World War One
The National Struggle and The Turkish War of Independence
The intention and the goal of the national struggle was to provide and to maintain complete independence and unconditional sovereignty. The Nation performed the necessary actions in the context of Misak-ı Milli ( National Oath ) to win its external independence. And she also determined her line of action with The Law of Teşkilat-ı Esasiye to manage to obtain her national sovereignty. (1923 )
The objective is to keep alive the Turkish nation as a self–respecting and an honourable nation. This aim could be only provided with complete independence. A nation that has not her independence, it does not matter how to wealthy she is, could only be a manservant to the civilised humanity. Adopting a foreign state’s protection is nothing but deprivation of human quality, weakness and numbness. Those who did not fall into this vulgarity, could be never thought to bring a foreigner to their administration.
However the self–respect, belief in herself and ability of the Turkish people are very high and immense. For such a Nation it is better to disappear than survive as slave!
Consequently it is either independence or death!
We continued our war to defend our rights and independence and this is sacred for us. And I have a belief that no power could deprive a nation from its right to life. (From Atatürk’s Speech)
Whether all sides of our territory is destroyed or left in flames we will be on a hill located in our territory and defend our country. (1920 )
The day I went to Samsun in May of 1919 I had not any material force. I just had high spiritual strength originated from eminent Turkish Nation’s nobility and this filled my heart. Here I started my duty by this national power and I trusted them completely.
I was so sure that one day undoubtedly the sun will would shine on The Turkish horizon, the strength of this sun would warm us, we would take strength from it. I was virtually seeing this with my eyes.(1937)
Our nation is so great. We do not need to be frightened. She does not accept slavery and vulgarity. (1919)
I and many of our citizens, siblings, stayed in their ranks when the nations original territories fell down in hopeless disaster. And also it is certain that they must have done. They must have done. Yet it was compulsory, humanely, and in accordance with national honour. Could I have moved outside of these holy bases? Sir, I could certainly not. Any genuine individual belonging to the Turkish Nation could have moved outside of these holy bases. Certainly I could not have acted contrary to the orders of my conscience and contrary to our national honour. (1925)
I swore to struggle in a self–sacrificing manner and always beside the nation until we had our independence. Anymore it is certain to me that I will go to nowhere except Anatolia. (1919)
The Nation will be successful. We will think of every aspect of the struggle. The main condition is only being strong and not behaving improperly. (1919)
The National trial will only realise with this belief, resolve and determination. The survival must be the ideas providing national independence not our worthless individuals. (1919)
Everybody, all the intellectuals must be present to save our blessed country. We will not go to İstanbul. The greatest national treasury is in Anatolia. We will struggle to search and assure the saving remedies in the bosom of our country, with each other and until death. (1919)
I have heard some of our friends desire to turn back to their lands because they do not believe in the success of the struggle for independence in this impoverished state. Friends! I did not invite you to this national trial with the force of weapon. And you can see that I still have no weapon to hold you here. You can turn back to your lands as you desire. But you have to know that I will continue to struggle whether either all my friends leave me alone and go away or I stay here alone in Meclis- i Ali ( parliament ). If the enemy comes to Ankara by occupying all sides of our territory, I will take my weapon in my hand and the Turkish flag in the other to attack them from the mountain of Elma. I will struggle with them alone and with all my bullets until the last one. And then I will wrap this blessed flag to my chest and I will die while serving my country. While this flag is absorbing my blood, I will die for the sake of my nation. I swear in the presence of the Parliament (1920 – First Turkish Grand National Assembly at the secret session ).
We can not abandon our national defence until the enemies flags withdraw from our fathers homes. If the soldiers of the foe walk around all over İstanbul, if the foreigner does not leave our lands, we are obliged to continue our struggle. Living in poverty under your own government’s rule is an outstanding situation thousand times better than peace and happiness under a foreign guardianship rule (1920).
The basis of Ottoman State has collapsed and she has completed her life. The Ottoman countries are completely smashed. In the middle there is a father land where very small numbers of Turks are living. The last issue was to smash this land as well. All the concepts such as Ottoman Emperor, its independence, sultan, caliph, government consist of meaningless words. In these circumstances what would be the serious and the real decision?
There was only one decision before this situation. That decision was to establish a new Turkish State based on national sovereignty and unconditional independence.
Here the decision, that we were still considering before we left İstanbul and started to implement immediately when we came to Anatolia in Samsun, is this decision (1927).
