Atatürk was in The New York Times…


Atatürk was in The New York Times…

National Assembly Expected to Name General Inönü, Former Premier, as President…
Peaceful Transition to New Era Seen… Unity is Stressed Under Ideal of Founder…

The Bad News in The New York Times…

ISTANBUL, Türkiye, November 10 th – Kemal Atatürk, President and creator of modern Türkiye, died today at Dolma Baghche Palace at the age of 58. He had survived thirteen wounds received in battle and a number of assassination attempts, but succumbed to cirrhosis of the liver.It is expected that General Ismet Inönü, former Premier and President Atatürk’s comrade-in-arms, will be chosen tomorrow morning by the Republican People’s party to succeed the dictator-soldier, hero of the reborn nation. The bulletin announcing the death of Atatürk and signed by eight doctors read :

“The President’s general condition, the gravity of which was announced in a bulletin published last night, grew steadily worse. On November 10th, 1938, at 9:05 A.M., our great chief, in a deep coma, breathed his last.”

Three minutes after his death Salih Bozük, former aide and one of the President’s closest friends, unsuccessfully attempted suicide by shooting. He was seriously wounded. Premier Stays at Bedside.

Throughout the night Ali Fethi Okyar, Ambassador to London Atatürk’s sister and his adopted daughter Sabihi Gueukschehn Honoum, the latter a famous air-woman, remained near the bedside. The first indication of the President’s death came at 11:30 A.M. when it was noticed that the flags on government buildings were at half-staff. Soon the flags of ships in the harbor were at half-mast, and gradually all shops and houses exhibited similar signs of mourning.

Later, however, the authorities requested the withdrawal of flags except those on government buildings. Although the flags at half staff the appearance of so much color gave the impression that Istanbul was on fete. All places of public entertainment were closed and no intoxicants will be sold in Türkiye until further notice.

The government’s communiqué issued this morning states:

“By Atatürk’s death Türkiye has lost her great creator, a nation its great Chief and humanity a great son. We offer our people deepest condolences in their great loss. Our only consolation in our affliction is our attachment to his great work and our service to our dear country. We declare that before all things his immortal work is the Turkish Republic.”

“Your government is at its post at this grave time through which we are passing. The great Turkish nation will, without doubt, work as one body with the government to preserve order.”

“In accordance with the Constitution Abdullah Haik Renda, president of the Kamutay [National Assembly] has assumed the interim Presidency of the republic and the Kamutay will proceed forthwith with the election of a new President of the republic. The government, the glorious Turkish Army with all its might and the whole people, which form an unshakable entity, will gather around whoever is elected to fulfill the highest office in Türkiye and to maintain her greatness.”

“Atatürk, whom we mourn today and always, had the confidence of the Turkish people. The continuation of his work he bequeathed to the Turkish nation. The Turkish people, which is eternal, will make it live eternally. Turkish youth will always defend the Turkish Republic, its precious legacy, and will march alone the path Atatürk traced. Kemal Atatürk will live always.”

Beside General Inönü, Marshal Fevzi Çakmak, Chief of Staff, and Mr. Okyar also are in the running for the Presidency. The Marshal, as Chief of Staff, holds a position of great authority in the new Türkiye and he is universally respected as the father of the army. However, he is essentially a soldier and he is known to be reluctant to play a political role. It is said that before President Atatürk became seriously ill he asked the Marshal whether he would stand for the Presidency if Atatürk resigned. The suggestion was declined.

Mr. Okyar, once Prime Minister of Türkiye and lately Ambassador to London and an experienced diplomat, has been Atatürk’s most intimate friend. Since the suppression in 1930 of the short-lived Liberal party, of which he was a leader, he never joined the Republican People’s party and it seems unlikely that the Kamutay, composed almost entirely of adherents of the party the principals of which were lately embodied in the Constitution, would elect a non-party man President.

Moreover, neither Marshal Çakmak nor Mr. Okyar is a member of the Kamutay, from which a president is elected.

