Fall 2010, Issue#24
-BROCHURE (inside)
In His Words

Freedom is the mother of all progress and salvation.
ataturk_w_mic talat_halman_ataturk
Mustafa Kemal ATATURK, Founder (1923), and the First President of Republic of Turkey (1881-1938) Prof. Talat S. HALMAN posed for the Lightmillennium.Org follow by his presentation "Ataturk Alive"at the Turkish Center in NYC on November 10, 2009. Photo credits: Lightmillennium.Org

Translated, re-composed and Presented by

Prof. Talat S. HALMAN

Mustafa Kemal ATATURK(1881-1938):

"A nation deprived of independence is not worthy of a status higher than
that of a slave in the eyes of the civilized world."

On the 19th of May, 1919, I set foot in Samsun. The situation, the panorama was as follows:

The group of powers with which the Ottoman State had been allied had suffered defeat in the Great War. The Ottoman Army had been routed on every front. An armistice had been signed setting harsh conditions. During the protracted course of the Great War, the nation had become exhausted and impoverished. Those who had dragged our nation and country into the war had fled abroad since now they only thought of their own lives. Vahdettin, the depraved occupant of the Sultanate and the Caliphate, was seeking some reprehensible measures, which, he imagined, could save himself and his throne. The cabinet headed by Ferit Pasha, the son-in-law, was inept, shorn of dignity, cowardly, subservient to the will of the Sultan alone, and ready to accept any arrangement designed to protect the Sultan and his entourage.

The weapons and the ammunitions of the army had been and were still being taken away.

The entente powers did not even find it necessary to respect the terms of the armistice. On some pretext or other their battleships and troops remained in Istanbul. The Adana province was occupied by the French; Urfa, Maras and Antep by the British. The Italian contingents were in Antalya and Konya, and British troops in Merzifon and Samsun. Everywhere foreign officials and functionaries and their private agents were active. Finally, on May 15th, 1919, Four days prior to the events, which my account begins, the Greek Army, with the approval of the entente powers, had landed in Izmir.

Hostile nations, in their aggression, were determined to destroy and dismember the Ottoman State and its territory. The person who served as Sultan and Caliph had but one concern - to save his own life and to safeguard his comfortable life style. The same was true of his government. The nation had been left without a leader although it was not aware of this: Standing in darkness and uncertainty, it waited to see what might happen.

The armed forces existed in name only. Commanders and other officers still suffered from the exhaustion of the Great War. Their hearts were bleeding because of the disintegration of their country. On the brink of the dark abyss deepening before their eyes, they racked their brains to find a way out.

The nation and the armed forces had no inkling of the Sultan-Caliph’s treason. On the contrary, due to the traditional religious ties strengthened by long centuries, they remained loyal and obedient to the occupant of the throne. When the nation and the armed forces considered solutions, they placed the salvation and protection of the Sultanate and Caliphate above their own.

They were unable to conceive of deliverance without the Caliph and the Sultan. Those who would oppose or even think differently would be inviting serious trouble. They would immediately be branded atheist, unpatriotic, traitor, and renegade! The foundations of the Ottoman State had come crumbling down. Time had run out on it. Ottoman lands had disintegrated. What remained was only an ancestral homeland in which a handful of Turks still found haven.

Under these circumstances, there could have been one decision alone - and that was to create a new Turkish State based on national sovereignty and unconditional independence! The essential point was that the Turkish nation should live in dignity and honor. This could only be attained through full independence. Regardless of how wealthy and prosperous it may be. A nation deprived of independence is not worthy of a status higher than that of a slave in the eyes of the civilized world.

To accept the tutelage or protectorate of a foreign power is nothing less than surrendering to impotence and ineptitude or lack of fundamental human decency.

But the Turk stands proud in dignity and honor. Such a nation would rather perish than live enslaved. Therefore independence or death!

There are two Mustafa Kemals, one is flesh and bone Mustafa Kemal who now stands before you and who will pass away. The other is you, all of you who will go to the far corners of our land to spread the ideals, which must be defended with your lives if necessary. I stand for the Nation’s dreams - and my life’s work is to make those dreams come true.

In order for honor, honesty and humanity to take shape and to survive in a nation, it is essential for that nation to enjoy freedom and independence.

In a country where there is no freedom there is death and destruction.

Culture is happiness through nature’s highest gifts and yields.

