Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

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We must delve into our roots and reconstruct what history has divided.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (188110 November 1938) was a Turkish field marshal and revolutionary statesman who was the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey; known most of his life as Mustafa Kemal, he was given the surname Atatürk by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey in 1934.

Quotes[edit]

Men, I am not ordering you to attack. I am ordering you to die.
Unless a nation's life faces peril, war is murder.
My people are going to learn the principles of democracy, the dictates of truth and the teachings of science. Superstition must go.
Every man can follow his own conscience, provided it does not interfere with sane reason or bid him against the liberty of his fellow-men.
Heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives! You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace.
Peace at Home, Peace in the World.
Everything we see in the world is the creative work of women.
Know that whatever conforms to reason, logic, and the advantages and needs of our people conforms equally to Islam.
Mankind is a single body and each nation a part of that body.
The nation has placed its faith in the precept that all laws should be inspired by actual needs here on earth as a basic fact of national life.
Humankind is made up of two sexes, women and men. Is it possible for humankind to grow by the improvement of only one part while the other part is ignored?
We did not win the war with prayers, but with the blood of our soldiers.
  • Men, I am not ordering you to attack. I am ordering you to die. In the time that it takes us to die, other forces and commanders can come and take our place.
    • Orders to the 57th Infantry Regiment, at the Battle of Gallipoli (25 April 1915); as quoted in Studies in Battle Command by Combat Studies Institute, US Army Command and General Staff College, p. 89; also quoted in Turkey (2007) by Verity Campbell, p. 188
      • Variant translation: I am not ordering you to fight, I am ordering you to die.
  • If you don't have ammunition, you have bayonets! FIX BAYONETS! GET DOWN!
    • Instructions to his soldiers to answer an ANZAC attack on Chunuk Bair (25 April 1915)
  • Our life here is truly hellish. Fortunately, my soldiers are very brave and tougher than the enemy.
    • Letter to Corinne Lütfü, from the Gallipoli peninsula (20 July 1915) as translated in Atatürk: The Biography of the founder of Modern Turkey (2002) by Andrew Mango. ISBN 158567334X
  • Hattı müdafaa yoktur, sathı müdafaa vardır. O satıh bütün vatandır.
    • There is no defense line, but defense territory. This territory is the whole of the motherland!
      • His order to the Turkish army at the Battle of Sakarya (26 August 1921); Turkish, as quoted in Bugünkü Türkiye (1937), by Stephan Ronart, p. 127
    • Variant: Hattı müdafaa yoktur, sathı müdafaa vardır. O satıh bütün vatandır. Vatanın her karış toprağı, vatandaşın kanıyla ıslanmadıkça terk olunamaz…
      • Variant translation: There is no defense line, but a defense territory, and that territory is the whole of the motherland. Not even an inch of the motherland may be abandoned without being soaked in the blood of her citizens...
        • English translation, as quoted in History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey (1976) by Stanford Jay Shaw
  • Our object now is to strengthen the ties that bind us to other nations. There may be a great many countries in the world, but there is only one civilization, and if a nation is to achieve progress, she must be a part of this civilization. The Ottoman Empire began to decline the day when, proud of her success against the West, she cut the ties that bound her to the European nations.
    • Speech to the press (29 October 1923), quoted in Vakur Versan, 'The Kemalist Reform of Turkish Law and Its Impact', in Jacob M. Landau (ed.), Atatürk and the Modernization of Turkey (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1984), p. 247
  • In human life, you will find players of religion until the knowledge and proficiency in religion will be cleansed from all superstitions, and will be purified and perfected by the enlightenment of real science.
    • Speech (October 1927); quoted in Atatürk’ten Düşünceler by E. Z. Karal, p .59
  • ...O Turkish child of future generations! As you see, even under these circumstances and conditions, it is your duty to save the Turkish Independence and the Republic! The strength that you will need is present in the noble blood which flows in your veins!
  • Today the Soviet Union is a friend and an ally. We need this friendship. However, no one can know what will happen tomorrow. Just like the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires it may tear itself apart or shrink in size. Those peoples that it holds so tightly in its grip may one day slip away. The world may see a new balance of power. It is then that Turkey must know what to do. Ally Soviets have under their control our brothers with whom we share language, beliefs and roots. We must be prepared to embrace them. Being ready does not mean that we will sit quietly and wait. We must get ready. How does a people get prepared for such an endeavour? By strengthening the natural bridges that exist between us. Language is a bridge... Religion is a bridge... History is a bridge... We must delve into our roots and reconstruct what history has divided. We can't wait for them to approach us. We must reach out to them.
