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Atatürk, Kemal(kĕmäl` ätätürk`), 1881–1938, Turkish leader, founder of modern Turkey. He took the name in 1934 in place of his earlier name, Mustafa Kemal, when he ordered all Turks to adopt a surname; it is made up of the Turkish words Ata and Türk [father of the Turks].
Born at Thessaloníki, he secretly applied to a military academy, where his excellence at mathematics won him the surname Kemal [the perfect]. As an officer he joined the Young Turks, a liberal movement that sought to establish a constitutional government for the Ottoman EmpireOttoman Empire
, vast state founded in the late 13th cent. by Turkish tribes in Anatolia and ruled by the descendants of Osman I until its dissolution in 1918. Modern Turkey formed only part of the empire, but the terms "Turkey" and "Ottoman Empire" were often used
..... Click the link for more information. , although he disagreed with its pro-German policy, because he considered Turkish interests to be paramount. In 1908 he took part in the successful Young Turk revolution as chief of staff of Enver PashaEnver Pasha
, 1881–1922, Turkish general and political leader. He took a prominent part in the Young Turk revolution of 1908, which reestablished the liberal constitution of 1876. By a coup in 1913, Enver Pasha became the virtual dictator.
..... Click the link for more information. , whom he later opposed over the German issue.
He served in Libya (1911–12) and in the Second Balkan War (1913). In World War I his efficient work in the Dardanelles, on the Armenian front, and in Palestine, though it merely helped to postpone disaster, won him the title pasha. After the Ottomans capitulated to the Allies, Sultan Muhammad VIMuhammad VI
or Mehmet VI,
1861–1926, last Ottoman sultan (1918–22), brother and successor of Muhammad V. He became sultan of the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) near the end of World War I and soon capitulated to the Allies, who occupied Constantinople and sought
..... Click the link for more information. sent Kemal to E Anatolia, hoping to limit his influence.
Arriving in May, 1919, Kemal organized the Turkish Nationalist party and began to form an army. When the Turks were aroused by the Greek landing at Smyrna (now IzmirIzmir
, formerly Smyrna
, city (1990 pop. 1,762,849), capital of Izmir prov., W Turkey, on the Gulf of Izmir, an arm of the Aegean Sea. The largest Turkish seaport after İstanbul, its exports include cotton, tobacco, vegetables, manufactures, and carpets.
..... Click the link for more information. ) he convened nationalist congresses at Erzurum (July, 1919) and Sivas (Sept.). Outlawed by the sultan, who was in the hands of the Allies in Constantinople, he set up a rival government at Ankara. The signing of the Treaty of SèvresSèvres, Treaty of,
1920, peace treaty concluded after World War I at Sèvres, France, between the Ottoman Empire (Turkey), on the one hand, and the Allies (excluding Russia and the United States) on the other.
..... Click the link for more information. by the Constantinople government made the split with Ankara final.
With the tacit consent of Soviet Russia, Kemal retook Kars and Ardahan from Armenia (1920). Then, taking advantage of disagreements among the Allies, he expelled the Greeks from Anatolia in a brilliant campaign (1921–22). For his victory he received the official name Ghazi [victorious]. On Nov. 1, 1922, Kemal proclaimed the abolition of the sultanate, and Sultan Muhammad VI fled to a British warship. The Treaty of Lausanne (1923; see Lausanne, Treaty ofLausanne, Treaty of,
1922–23. The peace treaty (see Sèvres, Treaty of) imposed by the Allies on the Ottoman Empire after World War I had virtually destroyed Turkey as a national state.
..... Click the link for more information. ) was a triumph for the nationalist cause; an independent and sovereign Turkey was recognized by the European powers.
President of Turkey
In 1923 Kemal was elected president of the new Turkish republic. He was reelected in 1927, 1931, and 1935—always by a unanimous parliament. With enormous energy he set out on a program of internal reform and "Westernization"; 15 years of his rule changed Turkey in the essential as well as the most minute aspects of its life (see TurkeyTurkey,
Turk. Türkiye , officially Republic of Turkey, republic (2015 est. pop. 78,271,000), 301,380 sq mi (780,574 sq km), SW Asia and SE Europe. It borders on Iraq (SE), Syria and the Mediterranean Sea (S), the Aegean Sea (W), Greece and Bulgaria (NW), on the Black
..... Click the link for more information. ). Although a dictator, Kemal tolerated limited opposition; but he was ruthless toward those he considered extremists. Regarding Islam as a conservative force, he abolished (1924) the caliphatecaliphate
, the rulership of Islam; caliph , the spiritual head and temporal ruler of the Islamic state. In principle, Islam is theocratic: when Muhammad died, a caliph [Arab.,=successor] was chosen to rule in his place.
..... Click the link for more information. (thereby disestablishing Islam as the state religion) and crippled religious opposition to reform.
Abroad, he pursued a policy of conciliation and neutrality. He established friendly relations with Turkey's neighbors, particularly the Soviet Union, helped to bring about the Balkan EntenteBalkan Entente
, loose alliance formed in 1934 by Yugoslavia, Romania, Greece, and Turkey to safeguard their territorial integrity against Bulgarian revisionism. It thus was in harmony with the Little Entente (formed by Yugoslavia, Romania, and Czechoslovakia chiefly against
..... Click the link for more information. , and freed Turkey from foreign influence, though it meant refusing capital investment for industrialization of the country. On his death he was succeeded as president by Ismet Inönü. In 1953 his remains were transferred to a new mausoleum in Ankara. He remains the object of cultlike devotion by many Turks.
See biographies by H. E. Wortham (1931), H. Froembgen (tr. 1937), Lord Kinross (1966), V. D. Volkan and N. Itzkowitz (1984), F. Tachau (1987), A. Mango (2002), and M. S. Hanioglu (2011); G. Renda and C. M. Kortpeter, ed., The Transformation of Turkish Culture: The Atatürk Legacy (1986).