Mehmet Nahid Kerven


Suzanne Campagna initiated the Campagna-Kerven Lectures in loving memory of her departed husband Gerard Campagna and father Mehmet Nahid Kerven.

Mehmet Nahid was a dedicated Turkish nationalist (the surname Kerven was added due to Kemalist reforms in the 1930s). Nahid was born and raised in Istanbul although his family originated from Isparta. In his early years, he had extensive military training. He attended the Military Academy and then the Artillery School and Engineering School. After graduation, he remained on the faculty to teach topography. Among his students was Ismet Inonu, who later succeeded Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

As a young man, Mehmet Nahid was an ardent member of the Young Turk movement. He was arrested because of his beliefs, temporarily imprisoned and cashiered from the officer corps. After his release, a relative advised him to leave the country and Nahid fled to Paris. While he was in France, the Turkish Parliament was established; Nahid was reinstated in the army and his arrest was expunged from the record.

Nahid arrived in Paris during 1908, where he joined the Young Turk movement. Shortly thereafter, Nahid and his friend, Veli Bey, legal advisor to the Turkish Foreign Office, represented the Young Turk Committee in Paris. Continuing with his military instruction, he attended L’institute Geographique de l’Armee as a Turkish officer and he studied at the L’Ecole des Hautes Etudes Sociales de Paris where he wrote his thesis on the Young Turk movement. He married his wife, Marguerite, in 1910 and returned to Turkey in 1911.

Upon his return to Turkey, Nahid served on the Eastern Front. After the demobilization and the creation of the Turkish Republic, he taught and occasionally translated French scholarly works into Turkish.

In 1928, Ismet Inonu encouraged Nahid to join the Turkish Party and to register as a candidate in the upcoming elections. Nahid was active in government from 1928 until his retirement at the end of the 1940’s, initially as a member of parliament representing Kirklareli and subsequently, Kayseri. He served for a total of twelve years in parliament, where he was a member of the budget committee. Later, Nahid was appointed to the Board of the İş Bankası, where he served for nine years. He died in 1974.