  • Bu memleketin toprakları üstünde kanlarını döken kahramanlar! Burada dost bir vatanın toprağındasınız. Huzur ve sükun içinde uyuyunuz. Sizler Mehmetçiklerle yan yana koyun koyunasınız. Uzak diyarlardan evlatlarını harbe gönderen analar! Gözyaşlarınızı dindiriniz. Evlatlarınız bizim bağrımızdadır, huzur içindedirler ve huzur içinde rahat rahat uyuyacaklardır. Onlar bu toprakta canlarını verdikten sonra artık bizim evlatlarımız olmuşlardır.
    • The heroes who shed their blood and lost their lives on this country's soil! You are in the soil of a friendly country now. Therefore rest in peace. You are side by side with the little Mehmets. The mothers who send their sons to the war! Wipe your tears away. Your sons are in our bosom, are in peace and will be sleeping in peace comfortably. From now on, they have became our sons since they have lost their lives on this land.
  • I have no religion, and at times I wish all religions at the bottom of the sea. He is a weak ruler who needs religion to uphold his government; it is as if he would catch his people in a trap. My people are going to learn the principles of democracy, the dictates of truth and the teachings of science. Superstition must go. Let them worship as they will; every man can follow his own conscience, provided it does not interfere with sane reason or bid him against the liberty of his fellow-men.
    • Quoted in Atatürk: The Biography of the founder of Modern Turkey, by Andrew Mango; "In a book published in 1928, Grace Ellison quotes [Atatürk], presumably in 1926-27", Grace Ellison Turkey Today (London: Hutchinson, 1928)
  • We do not consider our principles as dogmas contained in books that are said to come from heaven. We derive our inspiration, not from heaven, or from an unseen world, but directly from life.
    • Statement (1 November 1937), as quoted in Atatürk: The Biography of the founder of Modern Turkey (2002) by Andrew Mango
  • Tarih yazmak, tarih yapmak kadar mühimdir. Yazan yapana sadık kalmazsa değişmeyen hakikat, insanlığı şaşırtacak bir mahiyet alır.
  • A nation which makes the final sacrifice for life and freedom does not get beaten.
    • As quoted in Ataturk (1944) by M. M. Mousharrafa, p. 130
  • Yurtta Sulh, Cihanda Sulh.
    • Peace at Home, Peace in the World.
      • Maxim which became the motto of the Republic of Turkey; quoted in many sources including, Atatürk (1963) by Uluğ İğdemir, p. 200; and Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the Caucasus (2000) by Svante E. Cornell, p. 287
  • Lasting peace is sought, it is essential to adopt international measures to improve the lot of the masses. The welfare of the entire human race must replace hunger and oppression. People of the world must be taught to give up envy, avarice and rancour.
    • As quoted in I. Milletlerarası Gençlik Kongresi [First International Youth Congress] (1988) by Selçuk University, p. 19
  • Even before accepting the religion of the Arabs, the Turks were a great nation. After accepting the religion of the Arabs, this religion, didn't effect to combine the Arabs, the Persians and Egyptians with the Turks to constitute a nation. (This religion) rather, loosened the national nexus of Turkish nation, got national excitement numb. This was very natural. Because the purpose of the religion founded by Muhammad, over all nations, was to drag to an including Arab national politics.
    • As quoted in Medenî Bilgiler ve M. Kemal Atatürk'ün El Yazıları [Civics and M. Kemal Atatürk's Manuscripts] (1998) by Afet İnan, p. 364
  • Everything we see in the world is the creative work of women.
    • As quoted in The Macmillan Dictionary of Political Quotations (1993) by Lewis D. Eigen and Jonathan Paul Siegel, p. 424; also in Ataturk: First President and Founder of the Turkish Republic (2002) by Yüksel Atillasoy, p. 15
  • Religion is an important institution. A nation without religion cannot survive. Yet it is also very important to note that religion is a link between Allah and the individual believer. The brokerage of the pious cannot be permitted. Those who use religion for their own benefit are detestable. We are against such a situation and will not allow it. Those who use religion in such a manner have fooled our people; it is against just such people that we have fought and will continue to fight. Know that whatever conforms to reason, logic, and the advantages and needs of our people conforms equally to Islam. If our religion did not conform to reason and logic, it would not be the perfect religion, the final religion.
    • As quoted in Kemalizm, Laiklik ve Demokrasi [Kemalism, Laicism and Democracy] (1994) by Ahmet Taner Kışlalı
