Who is Atatürk? Atatürk’s life and everything he did

Who is Atatürk? Atatürk’s life and everything he did

Atatürk’s Life (Summary) “The only extraordinary thing about my birth is that I was born as a ‘Turk’.” Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was born in Thessaloniki in 1881.* His father was Ali Rıza Efendi and his mother was Zübeyde Hanım. Ali Rıza Efendi was a native of Thessaloniki. His distant grandparents had left Vidin and settled in Serres, from where they came to Thessaloniki. Ali Rıza Efendi worked as a customs officer for a while, but later he left the civil service and engaged in the timber trade. Zübeyde Hanım, Atatürk’s mother, also belonged to an old Turkish family who settled in a town called Langaza near Thessaloniki.

This family was one of the nomads who had moved from Anatolia to Rumelia and were known as Varyemezoğulları. This family had large farms in Langaza; they were engaged in animal husbandry as well as agriculture.

In 1871, Ali Rıza Efendi married Zübeyde Hanım and died in 1888 when he was only fifty years old, leaving little Mustafa, who was fatherless at the age of seven or eight, to be raised and educated by the great Turkish woman Zübeyde Hanım.

Young Mustafa continued his primary education at Hafız Mehmet Efendi’s neighborhood school for a while, in accordance with his mother’s wishes, but soon, at his father’s request, he transferred to the modern Şemsi Efendi School in Thessaloniki, where he completed his primary education. Şemsi Efendi appreciated the talents and intelligence of his new student and was very pleased to have little Mustafa in his school. While little Mustafa was studying at this school, his father died. At this time, he had two younger sisters, Makbule and Naciye. When their father died, little Mustafa was seven years old, Makbule was just over a year old and Naciye was forty days old. These youngest siblings died in Thessaloniki when they were young girls.

Upon Ali Rıza Efendi’s death, Mrs. Zübeyde and her three children settled with her brother Hüseyin Efendi, who worked as a farmhand at the Rapla farm near Thessaloniki for a while. Because of the farm life, Little Mustafa’s education was inevitably interrupted for a while. However, he soon returned to Thessaloniki and resumed his education with his aunt, where he had left off. After graduating from Şemsi Efendi Primary School, Küçük Mustafa attended Thessaloniki Mülkiye Rüştiyesi1 for a while, but he left this school after his Arabic teacher named Kaymak Hafız hit him with a stick unjustly and in 1893, he applied to Thessaloniki Military Rüştiyesi2 with his own will and decision and continued his education here. Mustafa really liked this school. He quickly distinguished himself among his friends with his intelligence and superior talents and won the love of his teachers. Captain Mustafa Efendi, who taught mathematics at this school, added the name “Kemal” to the end of his name in order to distinguish him from the other Mustafa’s in the class in the face of his young student’s superior talents and intelligence. Now the young student became Mustafa Kemal.

After graduating from Thessaloniki Military Rüştiyesi, Mustafa Kemal entered Manastır Military Idadisi3 in 1896. At this school, he befriended Ömer Naci, who had come from Bursa Military Idadisi. This person, who would later become a famous orator, played an active role in Mustafa Kemal’s love of oratory and literature. Ali Fethi (Okyar), who would become one of his close friends, was also a student at this school. In addition to his military education, the young Mustafa Kemal did not neglect his foreign language education; when he returned to Selânik on leave during the summer months, he took French lessons.

Young Mustafa Kemal graduated from Manastır Military Idadisi in November 1898 with the second rank and entered the Military Academy in Istanbul on March 13, 1899. After 3 years of successful education, he graduated from this school on February 10, 1902 with the rank of lieutenant and continued his education at the War Academy in the same year. In 1903, he passed to the second class of the War Academy and became a first lieutenant. On January 11, 1905, he graduated from the War Academy with the rank of staff captain. Mustafa Kemal introduced himself to his friends and teachers with his intelligence, talents and outstanding personality at the Military Academy and gained their sincere love and respect. In addition to his great interest in military studies, he was also interested in mathematics, literature and eloquence. He was recognized as an enlightened and revolutionary officer at the Harbiye and the War Academy because of his interest in the causes of the country and the nation and his courageous expression of his thoughts. The period was the period of the oppression and these behaviors could have been to his detriment; however, the fact that he was really liked by his surroundings and that he was sincere in his thoughts prevented him from being the victim of any conspiracy. Nevertheless, in the days following his graduation from the War Academy, his thoughts and situation against the regime of the Sultanate and the regime of the Sultanate attracted suspicion and he was imprisoned in Istanbul for a short period of time; then he was assigned to Damascus in the Syrian region on February 5, 1905 as a kind of suspension.

On October 13, 1907, Mustafa Kemal was assigned to the Headquarters of the 3rd Army, headquartered in Bitola, and came to Thessaloniki to work in the Staff Branch of this headquarters in Thessaloniki. At this time, the “Committee of Union and Progress”, which included the founders of the “Homeland and Freedom Society” branch in Thessaloniki, was secretly active. Mustafa Kemal also joined this society and started to serve. The liberation of the country from tyranny and the innovations to be made were his main thoughts. Shortly after his arrival in Thessaloniki, on June 22, 1908, Mustafa Kemal was appointed as the railway inspector between Skopje and Thessaloniki in addition to his duty at the 3rd Army Headquarters.

At this time, the “Committee of Union and Progress”, which was operating secretly in Rumelia, was forcing Abdülhamit to reinstate the Constitution of 1876 and to reconvene the dissolved Parliament. These attempts of the Committee of Union and Progress led step by step to the declaration of the Second Constitutional Monarchy.

On July 23, 1908, when the Second Constitutional Monarchy was proclaimed, Mustafa Kemal was continuing his military duty in Thessaloniki with the rank of lieutenant colonel and on the other hand, he was closely following the political developments in Istanbul by working within the “Union and Progress Party”. He did not consider what had been done after a great revolution such as the Constitutional Monarchy II as sufficient and believed that greater and more radical changes should be realized in the country by taking advantage of this opportunity; however, his views did not match the views and thoughts of the leaders of the “Union and Progress”. Nevertheless, he did not hesitate to warn them with his ideas.

Nine months had passed since the proclamation of the Constitutional Monarchy, when on April 13, 1909, a major revolt, supported by reactionary circles, broke out in Istanbul against this movement. Mustafa Kemal was appointed Chief of Staff of the Movement Army under the command of Hüseyin Hüsnü Pasha, which was formed in Rumelia to suppress this rebellion, known as the “March 31st Incident” in the old history, and he moved with this army from Thessaloniki to Istanbul on April 15/16, 1909; however, when the Movement Army arrived at Hadımköy near Istanbul, the command was changed. Mahmut Şevket Pasha, the commander of the 3rd Army, who had come from Thessaloniki, took command and Major Enver Bey was appointed as Chief of Staff. The Movement Army entered Istanbul on April 24, 1909. Mustafa Kemal was also a member of the staff of this army. After the Army of Action took control of the situation, Abdul Hamid was dethroned and Sultan Reşat replaced him. After the suppression of this reactionary event, Mustafa Kemal did not stay in Istanbul for long and returned to Thessaloniki on May 22, 1909. During these times, he was courageously defending his thoughts and opinions in the military maneuvers in and around Salonika, attracting the attention of his superiors; on the other hand, he was also writing and translating works on military education issues.

After the Second Constitutional Monarchy, Mustafa Kemal began to sense the dangers of the army’s close relationship with the “Committee of Union and Progress” and its involvement in politics, and he openly expressed these views at the “Grand Congress of Union and Progress” convened in Thessaloniki on September 22, 1909. However, the leaders of the Society did not share his views. Mustafa Kemal distanced himself from the Society and devoted himself directly to his military duty. This is how his disagreement and rift with the Committee of Union and Progress began.

In late 1909, a major rebellion broke out in Albania and a division of soldiers sent there was insufficient to put down the rebellion. Thereupon, Mahmut Şevket Pasha, the Minister of War, came to Selânik in May 1910. At the head of a large force prepared here, he moved to Albania with Mustafa Kemal on his staff. The rebellion was completely suppressed within a month. Mustafa Kemal returned to Thessaloniki again.

While Mustafa Kemal was successfully carrying out his duty in Thessaloniki, he was sent to France in September 1910 to observe the Pikardi maneuvers. Here he got to know the French army and its commanders closely. On January 15, 1911, Mustafa Kemal was dismissed from his position at the 3rd Army Headquarters and assigned as the deputy commander of the 38th Infantry Regiment, also in Thessaloniki. He showed great success in this assignment as well; as before, he won the admiration of his superiors and the love and respect of his friends. After eight months as the Deputy Commander of the 38th Infantry Regiment, he was summoned to Istanbul by the Ministry of War. Upon this, Mustafa Kemal arrived in Istanbul in mid-September 1911 and was assigned to the General Staff.

On September 29, 1911, the Tripolitania War had begun with the Italian declaration of war against the Ottoman Empire. Mustafa Kemal left Istanbul on October 15, 1911 to volunteer in this region. Following his arrival in Tripolitania, he led local volunteer forces in Tobruk and Derne regions for a while. During this time, he was promoted to the rank of major on November 27, 1911.

In October 1912, the Balkan War had begun. Mustafa Kemal departed from Derne on October 24, 1912 and arrived in Istanbul. On November 25, 1912, he was appointed as the Director of the Operations Branch of the Dardanelles Strait Kuva-yi Mürettebe Command in Gallipoli. Upon this appointment, he came to Gallipoli. Events developed rapidly, Thessaloniki fell, the Bulgarian army advanced and reached Catalca. This sad situation made him very sad. After a while on this front, he was appointed Chief of Staff of the Bolayır Corps. While he was in this position, he rendered great services in the recapture of Dimetoka* and Edirne from the Bulgarians. Shortly after the end of the Balkan War, Mustafa Kemal was appointed Attaché General in Sofia on October 27, 1913. As of January 11, 1914, he was also assigned to serve as Attaché General in Bucharest, Belgrade and Cetine. He was also assigned to the post of Attaché to Sofia. His close friend Ali Fethi (Okyar) was also in Sofia as an ambassador when he was appointed as Attaché General in Sofia. Mustafa Kemal was promoted to lieutenant colonel on March 1, 1914 while he was serving as Attaché General in Sofia. He stayed in Sofia until late January 1915.

While Mustafa Kemal was still in Sofia, World War I had begun with Germany’s declaration of war against Russia on August 1, 1914. Mustafa Kemal had been following the political and military events with great attention, while at the same time reporting his views and opinions to the Ministry of War. According to him, the Ottoman Empire should have stayed out of this great war unless it became necessary. However, the rapid development of events forced the Ottoman Empire to enter the war on the side of the Allied Powers on October 29, 1914. Upon these developments, Mustafa Kemal asked the Commander-in-Chief for an effective service, but his request was not fulfilled for a while. Finally, upon his insistence, he was appointed as the Commander of the 19th Division to be formed in Tekirdağ on January 20, 1915. Upon this appointment, Mustafa Kemal left Sofia and returned to Istanbul; he immediately moved to his new duty station and established his division. This division was soon transferred from Tekirdağ to Maydos (Eceabat) on February 25, 1915, upon necessity. Mustafa Kemal served as the Commander of the Maydos Region, with 2 Infantry Regiments and some artillery units of the 9th Division under his command in addition to the 19th Division.

