Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Atatürk, Mustafa Kemal


Born 1881, in Salonika; died Nov. 10, 1938, in Istanbul. Founder and first president (1923–38) of the Turkish Republic. The Great Turkish National Assembly gave him the surname Atatürk (literally, father of the Turks) in 1934, when surnames were introduced.

Atatürk was born into the family of a timber merchant, a former customs clerk. He received a secondary military education in Salonika and Monastir (Bitola), and a higher education in Istanbul, where he graduated from the General Staff Academy in January 1905. He participated in the Young Turks movement. However, soon after the Young Turks revolution of 1908, he withdrew from the Committee of Union and Progress. He fought at the front in the Turko-Italian War of 1911–12, in the Second Balkan War in 1913, and in World War I (1914–18). In 1916 he was promoted to the rank of general and received the title of pasha. In 1919 he led a national liberation movement in Anatolia. Under Atatürk’s leadership, a congress of the bourgeois-revolutionary Leagues for the Defense of Rights was held in Erzurum and Sivas in 1919, and on Apr. 23, 1920, the Great Turkish National Assembly was formed in Ankara and declared itself the supreme governing body. As president of the assembly and after September 1921 as supreme commander in chief as well, Atatürk led the armed forces in the national liberation war against the Anglo-Greek intervention. As a result of victory in the battles at the Sakarya River (Aug. 23-Sept. 13, 1921), the assembly conferred on him the rank of marshal and the title of ghazi. Under the command of Atatürk, the Turkish Army defeated the interventionists in 1922.

On Atatürk’s initiative, the sultanate was abolished on Nov. 1, 1922, and on Oct. 29, 1923, Turkey was declared a republic. The caliphate was eliminated on Mar. 3, 1924, and a number of progressive reforms of a bourgeois and national character were introduced in the areas of government and administrative structure, justice, culture, and mode of life. The People’s Party (after 1924, the Republican People’s Party), which Atatürk established in 1923 on the base of the Leagues for the Defense of Rights and of which Atatürk became lifetime chairman, opposed the reactionary attempts of feudal-clerical and comprador circles. In the area of foreign affairs, Atatürk aspired to maintain a friendly relationship between Turkey and Soviet Russia, which had rendered disinterested aid to the Turkish people in the years of their struggle against the imperialists and later during the development of their national economy.


Nutuk, vols. i-3. Istanbul, 1934. (Russian edition: Put’ novoi Turtsii, vols. 1–4. Moscow, 1929–34.)
Atatürk’ ün söylev ve demeçleri, [vols.] 1–3. Ankara, 1945–59. (Russian abridged edition: Izbrannye rechi i vystupleniia.Edited and with an introduction by A. F. Miller. Moscow, 1966.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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