Interesting to Read Memories of Politicians of the Pahlavi Era

Ahmad Sajedi
Translated by Ruhollah Golmoradi


Contemporary historians have shown more interest in the written memories of the time to better understanding historical events in Iran's contemporary era since the Qajar era onward. This interest has been shown itself more, especially, in relation to the greater recognition of the Pahlavi court, situation of political currents, relationship between political figures with the court, and historians and scholars have put review of remaining memories of this period on their agenda in order to increase public awareness of developments behind the Pahlavi court.

In fact, memory research in contemporary era has been considered as one of the strategies for writing contemporary history. Of course, it should be noted that contents of books containing memories, due to possible orientations of memory writers, especially historians who themselves were of courtiers and figures affiliated with the government of the time, should be carefully measured and reflected, and used cautiously to ensure their reliability; because many of these memory writers in their writings have merely justified actions and behavior of themselves or their relatives and only criticized others. These people have hidden negative points and facts of their political lives, and have not regarded the need to explain it.

Another category of memoirs and memories is in fact selection of memories of others in a single collection. This method, of course, has many fans, but all of those attentions and cautions apply also to this method of memoir. In other words, if writing of a memory writer cannot be trusted due to his political intents, presenting excerpts of his memoir to reflect on a separate collection also makes the new work unreliable.

After victory of the Islamic Revolution, this style of memoir and memory writing, which includes excerpts from others' memories of the Pahlavi II reign, has had many fans. One of these memory writings is a collection called "Interesting to Read Memories of Politicians of the Pahlavi Era". The book, compiled and adjusted by Mustafa Izadi, has 11 chapters, the titles of which are as follows:

  • Coup d'etat and post-coup d'etat (including memories of the 21 February 1920 coup d'etat and the coup d'etat of August 19, 1953)
  • Influence and dependency (including memories of dependence of the First and Second Pahlavis on the UK and USA and the role of these two powers in policy-making in Iran)
  • The oppression of the courtiers (including memories of murder, repression, exile, and crimes of the first and second Pahlavi eras)
  • Corruption of agents (including memories of moral corruption, embezzlement, theft, drug trafficking, smuggling of antique objects in the first and second Pahlavi eras)
  • Anti-Islamic activities (including memories of Kashf-e hijab (Unveiling hijab), disbelieving in religious basics, and opposition of the first and second Pahlavis with Islam)
  • The Pahlavis characteristics (including memories of the greed for power in the Pahlavis, and their humiliating encounters and weaknesses against foreigners)
  • The behavior of courtiers (including memories by Teymur Bakhtiar, Amir Abbas Hoveyda, Asadollah Alam, Dr. Ayadi, etc.)
  • An image of Iranian Imperial Army (including memories of Reza Shah’s Air Force, Immortal Guard, military advisors in the army, etc.)
  • Events (including memories of the escape of Reza Shah, murder of Razmara, changing Hijri calendar to Imperial one, the letter of Ahmad Rashidi Motlagh, etc.
  • Distress and regret (including memories of failure of Shapur Bakhtiar, disintegration of government during the revolution, the Shah's confession to mistakes of his government, etc.)
  • Narrators of Memories (This section introduces the characters whose memories are quoted in this book.)

The author writes in part of the foreword about why this work was published:

«... The questions posed by the younger generation from the first generation of the revolution are: What was wrong with the Pahlavi regime that you stood up to overthrow it? Wouldn't it have been better if you tried to correct that regime's deviations instead of the revolution? Don’t you have any regret today? And other questions that focus on comparing the current situation and conditions of the past, especially in comparison with goals and slogans of the revolution. This is where enlightenment must be addressed. History must be recounted. The facts must be told. The questioners must understand that if they were in our place and had reached age of revolutionaries in those years, they must have been with the people and leaders of the struggle and the revolution. There should be no doubt that drawing circumstances of that time answers many questions. For today's generation, why to fight the Shah and overthrow it should be counted in different ways so that their minds not to be diverted. Especially in situations where dissident media and foreign radio and television channels, using archival images, segmented films and in a style and gesture similar to historiography, make falsehoods seem right to instill in their listeners and viewers that the 1979 revolution was an act of obscenity and the result was destruction of the homeland and the nation. It is duty of the Pahlavi fighters to show the younger generation with in their writing and speech that they have no any regret.... One of the important sources that can give a fairly correct image of that time is books containing memories of political, military and cultural figures of the same era. Although it is deemed that many of these memories seek to exonerate their writers from numerous pressures, oppressions, and sufferings of the people. But outside of this motivation, these memories shed light on some of the unspoken aspects of the events related to unkindness and realities of perpetrators of the Iranian nation’s misery. Certainly, in these books, there is also talk of positive performance and services performed in the executive system of those days, and no one wants to ignore beneficial activities of government of the past regime. However, subject of this book is to show numerous bitter realities and black performance of the 57-year reign of the Pahlavi regime in order to determine why the People of Iran, following their leaders, rose up against the oppression, corruption and dependence of the previous regime, and sought to overthrow it and the entire monarchy system. On the basis of this goal that is recounting why the Muslim people of Iran struggled, an excerpt of memories of the court agents have been compiled and is presented to the young generation..."

By bringing more than 200 memories from developments of the first and second Pahlavi eras, the book "Interesting to Read Memories of Politicians of the Pahlavi Era" has created an interesting and entertaining work for the audience. The most important objection to this collection is that a considerable number of memories lack resources, including:  Reza Shah on the night of his resignation (p.  52), a memory of Muharram-Ali Khan (p. 173), the beginning of the Invasion of Iran (p.  234), economic crisis after the Invasion of Iran (p.  235), Reza Shah's fear of Russians (p.  227), take this photo (p.  223)  and ...”

The book was published in 315 pages in 2020 by Safir Ardehal Publication in Octavio size and has been published at a cost of 500,000 Rials.

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