Important events were taking place on the Gallipoli Peninsula. The British and French navy attempted to cross the Dardanelles on March 18, 1915, but failed to achieve results against the successful defense of the coastal artillery and suffered heavy losses. Unable to cross the Dardanelles with its navy, the enemy decided to force the Gallipoli Peninsula by landing this time. While events were developing in this way, the General Staff decided to establish the 5th Army in Gallipoli on March 24, 1915 and appointed Field Marshal Liman von Sanders as its commander. Field Marshal Liman von Sanders had made a plan by dividing his forces into three groups against a possible enemy attack, and had taken the forces commanded by Mustafa Kemal into army reserve. In accordance with this plan, Mustafa Kemal crossed to Bigalı with his division on April 18, 1915.

On the morning of April 25, 1915, British troops, together with French forces and the ANZAC Corps, began the first landing movement from the coasts of Arıburnu, Seddülbahir and Kumkale. The enemy landing from the Kumkale coast failed to develop; the landing on Seddülbahir was stopped by the intense fire of the coastal artillery and the counterattack of our forces. The British troops and the ANZAC corps landing from the shores of Arıburnu found Mustafa Kemal. As soon as Mustafa Kemal saw that the landing from the shores of Arıburnu had begun, he quickly directed his forces from Bigalı to Conkbayırı. The British forces advancing from Arıburnu to Conkbayırı were forced to retreat that day by the attack of the 19th Division forces commanded by Mustafa Kemal.

In the attack on Conkbayırı, the Turkish soldier fought with unprecedented faith and courage, displaying the greatest scenes of heroism in history. The genius commander added the following sentences to his orders to the commanders: “I am not ordering you to attack; I am ordering you to die! In the time that will pass until we die, other forces and commanders may replace us!”4

Starting on April 25, 1915, this intense landing was pushed to the shore by our forces, but the enemy continued to land on April 26 and 27, 1915. There were fierce battles with the British who wanted to advance; however, every attack of the enemy failed in the face of the heroic defense of the Turkish soldiers. Mustafa Kemal was promoted to colonel on June 1, 1915 for his outstanding achievements on the Gallipoli Front. Although the enemy failed to achieve success and make progress at Gallipoli, they were still determined to make a new landing. In order to realize the planned landing, first of all, the Turkish forces in Arıburnu, Seddülbahir and Kumkale, which constituted the first lines of resistance, had to be dislodged. For this purpose, the British attacked with artillery fire from Arıburnu on August 6, 1915 and again on August 7, 1915 with forces supported from Anafartalar Bay. Fierce day and night battles took place between these forces and the forces of the 19th Division under Mustafa Kemal’s command. The situation became critical as the enemy attack tended to spread over a wide front. Upon this, a change of command was made by the order of Field Marshal Liman von Sanders, Commander of the 5th Army, and Colonel Mustafa Kemal was appointed as the “Anafartalar Group Commander” on the night of August 8, 1915. Mustafa Kemal, who took command at midnight that night, pushed the advancing British forces back to the shores where they had landed with his attack on the morning of August 9, 1915 without waiting. On the evening of the same day, he moved to the Conkbayırı area and attacked the forces there on the morning of August 10, 1915; as a result of this attack and bayonet battles, the enemy was completely expelled from Conkbayırı within four hours. Thus, the Anafartalar region was completely dominated by the Turks.

As in the attack on April 25, 1915, Mustafa Kemal was personally on the firing line during the attacks on August 9 and 10, giving orders from the firing line, and this behavior became an inexpressible source of courage for the officers and privates he fought with. At Conkbayırı, he was saved from certain death when a piece of shrapnel aimed at his heart hit the watch in his breast pocket and bounced back. His heroism, determination and high command skills during these battles brought him great fame both at home and abroad. He was now known as the “Hero of Anafartalar”.

Unable to make progress after months of landings and battles, the British withdrew from the Dardanelles with their allies at the end of December 1915. The inability of the enemies to cross the Dardanelles prevented the occupation of Istanbul and extinguished the British dreams of establishing a connection with their ally Russia via Marmara and the Black Sea. In a sense, all these events affected the course of World War I and changed the course of world history. In these battles, the British undoubtedly outnumbered the Turks in terms of men, vehicles and equipment; however, what they forgot was the ancestral heroism of the Turkish soldier and the Mustafa Kemal factor that guided this heroism.

In the last months of 1915, when the Gallipoli Battles had lost their former intensity, Mustafa Kemal was of the opinion that with one last attack we would dislodge the enemy from the coasts where they were holding on and reduce them to a state of total defeat. However, this proposal was not adopted by Field Marshal Liman von Sanders, the Commander of the 5th Army, due to the concern that the enemy’s artillery fire from the shore could cause heavy losses. There was nothing left to do on this front. On December 9, 1915, Mustafa Kemal left Çanakkale on leave, leaving the “Anafartalar Group Command” to Fevzi (Çakmak) Pasha, and returned to Istanbul. On January 16, 1916, Mustafa Kemal was appointed as the Commander of the 16th Corps with headquarters in Edirne, and upon this appointment, he arrived in Edirne. Shortly afterwards, upon the decision of the Deputy Commander-in-Chief to move the headquarters of this corps to Diyarbakır and to establish a new corps with the same name on the Eastern Front, Mustafa Kemal was appointed as the commander of this corps. On March 27, 1916, he arrived in Diyarbakır and took command. On April 1, 1916, he was promoted to the rank of general. After a short preparation following his arrival in Diyarbakır, on the morning of August 2, 1916, he led the forces under his command to attack in the direction of Bitlis and Muş; fierce battles took place between the Russians and our two divisions in the form of attack and counter-attack. Finally, on August 7, 1916, Muş and on August 8, 1916, Bitlis were liberated from enemy occupation by our forces. (Muş unfortunately fell back to the Russians on August 25, 1916. Mustafa Kemal Pasha, during his command of the 2nd Army, liberated Muş from Russian occupation for the second time on April 30, 1917).

Mustafa Kemal Pasha, who was serving as the Commander of the 16th Corps on the Eastern Front, was appointed as the acting Commander of the 2nd Army on December 12, 1916, when Ahmet İzzet Pasha went to Istanbul on leave for a while. The Chief of Staff of this army, whose headquarters were in Diyarbakır, was Colonel İsmet (İnönü) Bey. Mustafa Kemal Pasha’s close acquaintance with İnönü and working in the chain of command coincided with these dates.

On February 17, 1917, Mustafa Kemal Pasha was appointed as the Commander of the Hejaz Force Expeditionary Command and went to Damascus to inspect the Sinai Front, but after a short time, when this command was abolished, he was appointed as the Deputy Commander of the 2nd Army, replacing Ahmet İzzet Pasha. Returning back to Diyarbakır, Mustafa Kemal Pasha was appointed as the Commander of the 2nd Army on March 16, 1917. However, he did not stay in this position for long and on July 5, 1917, he was appointed as the Commander of the 7th Army, which was decided to be established in Aleppo under the command of the Lightning Armies Group. Field Marshal Falkenhayn was the Commander of the Lightning Armies Group. Mustafa Kemal Pasha arrived in Aleppo on August 23, 1917 and took office. However, after a while, a disagreement arose between him and Field Marshal Falkenhayn in terms of military views and the operations to be carried out; as a result of this disagreement, Mustafa Kemal Pasha resigned from the 7th Army Command on October 6, 1917. Although he was offered his old position in Diyarbakır again, he refused and came to Istanbul on leave. On November 7, 1917, he was assigned to the General Headquarters in Istanbul. However, he soon joined the entourage of Crown Prince Vahdettin Efendi on a trip to Germany to visit the German General Headquarters and the German fronts. Between December 15, 1917 and January 4, 1918, Mustafa Kemal visited German military circles and met with the German Emperor Wilhelm II and well-known commanders of the period. He told them clearly and distinctly – even if they were not pleased – about his views on the possible consequences of World War I.

Photograph of him in a suit he bought in Karlsbad, Austria, where he went for treatment. (July 1918)

After returning to Istanbul from his 20-day trip to Germany, Mustafa Kemal Pasha went to Vienna and Karlsbad to receive treatment for kidney disease. On August 7, 1918, he became the commander of the 7th Army under the command of Field Marshal Liman von Sanders, who had replaced Field Marshal Falkenhayn as the commander of the Lightning Armies Group, and arrived in Aleppo on August 26, 1918. Mustafa Kemal Pasha fought successful defensive battles against the British on this front. In the face of reinforced British forces, with his superior management, the Turkish army in this region was saved from disintegration and succeeded in retreating to Aleppo in great order. However, World War I was developing against Germany and its supporters. On September 29, 1918, Bulgaria withdrew from the war, on October 4, 1918 Germany and on October 5, 1918 Austria-Hungary asked for an armistice. In Istanbul, the Talaat Pasha Cabinet resigned and Ahmet İzzet Pasha formed the new cabinet on October 14, 1918. In the face of these developments, Mustafa Kemal Pasha continued his military and political proposals to the authorities, but again he could not get them accepted. Finally, on October 30, 1918, the Ottoman Empire withdrew from World War I by signing the Armistice of Mondros with the Allied Powers.

On the day of the signing of the Armistice of Mondros, Mustafa Kemal Pasha was appointed as the commander of the Lightning Armies Group in place of Field Marshal Liman von Sanders, but there was nothing left to do. On November 7, 1918, this group command was also abolished by the Sultan’s will and he was placed under the command of the Ministry of War, Mustafa Kemal Pasha left Adana and arrived in Istanbul on November 13, 1918. Turkey was now living under the terms of the armistice.

The conditions of the country and the nation were severe. At the end of a great war, as a defeated state, a treaty called the “Armistice of Mondros” was signed on October 30, 1918, and based on the terms of this treaty, many parts of the country were occupied by the victorious states, our army was disbanded, and all weapons and ammunition were placed at the disposal of the victorious states. As the Ottoman lands were completely dismembered, Anatolia, the homeland of the Turks, was being divided among the victorious states. The Italians had landed in Antalya. Iskenderun, Adana, Mersin, Antep, Maras, Urfa were under occupation. The British had taken over in Kars. Thrace was under occupation. The enemy navy was anchored in Istanbul waters. The Dardanelles and Istanbul Straits were blocked. Istanbul and the Istanbul Government were under the pressure and control of the Entente States. The sultan and the government had become an instrument of the enemies, and in a helpless and confused state, they were only looking for a way of safety and salvation for themselves. Foreign officers were walking around in almost every city in Anatolia, giving directives as representatives of the Entente. The Greeks were also busy with preparations for the invasion of Izmir; they were making great efforts in this direction and trying to convince the Entente States. Finally, they landed in Izmir on May 15, 1919.

