Little Mustafa commenced his education
in Hafiz Mehmet Efendi's neighbourhood school, later he was transferred to Semsi
Efendi School, because his father wished so (Comparatively modern education at the
time.) During his primary education, he lost his father in 1888. For a while he
stayed on his uncle's farm in Rapla, returned to Salonika and completed his primary
education. He enrolled to Salonika Junior High School for Civil Servants. After
a short time in 1893, he transferred to Military Junior High School. It is at this
school his math teacher Mustafa Bey, added Kemal to his name in between 1896-1899,
Mustafa Kemal finished Monastir Military Senior High School and commenced Military
College in Istanbul. In 1902 he graduated with the rank of lieutenant and continued
his education in Military Academy. In January 1905 he completed the Academy and
graduated with the rank of a captain. His first appointment was in 5 Army in Damascus
in between 1905-1907. He was promoted to adjutant major in 1907 and appointed to
3 Army in Monastery. He was the Chief of Staff of the Army Corps which entered Istanbul
on 19 April 1909. He was sent to France in 1910 and took part in Picardie Manoeuvres.
In 1911 he was back in Istanbul and started to work under the Command of General
Mustafa Kemal and a group of friends took part in Tobruk and Derna Fronts during
the war which started in 1911 against the Italians who were attacking Tripoli (Libya).
He won the Battle of Tobruk against the Italian forces on 22 December 1911. He was
then appointed to Derna Front as the Commander-in-Chief on 6 March 1912.
When the Balkan War started in October 1912, Mustafa Kemal joined the battle with
units in Gelibolu (Gallipoli) and Bolayir. He greatly contributed to the retrieval
of Edirne and Dimetoka (Dhidhimotikhon). In 1913 he was appointed to Sofia as the
military attache. During his assignment in Sofia he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel.
His duty as the military attache ended in January 1915. During his stay in Sofia,
the First World War had started and the Ottoman Empire had become obliged to enter
in this war. Mustafa Kemal was appointed to Tekirdag to organize the 19 Division.
It is in the First World War, which started in 1914, that Mustafa Kemal wrote an
heroic epic and made the legend of Dardanelles are Impassable against Entente troops
in Gallipoli. On 18 March 1915, when British and French navies failed to break in
through the Straits of Dardanelles with heavy losses, the decision to land troops
on the Gallipoli peninsula had been given. Under the command of Mustafa Kemal, 19
Division halted the enemy forces, which landed in Ariburnu -now called Anzak Koyu
(Anzac Cove)- on 25 April 1915 at Conkbayir. Mustafa Kemal was promoted to full
colonel after this great success. British forces started attacking again from Ariburnu
on 6-7 August 1915. Anafartalar Group Commander Mustafa Kemal won the victory of
Battle of Anafartalar on 9-10 August. Following this, he also won the victories
of Battle of Kirectepe on 17 August and Second Battle of Anafartalar on 21 August.
The Turkish nation defended her honour in Gallipoli (Battle of Canakkale) against
Entente States by losing approximately 253,000 of her sons to martyrdom. Mustafa
Kemal's famous order to his soldiers "I do not order you to attack, I order you
to die", had changed the destiny of this Front.
In 1916 after Gallipoli, Mustafa Kemal took duties in Edirne and in Diyarbakir.
He was promoted to brigadier general in 1 April 1916. He took part in the battles
against Russian forces by which Mus and Bitlis were liberated. After short duties
in Damascus and Aleppo, he returned to Istanbul in 1917. He went to Germany with
Heir Apparent Prince Vahdeddin Efendi for observations in the European Western Front.
He became sick after this trip and received treatment in Vienna and Carlsbad. He
returned to the Front on 15 August 1918 as the Commander-in-Chief of the 7 Army
in Aleppo. At this front he achieved the most successful defensive battles in history
against the British forces. He was appointed as the Commander-in-Chief of the Lightning
Army Group on 31 October 1918, just one day after the signing of the truce in Moudros.
After the abolishment of this Army Group he was appointed for a duty in the Ministry
of War in Istanbul on 13 November 1918.
After the beginning of the occupation of the country and demobilization of the Ottoman
armies according to the Moudros Truce, Mustafa Kemal arrived in Samsun on 19 May
1919 as the Inspector General of the 9 Army. On 22 June 1919, he issued the Amasya
Circular, declaring that the nation's determination and decision will restore the
nation's independence and called for the gathering of Congress in Erzurum and Sivas.
Between 23 July and 7 August 1919 delegates from all over the country gathered in
Erzurum and then between 4 September and 11 September 1919 in Sivas, determining
the path to follow in order to gain nation’s independence. On 27 December
1919 he was welcomed in Ankara with great enthusiasm. 23 April 1920, the first day
of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, was one of the very important steps on the
way to the founding of the Turkish Republic. Mustafa Kemal was elected as the first
Speaker of the House and the Head of the Government. The Turkish Grand National
Assembly started preparing and passing the new laws necessary for implementing the
Independence War successfully.
The Turkish Independence War was started when the first bullet was fired against
the enemy during the occupation of Izmir by the Greek forces on 15 May 1919. Victors
of the First World War, by signing of the Sevres Agreement, started the occupation
of their shares of the Ottoman Empire. At the beginning, resistance against occupation
forces started with militia forces, namely Kuva-i Milliye (National Forces). The
Turkish Grand National Assembly established the regular army and successfully led
the Independence War to victory by integrating the militia forces into the regular
The important stages of the Independence War under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal
• Liberation of Sarikamis (20 September 1920), Kars (30 October 1920) and Gümrü
(7 November 1920).
• Defences of Cukurova, Gaziantep, Sanliurfa and Kahraman Maras (1919-1920).
