Birth of a Hero: Mustafa Kemal

Discussions on the final era of the Ottoman Empire, from the Young Turk Revolution of 1908 until the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.
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Peter H
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Location: Australia

Birth of a Hero: Mustafa Kemal

Post by Peter H » 12 Jun 2007 12:20

Interesting that Kemal attained hero status in Turkey by the end of 1915.
After Turkish victory in Suvla, Mustafa Kemal became a hero. For the Turkish soldiers fighting in the Dardanelles, his name meant morale and courage. The Allied soldiers without knowing his name appreciated Mustafa Kemal, as well. Even Ian Hamilton, in his diary wrote that the talents of the Turkish commander defending Gallipoli astonished him.

Heroic victory of Mustafa Kemal inspired a poet. In September 1915, famous poet Mehmet Emin Yurdakul published a poetry collection named The Sound of the Dawn. One of the long verses of this collection was The Epic of the Army, dated 15 September 1915. The first quatrain of the epic is as follows:

"O! The rough cliffs witnessed that day
O! The heroic trenches of Sergeant Mehmet
O! The sacred site of Mustafa Kemal
O! The bloody hills, burnt places."

Thus, the name of Mustafa Kemal was heard nation-wide.

During the battles, the attention of both foreign and Turkish press was on Mustafa Kemal. After the Second Suvla Battle, on 21 August, a Polish journalist came to interview him. She felt the enthusiasm of the victory with Mustafa Kemal. On 2 September, a German journalist has came. On 8 September, the first movie producer of Turkey, Necati Bey came to see Mustafa Kemal and he filmed the Dardanelles for three days. On 10 September, famous writer of Tanin Newspaper, Ekrem Bey has visited Mustafa Kemal. On October 21, a board of Syrian writers interviewed him. Henceforth, all the interviews and interpretations made Mustafa Kemal a national hero.

Famous writer, Yakup Kadri, in his work Ataturk, tells his impressions about those days as follow:

"This young commander, and a small group of soldiers with bayonets beside him, has been defending the nation against the rain of bombs, shells and gunfire. This man was not burnt by fire, as if the bullets did not shoot him. The bombs of the battleships were like birds of prey flying without touching him."

This expression reveals Mustafa Kemal as if he was a tale-hero. The first sentence of Yakub Kadri's Ataturk, describes the reason:
"First years of our youth has gone with expectation of a national hero."
The fame of Ataturk has shown its effects in the Headquarters as well. After the battles, Mustafa Kemal was promoted to colonel rank and he was awarded with three medals and two decorations. In addition, he was asked for two significant duties. One was, to be assigned for Tripoli with brigadier general rank and the other was to be the Commander of the Army Corps in Iraq. The second duty was more important.

All these events reflect Ottoman administration's opinion about Mustafa Kemal. As seen, before the conclusion of the war, the Ottoman government awarded Mustafa Kemal.

After the war, Mustafa Kemal became a legendary hero. From then on, he was remembered as the "Saviour of Istanbul." Journalists and writers have interviewed him. The people desired to see him. In January 1916, when he has been assigned as the Commander of 16th Army Corps, in Edirne crowds welcomed him on the streets.

Staff Commander of Canakkale General Izettin Calislar, in his diary explains this welcoming as fallow;

"28 January 1916

...Streets were filled with people; all the students were positioned to welcome him. The city was decorated with triumphal arches. There were Aktuels on which "Long live Mustafa Kemal" and "Hero of Suvla" were written. All the notables of Edirne, city administrators, and the consulates were there... All the people welcomed him with great enthusiasm. They gave bunches of flowers to him. Applause and demonstrations were unbelievable..."

Neither Mustafa Kemal was the conqueror of Edirne nor he was the saviour of the city. people of Edirne admired him because of his victory of Suvla, a victory of his own creation. After two hundreds years break; Mustafa Kemal gave a victory to the Turkish nation. Thus, he won all his titles.

Tosun Saral
Posts: 4058
Joined: 02 Nov 2005 19:32
Location: Ankara/Turkey

Post by Tosun Saral » 12 Jun 2007 21:02

We call him "Hero of Anafartalar" (Suvla)
Please visit my page about him:

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