Mustafa Kemal had foreseen this turn of events in advance. As a matter of fact, 5 days after the Armistice of Mudros, starting from November 5, 1918, the orders for demobilization began to come from the Ministry of War -in accordance with the Armistice Treaty- to the armies. On November 5, 1918, Atatürk sent the first warning telegram from Adana to the Grand Vizier Ahmet İzzet Pasha: “I solemnly request you not to demobilize the army unless you take the necessary measures! If we demobilize the armies and submit to everything the British say, there will be no way to prevent the enemy’s ambitions. “5 This warning to the Grand Vizier shows that Atatürk did not lose hope for salvation at a time when everything was thought to be over, and that he never succumbed to the pessimism and despair that gripped many.

But tragically, all these justified objections made by Mustafa Kemal Pasha were ineffective and the demobilization of the army continued rapidly. Because the general opinion was that we could not enter into any struggle with the Entente Powers, and that such a struggle would end in our detriment. Therefore, we would not offend the Entente States and we would fulfill the terms of the Armistice of Mondros. This was the view and behavior of the Istanbul Government.

Despite the despair of the Sultan and his government, the Turkish nation was making every effort to defend itself against the unjust invasions and occupations; clashes were taking place between the enemy and local forces in various parts of the country. On the other hand, national organizations were being formed in Anatolia from time to time in order to resist the aggressive enemy and to seek solutions for liberation. However, all these organizations could not be as effective as desired due to their separate activities, and they could not show a movement and unity covering the whole country.

The Turkey of the Armistice period was an unimaginably complicated Turkey. In addition to national associations such as Müdafaa-i Hukuk, Muhafaza-i Hukuk, Redd-i İlhak, which pioneered regional resistance movements, many associations were established, especially in Istanbul, supposedly seeking salvation. The main ones were the Society of British Envoys, the Society of Wilsonian Principles, the Society of Turkish-French Envoys, and the Society for the Negotiation of the United Nations. The solutions for salvation were different. Some of them wanted the protection of the British, some of them wanted the protection of the French, some of them suggested an American mandate. Others were in favor of the symbolic survival of the Ottoman Empire in a small region where the sovereignty of the Sultan and Caliph could be recognized. Some separatist societies, seeking ways to take advantage of the dire situation in the country, were also engaged in activities that tore national unity apart on the territory of the homeland.

What could be the serious and real decision in the face of this situation? Mustafa Kemal Pasha, who had a very broad historical culture and knew very well how to draw conclusions from history, did not delay in sensing the real decision. In the face of this situation, there was only one decision: “To establish a new Turkish State based on national sovereignty and unconditionally independent!”6 According to Mustafa Kemal Pasha, what was important was that “the Turkish nation should live as a dignified and honorable nation. No matter how rich and prosperous it was, a nation deprived of independence could not be considered worthy of any treatment higher than being a servant before civilized humanity. Accepting the patronage and mastery of a foreign nation was nothing but a confession of lack of human qualities, helplessness and sloth. However, the honor and pride of the Turk was very high and great. It was better for such a nation to perish than to live in captivity. Therefore, the motto of the National Struggle was to be ‘Independence or death!”7

It was now necessary to move to Anatolia and unfurl the flag of the National Struggle. It was around this time that Mustafa Kemal Pasha was offered the position of Inspectorate of the Ninth Army Corps8 in order to remove him from Istanbul. Mustafa Kemal Pasha accepted this post, which granted him wide powers.

On May 16, 1919, Mustafa Kemal Pasha departed from Istanbul on the Bandırma ferry and set foot on Anatolian soil in Samsun on the morning of May 19, 1919. The reason why he was sent to Anatolia was to “observe the unrest in Samsun and its surroundings and take measures”. Although it was reported in the British reports given to the government that the Turks were engaged in a guerrilla movement against the Greeks in this region and that they were disrupting public order, the real situation was quite the opposite. Because, with the armistice, a large Greek activity had started in this region with the aim of establishing a Pontic Greek State. It was not the Greeks who were oppressed, but the Turks. The Mavri Mira Society, administered from the Greek Patriarchate in Istanbul, was raiding Turkish villages, committing massacres and intimidating the local population through the gangs it established in this region. Against these attempts, patriotic Turks formed counter gangs and started to fight against the Greeks of the region. Despite all these facts, according to the instructions given to Mustafa Kemal Pasha, the Turks in the region were to be prevented from resisting. Mustafa Kemal Pasha asked for the title of army inspector and wide powers to accept the mission; the Istanbul Government accepted these requests.

The palace and the Istanbul government had assumed that Mustafa Kemal Pasha would carry out this task in the direction they had indicated. However, Mustafa Kemal’s thoughts were completely different. But this proposed mission was an opportunity to move to Anatolia without attracting suspicion. It would be a conscientious act to use the powers given to him for the interests of the nation until they were taken back. Before leaving Istanbul, Mustafa Kemal Pasha had met with the Grand Vizier, most of the members of the cabinet and finally the Sultan. However, he did not see in any of these people an energy or a glimmer of hope to save the country from the dangerous situation it was in. In the behavior of the Istanbul Government and the Sultan, he felt the heavy oppression of the idea of not offending the Entente States. However, in order to realize national liberation, it was necessary not to obey the decisions of foreigners, but to resist them. It was for this purpose that he was going to Anatolia. The following words of Mustafa Kemal Pasha to his close friends when he left Istanbul are of great importance in this respect: “There can be no national unity under the bayonet of the enemy! Only in a free homeland can one work for the independence of the country and the freedom of the nation. I am going to Anatolia to realize this goal”.9

Mustafa Kemal Pasha started to implement his plan as soon as he arrived in Anatolia. On May 21, 1919, in a telegram he sent from Samsun to Kâzım Karabekir in Erzurum, he stated this behavior as follows: “I am very saddened by the dangerous shape our general situation has taken. I have accepted this last office with the belief that the last conscientious duty we owe to the nation and the country can best be fulfilled by working closely together. “10

On May 21, 1919, two days after his arrival in Samsun, Mustafa Kemal Pasha sent the following telegram to the Chief of General Staff explaining the causes of the unrest in and around Samsun, which neither the Istanbul Government nor the representatives of the Entente States liked: “The Greeks have gathered in this region around the sophistry of establishing a Pontic Government and the Greek gangs have almost completely transformed into a political form. “11 He concluded the report he sent from Samsun to the Sadaret on May 22, 1919 with the following sentence: “The nation has united and targeted the principle of sovereignty and the feeling of Turkishness. “12 In this meaningful statement, it is impossible not to sense the determination for the National Struggle emerging in Anatolia. It was after these reports arrived in Istanbul that the representatives of the Entente Powers asked the Istanbul Government: “What is a well-known Turkish general doing in Anatolia?” Thereupon, the Istanbul Government began attempts to recall the inspector sent to Anatolia.

The National Struggle that had started in Anatolia had now found its leader, and the scattered and regional resistances had started to gather under one flag. We see the first example of this in a circular announced to the whole country from Amasya on June 22, 1919 under the signature of Mustafa Kemal. A holy voice was heard in this circular: “The integrity of the homeland and the independence of the nation are in danger. The nation’s independence will be saved by the nation’s effort and decision. “13 These sentences were the announcement to the whole world with his signature that the National Struggle had actually started in an organized manner. In another article of this circular, it also specified the first course of action to be taken in the face of the looming national danger: “A national congress will be convened immediately in Sivas, the safest place in Anatolia, with delegates elected from each province who have gained the trust of the nation. “14

After announcing this famous Amasya Circular to the whole country, Mustafa Kemal Pasha arrived in Sivas on June 27, 1919 amidst the joyful demonstrations of the people to move to Erzurum. During his stay in the city, he gave the necessary directives to those concerned for the congress to be held in Sivas following the Erzurum Congress and left for Erzurum.

Mustafa Kemal Pasha arrived in Erzurum on July 3, 1919. He himself said: “My arrival in Erzurum coincided with a time when the whole nation was enclosed in a ring of fire. The whole nation was thinking about how to get out of this ring of fire. “15 When he was enthusiastically welcomed by the people of Erzurum in front of Ilıca, a conversation between him and the old Mevlût Aga, who had returned to Erzurum after being a refugee in Çukurova, further reinforced the idea in Atatürk that it was absolutely necessary to get out of this ring of fire. Mustafa Kemal Pasha asked the old but vigorous Mevlût Aga:

-Why did you return from a fertile land like Çukurova? Or couldn’t you make a living?

Mevlût Agha answered immediately:

-No, Pasha, our livelihood was very comfortable. Recently I heard that the rascals in Istanbul were going to give our Erzurum to the Armenians. I came here to see whose property these scoundrels are giving to whom.

These words touched Mustafa Kemal Pasha, who had come to Erzurum to work with the nation and for the nation, and brought tears to his eyes. He turned to those around him and said: “What can’t be done with this nation!”16 Five days after his arrival in Erzurum, on July 8/9, 1919, Mustafa Kemal Pasha resigned from his beloved military profession and duty “to work as a mujahid in the nation”. He was now continuing his historical mission as an individual of the nation, drawing strength and inspiration from the nation.

Following his resignation from military service, Mustafa Kemal Pasha was appointed as the Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Erzurum Branch of the Vilâyat-ı Şarkiye Müdafaa-i Hukuk-u Milliye Cemiyeti Erzurum Branch upon the request of the people of Erzurum. In those days, the said organization was preparing for a congress covering the eastern provinces in accordance with a previous decision. It was possible for Mustafa Kemal to participate in this congress as the Chairman of the Executive Committee; however, he wanted to participate in this congress especially as a member from Erzurum. Unfortunately, the members from Erzurum had already been selected, but a solution was found. Two worthy sons of Erzurum, Kâzım Yurdalan and Cevat Dursunoğlu, resigned as members of Erzurum and were replaced by Mustafa Kemal Pasha and Rauf Bey. In this way, Mustafa Kemal Pasha’s entry into the congress was ensured in the way he wanted.

Erzurum Kongresi, 23 Temmuz 1919’da 62 delegenin katılımıyla eski bir ilkokul salonunda toplandı. Erzurum delegelerinden Hoca Raif Efendi geçici başkan olarak kongreyi açtı ve delegelerin isimleri okunup yoklama yapıldıktan sonra cumhurbaşkanlığı seçimine geçildi. Mustafa Kemal Paşa cumhurbaşkanı seçildi. Erzurum Kongresi, bir kurucu meclis gibi çalışarak 14 gün devam etmiş ve 7 Ağustos 1919’da bir bildiri yayınlayarak çalışmalarına son vermiştir.

