TRIALS

  • 1925, The Ankara State Independence Court Case
  • 1927-1928, The Istanbul Criminal Court Case
  • 1928, The Rize Criminal Court Case
  • 1928, The Ankara Criminal Court Case
  • 1931, The Case at the Istanbul Second Criminal Court of First Instance
  • 1933, The Istanbul Criminal Court Case
  • 1933, The Case at the Istanbul Third Criminal Court of First Instance
  • 1933-1934, The Bursa Criminal Court Case
  • 1936-1937, The Istanbul Criminal Court Case
  • 1938, The Case at the Military Court of the Military College Headquarters
  • 1938, The Case at the Military Court of the Naval Headquarters

    1938, The Case at the Military Court of the Naval Headquarters

    Through the end of June, some officers from the Marine Headquarters took him from prison and put him on a small boat from Kadıköy port and brought him handcuffed to the ship named Erkin waiting by the Prince's Islands. Firstly they imprisoned him in a toilet and then in a bilge store.
    His name was mentioned during the interrogations which had been going on the aboard ship named Yavuz. The first interrogations were made by the military judge, the Lieutenant Halûk Şehsuvaroğlu, who was a member of the Battle Fleet. He had declared his opinion that there was no need for a hearing.
    The hearing of the Military Court of the Naval Headquarters began in the Erkin ship on 10 August 1938.
    Admiral Hüsnü Gökdenizer was the Head of the Court, Salih Köniman was judge of the hearings, Major Şerif Budak was the public prosecutor, and Lieutenant Fahri Çoker and Lieutenant Halûk Şehsuvaroğlu were assistant prosecutors.
    The public prosecutor of the Military Court of the Military College Headquarters, Major Şerif Budak, was assigned to the Military Court of the Naval Headquarters because of his success at the previous trial.
    Erkin was an old passenger ship that was later transformed into the main ship of the submarine fleet. The large dining-room of the officers was now the court room.
    The place of the hearing was not definite. The ship changed location very frequently. After a while, the ship sailed from the Prince's Islands offshore to Silivri.
    The subject of the trial, in brief, was "reading books."
    It was believed that "even though Marxism was not discussed, there was continuous communist propaganda both in the daily newspapers and in the books" and publishing was seen as a means of communist propaganda. Reading the books of famous communists such as Nâzım Hikmet or Hikmet Kıvılcımlı, or the books of the old or young Russian authors, regardless of whether the book was prosecuted or not, or acquitted after charges had been brought, was assumed to bring the reader into the sphere of influence of this propaganda.
    Hikmet Kıvılcımlı and his wife Fatma Nudiye Yalçı, had founded a publishing house named "Kıvılcım Publishing House." A young man, Kerim Korcan, who was in close contact with them, established a group named "Kitap Sevenler Derneği" (Book Lovers' Association). They were exchanging books and were trying to inculcate the love of reading in those who did not read.
    Kerim Korcan's elder brother, Haydar Korcan, who was in military service on the Yavuz ship, borrowed books from the Association. He began gradually to bring books to the non-commissioned officers and soldiers on the ship. There were a number of prohibited leftist books among them.
    Those who were deemed to be carrying out communist propaganda by abusing the opportunities granted by the laws, first Hikmet Kıvılcımlı and Fatma Nudiye Yalçı, on 25 April 1938, and five days later, Kerim Korcan, were placed under arrest.
    Once the interrogations under torture in the Sansaryan Han, which lasted about a month, produced information about the books that went regularly aboard the battleship Yavuz, the tone of the trial changed. In fact, there was no underground organisation to speak of in the navy, but there were certainly a number of navy officers who read leftist books.
    The provocating agents continued the interrogation begun in the Naval Headquarters, but in a state of extreme unease and under heavy pressure. Meanwhile, a noncommissioned officer, Hamdi Alevdaş, declared that he had talked to Nâzım Hikmet in 1934 at Hamdi Alev's house. Hamdi Alev was one of the suspects who was running a night club in Pendik with Pavli. The officer claimed that he had gone to the Mithat Pasha Palace in Erenköy, too. The poet, according to his claim, wanted him to read letters sent to the soldiers received from home in order to find out those who had poor families. After determining the addresses of these poor families, they were going to help them. Nâzım Hikmet was included in this trial with this claim that had no proof, ground or witness.
