Mustafa Kemal, was born in Salonica in 1881. After graduating the military school he joined the Ottoman Army in 1905. He has been a military hero at Dardanelle and Gallipolis war during the World War I and later became the leader of the Turkish national Independence War.
When the Ottoman Empire was considered to be defeated following the First World War Anatolia was shared among the occupying powers. That is France – southern Anatolia, Italy – South Anatolia, Greece –Aegean region and Great Britain – The Marmara region. The Entente Powers officially occupied İstanbul and disbanded the Parliament on March 16, 1919 and Mustafa Kemal declared that the sovereignty and life of the Ottoman Empire, which had lasted for six centuries, was ended. Then he immediately started to organize national resistance and got in touch with all the army units and resistance organizations in Anatolia and deciding to use Anatolia as headquarters he settled down in Ankara.
The Turkish resistance movements were transformed into a complete war of independence when Mustafa Kemal landed at Samsun on May 19, 1919 and lasted for three years until, The Great Victory on August 30, 1922.
The Grand National Assembly was inaugurated in Ankara on April 23, 1920. The Assembly undertook the duties of saving and administrating the country and obtaining complete independence for the country. Mustafa Kemal was elected as the President.
On July 24, 1923 Lausanne Peace Treaty signed by the representatives of the New Turkish Government on one side and by Britain, France, Italy, Japan. Greece, Romania and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Yugoslavia) on the other. The treaty recognized the creation of a Turkish State with the same borders as those of the National Pact of 1920 and guaranteed her complete independence. Thus, it marked the successful culmination of the National War of Independence.
The Republic was announced on October 29, 1923 and Mustafa Kemal was elected the first President of the Republic of Turkey.
After the establishment of the Republic sweeping cultural and socio-political reforms took place. First the Caliphate abolished. Traditional schools closed and Constitution adopted in 1924 as the replacement of the 1876 constitution that had continued to serve as the legal framework for the republican government. Reforms on clothing shows as abolishing of fes (a cherry colored, tasseled oriental cap) on men and veiling of women by leaving their places to western clothing. Gregorian calendar was adopted. In 1926 new civil, commercial and penal laws are adopted from Swiss and Italian Laws respectively. And with these civil codes women, who had been neglected for centuries, now have the same rights as man. They could be appointed to official posts, would have the right to vote (even before Swiss women) to be elected to the Parliament and of course the monogamy principle. Weekend act, time and calendar system and the change on weight and measure (kilo and meter) are all among those reforms.
New Turkish alphabet, a modified Latin form, adopted and with this came the movement to develop the education of the nation. Primary education was declared compulsory and great importance was given to the education of women. Then the State declared Secularism in 1928.
The Surname Law was adopted on June 21, 1934 and Mustafa Kemal was given the surname of Atatürk (Father of the Turks) by the Grand National Assembly. A very appropriate surname who created the Republic of Turkey from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, which lost its power, soil and population after the Balkan War and World War I.
Everybody in Turkey has the freedom to choose his surname. However the only exception is Atatürk. The National Assembly legislated in 1934 that the surname Atatürk only belongs to Mustafa Kemal and it is forbidden to be used by other parties. Even Atatürk's sister and his adopted children don't have the right to use this surname.
Atatürk was not only a military genius but also a charismatic leader and a comprehensive reformer all through his life. It was very important for him to carry the Republic to the level of modern civilizations and to be an active member of the culturally developed communities. Mustafa Kemal also initiated a program for economic development in Turkey, which consisted of agricultural expansion, industrial and technological advances. He completely reformed the country during his 15-year presidency, until his death at Dolmabahce Palace in November 10, 1938. He was temporarily buried in Ethnographic Museum in Ankara. Then a mausoleum called Anıtkabir was built in Ankara and his body transferred there on November 10, 1953.
Atatürk was divorced and had no children. However Ms. Afet İnan and Ms. Sabiha Gökcen who are among the adopted children of Atatürk were a Turkish History Professor and the first woman combat pilot of Turkey respectively.
His achievements are a heritage to the modern state of Turkey.
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