The convening of this congress, which became the flag of the National Struggle, in Erzurum was not a coincidence; Erzurum was one of the regions where the defense consciousness emerged most sharply after the Armistice of Mondros. According to the terms of the Armistice, an Armenia was wanted to be established to include the lands of Erzurum, which had been watered with the blood of martyrs for centuries. This situation further sharpened the consciousness of national unity and resistance in the region. There was also the Pontus danger in Trabzon, which participated in the Congress with 17 delegates representing the Eastern Black Sea provinces and districts. The Greeks of the region were dreaming of establishing a Pontic Greek State that would cover the Eastern Black Sea cities by taking advantage of the Armistice Treaty of Mudros. In this respect, the danger was common with the cities of Eastern Anatolia.

Erzurum Kongresi zor şartlar altında toplandı. Çünkü bazı illerde hem kongre üyelerinin seçiminde hem de seçilenlerin kongreye gönderilmesinde büyük zorluklar yaratılıyordu. İstanbul Hükümeti’nin baskısı altındaki bazı idari makamlar, delegeleri korkutarak yola çıkmalarını engelliyor, hatta bazı iller delege göndermeyi reddediyorlardı. Elazığ, Diyarbakır ve Mardin illerinden seçilen üyelerin valilik baskısı nedeniyle ayrılmaları engellendi ve bu nedenle kongreye katılamadılar. Bu nedenle kongreyi toplamak için Mudafaa-i Hukuk-u Milliye Cemiyeti Erzurum Şubesi’nin çabalarına ek olarak Mustafa Kemal Paşa’nın da ciddi girişimlerde bulunması gerekiyordu. Her vilayete açık telgraf gönderilmesinin yanı sıra, şifreli telgraflarla vali ve komutanlara da duyurular yapılmıştır. Sonunda yeterli sayıda temsilci getirildi ve kongre toplandı.

The Erzurum Congress, which was held in the atmosphere created by these conditions, was a congress prepared jointly by the Erzurum Branch of the Vilâyat-ı Şarkiye Müdafaa-i Hukuk-u Milliye Cemiyeti Cemiyeti Erzurum Branch and Trabzon Muhafaza-i Hukuk Cemiyeti; in the administrative division of that day, it was convened with a total of 62 members with the participation of 17 delegates from the Eastern Black Sea provinces and districts covered by Trabzon, 25 from the provinces and districts covered by Erzurum, 14 from the provinces and districts covered by Sivas, 4 from Bitlis and 2 from Van. If today’s administrative division is taken into consideration, the selection of members covers nearly 30 Eastern Anatolian and Eastern Black Sea provinces and their districts.

With the convening of the Erzurum Congress and the beginning of its activities, the Palace and the Government in Istanbul launched an intensive activity to strangle this voice of liberation rising in Anatolia. Agencies announced that Mustafa Kemal was a rebel who rebelled against the state and that the Erzurum Congress was convened illegally. Every measure was taken to arrest Mustafa Kemal Pasha. Although the Istanbul Government ordered the Erzurum Congress to be disbanded and the participants of the congress to be arrested and sent to the Istanbul Court Martial, no authority dared to fulfill this order in the national atmosphere that enveloped the individuals of the nation.

The Erzurum Congress, which was convened under such difficult conditions, with a true love for the homeland and risking all kinds of dangers, became an important turning point in Turkish history. The first foundations of the Turkish War of Independence were laid in this congress, and the historical decisions taken constituted the basic rules of the National Struggle. Erzurum Congress decisions can be summarized as follows:

1- The eastern provinces and Trabzon and Canik (Samsun) sanjak are a whole that cannot be separated from the Ottoman community for any reason or pretext.

This meant that neither the eastern provinces could be separated from the motherland for the sake of Armenia nor the Black Sea provinces for the sake of Pontus. This decision was the first fundamental warning against those who wanted to divide the homeland and the nation.

2- The nation will unitedly defend and resist any foreign occupation and intervention.

With this article, it was declared that the nation firmly rejected all kinds of occupation and intervention and would resist in unity. No occupation and intervention against the homeland would go unanswered. The nation was determined to repel the occupation in unity.

3-If the Government of Istanbul is unable to protect and secure the homeland and independence, a provisional government will be established in Anatolia in order to ensure the goal.

The state and attitude of the Istanbul Government was clear; it was weak and incompetent. It had surrendered the country to the victorious states with the Armistice Treaty of Mudros. Only a government based on the national will could save the country from the edge of the abyss; this was to be realized. In a sense, the Erzurum Congress was the first step towards this goal.

4- It is essential to make the Kuva-yi Milliye effective and the national will sovereign.

The national forces intended by Kuva-yi Milliye were national forces, a national army that would emerge from the bosom of the nation. This army would definitely achieve victory for the sacred cause of the nation, in line with the desires and tendencies of the nation. Making the national will dominant was also a democratic principle. It was impossible not to sense the first sparks of the republican regime in this principle.

5- Christian minorities cannot be granted privileges that disrupt our political sovereignty and social balance.

Minorities in the country had occasionally attempted to claim political sovereignty. Such behaviors, which would disrupt the integrity of the country and disintegrate the homeland, were not to be allowed. Minorities were not to be granted economic, legal and cultural privileges and supremacies – of whatever kind – that disrupt our social balance.

6- Mandate and patronage cannot be accepted.

The Turkish nation had taken up arms for its independence by risking everything. It did not expect favor and help from anyone; it did not ask for mercy from foreign states. Independence was to be realized at all costs. The motto was “Independence or death!” 7- Efforts will be made to convene the National Assembly immediately and to carry out the governmental affairs under its supervision.

The National Assembly, which had been dissolved by the pressure of the Entente States and the sultan’s edict, should be convened immediately, and all decisions of the government concerning the destiny of the nation and the country should be subjected to the control of the National Assembly. Only in this way would the government decisions be valid.

8- The Turkish nation celebrates humanitarian and modern goals and appreciates our technological, industrial and economic situation and needs.

With this sentence, the open spirit of the Turkish nation to innovations was expressed. It was meant to say that the Turkish nation is a nation that knows and comprehends the value of humanitarian and civilized goals. As a matter of fact, when Atatürk started the great revolutions that changed the face of the nation: “The aim of the revolutions we have made and are making is to turn our nation into a civilized society in every respect. This is the basic principle of our revolutions. “17 The statement “Our nation appreciates our technological, industrial and economic situation and our need” in the resolution clearly pointed to the development initiatives to be taken in the future in order to turn a dilapidated country into a prosperous one.

9- The organization, which was formed by the unification of societies born out of national conscience due to the sufferings faced by the homeland and for the same purpose, was named as “Eastern Anatolia Mudafaa-i Hukuk Cemiyeti”.

With this article, the national societies operating both in Trabzon and in the Eastern region were united under the same roof, under the name of “Eastern Anatolia Mudafaa-i Hukuk Cemiyeti”.

10- A delegation was elected by the Congress.

With this article, a board with the title of “Heyet-i Temsiliye” was formed to execute the decisions of the congress and to represent the Erzurum Congress in the works to be carried out after the congress.

With these historic decisions, the Erzurum Congress ceased to be a regional congress and greatly influenced all the events that would develop after it. Because the decisions of the Sivas Congress were based on the decisions of the Erzurum Congress. The decisions of the Erzurum Congress were the basis of the Misak-ı Milli. The justification for the convening of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey was based on the decisions of the Erzurum Congress. The spirit of the Treaties of Mudanya and Lausanne, which defended independence, was inspired by the decisions of the Erzurum Congress. The spirit of the Republican regime was based on making the national will sovereign. And finally, with the sentence “Our nation celebrates humanitarian and modern goals”, the first sparks of Atatürk’s revolutions sparkled at the Erzurum Congress. Mustafa Kemal Pasha, in his closing speech, said “History will undoubtedly record this congress of ours as a rare and great work” for the Erzurum Congress, which was so important in terms of its results.

On August 7, 1919, the Erzurum Congress ended its work by electing a 9-person Delegation of Representatives, which would exercise all powers on its behalf. Now a great task awaited the Delegation and its chairman; not to extinguish the spark that shone in the Erzurum Congress, to turn it into a torch in Sivas and to ensure that the national liberation marches with more confident steps! For this reason, it was Mustafa Kemal Pasha’s success to connect the Erzurum Congress, which was convened for the fate of the eastern provinces, to the Sivas Congress, which concerned the whole country, and to give the National Struggle a wider scope on the surface of the country.

In the days leading up to the Sivas Congress, the harsh armistice conditions in the country were still continuing with all their bitterness. The unfair and unjust implementation of the Armistice Treaty of Mudros against our nation, the advance of the Greeks, who had landed in Izmir, into Anatolia with the encouragement of the Allied Powers, and the occupation of various cities followed one another during the days of the Sivas Congress. It was in such an atmosphere that Mustafa Kemal Pasha arrived in Sivas from Erzurum on September 2, 1919 to attend the Sivas Congress together with some members of the delegation. Sivas welcomed the leader of the National Struggle with unprecedented displays of love and enthusiastic joy.

Sivas Congress convened on September 4, 1919 in the hall of a large building, which was then used as a high school, with the participation of 38 delegates. Mustafa Kemal Pasha was elected president in the first session. The Congress continued for 8 days and ended its work on September 11, 1919 by issuing a declaration following the election of the delegation.

After the Erzurum Congress, the convening of such an important congress representing the whole country in Sivas was especially related to the strategic situation of the city. This city, located in the middle of Anatolia, was not under occupation despite the presence of some officers representing the Entente States in accordance with the terms of the armistice. In terms of transportation, Sivas was at a crossroads where Anatolian roads converged: it could be connected to various Anatolian cities in one way or another, as far as the possibilities of that day allowed. In addition to all these advantages, the Sivas Branch of the Society of Mudafaa-i Hukuk was well organized in the city.

The Sivas Congress, which took place under the severe conditions the country was in, was a national congress convened directly upon the call of Mustafa Kemal. Of the 38 members of the Congress, 32 were members from Western and Central Anatolian provinces and 6 were members of the Delegation. Thus, the delegates elected from the Western and Central Anatolian provinces and the Delegation representing the Eastern provinces gave the Sivas Congress a nationwide breadth and integrity.

It should be noted as a historical fact that during the convening of the Sivas Congress -just like the Erzurum Congress- the Istanbul Government and some administrators affiliated to it created great obstacles. For this reason, delegates could not be selected from Ankara and some other cities due to the pressure of the governorship; delegates selected from some provinces were prevented from traveling due to the same pressure, and consequently could not attend the congress. Brüno, the French Gendarmerie Inspector in Sivas, also exerted pressure to prevent the Sivas Congress from convening. He met with Governor Reşit Pasha and informed him that Sivas would be occupied and the congress would be disbanded if such a congress took place. The British also threatened to invade Sivas via Samsun. However, all these threats proved fruitless in the face of Mustafa Kemal’s determination that overcame every difficulty.

As it had done during the Erzurum Congress, the Istanbul government tried with all its might to arrest Mustafa Kemal during the days of the Sivas Congress. With telegrams sent to almost every governor of Anatolia, it was demanded that Mustafa Kemal be arrested and sent to Istanbul at all costs. In order to realize this, new appointments were made to governorships and mutasarriflıks. However, none of the administrators dared to fulfill the demands of the Istanbul Government amidst the rising national will and national mood.

