Reza Shah Pahlavi, who also often referred as Reza Khan the Great, was born on 15th March 1878 in the Mazandaran region of Iran. He was said amongst many Iranians, to be one of the few leaders who had worked for the modernization and prosperity of his homeland. Seeing the great turmoil, arbitrariness and tyranny amongst the ruling Gajar dynasty, he stood against this same ruling power in 1925 and crowned himself as the new king of Persia. Reza Shah was so dedicated in turning his country’s centuries of backwardness around, that he established the new constitutional monarchy in Iran and pushed forward many reforms. For this, he is also considered the essential force behind modernization in Iran. He was also a great patriot in some sense. Because he refused to allow the country to be referred to as Persia within and outside of the boundaries of his monarchy, and changed its official name to Iran, which was the same name used thousands of years ago in the Avesta (Zoroastriansm's holy book) and in Shahname (Book of Kings) written by Ferdowsi.
Reza Shah, after his visits to newly democratic Turkey, was influenced by their pace of development and came back to initiate the implementation of modernist plans, such as the construction of railways, a modern judiciary and educational system, as well as changes in the old traditional and cultural customs at home. He considered establishing the Trans-Iranian railways and founding Tehran University of great importance.
Reza Shah’s fast growing political power in an oil-rich country in a very important geographical location such as Middle East caused worry for the Allies during World War II. The Allied powers such as Britain, the Soviets and the French, became very suspicious of Reza’s secret relationships with Nazi Germany. In fact, prior to the invasion of Iran by the Allied powers, Reza Shah had already signed many contracts with German companies for the completion of a long line of projects in many parts of the country. These were the same rights granted to English and French companies by the Gajar dynasty for the exploitation of the country’s natural resources through bribery.
Reza Shah’s German favoritism was due to 3 factors. One is that he knew that Germans and Iranians were both the representatives of the Aryan race. Even in history, a great German poet, Johann Wolfgang Goethe, had dedicated a poem named Hafezname to 15th century Iranian poet Hafez Shirazi. The second reason for the hatred against the English and French was that they were involved in the exploitation of Iran’s vast energy and other natural resources. The third reason which made Reza Shah turn away from the Allies was a strong dislike of Russia, who divided Iran in 1828 under the Turkmenchai Treaty signed between Russia and Gajar dynasty, which resulted in the separation of a big chunk of the country, known as the Republic of Azerbaijan today .
In 1941, the Allied powers and the Soviets were left with no option but to invade Iran by air, land and sea assaults. They forced Reza shah to abdicate and leave the throne on the 16th of September 1941, in favor of his son Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi. Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill, had declared that the fall of the Iranian king was “The Bridge of Victory”. Shah was told by the British that his family could stay in power if he agreed to leave and go into exile in South Africa. So he first left Tehran to Isfahan, then to Bandar Abbas. From there he came to Bombay, India, on the 1st of October 1941. He was accompanied by his family, personal secretary and servants. But he was not allowed to stay in India, so he left for Mauritius and then to Porte Durban and then lastly Johannesburg, South Africa.
The reason he was exiled to the farthest corner is that he was brought to the land where he couldn’t be influential. This was also the same country governed by the Nationalists who favored Nazi Germany. Reza Khan lived his last years in Johannesburg in a very sad, distressful and desperate state. He suffered from heart disease and died in Johannesburg on July 25th1944 .Last Mod: 06 Ocak 2014, 17:16