Şemsettin Günaltay

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Mehmet Şemsettin Günaltay
Mehmet Şemsettin Bey Günaltay.jpg
Prime Minister of Turkey
In office
January 16, 1949 – May 22, 1950
President İsmet İnönü
Preceded by Hasan Saka
Succeeded by Adnan Menderes
Personal details
Born 1883
Kemaliye, Ottoman Empire
Died October 19, 1961(1961-10-19) (aged 77–78)
Istanbul, Turkey
Political party Republican People's Party
Alma mater University of Lausanne
Religion Sunni Islam

Mehmet Şemsettin Günaltay (Turkish pronunciation: [ʃemseˈtin ɟynaɫˈtaj]; 1883 – 19 October 1961) was a Turkish historian, politician, and Prime Minister of Turkey from 1949 to 1950.


Günaltay was born 1883 in the Kemaliye town of the Vilayet of Mamuret-ul-Aziz, Ottoman Empire. After finishing the Teacher's College, he was educated in physics at University of Lausanne in Switzerland.

After his return to Turkey, Günaltay worked as teacher and schoolmaster in a number of high schools. During this time, he got to know Ziya Gökalp, a prominent ideologue of Pan-Turkism. Influenced by him, he began to carry out research on the Turkish history. In 1914, he was appointed professor of history of Turks and Islamic tribes at the Faculty of Letters of İstanbul University. Later, he served as the dean of the Faculty of Theology at the same university.

Political career

In 1915, Günaltay was elected to the Ottoman Parliament as deputy of Bilecik Province from the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), and remained member of the parliament until its dissolution. In the meantime, he continued to lecture at the university.

During the Turkish War of Independence, Günaltay joined the "Association of Defense of the Rights of Anatolia and Rumelia". After the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, he entered Turkish Grand National Assembly as deputy of Sivas Province from the Republican People's Party (Turkish: Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, CHP), serving for 27 years until 1950. Between 1950 and 1954, he represented Erzincan Province in the parliament.

After Prime Minister Hasan Saka's resignation, Günaltay was appointed by President İsmet İnönü to form his cabinet on January 16, 1949 that lasted until Adnan Menderes's Democratic Party took over the government on May 22, 1950 following the general elections. He was the last prime minister of the single party era in the politics of Turkey.

Günaltay died on October 19, 1961 in Istanbul due to prostate cancer, shortly after he was elected to the Senate to represent Istanbul Province (before he could take his seat). He was laid to rest next to his daughter's grave in Ankara according to his will.

Günaltay was also the head of the Turkish Historical Society from 1941 until his death.


  • Zulmetten Nura (From Darkness to Light)
  • Hurafattan Hakikata (From Superstition to Reality)
  • İslam Dini Tarihi (History of the Religion of Islam)
  • Maziden Atiye (From the Past to the Future)


Political offices
Preceded by
Hasan Saka
Prime Minister of Turkey
January 16, 1949 – May 22, 1950
Succeeded by
Adnan Menderes