Another important feature of the Sivas Congress was that the delegates swore at the congress that they would not pursue any personal goal other than the liberation of the homeland and the happiness of the nation, and that they would not serve the aims of any of the existing political parties. Thus, it was clearly stated that the National Struggle was not carried out in the name of any political party, and that it was a movement aiming to save the nation and the country. The decisions of the Sivas Congress can be summarized as follows:

1- The parts of the homeland within the national borders are a whole; they cannot be separated from each other.

The previously convened Erzurum Congress had declared that the Eastern Anatolia and Eastern Black Sea provinces could not be separated from the motherland for any reason or pretext. The Sivas Congress, with its full authority, extended this decision to the whole country.

2- The nation will defend and resist all kinds of occupation and intervention as a united nation.

The main danger that called the Erzurum Congress to convene was the Pontic Greek State, which was planned to be established in the Eastern Black Sea Region, and the danger of an Armenia that would include the Eastern Anatolian provinces. The Sivas Congress, taking into account the Greek danger coming from the west, clearly announced to the whole world that no occupation and intervention against the homeland would go unanswered.

3- If the Istanbul Government is forced to abandon any part of our country in the face of external pressure, all measures and decisions have been taken to ensure the independence and integrity of the homeland.

With this article, it was clearly stated that the nation would not remain indifferent to any decision or behavior of the Istanbul Government against the interests of the nation, and that a government based on national will would be established immediately if necessary.

4- It is essential to make the Kuva-yi Milliye effective and the national will sovereign.

This principle, established at the Erzurum Congress, was reinforced at the Sivas Congress. The only force that could save the country was the national army. This army would fight in line with the will and tendencies of the nation, and independence would be realized. The nation had now taken its sovereignty into its own hands; it recognized no power other than its own will. This was the basis of the future republican regime.

5- Christian minorities will not be granted privileges that disrupt our political sovereignty and social balance.

This article, which was also included in the decisions of the Erzurum Congress, was reinforced by the Sivas Congress.

6- Mandate and protection cannot be accepted.

This principle, which was decided at the Erzurum Congress, was confirmed by the Sivas Congress and made the basic rule of the National Struggle. The motto of the national liberation movement was “Independence or death!” without taking refuge at the mercy of any state.

7- The National Assembly must be convened immediately to represent the national will.

This request, which was also stated in the decisions of the Erzurum Congress, was shown as an absolute necessity. Otherwise, government decisions would not reflect the national will.

8- Our nation celebrates humanitarian and civilized goals and appreciates our technological, industrial and economic situation and needs.

With this article, which was also included in the decisions of the Erzurum Congress, it was stated that our nation stood by humanitarian and civilized goals; it was intended to be explained that we knew our technological, industrial and economic situation and our needs and that we would turn towards development breakthroughs for this purpose in the future.

9- With the same purpose, the associations arising from the national conscience were united under the name of “Anatolia and Rumelia Mudafaa-i Hukuk Cemiyeti”. The Erzurum Congress had gathered the national associations in the Eastern Anatolia and Eastern Black Sea regions under the name of “Eastern Anatolia Society of Mudafaa-i Hukuk”. The Sivas Congress gave this organization nationwide integrity, including all Anatolian and Rumelia national associations.

10- A Delegation of Representation was elected by the Congress to manage the sacred purpose and the general organization. Erzurum Congress had elected a delegation of 9 members representing the Eastern provinces. The Sivas Congress expanded the “Delegation of Representation” by electing 6 more people, thus creating a board that had the sole say in the destiny of the country until the opening of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey.

Sivas Congress is a congress of great importance in our Revolutionary History in terms of expanding the decisions of Erzurum Congress and giving these decisions a quality covering the whole country. Since its members included almost all provinces, it was a national congress that drew the destiny of Turkey at the beginning of the National Struggle and declared to the world that the whole nation was united as one.

After the Sivas Congress, Mustafa Kemal Pasha’s aim was to convene a parliament consisting of representatives of the nation in Anatolia as soon as possible and to manage the National Struggle from a center with the government to be established by this parliament. In order to accomplish this great task, he worked faithfully as the President of the Delegation of Representatives after the Sivas Congress, overcoming all obstacles to expand and strengthen the national organization. During this period, the Istanbul Government, which was looking for a basis for contact and agreement with Mustafa Kemal and the Delegation, sent Salih Pasha, the Minister of Navy, to meet with him in Amasya between October 20-22, 1919 and convinced him to convene a National Assembly. This meeting is known as the “Amasya Meeting” in our Revolutionary History. Although Mustafa Kemal wanted the Assembly to convene in Anatolia, the Assembly convened in Istanbul on January 12, 1920. However, it could not operate continuously due to the pressure of the British; in the meantime, it accepted and declared the principles of the Erzurum and Sivas Congresses as “Misak-ı Milli” on February 17, 1920.

Mustafa Kemal Paşa, bazı arkadaşları ve Heyet üyeleri ile 27 Aralık 1919’da Ankara’ya geldi. Milli Mücadele artık Ankara’dan yönetiliyordu ve İstanbul’dan birçok askeri ve sivil vatansever Kurtuluş Savaşı’na katılmak için Ankara’ya geliyordu. Bir süre sonra, 16 Mart 1920’de İstanbul İtilaf Devletleri tarafından fiilen işgal edildi; tamamen askeri kontrol altındaydı. Aynı günün gecesi İngiliz askerleri Meclis’e gelerek bazı milletvekillerini tutukladı. Bu şartlar altında 12 Ocak 1920’de açılan Meclis, çalışamayacağını anlamış ve çalışmalarına ara verme kararı almıştır.

Upon the occupation of Istanbul, Mustafa Kemal instructed the governorships and corps commands on March 19, 1920 to hastily elect new representatives to an assembly with extraordinary powers to be convened in Ankara. The elections were quickly concluded and on April 23, 1920, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey was opened in Ankara with representatives from every region of the country. Mustafa Kemal was elected as the president of this assembly representing the will and sovereignty of the nation and its government and became the military, political and social leader of the Turkish independence struggle in all respects. The circumstances of the country and the task that was placed on his shoulders were indeed very heavy, because he was leading the life-and-death struggle, the struggle for independence of a nation that was wanted to be erased from history.

Upon the opening of the National Assembly in Ankara and the establishment of a national government, the Sultan and the Istanbul Government tried to undermine the National Struggle to a greater extent. The armies of the caliph and the sultan were sent to Anatolia to disperse the national forces, which were being formed with thousands of sacrifices, and the heroes of the National Struggle, especially Mustafa Kemal, were considered rebels and sentenced to death. In some regions of Anatolia, internal rebellions led by deceived people such as Anzavur, Çopur Musa, Postman Nâzım, Delibaş Mehmet were continuing. On the other hand, the Greeks, who had landed in Izmir, were preparing to attack the interior of Anatolia. Since the organized army was officially disbanded and its weapons were taken away with the Armistice Treaty of Mondros, only local forces and volunteer detachments were resisting the enemy in the occupied regions.

Despite all these internal and external difficulties and difficult conditions, the Government of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey dominated the situation in a short time and started to achieve great successes on various fronts against the enemy forces. On the Eastern Front, our forces under the command of Kâzım Karabekir, Commander of the 15th Corps, launched an offensive against the Armenians who had occupied Oltu, Sarıkamış and Kars on September 28, 1920 and defeated the Armenian Republic army headquartered in Yerevan, and Sarıkamış was recaptured on September 29, 1920 and Kars on October 30, 1920. Upon the Armenians’ request for peace, the Treaty of Gyumri was signed on December 2/3, 1920, ending the war on this front. Georgia was forced to evacuate Ardahan and Artvin, which they had occupied.

On the Southern Front, there were fierce clashes between French troops and local forces in Adana, Urfa, Antep and Maraş regions. As a result, the French were forced to withdraw from Maraş on February 12, 1920 and from Urfa on April 11, 1920. On October 20, 1921, the “Ankara Treaty” with the French led to the liberation of Adana, Mersin, Antep and some other cities. On the Western Front, the Greeks launched a general attack on June 22, 1920, taking advantage of the difficult conditions in which the Government of Ankara found itself, and occupied Bursa on July 8, 1920 and Uşak on August 29, 1920, breaking through the Kuva-yi Milliye front, which was mostly composed of volunteers. Meanwhile, the Sultan and the Istanbul Government signed the Treaty of Sevres with the Entente Powers on August 10, 1920, dealing a heavy blow to the National Struggle and in a sense uniting with our external enemies.

Rumlar Batı Cephesinde ilerlerken ve pek çok bölgemiz kuvvetsizlikten işgal edilirken, Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi Başkanı Mustafa Kemal Paşa cephe komutanlarıyla bir araya gelerek düzenli bir nizam kurulması gerektiğini bildirdi. yerel gönüllü güçler yerine ordu. Çünkü olaylar, Milli Mücadele’nin başarısının, dağılan tüm güçlerin tek bir otorite altında toplanmasına bağlı olduğunu göstermiştir; bu, ulusal müfrezelerin, milis kuvvetlerinin ve gönüllü örgütlerin ordu içinde düzenli birliklere dönüştürülmesini gerektiriyordu. Bundan böyle çeteler biçimindeki dağınık savaşlar sona erecek ve tüm milli müfrezeler ve gönüllü kuvvetler ordu içinde disiplinli bir eğitime tabi tutulacaktı.

Upon this decision, Mustafa Kemal Pasha, the President of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, Fevzi Çakmak Pasha, the Minister of National Defense, and Colonel İsmet Bey, the Chief of General Staff and Commander of the Western Front, devoted all their efforts to the realization of a regular army. This period was indeed the most turbulent and difficult months in the history of our National Struggle.

It is now late December 1920. Many national detachments and volunteer organizations were rapidly gathering within the national army. However, Circassian Ethem and his brothers, who had a large force at their disposal, did not want to remain loyal to the Western Front forces, and chose to follow an independent policy. Spoiled by the success they had achieved during the difficult times of the National Struggle, they were dismissing and replacing civil servants in the regions they were in, and making appointments according to their own wishes. As the Western Front was organized into regular forces under a single command, the uneasiness of Çerkez Ethem and his brothers increased; in addition to opposing the Western Front Command, they did not hesitate to speak against the Ankara Government and even the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Their attitude had now turned into a rebellion against the national government.

The situation was really delicate. In order to ensure unity of command and command in the regular army, which had been established with a lot of effort and devotion, this problem had to be resolved decisively. As long as the forces loyal to Ethem remained in the army, no victory could be achieved, on the contrary, these rebel forces would hinder the army in every success. Therefore, the Government decided to eliminate the forces of Çerkez Ethem. On December 29, 1920, Colonel İsmet Bey, Commander of the Western Front, and Colonel Refet Bey, Commander of the Southern Front, moved forward to eliminate Çerkez Ethem and his forces. The forces of Çerkez Ethem in the Kütahya region retreated to Gediz upon the occupation of Kütahya by the Western Front forces. When the national forces pursued the rebels and occupied Gediz on January 5, 1921, the forces of Çerkez Ethem were forced to retreat in the direction of Simav.