    Hamdi Alevdaş declared at the hearing that he and his friends had a number of meetings and that in these meeting he told them what Nâzım Hikmet had said. But he argued that he had done all these because of the oral order of obtaining information given by the Second Commander of the Yavuz ship, Lieutenant Colonel of the General Staff, Ruhi Develioğlu. Besides this explanation, he mentioned that he had not been given any orders by the poet as he had said in the interrogation.
    This kind of a development at the hearing meant Nâzım Hikmet's exclusion and acquittal from the trial. But Lieutenant Colonel of the General Staff, Ruhi Develioğlu, who was called as witness, declared that he had not given any order of obtaining information to Hamdi Alevdaş.
    In all the interrogations, Nâzım Hikmet said that he did not remember clearly all the events that had happened four years ago but he had not talked with a noncommissioned officer. Nâzım Hikmet said that he might have talked with Hamdi Alevdaş if he had not been wearing a uniform at the time, but that he did not remember such a thing and that there were no plans of helping the poor and that he did not give any order of the kind to anyone.
    The investigations included a wide range of people. Besides Hikmet Kıvılcımlı, Nudiye Yalçı, Kerim Korcan and his elder brother Haydar Korcan, especially those officers who had read Nâzım Hikmet's books, and their relatives and acquaintances were taken under arrest and were interrogated. Kemal Tahir, whose brother, Nuri Tahir Tipi, was a regular NCO and senior sergeant first at the Yavuz and then Erkin ships, was among those arrested.
    Besides the regular NCO major and sergeant Hamdi Alevdaş, the artillery officer from the Yavuz battleship, there was another noncommissioned officer who asserted that he had been involved in this event, having been assigned the same task, the ammunition officer from the Yavuz battleship, the regular NCO major, and sergeant Adil Kut.
    According to his declaration, it was said to him that he was going to be placed in a single ward and he was going to let information leak out, acting as if he was a new prisoner. This officer, who had obtained information by sounding out soldiers before, also claimed that he was told that he was going to be rewarded and promoted once the hearings had begun.
    When the hearings began, Adil Kut realised that he was rewarded indeed, and he was not even released. Thus, after explaining the situation, he said, "I want my acquittal and promotion," but this could not prevent him from receiving a four-year sentence.
    Through the end of the hearings, Kemal Tahir's attorney, Ethem Nuri Balkan, who was assigned by the Istanbul Bar, concluded his defence as follows:
    "It is evident that a number of sergeant majors, and sergeant seniors among regular NCOs, had read the works of Nâzım Hikmet, Sabahattin Ali, Sabiha Zekeriya, and Hikmet Kıvılcımlı. These are the works that were, and are still, sold in the bookstores. This present year, we are on the eve of a world war, living in times when communism and fascism are matters most frequently discussed. These people read newspapers, or at least listen to the Radyo Gazetesi (Radio News). They discuss these matters among themselves and in their spare times and they do not intend to damage the Navy, they never did. Releasing them would be the shortcut, estimable judges."
    The attorneys insisted on sending the list of the books that were read by the accused to the Ministry of Justice in order to learn whether they were detrimental publications or not. The list of the books were sent to the Ministry. The following was written in the official message that was sent three days later:
    "The books on the list are publications that suitable to be read by every Turkish citizen."
    The attorneys told the judges that this official paper certainly proves that there is not any criminal element and thus the trial should end up in acquittal by itself.
    The reply of public prosecutor, Şerif Budak was as follows:
    "We are not that guileless to look for proofs in this trial."
    The attorney, Ethem Nuri Balkan shouted without leaving his seat; "Estimable judges, there is nothing evident. You are barking up the wrong tree!"
    Admiral Hüsnü Gökdenizer, the Head of the Court, resigned as a result of this argument between the attorneys and the Prosecutor Şerif Budak. Admiral Ertuğrul Ertuğrul was assigned for his place.
    Nâzım Hikmet had already lost his reliance to laws as he followed the progress of the hearings at the Military Court of the Naval Headquarters, especially after taking 15-year sentence from the case at the Military Court of the Military College Headquarters.