Inönü Is Likely Choice…

It’s seems, therefore, that the choice will fall on General Inönü. For many years he was a close collaborator and lieutenant of President Atatürk and until twelve months ago he had been Prime Minister continuously for twelve years. No man in Türkiye possesses his experience, and that is perhaps more important than his popularity, which for long has been second only to Atatürk’s. Much has been said about their estrangement last year when General Inönü resigned the Premiership, but in light of subsequent events it now seems clear that it was the result chiefly of temporary mutual irritation. President Atatürk was a sick man and General Inönü was suffering from the strain of the long, arduous years in office.

Ever since it was agreed between them that in the interest of the country the partnership should be dissolved, the general deliberately kept in the background, but the Turkish people, with the possible exception of a few private enemies, continued to regard him as the natural successor to his former chief.

Even if none of three is elected to the Presidency and the Kamutay decides to choose another who has not played a prominent part in the life of the republic, the loyal cooperation that is now manifesting itself between Marshal Çakmak, Mr. Okyar and General Inönü, toward Celal Bayar, the present Prime Minister, should be sufficient to guarantee a peaceful transition to the new era.

Change in Policy Unlikely – ISTANBUL, November 10th (AP)…

There were unconfirmed reports today that Kemal Atatürk had left a political testament to guide his successor in his own rigid doctrine of westernization and nationalism. No one expected Türkiye’s new leadership to turn in the immediate future from the domestic and foreign balance that Atatürk achieved for his nation, strategically situated between the East and the West. Before Atatürk became gravely ill in mid-October he was borrowing money for Türkiye with little discrimination from both Britain and Germany, although his early struggle for power was tinged with bitter hatred for the influence of both. The British and German Foreign Offices were known to have keen interest in his successor and the future course of Türkiye.


Atatürk, a Military Hero, Formed surging Nation…

He was called simply Mustafa when he was born in Salonika in 1880, the son of a Turkish custom’s officer. His mathematic’s teacher at military preparatory school added Kemal, meaning “rightness”, to his name. When he fought his way to leadership of the Turks, the title of Pasha was added. Most of his historic record was made as Mustafa Kemal Pasha. In 1934, when he had so modernized Türkiye that titles were abolished and he was able to decree that all Turks must thereafter have family names, he chose for himself the family name of Atatürk, which is translated as “Chief Turk” or “Father of All Turks.” Thenceforth he was known as Kemal Atatürk.

His death comes as a blow to a nation of 14,000,000 people, although he reformed their social customs, their religion and their economics with dictatorial zeal and speed. Out of the remains of the defeated and dismembered Ottoman Empire, he formed in 1923 a republic, which he armed and industrialized and made into a powerful nation. He repossessed the Dardanelles in 1936, conciliated the Greeks and steered a course between East and West in a manner that made Soviet Russia, Britain and Germany in turn glad to cultivate Türkiye’s friendship and lend her millions of further development.

Women Admitted to Parliament…

In twelve years of reform women in Türkiye were transported from the harem and the veil to membership in Parliament, to which seventeen women were admitted in 1935. President Atatürk even gave women the right to serve in the army, but said they would never be sent to the front because they were too precious to the nation. In another phase of reform, he stripped Mohammedan priests of their privileges and made Sunday instead of Friday the day of rest to conform with western usage. He devoted himself to the development of an army and navy with which to assure the Turkish position in dealing with the Western powers. By this year he had a modernized army of almost 500,000 men and was spending $70,000,000 of Türkiye’s annual budget of $210,000,000 to expand the national defense . He announced a five-year plan intended to bring Türkiye’s air force up to 1,000 of the latest military planes. He ordered twenty-five submarines and planned to equip Türkiye to manufacture arms and war materials within her own boundaries.

Türkiye’s control of the Dardanelles had already made her one of the most important powers in the Mediterranean, and she was prepared to defend her position instead of being a pawn of stronger European nations as in the past.

