Mustafa Kemal Atatürk – father of the Turks

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk – father of the Turks

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is popular in Turkey like no other before or after him. Cherished, adored, worshiped – that's an understatement. Anyway, we will come across it very soon after we come to this country. If we don't find his portrait in the first store, location or hotel, then we can become suspicious, I guess we're not in Turkey. Any metropolis, the city and the village adorn not only the monuments of Kemal, but in all of them there will also be a street named after him. Poles may associate it a bit with the past regime, but even in communist Poland we did not worship Lenin as idolatrously as the Turks, the founder of the republic (he has his mausoleum in Ankara) it can only be compared to the relations prevailing in this respect in the USSR. But this man was fundamentally different from his own – let's say – Russian counterparts, and we can compare him more with Józef Piłsudski. He played a significant role in the history of Turkey, liberating it from the occupation of foreign countries and introducing democracy, which changed the profile of the country, leading it from utter disaster to relative prosperity.

Mustafa Kemal was born the son of a civil servant in 1881 r. in Thessaloniki, which city then belonged to the Ottoman Empire. He graduated from a military school there and joined the ranks of the Young Turkish conspirators, but quickly unmasked, he was sent back to Damascus, which at first cut him off from active activities. He started his military career, which enabled him later (1909) performing the function of a staff officer in the Army of Deed, an armed arm of the Young Turkish movement.

Then he took part in the campaign against Italy in Tripoli and the battles in the Balkan Peninsula, but he showed his abilities only during the battles at Gallipoli in 1915 r., which successfully defended against the British. It was then that he was given the command of the division, then he was appointed brigadier, and a year later he was awarded the title of Pasha (general). After Gallipoli, he fought against the Allies in Syria, and after the defeat of World War I, the sultan appointed him inspector of the army in eastern Anatolia (there he was to oversee the disarming of Turkish soldiers and suppress numerous uprisings), to which Kemal immediately set out with the intention of actively resisting the occupying powers and the arriving Greeks. He took the lead in the war of liberation and over the course of several years, after a hard and bloody struggle, it led not only to the displacement of foreign countries (1923), but steeped in the idea of ​​liberalism for a long time, he also proclaimed the founding of a new state that same year – Turkish Republic.

Kemal became the first president of the republic and led it through the next 15 years, carrying out sometimes radical reforms, which made him many enemies, but even more followers. His political activities have been called Kemalism, which meant developing Turkey in the shape of Western Europe, transforming it into a modern state. The main principles of Kemalism were: laicyzm (separation of state and church), nationalism, republicanism, populism (in the sense of close cooperation between the state and the people), etatyzm (state interference in economic life) and reformism, i.e. the Europeanization of Turkey. Of all the above, secularism caused Ataturk the most trouble, which was against the traditional foundations of Turkish life – islam. The liquidation of the 1924 r. the caliphate led to many armed riots, especially in orthodox eastern Anatolia. Then the Kurds also came to the fore, and the bloody suppression of their uprising started a conflict that continues to this day. Despite these or other annoyances, the Turks saw in Kemal their savior, as evident in 1934 r., when parliament nicknamed him Ataturk – "Father of the Turks”. W 4 years later, 10 November 1938 r., the founder of modern Turkey died in Istanbul, and his body was taken to the new capital, Ankary, where in 1953 r. a mausoleum was built. Kemalism has essentially survived in Turkey to this day, and only offensive statism was withdrawn in favor of limited control over the most important industries. Besides, stigmatized in years 20. i 30. Islam revived shortly after the death of Kemal Mustafa. Perhaps the most important legacy of those times is nationalism, whom Ataturk was a great supporter of. It is expressed in the words of Kemal known to every Turk: How happy is the one who says I am a Turk (How lucky it is to be able to say: i'm turkish). Wandering around Turkey, let us remember about great respect, which Ataturk enjoys throughout society, and let us not express our negative judgments about the sometimes exaggerated glorification of his person.

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