    The case at the Military Court of the Naval Headquarters, which had started on 10 August 1938, was concluded with the declaration of the decision on 29 August 1938, on Monday.
    In the part related to Nâzım Hikmet, it was stated that this person "who was evidently a communist propagandist as understood from his political views, his past, his publications and previous sentences," intended to make "the navy to be subjected to dispersion and revolution." Thus it was decided that he should be sentenced to 20 years. According to the law, this sentence was decreased by 1/3 and thus remained 13 years and 4 months but this was added to his previous sentence of 15 years. Hence, his sentence was decided to be 28 years and 4 months. Besides, he was not permitted to work in the public service until his death, and he would be placed under the care of a guardian throughout his imprisonment.
    Hamdi Alev, Emine Alev, Hamdi Alevdaş, and Nuri Tahir Tipi were sentenced to 18 years; Hikmet Kıvılcımlı, Kemal Tahir, Mehmet Ali Kantan, and Haydar Korcan to 15 years; Nudiye Yalçı, Kerim Korcan, and Seyfi Tekdilek to 10 years; Hüseyin Avni Durugün to 5 years; Ali Kut to 4 years; Fethi Ülgezer and Burhan Cengen to 3 years.
    The accused, who were transferred to the Istanbul Sultanahmet Prison on 31 August 1938, applied to the Military Supreme Court.
    But, as it were in the previous case, the approval of the Military Supreme Court on 29 December 1938, caused even the last hope to collapse.

    While these military hearings continued in 1938, the oral and written applications submitted by the accused, especially the petitions given to the Turkish National Assembly by Nâzım Hikmet's lawyers, Fuat Ömer Keskinoğlu and Saffet Nezihi Bölükbaşı, made the members, who apprehended the law, feel uncomfortable. This matter was discussed in the Ankara Palace, in Karpiç and in the corridors of the Assembly building and the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Law were questioned. In a commission meeting, President Refik Saydam's opinion on this subject was asked, and he replied that "The Assembly rules over everything, you decide!"
    The President tried to recover the situation as he saw that people are confused because of the fact that the civilians were judged in military courts, and that those who are not jurists administered laws, and that the sentences were decided without proofing. He made a speech and told about the "assassination attempts" in the army. The Minister of Defence, Naci Tınaz opposed him and said that "Those are not assassinations, it can only be talked about negative incitements." The Bursa member of the Assembly, the Lieutenant General Naci Tınaz, who was the former General Commander of the Gendarme, resigned from the ministry and Saffet Arıkan was assigned for the position.
    In the mean time, it became evident that there were a number of insufficiencies in the laws and that there should be made a number of reforms.
    The articles numbered 141 and 142 in the Turkish Criminal Code were changed according to the law dated to 16 July 1938, numbered 3531, and they were re-arranged as sentencing not only the action but also the explanation of thought.
    The justification of this rearrangement came from Çetin Özek:
    "The political power, which decided to sentence the accused, such as Nâzım Hikmet, Hikmet Kıvılcımlı, Kemal Tahir, and A. Kadir, beforehand and albeit whatever happens, in the cases of the Yavuz Battleship and the Military College, was not able to carry out the articles numbered 141 and 142 according to this inclination. The fact that these articles laid the element of compulsion down as a condition, disabled the application of these articles. For this reason, the removal of the element of compulsion in the articles numbered 141 and 142 was decided. Thus the accused in the cases of the Yavuz and the Military College were to be sentenced according to the Military Criminal Code with the accusation of encouraging the soldiers to revolt."
    On the other hand, Fuat Ömer Keskinoğlu and Saffet Nezihi Bölükbaşı, who had interpreted these changes in the Military Criminal Code in a different manner, submitted a new petition to the Military College Headquarters and requested Nâzım Hikmet's release or, at least, a decrease in his sentence.
    The following was said in the refusal paper of the Military Court of the Military College Headquarters, dated to 9 August 1939:
    "It is evident that the crime consists of incitement to revolt, and is in the essential character of diction aiming at the discretion of violence in the matter of attempting to disseminate communist ideology."
    Approximately nine months after the decision of the Military Court of the Naval Headquarters, the related articles in the Military Criminal Code and in the Law of Military Procedure were changed and making communist propaganda in the army or among the members of the army was defined as a separate crime and was included in the official works of the military court.