In our foreign policy there is no intervention to another state’s law. Nevertheless we are defending and we will defend our right, life, country and honour. We are introducing the right to–for all nations that was suggested by modern day civilisation in the context of international relations and that means a summary of the most eminent thoughts. If our right of self-determination is not introduced unhindered and unconditionally, we will not be responsible for the conflicts and those who do not want to introduce our right will be responsible. There is no conceivable means and power to daunt us from our insisting to realise the national objective. Even for the weak creatures, that are massacred, it is nothing but normal to defend themselves until their last breath (1921).
It is our natural right to protect and defend our existence with weapons against the intent that wishes to destroy us. There is no movement that is more normal and more legal than this (1921).
The strength and ability that we found in ourselves to destroy the enemy's excellent and powerful armies originate from the our legitimate trial. Indeed we want nothing more than to live independently within our national borders. We want respect of our rights that do not begrudge the other nations in Europe (1921).
We are following an aim. Our aim is mentioned above. Now I am repeating : To protect our nation and our state independence. Honour and self–respect are a full part in this. Our aim includes only our nation's sovereignty in our country's determined borders. We are fighting for this. Sir; whether all sides of our territory are destroyed or left in flames we will be on a hill located in our territory and defend our country. Due to this there is no need to complain that some places are occupied or some villages destroyed. I am saying clearly that some places are occupied but occupation could reach three times as much as this. But this occupation will never weaken our belief. (1920)
Directly the nation, children of this nation are carrying out the national struggle. The nation has adopted the struggle as an ideal with her mothers, fathers, nurses. The national struggle based on not an individual's ambition but on the national ideal, national self–respect are the real effects. ( 1925 – Atatürk’s S. D. II, p. g. 231 )
I can say that when I came to Anatolia and started my attempts in the belief to rescue the country and the nation from the disaster that they had fallen in, I had nothing in my pocket and under my rule. But poverty was not a reason to stop our steps or decrease their intensity through our objective. We walked and we accomplished and day by day material difficulties ceased spontaneously.
The Turkish Nation has high patriotism and a sense of honour that she does not leave enterprises, which study for her future and independence, alone before difficulties. ( 1926 – Atatürk’s B. N. p. g. 103 – 104 )
The target is not to defend a specific region but defend for all country against the enemy. The country is not abandoned only if the individuals' blood flows in every part of the territory. Even when a person is thrown from his localised, first point there he find he must stop and fight against the enemy. The soldiers are obliged to have patience and success at the point where they are located.
The country will undoubtedly be independent and the nation will be happy. Yet the children of this country are many who will sacrifice their happiness for their country. ( April 1922 )
First Major İnönü Battle is a very significant and productive page in our history of revolution. Coming generations and the whole world will commemorate and appreciate with respect today’s Turkish army that implemented the Turkish revolution and Turkish society that had created this army. 1925 ( Atatürk’s S. D. II, p. g. 205 )
First İnönü is the sun of the victory that rises from horizon of the balllefield. This is the sign of the Turkish nation's high virtue and belief. There is great animosity against this birth...
First İnönü Victory was the sign of the Second İnönü Victory, Sakarya was the sign of the great fight and finally they were the sign of the Turkish country and Turkish independence. For these reasons all of the Turkish military participants who won the First İnönü Major Battle will live forever as glorious warriors in world history. 1925 ( Atatürk’s S. D. II, p. g. 206 )
The Turkish Grand National Assembly’s military’s victory at Sakarya was very significant. There was no resembling victory during the war history. Even Mukden Major Battle that was one of the largest major battles did not continue twenty one days. 1921 ( Atatürk’s S. D. I, p. g. 177 )
I can not find a word to say about our soldiers heroism, but only I can say that this major battle was the officers battle. Essentially the children of this nation can not be thought in any other way. The self–sacrifice and heroism of these children is immeasurable. I want to add something new about our soldiers: The brave Turk soldier, understood the Anatolian struggle's meaning and fought against the enemy with a new ideal.