Straits Pact Repudiated…

She had gained this position finally when Atatürk decided that Türkiye’s new national stature justified the repudiation of the last remaining restriction on her sovereignty, the Straits convention of 1923, which forbade her to fortify the Dardanelles. The President declared his belief and assembled his troops. The powers interested in the Straits convention said it was a “grave move”, but a hurriedly summoned conference in 1936 at Montreux, Switzerland, gave Türkiye the Straits once more.

Atatürk was instrumental in the formation of the Balkan Entente, with Türkiye, Greece, Romania and Yugoslavia, and thereafter in 1937 he formed the Moslem, or Middle-East bloc, with Türkiye, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.

Early in 1937 Atatürk grew impatient with long-drawn-out negotiations with France over the Syrian mandate, which France was about to relinquish by recognizing Syria as a republic. The Turks wanted Alexandretta, containing Antioch and an important corner of the Eastern Mediterranian shore leading to the Mosul oil fields.

The Turks had their way. Alexandretta was made an autonomous State last July, under Franco-Turkish administration and defense forces, with the understanding that the French would eventually withdraw, leaving it to the Turks.

Policy Based on Expediency…

The course of Türkiye’s international relations was steered by Atatürk on an apparent chart of expediency, based on the position that Türkiye occupies as a strong power astride the Dardanelles, separating Russia from the Mediterranian, facing Germany on the historic route to Baghdad and balancing Italy’s growth along Britain’s “life-line” to the East.

Russia was the first to help Türkiye to power. In the post-war settlement the Soviet opposed in vain the partition of Türkiye. And when Kemal, not yet Atatürk, later undertook to drive out the Allies Russia supplied arms, materials and funds that contributed greatly to the final crushing of the Greeks in 1922. The Soviet thereafter enjoyed a position of preferred friendship in Türkiye, but this cooled about ten years later when it became evident that the Turkish dictator was willing to have other friends also. Britain and France were eager to oblige the Turks. Last July, when Russia held aloof, Britain lent Türkiye $80,000,000, mostly for arms. Germany, meanwhile, was courting Türkiye. So was Italy, Atatürk could not readily forget, however, that the downfall of the Ottoman empire had resulted from siding with Germany in the World War and that Türkiye had been among the Entente powers that Italy had deserted to side with the Allies. Germany came bearing gifts, however. She offered a commercial treaty. And she offered a huge credits under which she would undertake to construct docks for Türkiye along the Bosporus, deliver a fleet of coastwise steamers and build a variety of factories. Atatürk announced a five-year plan of industrialization. Moreover, as the Czechoslovak crisis developed he suffered disillusionment in his belief that Britain was the strongest power in the world. Türkiye concluded a commercial treaty with Germany, accepted a loan of 150,000,000 marks and proceeded to become Germany’s greatest foreign market. She is currently buying goods and services from Germany at a yearly rate of about $130,000,000, while selling to Germany at a yearly rate of $80,000,000. It became evident to the world that Atatürk had brought Türkiye to the receiving end of several competing international axes and to the profit position in the adjoining nationality blocs.

Scorned Doctors’ Advice…

During a quarter of a century of war, intrigue and the dictation of sweeping reforms, however, Atatürk had habitually disregarded all doctors’ orders to take better care of his powerful physique. Although he was stern and strict in his official life, he was known to be convivial and carefree in his social life. He frequently danced and drank all night, or played poker (with great success) all night, smoking incessantly the while. Then he slept twenty-four hours without interruption.

A French liver specialist ordered a complete rest for him early this year, but he disdained it. His people heard of this and raised such a clamor that Türkiye bought him a luxurious yacht from Richard M. Cadwaladen an American. It had gold-plated bathroom fitting and gold door knobs. On it he caught a chill last summer while entertaining King Carol of Rumania. He never completely recovered.

Almost to the day of death Atatürk struggled to disestablish the ancient methods of Turkish thought. When the medical profession of Türkiye, which he had reorganized on modern scientific lines, wished to express appreciation of what he had done for public health, the best medical thought decided to present a solid gold bath-tub, eight feet long, five feet wide and four feet deep.

The best Turkish doctors thought it was the only thing fitted for the Ghazi-the Conqueror. Atatürk ordered it melted down and the proceeds expended on bettering the public health.