  • The foundation of our religion is very strong. The material is strong as well, but the building itself was neglected for hundreds of years. As the plaster dropped down, none thought to replace it and none felt the need to reinforce the building. Quite the contrary: many foreign elements and interpretations, as well as empty beliefs, came along and damaged it still more.
    • As quoted in Kemalizm, Laiklik ve Demokrasi [Kemalism, Laicism and Democracy] (1994) by Ahmet Taner Kışlalı
  • Sesiniz, benim sesimdir. Unutmayınız!
    • Your voice is my voice. Do not forget it!
      • Statement made to those going to foreign nations or international conferences, as quoted by F. Rıfkı Atay; also quoted (in Turkish) in Atatürk ve çevresindekiler [Atatürk and his Entourage] (1995) by Kemal Arıburnu, p. 128
    • Variant translation: Your voice is my voice. Do not forget!
  • İstikbal göklerdedir.
    • The future is in the skies.
      • Atatürk's comment on aerospace-aeronautics, as quoted in Modernism and Nation-Building: Turkish Architectural Culture in the Early Republic (2001), p. 126 by Sibel Bozdoğan
  • İki Mustafa Kemal vardır: Biri ben, et ve kemik, geçici Mustafa Kemal... İkinci Mustafa Kemal, onu "ben" kelimesiyle ifade edemem; o, ben değil, bizdir! O, memleketin her köşesinde yeni fikir, yeni hayat ve büyük ülkü için uğraşan aydın ve savaşçı bir topluluktur. Ben, onların rüyasını temsil ediyorum. Benim teşebbüslerim, onların özlemini çektikleri şeyleri tatmin içindir. O Mustafa Kemal sizsiniz, hepinizsiniz. Geçici olmayan, yaşaması ve başarılı olması gereken Mustafa Kemal odur.
    • There are two Mustafa Kemals: One is me, the flesh-and-blood, mortal Mustafa Kemal … The second Mustafa Kemal,… I can not express it with the word “me”, it is not “me”, it is “we”. That is an intellectual and challenging society, struggling in every corner of the homeland for new ideas, new life and the great ideal. I represent their dream. My attempts are to satisfy the things they long. That Mustafa Kemal is you, all of you. That is the non provisional Mustafa Kemal that must live and succeed.
      • As quoted in Ataturk: First President and Founder of the Turkish Republic (2002) by Yüksel Atillasoy, p. 19
  • The nation has placed its faith in the precept that all laws should be inspired by actual needs here on earth as a basic fact of national life.
    • As quoted in A World View of Criminal Justice (2005) by Richard K. Vogler, p. 116
  • Humankind is made up of two sexes, women and men. Is it possible for humankind to grow by the improvement of only one part while the other part is ignored? Is it possible that if half of a mass is tied to earth with chains that the other half can soar into skies?
    • As quoted in "Atatürk" in Images of a Divided World (29 October 2006)
      • Variant translation: Humankind consists of two sexes, woman and man. Is it possible that a mass is improved by the improvement of only one part and the other ignored? Is it possible that if half of a mass is tied to earth with chains and the other half can soar into skies?
  • I do not leave any verses, dogmas, nor any moulded standard principles as moral heritage. My moral heritage is science and reason. What I have done and intended to do for the Turkish nation lies in that. Anyone willing to appropriate my ideas for themselves after me will be my moral inheritors provided they would approve the guidance of science and reason on this axis.
    • As quoted in Kemalist Devrim ve İdeolojisi (1980) by İsmet Giritli, İstanbul Üniversitesi Yayınları, p. 13
  • Sovereignty and kingship are never decided by academic debate. They are seized by force. The Ottoman dynasty appropriated by force the government of the Turks, and reigned over them for six centuries. Now the Turkish nation has effectively gained possession of its sovereignty… This is an accomplished fact… If those assembled here … see the matter in its natural light, we shall all agree. Otherwise, facts will still prevail, but some heads may roll.
  • Science is the most real guide for civilisation, for life, for success in the world. To search for a guide other than science is absurdity, ignorance and heresy.
    • As quoted in Atatürkçülük, Volume I, General Staff of the Republic of Turkey, Millî Eğitim Basımevi, 1984, p. 283
  • The Republic of Turkey cannot be a country of sheikhs, dervishes, and disciples. The truest, most real order is the order of civilisation.
    • As quoted in Atatürk'ün Söylev ve Demeçleri, Volume II, p. 215
  • Victory belongs to those who can say 'Victory is mine'. Success belongs to those who can begin saying 'I will succeed' and say 'I have succeed' in the end.
  • To see me does not necessarily mean to see my face. To understand my thoughts, my feelings is to have seen me.
    • As quoted in Atatürk by Prof. Dr. Utkan Kocatürk, Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı Yayınları, p. 207
  • Those who see the existence of all mankind in their own person are miserable. Obviously, that man will disappear as an individual. The need for any person to be satisfied and happy to live is to work not for himself but for the future. An insightful man can only act this way. Full enjoyment and happiness in life, but the honor, presence, happiness of future generations can be found.


