Mustafa Kemâl Atatürk

1881 Selânik -1938 İstanbul

Mustafa Kemâl Atatürk was born in 1881, in a pink three story house situated in the Islahane street of Kocakasım district in Selanik.


He was born to Ali Rıza Efendi, a customs officer and Zübeyde Hanım. His paternal grandfather, Hafız Ahmet Efendi, came from the Kocacık Yörükleri which was moved to Macedonia from Konya and Aydın, in the XIV-XV. centuries. His mother, Zübeyde Hanım was the daughter of an old Turkish family settled in the town of Langaza near Thessaloniki. Ali Rıza Efendi, practicing officership for the militia forces, secretaryship for pious foundations and lumber trade, married with Zübeyde Hanım in 1871. Four of the five siblings of Ataturk died in tender ages and only Makbule lived until the year of 1956.

anneZübeyde Hanım

babaAli Rıza Efendi



Little Mustafa started his academic life in the local school of Hafız Mehmet Efendi, then switched to Şemsi Efendi Mektebi following the wish of his father. Unfortunately Mustafa Kemâl lost his father at a tender age (1888). For this reason he had to drop out of school. With his mother, he moved to the suburbs in order to live with his uncles. He was raised by his mother. Mustafa had started to work in the farm they were staying at but her mother was worried as he was not going to school. Finally, his mother decided for them to live with her sister in Salonika (Thessaloniki). With this decision, Mustafa returned to Salonika and graduated from his school. He enrolled at the Salonika Military Middle School he got in, in 1893. His math teacher in the military school added "Kemâl" to his name. After graduating from the military middle school in 1895, he enrolled at the Military Preparatory School of Monastery. He finished the Military Preparatory School in 1899 and enrolled at the preparatory class of the Military School in Istanbul in March 3rd 1899. He graduated in 1902 with the rank of lieutenant. He continued his education in the War Academy. He finished the academy on January 11th 1905 with the rank of staff commander.


Military Assignments

Between the years 1905 and 1907 he served in the 5th army in Damascus. With his companions, he created an association named "Vatan ve Hürriyet". In 1907 he became a Lieutenant Commander. He served in April 19th 1909 as the Chief of Staff in the army which entered Istanbul. In 1910, he got appointed to a position in France and joined the Maneuvers of Picardie. In 1911, Mustafa Kemal started to work under the command of General Staff in Istanbul.

Mustafa Kemal, with his companions, went to Tripoli to take part in the war which started in 1911 with the assault of the Italian army. He took paert in the defences of Tobruk and Derne. While he was still in Libya, the first Balkan War started. Mustafa Kemal took part in the war, joining the troops in Gallipoli and Bolayir. He also served in the recapturing of Didymoteicho and Edirne. In the Balkan War (1912-1914), he served successfully as a commander. At the end of the Balkan War, Mustafa Kemal had been appointed to Sofia as a military attache. In December 22nd 1911, he won the Battle of Tobruk against the Italian army. He got appointed to command post of Derna in March 6th 1912.

In 1913 he got appointed to the Attache's Office in Sofia. While in this post, he became a lieutenant commander in 1914.His duty as an attache ended in January 1915. Meanwhile the First World War had started and the Ottoman Empire had got involved. Mustafa Kemal got sent to Tekirdağ to form the 19th Division.

On March 18,1915 after the British and French troops had suffered many losses while trying to cross the Dardenelles, they decided to send forth troops to the peninsula of Gallipoli. On the 25th of April 1915, enemy forces were stopped by the 19. Division in Chunuk Bair. Mustafa Kemal was promoted to full colonel after this victory. The British forces started attacking again at Anzac Cove on the 6th of August 1915. He was appointed as the Group Colonel at Suvla Bay on August 8 1915. During the First World War, his commanding at Suvla Bay came across a very critical time. In the meantime a landing at the Dardenelles had occured, and with the personnel effort of Mustafa Kemal, it was saved. During the war a shrapnel had hit his chest, but the pocket watch in his pocket had saved his life. Mustafa Kemal wrote a heroic epic and stated that the Dardenelles could not be passed.
On the 9th and 10th of August Mustafa Kemal won the Suvla Bay victory. This was followed by the second Suvla Bay victory at Kireçtepe on the 17th of August. The Turkish nation, who had 23.000 martyrs, had known how to defend its honour against the Allies. Mustafa Kemal changed the fate of the campaign by ordering his soldiers not to attack but to die.
After the Dardenelles Wars, Mustafa Kemal served in Edirne and Diyarbakır in 1916. On April the 1st 1916 he was promoted to Major General. By fighting witht the Russian forces, he managed to get back Bitlis and Muş. Later he served in Syria and the Caucasus. After shrot duties in Damascus and Aleppo he returned to Istanbul in 1917. He went to Germany with the heir Vahdettin Efendi for the examination of fronts. After this trip he bacame ill. He received treatment in Vienna and Carlsbad. On the 15th of August 1918, he returned as the 7th Army Commander to Aleppo. He made succesful defenses against the British forces at this front.

A day after the signing of the Mondros Armistice, on the 31 st of October 1918 he was assigned as the commander of the Yıldırım Arrmy Group which was located in Syria. After the ellimination of this army on 13th of November 1918 he returned to İstanbul and began his duty at the Ministry of Harbiye.