Had a Food Taster…

Yet Atatürk could not escape being a traditional Turk in one respect; he had an official food taster. He was served by Mohammed Mouhi, who was paid $15,000 a year for about twenty minutes’ work a day. Mohamme d’s duty was to taste well of all food and drink intended for Atatürk. Thereafter the meal was kept in a hot table for an hour. If Mohammed did not die by that time the dictator ate and drank.

Atatürk presided over a republic about as large as California and New Mexico combined. Although he rose to power because of his military ability, a career for which his early education destined him, his post-war activities were those of a progressive and energetic administrator. Emil Ludwig, the German biographer once called him “A man compared with whom Napoleon was half a dreamer.” An outstanding fact about the dictator’s extraordinary career was his consistency and his patience, his courage and his silence. It was he who won the peace of Lausanne, the first time for 200 years that old Asia achieved a victory over Europe. He was a revolutionary officer who in his Salonika days had began to oppose the committee of Young Turks; a man for whom no measure of reform was adequate, who found the policy of Talat and Enver superficial, and the alliance with Germany fatal; the man who made no capital out of the military reputation he earned at Gallipoli, who twice withdraw from public life, who with threats warned the last Sultan to turn over a new leaf, and who after the war, contrived to defeat him and the people in power in Constantinople, and who was warned, recalled, deposed and sentenced to death by the then Turkish Government.

Having in his command 20,000 war-worn soldiers, he entered upon the conflict with the great powers of Europe, and then, for four whole years, surrounded by foes without and within, waited until he had overthrown the Sultan, abolished the Caliphate, set free the essential part of Türkiye from the ruins of the old empire, saved it and reestablished it as a republic. By these achievements he proved himself a great military leader and statesman. The President’s moustache and fez, prominent features in his portraits at the time when he rose to power, were given up after he had established himself. His medium sized, slight figure was clad in elegant civil dress. His hair was bright and blond. His furrowed countenance indicated what he had gone through. He lived, as the first citizen of his country, in a villa situated among the hills outside the new capital that he had founded. He had built it in that Turkish style that dates from the period when French tastes prevailed. Almost unguarded its doors were left open in true Oriental fashion.

Dates in His Career…

The historical dates of the Ghazi’s career after the World War are : On May 16th, 1919, the Greeks landed at Smyrna. On June 21st the future dictator called the assembly of a congress of patriots. The Sultan dismissed him from the army service on July 8th. Two weeks later the Ghazi presided at the Congress of Erzerum, which resolved that “with one accord the entire East will resist the occupation and the interference of the foreigner.” On September 4th he was elected chairman of a second congress at Sivas, which resolved “to fight for Turkish integrity.” In October national elections were forced by him, and these resulted in the defeat of the Sultan’s government. British troops, in March, 1920, took possession of Constantinople, now Istanbul, and in April he was outlawed and condemned to death by the Sultan.

Shortly afterward the Turkish National Assembly met, elected the Ghazi President and adopted the national pact, the Magna Charta of New Türkiye. In May the Sultan sent a “Caliph’s army” toward Angora to destroy the nationalist forces. This army was driven back into Constantinople by the Ghazi.

When the Greeks began their invasion of Asiatic Türkiye in June, 1920, he organized an army of defense. On August 10th the Treaty of Sevres partitioned the Ottoman Empire and divided it among the European powers. The Ghazi stopped the Greek army at Sakaria on September 13th, 1921. At the battle of Dumla Puvar, on August 26th 1922, he issued an order to his troops, “Soldiers, your goal is the Mediterranian! On to it !”. A few days later he drove the Greek army into the sea. He advanced upon Constantinople and the Dardanelles, and on October 11th, 1922, authorized the signing of the armistice treaty with the Allies at Mudovia, which, in effect, was an other diplomatic victory for Türkiye.

On November 1st, 1922, the Ghazi abolished the Sultanate, and on November 17th the Sultan fled from Türkiye on a British warship. Three days later the peace conference opened at Lausanne. Ably represented and supported by his brilliant colleague Ismet Pasha, the Ghazi won his great diplomatic victory and on October 29th, 1923, was elected first President of the Turkish Republic.

