National Anthem on 12 March 1921 and abolishing of Sultanate on 1 November 1922. Approval of Lausanne Peace Treaty on 24 July 1923, establishing Ankara as the Capital City of the Turkish Republic on 13 October 1923, Declaration of Republic and the election of Gazi Mustafa Kemal as the First President of the Republic on 29 October 1923, are also taken place in this Assembly.
In one of his speech, Atatürk saying, “The Grand National Assembly is the living symbol of the Turkish Nation's centuries old search for self determination and consciousness...” pointed the significance of the Grand National Assembly.
Sections of the Building
On the right side of the corridor and in the rooms opening to it, work of the Assembly sessions, photographs of representatives from the first and the second term of the Assembly, oil paintings, documents, memorials and various items are displayed.
-Presidential Board - Cabinet Room
-Lounge Room (Lobby)
-Legislative Committee Room
-Grand Assembly Hall
The pulpit used when the Assembly gathered on 23 April 1920 in this hall, was made and presented by a carpenter of Ankara, rows were taken from the Ankara Teachers’ Schools’ classes, the two kerosene lamps and the stoves were taken from the neighbouring coffee houses, office materials were brought from the government offices. The foundation of the first Assembly building, based on Sovereignty of the Nation was laid down in this building with the aid of its people.
The Assembly President’s Room
Many important decisions were taken in this simply decorated room. The Presidential seal, which is put on display on the occasion of National Days time to time, is the most important and distinguished piece of this museum.
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