Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
* M.K.Atatürk has referred to 19 May 1919 as his birthday,
the day he landed in Anatolia , which marks
the start of the War of Independence.
He died on 10 November 1938.
Atatürk, the founder and the first President of the Turkish Republic, was born in Salonika in 1881. He was given the name Mustafa. His parents were Ali Riza Effendi and Zübeyde Hanım.
Mustafa lost his father, a timber merchant, in early childhood and it was his mother who brought him up. For his primary education he went to the school of Semsi Effendi in Salonika, the first private school in the town to provide a modern education. But when his father died, Mustafa and his mother went to live with his uncle in the country and he had to leave this school.
Mustafa found himself sharing his uncles country life. He was given jobs to do and had to work as a watchman on the farm as well as sharing in the other work. Life continued like this for a time until his mother began to worry about his lack of schooling. It was finally decided that he should live with his mothers sister in Salonika and go to school there.
He entered the State Preparatory School (Mulkiye Idadisi) in Salonika. One of the masters at the school was a man called Kaymak Hafiz. One day, during one of his lessons, Mustafa had a fight with another boy. Kaymak Hafiz took hold of Mustafa and beat him so hard that he was covered with bruises. His aunt, who was in any case opposed to his going to the school, immediately took him away.
Mustafa wanted to enter a military school. However, the idea of his becoming a soldier frightened his mother, who by this time had returned to Salonika, and she refused to allow him to go. So when the entrance exams were held, he went secretly to the military school and sat the examinations without letting her know. The first his mother knew about it was when he told her he had passed. She was faced with a fait accompli. The year was 1893.
At this new school, Mustafa developed a special interest in mathematics, and he used to attempt problems well in advance of those taught in class. He made a habit of submitting written questions to the teacher, who then replied to them, also in writing. The teachers name was Mustafa and one day he said to little Mustafa, his pupil: Look here, my son. Your name is Mustafa and so is mine. There must be something to distinguish between us. Why dont you call yourself Mustafa Kemal from now on? This suggestion was adopted and little Mustafa became Mustafa Kemal. Kemal means perfection.
In 1895, after finishing at the Military Middle School in Salonika, Mustafa Kemal went on to the Military High School (Askeri Idadisi) in Monastir. There, too, he found the math lessons very easy, but he was behind in French. The French master took a great deal of trouble with him, while often being very critical. This criticism stung Mustafa Kemal and, during...
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