Disputed[edit]

  • For nearly five hundred years, these rules and theories of an Arab Shaikh and the interpretations of generations of lazy and good-for-nothing priests have decided the civil and criminal law of Turkey. They have decided the form of the Constitution, the details of the lives of each Turk, his food, his hours of rising and sleeping the shape of his clothes, the routine of the midwife who produced his children, what he learned in his schools, his customs, his thoughts-even his most intimate habits. Islam – this theology of an immoral Arab – is a dead thing. Possibly it might have suited tribes in the desert. It is no good for modern, progressive state. God’s revelation! There is no God! These are only the chains by which the priests and bad rulers bound the people down. A ruler who needs religion is a weakling. No weaklings should rule.
    • As quoted in Grey Wolf: Mustafa Kemal – An intimate study of a dictator (1932) by Harold Courtenay Armstrong, pp. 199-200

Quotes about Atatürk[edit]

Above all, he was a builder, the greatest nation-builder of modern times. ~ Andrew Mango
Sorted alphabetically by author or source
  • The exploits of your leaders in many a historic field of battle; the progress of your Revolution; the rise and career of the great Atatürk, his revitalization of your nation by his great statesmanship, courage and foresight all these stirring events are well-known to the people of Pakistan.
    • Mohammad Ali Jinnah, replying to a speech made by the first Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan at the time of presenting credentials to the Quaid-i-Azam (4 March 1948)
  • The name of Atatürk brings to mind the historic accomplishments of one of the great men of this century, his inspired leadership of the Turkish People, his perceptive understanding of the modern world and his boldness as a military leader.
  • The centuries rarely produce a genius. It is our bad luck that the great genius of our era was granted to the Turkish nation. We could not beat Mustafa Kemal.
    • This seems to have originated in Kurtuluş (1994), a Turkish TV series, in which David Lloyd George is portrayed as saying this, as George Nathaniel Curzon was making a complaint against Raymond Poincaré; it has sometimes become quoted as an actual remark of the British Prime Minister, but no prior citations of such a statement have yet been found.
    • Variant translation: The genius of our century — centuries rarely produce a genius. Look at this bad luck of ours, that the great genius of our era was granted to the Turkish nation.

External links[edit]

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