Atatürk was born when Abdul Hamid II was Sultan. He was an only son and he was intended by his mother for the mosque school, but he became fascinated by the uniforms of the army officers and was sent to the military preparatory school at Salonika.

Plotted Against Sultan…

After attending the military preparatory school at Salonika, the officers’ school at Monastir and the War Academy at Constantinople, Kemal, then a head strong youth of 22, entered the army in 1902 with the rank of lieutenant. Through forbidden literature he became acquainted with Western ideas of government, which soon led to his hatred of Abdül Hamid, whom he bitterly opposed. In a small apartment in the Stamboul section of Constantinople he founded the secret Society of Liberty. As a result he was arrested and after three months’ confinement in a cell at the ministry of police, was exiled, being sent to Damascus to join a cavalry regiment. There he founded local branches of his society, but, being too isolated, fled to Alexandria and finally reached Salonika by way of Piraeus in Greece.

When his secret activities were again discovered, he flew to Akaba and stayed for a while in Syria. He obtained a transfer to the Third Army’s staff at Salonika, merged the Society of Liberty into the Society of Progress and entrenched his forces in Salonika, Monastir and Uskup. The revolution of the Young Turks in 1908 failed, but the Sultan lost his absolute regime in the counter-revolution of 1909. A quarrel between Kemal and Enver Pasha, whose rule succeeded that of Abdül Hamid, followed, and Kemal withdrew from politics in bitter disillusionment.

During the following years he led the life of the average Turkish army officer. He was exiled by Enver to Tripoli, returned to Salonika, was transferred to Albania, and again sent to Salonika. Hated by Enver, he was military attaché at Sofia, Bulgaria, when Türkiye joined Germany in 1914 in a last desperate gamble for the life of the empire. Kemal, convinced from the first that the empire was in no condition to enter the war, received command of the Nineteenth Division and was dispatched to the Dardanelles. He soon commanded all the Turco-German forces on the peninsula, and his success in throwing back the British before Anaforta was the most brilliant achievement of his military career.

This victory made him a great hero in Germany, but it was not until its story was told in the Committee Year Book for 1917 that Enver permitted it to leak out in Constantinople. Two years later the Turkish papers began printing the story of Anaforta, and Enver caused the entire issues to be confiscated. By that time it had become politically dangerous to mention Kemal’s name in the capital.

Alarmed at Kemal’s popularity, Liman von Sanders, the German generalissimo, transferred him to the Russian front after the British had evacuated the Dardanelles. He was appointed major general, in command of the Sixteenth Army, but he came into conflict with Falkenhayn, threw up his command in protest, and returned to Aleppo, where he dispatched to Enver a remarkable statement, outlining the entire political situation at a moment when a German victory was expected. Pointing out Falkenhayn’s position, he warned: “We shall lose our own country and Falkenhayn will sacrifice every ounce of gold and every soldier he can squeeze out of us.”

Exiled to Germany…

Enver’ reply to this warning was to give Falkenhayn command of the Palestine front and to exile Kemal to Germany. For the next year he was on the German and Austro-Hungarian front. Then Enver recalled him and gave him the Yildirim command (Fourth, Seventh and Eighth Armies) on the Palestine front. But it was too late. Kemal reached his post just as Allenby’s great break-through brought the empire crashing down to its end.

It was figuratively the end of the world for Kemal. He returned to Constantinople, which had fallen into disorder. The members of his revolutionary committee had fled, and Damad Ferid Pasha was to succeed Talat and Enver. Türkiye was virtually surrounded by her enemies, the Allies forming an iron ring around the remnants of the old empire. Under the terms of the Mudros armistice, the Turkish Navy was interned at Constantinople and the army disarmed. With the Allies in occupation of the capital, Kemal knew that further attempts were useless. He fled to Asia Minor. When he ignored Ferid’s demand to return, the latter dismissed him from the army.