A nation that has such son and has an army of such soldiers will be successful in protecting her independence forever. The attempts aimed to deprive such a nation from her independence are nothing more the waist of time. 1921 ( Atatürk’s S. D. I, p. g. 178)
Afyonkarahisar – Dumlupınar Major Battle and its last period is the biggest turning point in Turkish history. Our national history is full of brilliant and huge victories. But I do not remember such a battle that had a certain conclusion like this and have a certain effect to give direction to world history. 1924 ( Atatürk’s B. N. , p. g. 81 – 82 )
This Anatolia Victory remains the most beautiful illustration for an ideal that was adopted by a nation its strength. 1922 ( Atatürk’s S. D. I, p. g. 260 )
We realised this movement fully aware of its conclusion. All of these may be confusing to the world. Here, those who do not want to understand our military strength want to show this conclusion as a coincidence. But it never has been like that. The movement fully considered all details, prepared, administrated and concluded. 1922 (Atatürk’s S. D. I, p. g. 256 )
Our Assembly formed a huge presence from non-existence ; and they put hope instead of optimism, belief and ambition instead of hesitation. At the head of the hero military I implemented your orders as a loyal soldier. So I feel a great pleasure that one can feel rarely. Feeling this pleasure, I congratulate my esteemed friends on account of the victory in which they represented the ideals of independence and freedom before all the world. 1922 ( Atatürk’s S. D. I, p. g. 240 )
After Afyonkarahisar – Dumlupınar Major Battle we won another victory that made the enemy completely ineffective and thrust them to the Mediterranean and the Marmara that it is enough mention of this victory.
This operation was conceived, prepared, managed in its every detail and concluded with victory. It is a very significant production of the Turkish soldier.
This opus is an immortal monument of Turkish Nation’s freedom and independence ideals. I will always be happy as being a son to the nation that forged this opus and as being the commander- in- chief of this military. 1927 ( The Speech II, p. g. 677 )
While accepting the congratulations on 30th August national holiday:
I did not win this victory. Indeed the brave soldiers, who died and were injured on the battlefield, won this victory. They had no hesitation when they went through the enemy. Unfortunately it is impossible to write every name on the Kocatepe. But all of them have a common name: Turkish Soldier... I am accept your congratulations in the name of them!... 1928 ( İbrahim Necmi Dilmen, Atatürk Anekdotlar, Der: Kemal Arıburnu, p. g. 120)
I want all of my friends to go forward thinking that there can be other wars in Anatolia. And I want everybody to show their mental force in competing with each other.
Soldiers, your first target is the Mediterranean. Go forward! 1922 (Atatürk’s T. T. B. IV, p. g. 449 )
Turkish commanders knew how to command and Turkish soldiers knew how to die. The secret of our victory lies here. 1922 ( Yakup Kadri Karaosmanoğlu, Atatürk, p. g. 90 )
The liberation of the country started when the nation's vision and management are the unhindered and unconditionally sovereign of its own destiny. And have come to positive results only with the armies that are born from inside the Turkish people. 1922 ( Atatürk’s T.T.B. IV, p. g. 459 )
The attempt to crush our country bases not on a true right or justice and our nation has overcome this attack and our nation saved our country with a victory that history has rarely recorded. 1923 ( Atatürk’s S. D. I, p. g. 290 )
You have to know this as a reality that honor belongs to not a man but the whole nation. If the duties carried out are significant, if the successes are clear, if the revolutions attract the attention of each person, everyone must congratulate himself / herself. Yet solely great nations have the real ability to reach accomplishments and each person belonging to this nation has to congratulate himself for belonging to such an able and great nation. 1923 ( Atatürk’s S. D. II, p. g. 123 )
All this success is not only my work and also can not be. All this success is the result of all our nation’s combining their ambition and belief with their work. These are the successes and victories won by or heroic nation and eminent army. 1928 ( Atatürk’s S. D. II, p. g. 76 – 77 )
I am so fortunate that I would be able to do my own duties while the brave Turkish military forces is wining the victories. But at this point I should clarify a reality that the targets that I directed our military towards are the targets that all soldiers thoughts, beliefs and ambitions went essentially towards. 1928 ( Atatürk’s S. D. II, p. g. 228 )
I leave the Anatolia victories, which show a huge heroism in each step, to history. The Nation, the nation’s art, musicals, literature and its all aesthetics have to declare every part of this holy struggle to the world with love of the country. 1923 ( Atatürk’s S. D. I, p. g. 305 )
Let us congratulate the heroes of the crisis that we lived through. Among them there were not only dead soldiers but also the children, women and elderly who were set on fires. There are also young girls among them who were attacked in their honour and were sentenced to cry during their life-time. There are people among them who lost their family and mothers who lost their child. And also there are victorious fighters among them who turned back to their country today. Let us swear to them. 1923 ( Atatürk’s S. D. I, p. g. 308 – 309 )