June 27, 2015

1697 TURKEY - Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938)

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was a Turkish army officer, revolutionary, and the first President of Turkey, credited with being the founder of the Republic of Turkey. His surname, Atatürk (Father of the Turks), was granted to him in 1934 and forbidden to any other person by the Turkish parliament. Atatürk statues have been erected in all Turkish cities, and his face and name are seen and heard everywhere in Turkey; his portrait can be seen in all public buildings, in all schools and classrooms, on all school books, on all Turkish lira banknotes, and in the homes of many Turkish families.

In 1951, the parliament issued a law outlawing insults to his memory. In 2007, YouTube, Geocities, and several blogger webpages were blocked by a Turkish court due to the violation of this law. Mustafa was born in 1881 in Salonica (now Thessaloniki) in what was then the Ottoman Empire. His family was Muslim, Turkish-speaking and precariously middle-class, his father being a minor official and later a timber merchant. His second name Kemal (Perfection or Maturity) was given to him by his mathematics teacher, "in admiration of his capability and maturity".

When he was 12, was sent to military school and then to the military academy in Istanbul, graduating in 1905. Shortly after graduation, he was arrested for his anti monarchist activities. He was released after several months, but he continued his revolutionary activity and anti monarchical alongside with military career. In 1908, he played a role in the Young Turk Revolution which seized power from Sultan Abdülhamid II and restored the constitutional monarchy.

In 1911, he served against the Italians in Tripolitania Vilayet (present Libya) and then in the Balkan Wars (1912-1913). He made his military reputation repelling the Allied invasion at the Dardanelles in 1915, during the Battle of Gallipoli. When Mehmed VI became the new Sultan in July 1918, he called Mustafa Kemal Pasha to Constantinople, and in August 1918 assigned him to the command of the Seventh Army in Palestine. According to Lord Kinross Mustafa Kemal was the only Turkish general in the war who never suffered a defeat.

In May 1919, Atatürk began a nationalist revolution in Anatolia, organising resistance to the peace settlement imposed on Turkey by the victorious Allies. This was particularly focused on resisting Greek attempts to seize Smyrna (modern-day İzmir) and its hinterland. Victory over the Greeks enabled him to secure revision of the peace settlement in the Treaty of Lausanne. In 1921, Atatürk established a provisional government in  Ankara.

The following year the Ottoman Sultanate was formally abolished and, in 1923, Turkey became a secular republic with Atatürk as its president. He established a single party regime that lasted almost without interruption until 1945. He launched a programme of revolutionary social and political reform to modernise Turkey, despite the opposition of fundamentalists, manifested sometimes even violent. These reforms included the emancipation of women, the abolition of all Islamic institutions and the introduction of Western legal codes, dress, calendar and alphabet.

Abroad he pursued a policy of neutrality, establishing friendly relations with Turkey's neighbours. On the other hand, he pursued a policy of oppressing and Turkifying the minorities of the country, being even accused of massacres, in the first place against the Kurds, the Armenians and the Greeks. Taking advantage of the reoccupation of the Rhineland by Hitler in 1936, Mustafa Kemal resumed full control over the Straits of Bosphorus and Dardanelles that he lost in 1923, by the Lausanne Straits Agreement.

In 1935, when surnames were introduced in Turkey, he was given the name Atatürk. Turkey became an industrial society on the Western European model, and at the time of his death, most regions of Turkey had viable micro-economic stability and some macro economic stability. Atatürk died on 10 November 1938, at the age of 57, in Istanbul, suffering from cirrhosis of the liver. In his will, Atatürk donated all of his possessions to the Republican People's Party, providing that the yearly interest of his funds would be used to look after his sister Makbule and his adopted children, and fund the higher education of the children of İsmet İnönü.

About the stamp 
The stamp is part of a series of fourth, dedicated to Rauf Denktaş, the founding President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, about which I wrote here.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk - Wikipedia
Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938) - BBC official website

Sender: Filiz Yüzbaş (direct swap)
Sent from Girne (North Cyprus), on 25.02.2013

1 comment:

  1. To quote the remarkable Robert Kaplan: "Ataturk was an authentic revolutionary - one of history's handful - because he changed a people's value system... Ataturk made Turkey not a blood republic, but a modern one."