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Day 4 - Republic Day


The 29th of October was Republic Day, the day when 83 years ago Turkey had finally succeeded in completing her difficult path to nationhood. You dont have to spend long in Turkey to realise that they are a remarkably patriotic bunch, they fly their flag everywhere and even the tiniest hamlet or kiosk shop proudly displays a picture, statue or bust of Ataturk, the founder of the nation. I had delayed my travels by a day or 2 to join the party.

It was the same ridiculous scenario as in Cyprus however, no-one seemed to know where the party was to be held and I just had to use my wits and go looking for it. As it turned out the adjacent Republic Museum and Museum of the War of Independence were just a block away and were a fair bet I reckoned. Indeed when I got there a crowd of around 40 people stood around with flags and they promptly unravelled a banner. With the help of my newly purchased dictionary I managed to decipher the slogan: Unconditional Victory - Turkish Kemalist Organisation. It was more like a student protest however and they rolled it up when the cops arrived a whole 20 seconds later. Because of the occasion the museums were handily free entry, the first being the building used as the 1st National Assembly during April and May 1920. Inside the displays were unfortunately almost entirely in Turkish but there were the personal effects of many assembly members including Ataturk's rifle walking stick. It also housed weapons used in the national struggle, such as a British Lewis gun and the first and original Turkish flag, first flown from here on 23rd April 1920. The chamber was like a small dark courtroom. Ankara resembled a village then with no restaurant and insufficient accommodation for all the delegates, they had to rough it.

Next door was the Museum of the Republic, the building which had subsequently acted as the Turkish Parliament from 1924 to 1960. The chamber was larger and held effigies of the founding delegates, pride of place given to Ataturk up on the rostrum as if delivering a speech.


A stroll around the stadium sized mausoleum revealed Ataturk's cars, the gun carriage used to carry his coffin and also his sidekick Inonu's humble tomb opposite. Air display - Helicopters, F-16s, F-4s, the Turkish Stars, sloppy display but very cloudy. Caught a film on Ataturk and happily missed the rain. Massive queue for the museum. Sound effects with dioramas, pretty well done and huge, went on forever. Came out to blue skies. Walked to Kizilay. Metro back, walked to the Citadel up hundreds of stairs in the pitch dark. Small bastion still full of ramshackle houses.


Hatay Flag - Flag of Hatay, region that joined Turkey from present day Syria 29/6/1939. Still disputed territory.

Ataturk awarded the Iron Cross 1917.

Interesting to see the Ottoman Empire referred to as the Allied States and the "Allies" as the Enemy States, also known as the Entente States.

The Greeks invaded Anatolia at Izmir 15/5/1919. Massacres, local clergy complicit. Greeks defeated the Turks at Eskishehir, they retreated to the Sakarya River. Greeks aimed for Ankara, attacked 23/8/1921, got within 70Ks of it. Pitch battle spread over a large area as opposed to a front. Lasted 22 days, Greeks defeated 13/9/1921. Ataturk was promoted to Marshall. Great Attack designed to push the Greeks out and cut off Izmir from them started 26/8/1922. Turks took Izmir 9/9/1922, victory realised. Turks lost about 15,000 men in total, the Greeks tens of thousands.

The Ottoman Empire was to be carved up according to the Treaty of Sevres of 1920. Divided between Greece, France, Italy, the UK, Russia and the Turks. They would be granted the northern centre of Anatolia only. A Kurdish state and a possible Armenian state would be created under US umpireship. Ataturk landed in Samsun 19/5/1919 after the Mudros Armistice, signed on the Isle of Lemnos 30/10/1918 between the Ottomans and Entente powers. It gave the victors carte blanche, consequently the Greek attack in 1919 was sanctioned by the US, UK and France. 22/6/1919 - The Amasya Circular Declaration of intention to establish a rival Congress in Sivas, a second in Erzurum. Resolution of the Erzurum Congress decreed a policy of national integrity - "All parts of the country within the national boundaries are an indivisible entirety". Ataturk chairs it all.

"The nation as a whole will resist and defend itself against all foreign invasion and intervention".

"No mandate or protectorate can be accepted".

The National Covenant accepted by the final sitting of the Ottoman Parliament says Arab territories should be accepted by plebiscite, all others where Islam and Turkish are the majority are indivisible.

The French were kicked out of the SE cities of Antep, Marash and Urfa. Chukurova and Trakya (Thrace) were secured with the Treaty of Mudanya after the Great Victory. The last Sultan, Vahdettin, accepted the Treaty of Sevres in order to survive at all. The National Assembly didnt recognise it. Armenians and Georgians seized ground, the Turks retaliated 28/9/1920. 2/11/1920- The Gumru Treaty was signed with the Armenians but the Soviets invaded Armenia 2 days later and it was nullified. Georgia gave back land upon threats to the Soviets and the borders were finalised. General mobilisation was called on 14/9/1921. Mudanya Armistice gave Thrace back to Turkey, the Entente Powers would broker the Greek withdrawal.

The Laussane Peace Treaty 24/7/1923 - Not only finalised the peace but documented a reorganisation of the nature of the relationship between Europe and Turkey. The National assembly abolished the rival Sultanate 1/11/1922, the Sultan fled to Malta. Ankara was selected as the new capital 9/10/1923. The republic of Turkey was declared 29/10/1923. The Ottoman Caliphate was abolished 3/3/1924 since some still regarded it as head of state, a crucial move to democracy.

1/11/1928 - New Latin alphabet adopted and transliteration of many Arab and Persian words. Surnames were made compulsory in 1934, Ataturk was given his by the state, meaning "Father of Turks", he in turn chose Inonu for his brother in arms, after a famous battle. Dress reform in 1925 encouraged westernisation, the Fez hat and religious clothing were banned outwith religious ceremonies. Turkey went metric in 1931. Gregorian calendar replaced the Roman and Hejira calendars in 1926, Sunday was made the day of rest not Friday. There was a plot to assassinate Ataturk in 1926.


Named Mustafa Pasha, a schoolteacher nicknamed him Kemal - "Perfection". Edward VII visited him in 1936, I wondered if a whisper here had kept Turkey out of WWII. Ataturk died 10/11/1938 of cirrhosis, he was a big Raki drinker.

"Colonialism and Imperialism will vanish from the Earth and in their place a new era of harmony and co-operation will reign, an age which recognises no privilege of colour, religion or race among nations".

"The dominating force in the lives of men is their creativity and their ability to discover".


"Friends, the centuries rarely produce a genius. It is our misfortune that in our own age such a great genius fell to the lot of the Turkish people. Against the genius of Mustafa Kemal, what could be done?".

Posted by andyhay 01:00 Archived in Turkey

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