Now the most dramatic moments of the National Struggle were taking place. In order to suppress the rebellion of Circassian Ethem, the Western Front forces had moved far away from their old battle positions and had come as far as Gediz. The Greeks, who were informed that the Western Front forces were moving away from their positions due to the pursuit of Çerkez Ethem, took this difficult and difficult moment of the Ankara Government as a great opportunity for themselves and on January 6, 1921, they started a rapid forward march from both Bursa and Uşak Fronts. Their aim was to suddenly overwhelm and defeat the Turkish forces in their weakened positions, and then seize Eskişehir and Afyon to open the road to Ankara. If this plan was realized, it would supposedly be possible to strangle the eight-month-old Ankara Government in its birthplace and easily eliminate it.

Both Eskişehir and Afyon, which the Greeks had chosen as targets of attack, were important military junctions. The loss of these cities meant that important railroads would also fall into enemy hands. Especially, if the enemy columns advancing from Bursa and Uşak Fronts had the opportunity to unite in front of Kütahya, they could have hit our forces left behind against Çerkez Ethem from behind. This was the dire outcome that would occur in the event of our defeat.

Upon this critical situation that developed with the attack of the Greeks, the Commanders of the Western and Southern Fronts evaluated the situation and decided to suspend the pursuit of Çerkez Ethem and to send most of our forces that had reached Kütahya and Gediz to the İnönü positions without delay. However, there was a distance of 3 days between the Gediz and Kütahya regions where the Western Front forces were now located and the İnönü positions. If the Greeks could reach the Inönü positions before we did, they would be able to march all the way to Eskişehir without encountering any resistance. In that case, the task for us was to reach the Inönü positions at full speed and stop the advancing enemy here. For this purpose, some forces against Çerkez Ethem and his brothers were left in the Kütahya region and the rest of the forces were moved to the İnönü positions. The newly formed 4th Division in Ankara was also called to the Western Front in order to further reinforce the Inönü positions against almost three times the enemy force. On the morning of January 9, 1921, our forces moving from Kütahya and Gediz reached the İnönü positions.

On the other hand, the Greeks also advanced rapidly and occupied Çivril and Pazarcık on January 8, 1921, and Bilecik and Bozüyük on the morning of January 9. However, despite all these invasions, difficult conditions and the necessity to fight against two different enemies, the belief of the leaders of the National Struggle, especially Mustafa Kemal Pasha, that the outcome would end in victory was never shaken. On January 8, 1921, Mustafa Kemal Pasha said the following from the rostrum of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey: “Gentlemen! Whether our enemies inside and outside are many or few, whatever the extent of their activities, the final success will remain with those who pursue a just cause. “18 The Battle of Inönü I began in the afternoon of January 9, 1921 with a fierce attack by the Greeks from the Bozüyük direction. The Inönü positions, named after a small village, were now the scene of a battle that would be a turning point in the Turkish War of Independence.

On the first day of the war, fierce battles took place between the Western Front forces and the Greeks. The Turkish soldiers fought for their lives; every attack of the Greeks was repulsed by a counter-attack and they were not allowed to advance. Apparently, the enemy had not found what they had hoped for. Instead of empty fronts at the Inönü positions, they were surprised to encounter infantry and artillery fire from the Turkish forces. The battle continued in full intensity from morning until evening on January 10. This morning, Colonel İsmet Bey, the Commander of the Western Front, arrived on the battlefield from Gediz and began to direct the battle himself under fire. At one point, a regiment of Greek forces, taking advantage of a gap in our positions, managed to penetrate as far north as Inönü station, where the Western Front Headquarters was located. In the face of this critical situation, the headquarters of the front was quickly moved from the station to the village of İnönü and this part of the front was reinforced by shifting forces.

To this day, our troops have been facing the incessant enemy attacks without a moment’s retreat, leaving no chance for the Greeks to advance. Undoubtedly, our army suffered heavy losses in the face of these attacks, but it did not fail to defend its sacred homeland at all costs. At the end of the fierce battles that continued for two days, it was the enemy who was exhausted and whose strength was shattered; he realized that he could not and would not achieve any success from his attacks. Now, there was only one thing for them to do: Retreat! Indeed, with the decision they made on the night of January 10, 1921, the Greek forces began to retreat in the direction of Bursa as of the morning of January 11.

Bu zafer müjdesi üzerine Büyük Millet Meclisi Başkanı Mustafa Kemal Paşa, 11 Ocak 1921 tarihinde Batı Cephesi Komutanı Albay İsmet Bey’e şu telgrafı göndermiştir: kutsal topraklarımızı düşman işgalinden tamamen kurtaracak kesin zaferin uğurlu bir başlangıcıdır ve Batı Cephesi’nin tüm subay ve adamlarını bu zaferden dolayı tebrik ediyorum. Bunu II. İnönü, Sakarya, 26 Ağustos ve 30 Ağustos gibi daha büyük zaferler takip edecekti. Artık Çerkez Ethem güçlerini kaldıkları yerden takip etme zamanı gelmişti. Hızlı bir ileri operasyon başlatıldı ve bu isyancı güçler tamamen ortadan kaldırıldı. Çerkez Ethem ve kardeşleri son çare olarak Rumlara sığındı. Bu isyanın bastırılmasıyla milli orduda komuta komuta birliği tam olarak sağlanmıştır.

The I. İnönü Victory had a great impact both inside and outside the country and caused great political developments. It was after this victory that despair was drowned, the newly established state began to stand on unshakable foundations, and on January 20, 1921, our first Constitution was adopted by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Again, with this victory, public order and confidence were restored in the country, and efforts to establish a regular army were accelerated.

The external effects of the I. İnönü Victory were also important. With this victory, the regular army was giving its first test against the enemy and demonstrating its invincible will. This victory showed to foreign states that the national government was now a significant entity. Due to these developments, the Entente Powers invited the Ankara Government along with the Istanbul Government to the London Conference convened on February 21, 1921. However, the real owner of the victory was the Ankara Government. For this reason, the Ankara delegates were not included in the Ottoman delegation but formed a separate team to defend the national cause. So much so that the chief Ottoman delegate, Grand Vizier Tevfık Pasha, had to leave the right to speak at the conference to the representatives of the Ankara Government. As a result of these developments, the Entente Powers had to prepare a new peace proposal. Again, thanks to the foreign prestige that the I. Inönü Victory brought to the national government, the “Moscow Treaty” was signed with Soviet Russia on March 16, 1921. In London, there were also some negotiations with France and Italy for peace.

Ancak Yunanlılar bu yenilgiden ders almamış ve 23 Mart 1921’de aynı cephelerden tekrar ileri harekata başlamışlardır. Yunanlılar İnönü mevzilerinde, tıpkı birincisi gibi. 31 Mart 1921’de Batı Cephesi kuvvetlerinin karşı saldırısı sonucu Yunanlılar geri çekilmeye başlamış; 1 Nisan 1921’de binlerce ölüyle doldurdukları savaş alanını yeniden silahlarımıza bırakmak zorunda kaldılar. Sonuç olarak, II olarak adlandırılan Batı Cephesinde Yunanlara karşı bir büyük başarı daha kazanıldı. İnönü Zaferi. Mustafa Kemal Paşa, bu zaferi üzerine Batı Cephesi Komutanı İsmet Paşa’ya bir tebrik telgrafı gönderdi: “

It is now early July 1921. In order to realize the Treaty of Sèvres, which was rejected by the Ankara Government, the Greeks were preparing for a new attack against the Turks by constantly landing forces on Anatolian soil. Finally, on July 10, 1921, this general enemy attack began with reinforced forces all along the Western Front. As the operation progressed, there were fierce battles between the Greek and Turkish forces. However, the Greeks, who outnumbered the Turkish forces in terms of both manpower and equipment, occupied many places; Afyon, Eskişehir, Kütahya and Bilecik fell into enemy hands one after another.

Upon these ominous news from the front, Mustafa Kemal Pasha, the President of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, arrived at the Western Front Headquarters in Karacahisar from Ankara on July 18, 1921. In the face of the Greek advance with supported forces, he saw the need to determine a new strategy to prevent further losses for the Turkish army, which had limited means under the conditions of the day, and gave the following directive to İsmet Pasha, the Commander of the Front: “After gathering the army to the north and south of Eskişehir, it is necessary to put a distance between the enemy army so that it will be possible to organize and strengthen the army. For this purpose, it is appropriate to retreat to the east of Sakarya!”21 After this decision, the Turkish army on the Western Front began to march back and completely withdrew to the east of the Sakarya River on July 25, 1921. This decision was a correct behavior in terms of war management; because if our forces, which had suffered losses and diminished, had resisted against the Greek attacks, which were constantly supported, for a long time without withdrawing from the positions they held, it would have been the cause of greater losses.

In these battles, which are known as the “Kütahya-Eskişehir Wars” in our Revolutionary History and which resulted in our retreat to the east of Sakarya, our army suffered heavy losses against the Greek forces, which outnumbered them twice as much, and nearly 40,000 of our armed forces were destroyed, including martyrs, wounded and missing during both the battles and the retreat. We also suffered great losses in vehicles and equipment.

During the days of our army’s retreat to the east of the Sakarya River, the Council of Ministers decided to transfer the Government Center from Ankara to Kayseri as a precaution against a new Greek attack, but it was necessary to obtain approval from the Parliament. The government decision was announced in the secret session of the Grand National Assembly. The Assembly was in an uproar: “Did we come here to run away or to fight the enemy!” The representatives of the nation refused to surrender Ankara without a fight; the aim was to fight to the last hill. After enthusiastic speeches, the Assembly did not accept the transfer to Kayseri; on the contrary, it decided to defend Ankara and to make the necessary preparations for this.

Tüm bu zor koşullara ve Sakarya’nın doğusuna çekilmeye rağmen, başta Mustafa Kemal Paşa olmak üzere Milli Mücadele’nin önde gelen liderlerinin, düşmana kesin bir darbe indireceğine dair inancı hiçbir zaman sarsılmadı. Mustafa Kemal Paşa’ya göre: “Çok uzak olmayan bir gelecekte, önümüzde duran Yunan ordusu tükenecek ve sonunda yıkımı mümkün hale gelecekti.”22 Ancak başarının en önemli şartı herkesin bu sonuca inanmasıydı. ve tüm maddi ve manevi güçlerini vatan savunmasına yönlendirmek. Ayrıca ordumuzun düşmanın istediği yerde değil, bizim istediğimiz yerde kesin bir savaşa gireceği ve kesin darbeyi orada vuracağı unutulmamalıdır. Bu konuda, Gerektiğinde geri çekilmenin ve bazı yerleri düşmana bırakmanın pek bir önemi yoktu. Askerliğin gereklerini kararsız bir şekilde uygulamak gerekiyordu.

