Farewell to an old communist

Farewell to an old communist

I have been to Rasih Nuri İleri’s home a couple of times.

He would talk about even the harshest memories in a soft style. His house was like a museum, even though this is used too much as a cliché, but this is the only way to describe his house.

He suffered much pain, but nevertheless, he passed on information and documents to others with fresh enthusiasm. He left us for good.

Who is Rasih Nuri İleri?

He was born in Geneva, Switzerland where his father was on duty as the special representative of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. He attended the prestigious Galatasaray High School and Haydarpaşa High School, then the Science Faculty. In 1939, he started campaigning in a militant-like style in the university for the Turkish Communist Party (TKP). In 1942, he was brought into the TKP by Ferit Kalmuk.  
In 1946, he started working in trade unions. He formed the Federation of Trade Unions of Adana.
He joined the Workers Party of Turkey (TİP) in 1962. He became a member of the central committee, but was later expelled in 1967.

He was elected to chair the Istanbul Workers’ Union, founded in March 1970. He was tried, but acquitted in 1973.

He joined the second TİP in 1977, but resigned later saying the party was shifting toward the right. He ran for office as a candidate from an Istanbul constituency in the general elections held on Nov. 3, 2002 representing the TKP.

He was a man of a cause, İleri. When you read the biographies of that generation, you also learn about the history of Turkey that is full of mistakes. İleri was one of those figures that symbolized the agony of thinkers, intellectuals and leftists.

Cemal Süreyya wrote about his enthusiasm for archived documents: “If there is a revolution in Turkey, be sure that he will be collecting the copies of the first communiques in the most excited moment of the revolution.”

Those who know him said, “He had a strong memory. While searching for documents or books, he would say, ‘look at the third bookcase, fourth shelf at the very right.’ He was always correct.”
There was a huge leftist literature archive and a picture collection in his home.

In a Faruk Bildirici interview dated Nov. 28, 2010 in daily Hürriyet, he said, “I have been tried many times, but I have never been sentenced. I was against armed clashes after the March 12 [1971] era. I used to attend the secret meetings of the Turkish Revolutionary Youth Federation [Dev-Genç] for certain topics. Well, it was not an advisable act for a guy with three children. I was never caught at one of these meetings. I never took notes about women affairs and secret organization deals.”

In this interview, he said Sabahattin Ali was murdered by security forces. He also said he was raised in a left-wing and Atatürk-loving neighborhood.

About his archive, he said, “I am not a collector; it is just my duty to store.”

His books were reflections of the era. His book on Atatürk and communism is a study informing a highly-debated topic. 

If you can, read about his life and read his books. The history of the left can be learned from these books.