In the following struggle between Kemal and Ferid, Kemal was the final victor. The Anglo-Hellenic rapprochement sent whole provinces in Asia Minor scurrying to Kemal, with the result that this part was lost to Ferid. With the Greek occupation of Smyrna in 1919, which led Kemal to tear up Mudros armistice, the star of the Ghazi began to rise, and,after his strategic victories, reached its climax with his diplomatic victory at Lausanne and his election as first President of the Turkish Republic.

Kemal Atatürk, the “most terrible of all the terrible Turks,” as he was termed by Earl Balfour, who described him as a brigand, was always a man who insisted on having his own ideas accepted. The new Türkiye got rid of her Sultans in 1922 but she did not then dare abolish the Caliphate. The abolition of the Caliphate was the first step of importance in the life of the new republic. The next was the reform of the laws. This was achieved in the space of only a few weeks. The Swiss Civil Code was almost literally translated, and the best points of the Italian Penal Code were accepted. Thus the Ghazi, by imposing his will upon the nation, had altered within three months the entire judiciary. He ordered the first census ever to be held on Turkish territory. Although this was not a reform in itself, it led to reforms of vast importance which gave the country and the world a definite idea of Türkiye’s importance in Near Eastern affairs. The President also made the Turkish language obligatory as the official language, and ordered that it be written in Roman instead of Arabic characters. Capitulations (foreign privileges) were abolished. The Gregorian calendar was substituted for the Islamic, and the feast of the Ramazan was fixed by astronomical observation. In every direction Islamic precedence and prohibitions were broken and violated.

Changed the Old Order…

In its special aspects the revolution attempted to model the customs of the State upon Western fashions. The old order was changed. The traditional fez was abandoned and the Turkish women gave up their veils. Harems, survival of Byzantium, were forbidden, monogamy became the law and men and women received equal rights in the matter of divorce. In 1923 Angora, in the heart of Anatolia, became officially the capital, as a result of a decree by the President. He spent money freely to build it and developed a modern city. He started with Angora as an unkempt little Anatolian village with narrow streets and mud-brick houses, where the only big event was a weekly market for the peasants. According to a German architectural plan by Herman Jansen, the new capital was laid out in detached sections over an immense site. From a central citadel, broad paved avenues radiated, imperiously breaking the natural lines of a hilly plain.

These avenues were lined with handsome edifices in broad arches and tiles-schools, lyceums, hospitals, dwellings, factories, laboratories. Automobile traffic moves swiftly in Angora, where camel caravans used to plod within the memory of many of the inhabitants. The streets are lighted by electricity. A telephone exchange and a powerful wireless station were in operation in Angora by 1925.

A typical act in the Ghazi’s endeavor to reform the country was the changing of the name of Constantinople to the old Turkish title Istanbul. This removed a historic reminder of the days when Occidentals ruled on the Bosporus. It served also to bolster Turkish nationalistic feeling.

After the Ottoman dynasty, which for six centuries had been in power in the empire, had became mere history, Article II of the constitution of the Turkish Republic declared that “The religion of the Turkish State is Islam.” This article had to be removed as the final step in Atatürk’s endeavor to separate the church from the State. In 1928 the National Assembly struck out the article and provided that government servants should no longer swear by Allah in taking the oath of office, but should simply swear on their honor. Finally, an official translation of the Koran was made.

The President married in January in 1923, Latife Hanim, daughter of a wealthy Turkish merchant of Smyrna. It was reported that his bride brought him a dowry of 1,000,000 Turkish Lira. The Ghazi divorced his wife in 1925 by the simple old procedure of saying in the presence of witnesses, “I divorce you.”


Atatürk in NY Times

Last updated on October 05th, 2004






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  1. Irrespective of what and how much good Recep Tayyip Erdogan has done for Turkey, general feeling among the majority of Turks is that he has caused considerable damage both internally and externally. He has ruined the modern image of the Turkish Republic. His animosity towards Ataturk and Inonu, has even caused serious doubts about his Turkishness as such. What ever else Ataturk was, he was a great human being and a lover of modern Turkey, what Erdogan will never ever be.

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