However, despite the belief of the leaders, the demoralization caused by the withdrawal to the east of Sakarya was also reflected in the Parliament. This heavy loss and withdrawal, which occurred while a new army was being formed, inevitably caused tremors, and some circles were rightly worried and uneasy. In this atmosphere, on August 4, 1921, in the secret session of the Grand National Assembly, there were exciting discussions on the military situation and the formation of the Commander-in-Chief. The deputies were searching for the last solution that would revitalize the tired army and save the country from this predicament. This remedy is Mustafa Kemal’s de facto command of the army. Because he is a commander who has not been defeated in all the wars he has participated in. For this reason, all the discussions were united in the opinion that he should take over as commander-in-chief. His opponents as well as his supporters wanted him to take charge of the army. The vast majority of the Assembly, his supporters, were of the opinion that this was the only solution for salvation, that there was no other way out. Some deputies sincerely exclaimed: “You are an important commander! You are a great soldier and you proved it in the Battle of Çanakkale. Now what day are you saving yourself for? The enemy has reached Sakarya, what day are you saving yourself for? “23 These cries were indeed the voice of the national will and invited the great hero to actually lead the army.

As for the opponents, by giving the post of commander-in-chief to Mustafa Kemal Pasha, they, too, were aiming to put all the responsibility that would develop in an environment where they had already accepted that there was no hope of salvation on his shoulders.

These discussions, which started on August 4, 1921, continued with the same excitement the next day. Mustafa Kemal Pasha first stayed out of the discussions. However, against the possibility that his not speaking and not revealing his attitude clearly might be interpreted as him being hopeless about the future, and against this insistence of the national will, which did not want to see him as Commander-in-Chief, he submitted the following motion to the Presidency of the Assembly: “I accept the position of Commander-in-Chief upon the wishes and requests of the honorable members of the Assembly, on the condition that I actually use the powers possessed by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in order to obtain the benefits that will arise from taking this duty upon myself as soon as possible and to increase the material and spiritual strength of the army as soon as possible and to strengthen its administration one more time. In order to confirm once again in the eyes of the nation that I have been the most loyal servant of national sovereignty throughout my life, I would also like this authority to be limited to a short period of 3 months. “24

Bu önerge, Parlamentonun yetkilerini kullanmak istemesi nedeniyle bazı itirazlara yol açtı. Ancak durum, bir ölüm kalım mücadelesi gibi olağanüstüydü. Bu şartlar altında Mustafa Kemal Paşa’nın kabul ettiği görev gerçekten çok büyük ve önemliydi, yani Türk milletinin kaderiyle ilgiliydi. Düşmana karşı cephede en hızlı ve en isabetli kararları gecikmeksizin vermek ancak Meclisin yetkilerini ivedilikle kullanmakla mümkün olmuştur. Mustafa Kemal Paşa önergesinde, Meclis’in kendisine verilecek yetkisinin 3 ay ile sınırlandırılmasını talep ederek milli iradeye sarsılmaz saygısını gösterdi. Son olarak, Meclis bu isteğinde onu haklı buldu. Müzakereler sonucunda 5 Ağustos 1921’de ” Mustafa Kemal Paşa’ya askeri konularda Meclisin yetkilerini kullanmak kaydıyla 3 ay süreyle Başkomutanlık veren Kanun” TBMM’de oybirliğiyle kabul edildi. Milletin ve ülkenin kaderi üzerinde doğrudan kontrolü olan tek yüce güç olan Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi, cumhurbaşkanı Mustafa Kemal Paşa’yı Başkomutan olarak atadı. Ordunun maddî ve manevî gücünü artırmaya ve idaresini bir kez daha güçlendirmeye ve Meclis adına Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisinin yetkisini kullanmaya Başkomutan yetkilidir. Bu unvan ve yetki üç ay ile sınırlıdır. Meclis gerekli görürse, bu sürenin bitiminden önce bu unvan ve yetkisini geri alabilir. “25

Mustafa Kemal Pasha came to the rostrum of the Assembly after he was given the Commander-in-Chief position by law. Expressing once again his unwavering belief that the country would be liberated from enemy invasion, he gave the following assurance to the Assembly “Gentlemen! My belief and confidence that we will definitely defeat the enemies who want to enslave our poor nation with the help of God has not been shaken for a minute. At this moment, I declare this firm belief to your high committee, to the whole nation and to the whole world. “26 The Commander-in-Chief issued a declaration to the army and the nation on the same day. This declaration included the following sentences: “… The Assembly, which has entrusted me with this duty, and the absolute will of the nation as manifested in this Assembly, will constitute the center of my course of action. This absolute will, which cannot be changed for any reason or in any way, is to destroy the enemy army by any means whatsoever and to attain liberation and independence by suffocating this army, consisting of the armed forces of all Greece, in the sacred hearth of our motherland. “27

The Commander-in-Chief has now made his plan and has begun to implement it decisively. The aim was to take all measures that would lead to success as soon as possible. Within this framework, 10 “Tekâlif-i Milliye (National Tax) orders were issued on August 7 and 8, 1921 with the signature of the Commander-in-Chief. According to these orders, a “National Tax Commission” was established in each district. Each household was asked to pay one layer of laundry, one pair of socks and one pair of sandals for the army. Forty percent of the stocks held by the merchants for the army’s equipment needs were confiscated, to be paid for after the victory. Everyone was to give forty percent of their stocks of grain, livestock and fodder to the army, again to be paid for later. All weapons and ammunition suitable for warfare in the hands of the people were to be delivered to the army warehouse within 3 days. A list of the blacksmiths, foundrymen, carpenters and industrial factories in the country was to be drawn up and the names of their owners identified. Thus, the whole country was invited to an extraordinary preparation for the future victory; the nation and the army were preparing for a great war hand in hand. After the Commander-in-Chief issued the National Tax orders, he arrived at the Front Headquarters in Polatlı from Ankara on August 12, 1921; Mustafa Kemal Pasha was now at the front and de facto in charge of the Turkish army.

On August 13, 1921, the Greek army resumed its forward march towards the Turkish positions at Sakarya. On August 15, 1921, the Greek King Constantine ordered his armies “To Ankara!”. The Greeks, advancing non-stop, occupied some of our cities and towns and finally came to our defense line at Sakarya.

23 Ağustos 1921’de Yunan ordusunun taarruzuyla Sakarya Meydan Muharebesi başladı. Yunan saldırısı, düşmana ağır kayıplar vererek cephenin birçok yerinde güçlerimiz tarafından durduruldu; Ancak, takviye edilmiş Yunan kuvvetlerinin bazı önemli mevzilerimizi ele geçirdiği, Polatlı’ya yaklaştığı ve Ankara’da top sesleri duyulduğu zamanlar oldu. Türk mevzileri birçok noktada aşılmış olsa da her nokta inatla savunulmuş, kaybedilen her hattın arkasında yeni bir savunma hattı oluşturularak Rumların ilerlemesi engellenmiştir. Zira Başkomutan savaş stratejisi için 26 Ağustos 1921’de birliklerine şu emri vermişti: “Savunma hattı yok, savunma yüzeyi var. O yüzey bütün vatandır. Vatanın her karış toprağı, vatandaşın kanıyla ıslanmadan terk edilemez. Bu nedenle, küçük veya büyük her birim, konumundan atılabilir. Ama küçük büyük her birlik, ilk durduğu noktada tekrar düşmana karşı cephe oluşturacak ve savaşa devam edecektir. Yanındaki birliğin geri çekilmek zorunda kaldığını gören birlikler onları takip edemez. Pozisyonunu korumak ve sonuna kadar direnmek zorundadır.28

This rule put forward by the Commander-in-Chief Mustafa Kemal Pasha, which is of great importance in terms of war management, was applied in Sakarya and the sacred homeland lands were defended to the end by forming a new defense line behind every lost line without delay. The enemy was waging war behind every hill they overcame with the delusion of “Ankara is there!”, while Mustafa Kemal Pasha was luring the Greek forces to the sacred hearth of the country, where he would deliver the final blow. Finally, the enemy’s power of attack and the strength and power of advance began to be exhausted. The Greek troops had moved far away from their main positions and had actually fallen into the sacred hearth of the Turks. Now, it was the Turks’ turn to attack. Starting on September 10, 1921, our counter-attack inflicted heavy losses on the enemy, and as a result of this attack, the Greeks began to retreat to the west. Mustafa Kemal Pasha, the Commander-in-Chief, who did not leave the front throughout the entire war, occasionally appeared at the most advanced positions and even entered the line of fire. The sight of the Commander-in-Chief at the most advanced line, next to the attacking troops and personally watching the battle on the firing line undoubtedly had a great effect on the morale of our officers and enlisted men. This great and bloody battle, which was named the “Battle of Sakarya”, continued for 22 days and 22 nights and finally on September 13, 1921, the Greeks were completely defeated east of the Sakarya River and a great victory was won. Upon this meaningful and great success, on September 19, 1921, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey awarded Mustafa Kemal Pasha, the Commander-in-Chief, the rank of Müşir (Field Marshal) and the title of “Gazi” by law.

The results of the Victory of Sakarya soon manifested themselves in the political arena. On October 13, 1921, the Treaty of Kars was signed with the Caucasian Republics and on October 20, 1921, the Treaty of Ankara was signed with the French.

After the Battle of Sakarya, the defeated Greeks retreated to the Afyon-Seyitgazi-Eskisehir line; they remained on the defensive in this region by strengthening their positions and fortifying important places with wire fences; they had three corps on this wide line.

The expulsion of the Greeks from the last of their positions made it necessary for the Turkish army to win a decisive battle. Only in this way would it be possible to drive the enemy completely out of Anatolia. The Greeks and their protectors, the British, on the other hand, considering the advanced season, the difficulties of the Turkish government and the gravity of the economic situation in Anatolia, considered a general attack by the Turkish army to be impossible; they calculated that our army would inevitably ask for peace after holding out for some time. For this reason, they themselves were not in favor of peace and thought that they would benefit more by buying time by holding on to the territories they occupied.29

The Commander-in-Chief Mustafa Kemal Pasha, on the other hand, was following a realistic path by continuing his preparations for a general offensive in spite of these imaginary calculations of the enemy; however, he kept the timing and form of the offensive extremely secret. Because according to him, “an attack with half preparations and half precautions was worse than no attack at all”. Finally, it was decided that it was time to attack by using all available means and by directing all the material and spiritual forces of the country towards the same goal. Nevertheless, the Greeks still maintained their superiority in terms of the number of troops, vehicles and equipment.

Başkomutan Mustafa Kemal Paşa tarafından en ince ayrıntısına kadar hazırlanan Büyük Taarruz ve sonrasındaki meydan muharebesi planı, 27/28 Temmuz 1922 gecesi Akşehir’e çağrılan ordu komutanlarına duyuruldu. Batı Cephesi Ordularına 6 Ağustos 1922’de gizlice “saldırıya hazırlanmaları” emredildi.