After the Mondros Armistice, when the Allies started to occupy Ottoman armies, Mustafa Kemal arrived to Samsun as the 9th auditor of the army on the 19th of May 1919. With the circular that he published in Amasya on the 22nd of June 1919 he announced that the independence of the nation will be saved again by the perseverance and desicion of the nation and invited the assembly of Sivas to a meeting. In the Assembly of Erzurum which was realised between the dates of 23th of July - 7th of August 1919 and in the Assembly of Sıvas which was realised between the dates of 4-11th of September he afforded the determination of the strategy that will be followed for the rescue of the country. He was welcomed with enthusiasm on the 27th of September 1919 in Ankara. With the opening of TBMM on April 23rd, 1920, an important step was overcome for the formation of the Republic of Turkey. Mustafa Kemâl was chosen as the president and TBMM - after the success of the Independence War - accepted necessary laws and started to applicate them.

The Turkish Independence War started with the first first bullet shot at the enemy at the occupation of Izmir by the Greeks on Mrch 15th, 1919. Firstly, the war was fought by the Kuvâ-yi Milliye (unofficial military force) formed against the winner states of the WWI who signed the Treaty of Sevr on August 15th, 1920 and shared the Ottoman soil 10 Ağustos 1920. After, TBMM formed the official army, and when Kuvâ-yi Milliye and the army merged, the war was conclued succesfully.


Important parts of the Independence War lead by Mustafa Kemal:

Sarıkamış (20 September 1920), Independence of Kars (30 October 1920) and Gümrü (7 November 1920). Defense of Çukurova, Gaziantep, Kahramanmaraş, Şanlıurfa (1919- 1921), Victory of I. İnönü (6 -10 January 1921) and II. İnönü (23 March-1 April 1921), Victory of Sakarya (23 August-13 September 1921) the battle of Dumlupınar, Başkomutan Meydan Muhaberesi and Büyük Zafer (26 August- 9 September 1922)


Taking the title of "Gazi"

After the victory of Sakarya; on 19 September 1921, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) gave Mustafa Kemâl the titles of Mareşal (marshal) and Gazi. The Independence War was finalized by the Lausanne Treaty. So, there were no obstacles left for there to be a national unity on the Turkish soil that was shattered with the Treaty of Sevr.

On April 23rd 1920, the foundation of TBMM, the foundation of the Republic of Turkey was finalized. The assembly's success on leading the Independence War accelerated the foundation of the Turkish State. On November 1st 1922, the state and the religion was seperated, sultanate was abolished. To conclude, the dominian links with the Ottoman Empire were severed. On October 13th 1923, the Republic administration was accepted and Atatürk was chosen as the first president with unanimity. On October 30th 1923, the first government of the Republic was founded by İsmet İnönü.

Atatürk revolutionized most parts of the classic Turkish life to "Modernize the civilization.".


Taking the surname of "Atatürk"

After the Surname Law was executed, the surname "Atatürk" was given to Mustafa Kemal by TBMM on November 24th 1934.


Atatürk was chosen as the president of the TBMM on April 24th 1920 and August 13th 1923. 24 Nisan 1920 ve 13 Ağustos 1923. This presidency was equipped with the presidency of the State and the Republic. On October 29th 1923, the Republic was declared and Atatürk was chosen as the first president. As the Constitution required, there were selections of the president every four years. On 1927, 1931 and 1935, TBMM chose Atatürk as the president.


Atatürk went on to homeland trips to audit his state matters. He commanded the authorities where there were problems. He hosted other presidents and other state attendants as the president of the Republic.


Nutuk (=discourse)

He read his 10th Year Discourse which tells the stories of the Independence War and the formation of the Republic on October 29th 1933.


The private life of Atatürk

Atatürk lived his private life in simplicity. He married Latife Hanım on January 29th 1923. They went on a lot of trips in the country. This marriage lasted untill August 5th 1925. He loved children very much so he spiritually adopted the girls: Afet (İnan), Sabiha (Gökçen), Fikriye, Ülkü, Nebile, Rukiye, Zehra and the shepherd named Mustafa.He took the children named Abdurrahim and İhsan under his protection. He prepared a good future for them.


He donated his farms to the treasure and his immovables to the municipalitites of Ankara and Bursa on. He reserved shares from his heritage to his little sister, his adopted children, Turkish Language and History institutions. He loved reading, listening to music, dancing, horse riding and swimming. He was extremely interested in traditional dances and music (Zeybek oyunlarına, Rumeli türküleri) and wrestling. He enjoyed playing backgammon and pool. He treasured his horse Sakarya and his dog Fox. He accumulated a big collection of books. He invited public figures, scientists and politicians to dinners, and debated problems of the State. He made a point of dressing clean and nice. He loved nature. He went to Atatürk Orman Çiftiliği frequently and helped the work there. He was trilingual and knew German and French.


The passing of Atatürk

He went onto a lot of trips in the country. He caught a cold during his trips to Gemlik and Bursa. He came back to Istanbul to recuperate and to rest. Unfortunately his sickness was a serious case. On November 10th 1938 at 9.05am in Dolmabahçe Palace, he died because of the cirroshis he caught. But he gained immortality in peoples eyes and a place in their hearts. His funeral took place on November 21st 1938 and he was buried temporarily in Ankara Ethnography Museum. After the construction of Anıtkabir was completed, he was sent to his final resitng place with a magnificent ceremony.