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Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938) Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey and its first president, was born in the Kocakasim District of Salonkia, to Ali Riza Efendi his father and Zübeyde Hanim his mother. His paternal grandfather was Hafiz Efendi, a descendent of the Kocacik Nomads from the Konya and Aydin regions who had settled in Macedonia in 14th century, and his mother also descended from an old Turkish family who had settled in Langasa near Salonika. His parents married in 1871, they had six children, four of which died in early childhood with only Atatürk and his sister Makule Atadan surviving; Makule died in 1956.

Education of Ataturk

Young Ataturk began his education in a neighbourhood school and his father moved him to the Semsi Efendi School which at that time offered a more modern form of education.
In 1888 his father died and for a time Atatürk went to stay with his uncle on a farm in Rapia and later returning to Salonika to finish his primary education. He briefly attended the Salonika Junior High School for Civil Servants, and in 1893 transferred to the Military Junior High School, which was where his math teacher Mustafa Bey added Kemal to his name. He went on to graduate from the senior section of the school, in 1902 enrolled at the Istanbul Military College, graduated from there as a Lieutenant and in 1905 graduated again as a Captain. His first appointment from 1905 to 1907 was in the 5 Army in Damascus; he was promoted to Adjutant Major in 1907 and joined the 3 Army in Monastery. On 19 April 1909 he moved to Istanbul and became Chief of Staff of the Army Corps, was sent to France in 1910 to take part in the Picardie Manoeuvres, and in 1911 returned to Istanbul working under the Command of the General Staff.  

Wars of Ataturk

Ataturk took part in a war at the Tobruk and Derna Fronts against the Italians who were attacking Libya and gained a victory on 22 December 1911, and on 6 March 1912 at the Derna Front he was promoted to Commander-in-Chief. The Balkan War began in October 1912 and his units joined forces in Gallipoli ( Gelibolu ) and Bolayir where he greatly contributed to re-taking Edirne and Dimetoka. From 1913-1915 he was the Military Attaché in Sofia, promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and during this time the First World War broke out which forced the Ottoman Empire into the fray, and in 1915 he was sent to Tekirdag to organise the 19 Division. On 15 March 1915 Atatürk ordered troops to the Gallipoli Peninsula as the French and British navies had failed to break through the Straits of Dardanelles, where they suffered terrible losses, and by 25 April he was successful in stopping the enemy forces that had landed at the Anzac Cove. Considered a hero and after this great success he was promoted to Colonel. In August the British again began attacks creating further victories for Atatürk particularly at the Battle of Canakkale where 253,000 Turkish men lost their lives and he was famed for his quote “I do not order you to attack, I order you to die”. He took part in battles against Russia and was promoted to Brigadier General in 1916 and went to Germany to observe the European Western Front, became ill and received medical treatment in Vienna and returned to the Front, and in 1918 was promoted to Commander-in-Chief of the 7 Army of Aleppo. This was where his most successful defensive campaign in history took place, and against the British Forces, and was appointed as Commander-in-Chief of the Lightning Army Group, the day after signing a truce in Moudros, which led to the demobilisation of the Ottoman armies. In 1919, as the Inspector General of the 9 Army, he declared the determination of the nation to restore independence and called for a gathering of Congress, and on 23 April 1920 the Turkish Grand National Assembly began the first steps towards the foundation of the Turkish Republic and elected Atatürk as the first speaker of the House and Head of the Government when he implemented successful new laws and the War of Independence. This war started on 15 May 1919 when the first bullet was fired against the Greek Forces who were occupying Izmir and important stages of the war led by Ataturk from 1920 and 1922 included the liberation of Sarikamis, Kars and Gümrü, the defence of Cukurova, Gaziantep , Sanliurfa and Kahramanmaras ; victories of the first and second battles of Inönü and of Sakarya, and the Great Offensive battle of Dumlupinar. Atatürk went on to become Field Marshall and gained the title “Gazi-the Victorious Fighter” and the War of Independence ended on the signing of the Lausanne Peace Treaty on 24 July 1923. The declaration of the Turkish Republic was made on 29 October 1923 and Atatürk was unanimously elected the first President. He went on to make reforms to bring the country to the level of its modern counterparts in Europe and elsewhere.

Reforms of Ataturk

Political Reforms; the Abolishing the Sultanate; Declaration of the Republic and Abolishing the Caliphate. Social Reforms; equal rights for women; the Revolution of Headgear and Outfit; closing dervish lodges and shrines; the surname law; abolishing nicknames, pious and royal titles; adopting the international calendar, time and measurements. Juridical Reforms; abolishing the Canon Law; installing the new Turkish Civil Code and other legislation to suit the secular order. Educational Reforms; integration of education; adopting the new Turkish alphabet; establishment of the Turkish Language and Historical Societies; organisation of  University Education; innovations in Fine Arts. Economical Reforms; Abolishing old taxation laws; encouragement of the farmers; establishment of model farms; legislation of the Encouragement of the Industry Law and establishment of Industrial Corporations; implementing First and Second Development Plans and construction of new highways to reach every corner of Turkey.


In accordance with the surname law Mustafa Kemal was granted the name change to Ataturk; he often went on fact finding trips within Turkey keeping close contact with local authorities and personally directing them, and as President he received foreign heads of state and VIP visitors with the utmost respect and authority. He was a modest man in private life, married Latife Hanim in 1923, which lasted 2 years, and because of his love of children he adopted 7 girls and one boy who was a young shepherd, and also fostered two other boys. The children went on to have good and secure lives. Atatürk enjoyed reading, music, dancing, horse riding and swimming and loved playing backgammon and billiards. He was very particular about his appearance and dressed smartly at all times, he was a nature and animal lover and could speak French and German.
Atatürk died of a liver complaint at 09:05 am on 10 November 1938 at the Dolmabahce Palace in Istanbul ; he was temporarily buried after a ceremonial funeral at the Ethnographical Museum in Ankara and then moved to his permanent resting place at the Ataturk Mausoleum ( Anitkabir ) after a grand ceremony on 10 November 1953.

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