The plan for the Great Offensive was indeed brilliant, and as brilliant as it was, it was also daring and dangerous. Because almost all of our forces were shifted to the south of the Afyon-Konya railway, which was accepted as the center of gravity of the attack, and the issue of allocating forces to other fronts was inevitably considered in the second plan. As a result, the Eskisehir-Ankara direction was left in an almost open situation. Likewise, the back of the area considered as the center of gravity of the front was based on the lakes region. In case of failure, the situation of Army I fighting in this region could have become critical.30

This plan could only succeed under great commanders, and the factor that would neutralize all risks was the decision not to be defeated at any cost. Indeed, this is what happened.

26 Ağustos 1922 sabahı saat 5.30’da topçumuzun ateşi ile Kocatepe’den Büyük Türk Taarruzu başladı. Başkomutan Mustafa Kemal Paşa da bu sırada Kocatepe’deydi. Saldırı kısa sürede Afyon-Konya demiryolu hattı boyunca başarıyla gelişti. Ordu I bu hattın güneyinden ve II. Ordu kuzeyden taarruz ediyordu, ancak cephenin ağırlık merkezi Ordu I’de yoğunlaşmıştı.

In this attack, which was led by Commander-in-Chief Mustafa Kemal Pasha at the firing line with his great command ability, Fevzi (Çakmak) Pasha was the Chief of General Staff of our army and İsmet Pasha was the Commander of the Western Front. Nurettin Pasha commanded Army I, Yakup Şevki Pasha commanded Army II and Fahrettin (Altay) Pasha commanded the Cavalry Corps. As a result of the rapidly developing attack, many positions of the Greek army were destroyed on the night of August 26/27, 1922. The Greeks, surprised by this sudden attack, began to retreat. Our army entered the Greek-occupied Afyon on August 27, 1922. In the face of this advance of the Turkish army, the Greek army decided to retreat to Dumlupınar positions. Our forces began to attack the Dumlupınar positions on August 29, 1922. On August 30, 1922, the Greek army of 200,000 people was completely surrounded in the Dumlupınar region. In today’s battle, which was named the “Battle of the Supreme Commander”, most of the enemy was destroyed. The same night Kütahya was also liberated by our army. However, the retreat routes of the defeated enemy had to be cut and they had to be pursued in the direction of İzmir. Commander-in-Chief Mustafa Kemal Pasha said to the forces under his command on September 1, 1922: “Armies! Your first objective is the Mediterranean, forward!”

Our forces, advancing towards Izmir at full speed, liberated Uşak on September 1, 1922, Eskişehir on September 2, Nazilli, Simav, Salihli, Alaşehir and Gördes on September 3, Balıkesir and Bilecik on September 6, Aydın on September 7 and Manisa on September 8. Meanwhile, on September 2, 1922, General Trikopis, Commander of the First Greek Army, and General Diyenis, Commander of the Second Greek Army, and some high-ranking Greek officers were taken prisoner. Turkish troops entered Izmir on the morning of September 9, 1922, and the Turkish flag began to fly at Kadifekale. With this great victory, Anatolia was liberated from 4 years of enemy invasion and occupation, and the fact that “Turkey belongs to the Turks!” was proved once again.

These great victories, which our nation won by mobilizing all its material and spiritual power resources against the horrible and treacherous mentality that wanted to remove the Turkish nation from Anatolian lands and erase it from history, which was initiated with the Armistice of Mondros and thought to have been realized with the Treaty of Sevres, were for a single purpose, as Mustafa Kemal Pasha put it: “To establish a new unconditionally independent Turkish State!” Atatürk said: “No victory is a goal. Victory is only a means to a greater end than itself. The goal is the idea. Victory is valuable in proportion to its service to the achievement of an idea. A victory that is not based on the achievement of an idea cannot last. It is an empty endeavor. After every great battle, after every great victory, a new world must and will be born. Otherwise, victory in itself is a wasted endeavor. “31 Thus, after the Great Turkish Victory, a new world was born for the Turkish nation, and all the paths that would lead to the establishment of a secular, democratic and modern Turkish State were opened. For this reason, political activities were emphasized in order to reap the successful results of the great military victories. On October 11, 1922, with the Mudanya Armistice Treaty signed with the Entente Powers, arms were laid down and the fighting between the Turkish and Greek forces ended. According to this agreement, the evacuation of Eastern Thrace, including Edirne, by the Greeks was accepted; Istanbul and the straits were left to Turkish administration with some conditions.

On November 1, 1922, by the decision of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the Sultanate and the Caliphate were separated and the Sultanate was abolished. On that day, Mustafa Kemal Pasha said the following from the rostrum of the Assembly: “The nation took its destiny directly into its own hands and represented its national sovereignty and sovereignty not in one person, but in a Supreme Assembly consisting of deputies elected by all its individuals. That Assembly is your Grand Assembly, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. The sultanate and sovereignty of the nation is only and only the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. “32 Upon this historic decision of the Assembly, the last Ottoman Sultan Vahdettin fled abroad on a British warship.

Now it was time for peace negotiations. The Lausanne Peace Conference convened on November 20, 1922. İsmet (İnönü) Pasha represented the Government of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in these negotiations, which lasted for months and became very difficult at times, just like the Mudanya Armistice negotiations. Finally, the treaty was signed on July 24, 1923. With this treaty, the independence of the new Turkish State was recognized by the whole world, our national borders were demarcated, and the capitulations were abolished in the economic field by removing the old rough edges from the Ottoman period. This diplomatic result was really very important. Because this treaty was, in Atatürk’s words, “a document expressing the destruction of a great assassination that had been prepared against the Turkish nation for centuries and was thought to have been completed with the Treaty of Sevres”. “For this reason, it was a work of political victory unprecedented in the history of the Ottoman period. “33

Ankara, 13 Ekim 1923’te TBMM’nin kararıyla Türkiye Devleti’nin yönetim merkezi oldu. Mevcut hükümetin adının açıkça ifade edilmesi ve ilan edilmesi gerekiyordu. Nihayet 29 Ekim 1923 akşamı anayasa değişikliği ile cumhuriyet ilan edildi. Milletvekilleri bu büyük olayı ayağa kalkıp “Yaşasın cumhuriyet!” diye bağırarak kutladılar. Bu sonucun ardından cumhurbaşkanlığı seçimleri yapıldı. Ankara Milletvekili Mustafa Kemal Paşa oybirliğiyle Türkiye Cumhuriyeti’nin ilk cumhurbaşkanı seçildi.

With the proclamation of the Republic, in addition to this great revolution, the state organization and social administration had to be secularized in accordance with the modern state understanding. In such an understanding, a republic with a caliphate was out of the question. For this reason, on March 3, 1924, the caliphate, which was no longer necessary, on the contrary, it had become a harmful institution for the secular and independent republic regime, was abolished and the Ottoman dynasty was expelled from the country together with the last caliph.

From then on, great revolutions began to follow one another in order for the state to take a modern form and for the nation to reach the level of modern civilization as soon as possible. With the Law on the Unity of Education, unity in education and training was ensured; a secular and national path was followed. Madrasas were closed down and republican schools adopting modern culture were opened. During this period, the hat and clothing revolution was carried out. Dervish lodges, dervish lodges and tombs, which were destroying all kinds of life energy by leading the people to lethargy, were closed down; the Ministry of Seriye and Evkaf was abolished. The principle of a secular state was adopted and religion and state affairs were strictly separated. In the field of law, seriye courts and Mecelle were abolished and many new laws were adopted, including the Turkish Civil Code. Great importance was attached to science and culture; the Turkish Historical Society and the Turkish Language Society were established and important studies were carried out on Turkish history and Turkish language. One of Atatürk’s greatest works, the alphabet revolution, took place; the Arabic alphabet was abandoned and the Turkish alphabet based on the Latin alphabet was adopted. A major reform was carried out in the University, giving it a modern character; in the meantime, various faculties and chairs were opened. International calendars, clocks and numerals were adopted. Women’s law was reformed and Turkish women were granted the right to vote and be elected. Economic movements were emphasized; trade and national industry were developed. Agricultural activities were expanded. Health affairs were emphasized. A strong army was established. All these revolutions, which were the foundation of the New Turkish State, were called “Atatürk’s Revolutions”. In order for the revolutions to settle in the country more quickly and more firmly, the Republican People’s Party was established to include all Turkish people; republicanism, nationalism, populism, statism, secularism and revolutionism were accepted as the principles of Turkish politics.

In the face of this compulsory course that led the nation to modern civilization, a group that constituted the opposition, but whose one arm was based on conservatism and reactionism, became agitated. This group, which also found representatives in the political arena, attempted to assassinate Atatürk in June 1926 in Izmir because they blamed him for all these developments, but they failed and were cursed by the nation for days.

İnkılaplarının çoğunu gerçekleştirdikten sonra Ulu Önder, Türk Kurtuluş Mücadelesini ve yeni Türkiye’nin kuruluşunu anlatan Büyük Konuşmasını kaleme almıştır. 1927’de Parti Kongresi’nde altı gün süren büyüleyici bir hitabetle okudu. Değerli görüş, yorum ve eleştirilerle dolu bu eser, Türk tarihinin olduğu kadar Türk edebiyatının da ölümsüz eserlerinden biri haline gelmiştir.

Kurtuluştan sonra Mustafa Kemal Paşa tüm ülkeyi dolaşarak halka devrimlerin ideolojisini ve yeni Türk Devletini anlattı. 1934 yılında TBMM özel bir kanunla kendisine “ATATÜRK” soyadını verdi. Büyük Adam, son yıllarında yorulmak bilmez bir gayret ve şevkle Hatay’ın anavatana ilhakı için çalıştı. Genel sağlığında başlayan karaciğer yetmezliği zamanla kötüleşti; siroz gelişti. Bu nedenle son günlerini hasta ve yatakta geçirdi. 10 Kasım 1938 Perşembe günü gece dokuzu beş geçe Dolmabahçe Sarayı’nda vefat etti. Ölümü geniş yankı uyandırdı ve tüm dünyada büyük üzüntüye neden oldu.

Atatürk’s medicated body was placed on a special catafalque in the hall of Dolmabahçe Palace. The sacred coffin, wrapped in the Turkish flag and guarded by his comrades-in-arms, was left for the nation to visit for three days; then it was brought to Ankara on November 20, 1938. On November 21, 1938, it was placed on the sarcophagus prepared in the Ethnography Museum with a great ceremony. All the states of the world sent special representatives to the funeral ceremony; foreign generals who had fought against him in Gallipoli and other wars were especially noteworthy. On November 10, 1953, his body was taken from its temporary tomb in the Ethnography Museum and transferred to Anıtkabir with a great ceremony and buried there.

  • The house where Atatürk was born is located on Islahhane Street, Kocakasım Mahallesi, Thessaloniki, today within the garden boundaries of the Turkish Consulate and has been turned into a museum.


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