• Victory at the First Battle of Inönü (6-10 January 1920)
• Victory at the Second Battle of Inönü (23 March-1 April 1920).
• Victory at the Battle of Sakarya (23 August-13 September 1921).
• Great Offensive, Battle of Dumlupinar (Battle of Commander-in-Chief) and
the Great (Final) Victory (26 August-9 September 1922).
After the victory at the Battle of Sakarya, the Turkish Grand National Assembly
promoted Mustafa Kemal to the rank of Field Marshal and granted him the title of
Gazi-the Victorious Fighter. The Independence War was ended by the Lausanne Peace
Treaty on 24 July 1923. Thus, all the impediments of the Sevres Agreement had been
removed and integrity of the Turkish land had been accomplished by the signing of
the Lausanne Agreement. There were no obstructions left on the way to establish
the new Turkish State based on national solidarity.
Founding of the Turkish Republic had been heralded by the opening of the Turkish
Grand National Assembly on 23 April 1920. National Assembly's successful administration
during the Independence War had secured the founding of the new Turkish State. Caliphate
and Sultanate (monarchy) separated and Sultanate was abolished on 1 November 1922.
Therefore, the administrative ties with the Ottoman Empire were broken. The declaration
of Republic was made on 29 October 1923 and Mustafa Kemal was unanimously elected
as the first President of the Republic. Ismet Inönü formed the first government
of the Republic on 30 October 1923. Sovereignty unconditionally belongs to Nation
and Peace at home, peace in the world are the raising fundamentals of the Turkish
Atatürk made many reforms in order to bring Turkey to the level of contemporary
civilizations. Those reforms can be put under five main topics:
1. Political Reforms
- Abolishment of the Sultanate (1 November 1922)
- Declaration of the Republic (29 October 1923)
- Abolishment of Caliphate (3 March 1924)
2. Social Reforms
- Women were given equal rights with men (1926-1934)
- The Revolution of Headgear and Outfit (25 November 1925)
- Closing of dervish lodges and shrines (30 November 1925)
- The surname law (21 June 1934)
- Abolishment of nicknames, pious and royal titles (26 November 1934)
- Adoption of the International calendar, time and measurements (1925-1931)
3. Juridical Reforms
- Abolishment of the Canon Law (1924-1937)
- Instating the new Turkish Civil Code and other legislation to suit secular order
(1924 - 1937)
4. Educational and Cultural Reforms
- Integration of education (3 March 1924)
- Adoption of the new Turkish alphabet (1 November 1928)
- Establishment of the Turkish Language and Historical Societies (1931-1932)
- Organization of the university education (31 May 1933).
- Innovations in fine arts
5. Economical Reforms
- Abolishment of old taxation laws.
- Encouragement of the farmers.
- Establishment of model farms.
- Legislation of the Encouragement of the Industry Law and establishment of Industrial
- Implementing First and Second Development Plans (1933-1937), construction of new
highways to reach every corner of the country.
In accordance with the new surname law, Turkish Grand National Assembly granted
Mustafa Kemal with the surname Atatürk on 24 November 1934.
Atatürk had been elected twice as the Speaker of the House (National Assembly),
on 24 April 1920 and 13 Augustus 1923. His chairmanship at that time, was equal
to the Head of State and the Government combined. On 29 October 1923 Republic was
declared and Atatürk was elected as the first President of the Republic. According
to the Constitution Presidential elections held for every four years. Atatürk
had been re-elected as the President of the Republic in 1927, 1931 and 1935 by the
Turkish Grand National Assembly.
Atatürk very frequently used to go for fact-finding trips in the country. He
kept in contact with local authorities and directed them personally in every occasion.
In the capacity of the President of the Republic, he received the visiting foreign
presidents, premiers, ministers and commanders with great respect and authority.
Atatürk gave his Great Speech on 15-20 October 1927 in which he described the
Independence War and Founding of Republic, he then made his 10th Year Speech on
29 October 1933.
Atatürk was very modest in his private life. He married with Latife Hanim on
29 January 1923. Together they had many trips around the country. Their marriage
lasted until 5 August 1925. As a great lover of children, Atatürk adopted his
daughters Afet (Inan), Sabiha (Gökcen), Fikriye, Ülkü, Nebile, Rukiye,
Zehra and his son Mustafa, a young shepherd boy. He also had two children under
his protection, Abdurrahim and Ihsan. He secured a good life and future for these
children who survived.
In 1937, he donated his farms to the State Treasury and some of his real estate
to Ankara and Bursa Municipality Councils. He divided his inheritance among his
sister, his adopted children and the Turkish Language and Historical Societies.
He enjoyed reading, listening music, dancing, horse riding and swimming. He was
very much interested in the Western Anatolian folk dance Zeybek, wrestling and listening
to Rumelia songs. He had great pleasure in playing black-gammon and billiards. He
valued very much his horse Sakarya and his dog Fox. He had made up a very rich library
of his own. He used to invite statesmen, scholars and scientists to dinners and
discuss state affairs with them. He was very particular about his appearance and
was smartly dressed all the times. He was also a nature lover. He very often used
to visit his farm Atatürk Orman Ciftligi-Atatürk Forest Farm and took
part at works in person. Atatürk was proficient in French and German.
On 10 November 1938 at 9.05 in the morning, in Istanbul, Dolmabahce Palace, he died
of the liver ailment he was suffering from. He was buried with a ceremonial funeral
in a temporary place of rest at the Ethnographical Museum in Ankara on 21 November
1938. After the building of Anitkabir (Atatürk Mausoleum) he was taken to his
permanent place of rest with a grand ceremony on 10 November 1953.