Culture will elevate the Republic. The Turkish revolution will secure for us the place we deserve in the civilized world.

The Republic wants new generations whose intellect free, whose conscience is free, whose learning is free.

Freedom is the mother of all progress and salvation.

Nothing important may be achieved without ambition. That ambition, however, must seek to serve the good of the nation. A leader must in accordance with the nation’s ideals and conform its preferences once he has become fully aware of its spirit.

Above all we must work hard, wealth as well as the welfare and the happiness which are a natural outcome of wealth are right earned only by those who work hard.

The Turkish revolution is creative: It is a work of patriotism blended with a lofty humanist ideal.

The great George Washington, the foremost modern pioneer of liberty, who won independence for his country by dividing out the foreign despots oppressing it, is that man whose example inspires and influences me most deeply. America is the oldest democracy in the West and ours is the youngest in the ancient world.

The great American Nation:

You expelled tyranny and despotism from your country. You gained and established your freedom and independence after a long and bloody struggle, and you built up a civilized, strong democratic state based upon the sovereignty of the people.

On the opposite side of the earth there is today another nation that is struggling and shedding her blood for the same aims of freedom, independence and democracy. Turkey’s detractors seek to blind your eyes to the purity and loftiness of those aims. The
author’s of this propaganda are either ignorant fanatics or the agents of those who are openly or secretly fighting against us to frustrate and destroy are newly won liberty. Do not believe the slanderers.

Keep your hearts open to the Turkish people who are fighting for freedom and independence, who are striving to achieve progress and justice in the world, like yourselves.

Turkish democracy has followed the path of the French revolution, but it has evolved on the strength of its own character, because every nation brings about its revolution or transformation on the basis of its own social needs and challenges.

Personal freedom is sacred.
One must work to protect it. But in so doing, the power and the authority of the state must not be destroyed... If the will of the state is done away with, there would be no power or means left to protect individual liberty.

Destroy the thought of tyranny.
Our ideal is to raise the Turkish nation to the level she is worthy of among civilized nations and to make the Turkish Republic far more powerful on its unshakeable foundations - and to this end, to destroy the thought of tyranny.

I feel it is superfluous to remind my colleagues of the grave period our country is going through. We have important duties to perform for our unfortunate country. Our sole objective is to save her. Our homeland is under the partial or effective tutelage or domination of foreigners. The Sultan is a despicable person who thinks only of his own pleasure and the monarchy. He is capable of committing every kind of ignominious act. The nation is crushed under repression and tyranny.

We have started a struggle against despotism. I am inviting you to confront this brutal tyranny with revolution, to do your duty to destroy the antiquated, rotten government, to make the people sovereign; in short to save our motherland.

There are many sister nations who will attain independence and sovereignty. They will triumph in spite of all the impediments.

Colonialism and imperialism will disappear from the face of the earth and a new age of harmony and cooperation without
any discrimination as to color, creed and race will prevail among nations.

This nation has never lived without independence. We cannot and shall not live without it.

Sovereignty belongs unconditionally to the people.

Following the military triumphs we have accomplished by bayonets, weapons and blood, we shall strive to win victories in such fields as culture, scholarship, and science and the economy.

The enduring benefits of victories depend only on the existence of an army of education.

We want nothing other than to lead a free and independent life within our national boundaries. We want our rights to remain inviolate. Our foreign policy does not infringe on the rights of any other nation. But I am the implacable enemy of any nation that wants to enslave my people until that nation abandons its designs.

The only real representative of the Turkish Nation is the Grand National Assembly.

Life means strife and struggle. Success in life is possible only by means of absolute success in strife, which requires power and fortitude both moral and physical.

I have become aware of one fact: Danger flees from man.

We have received our inspiration not from heaven or from the unknown, but directly from life itself. Being a great leader means that you will not show favoritism to anyone or deceive anyone, that you will perceive the nation’s true ideals and march
straight towards that objective.

Innumerable people will oppose you and speak against you try to lead you astray.

They will place on your path countless obstacles that you will have to overcome by regarding yourself not as great, but as humble, weak, devoid of the necessary means, as perhaps nothing. And then if they call you “great” you will laugh at those
people as well.

The guiding principle of progress in a government is its ability to convince the nation about the government’s power as well as kindness.

Fatigue is a natural state for every human being, for every creature. But human beings have a moral strength which can defeat fatigue and keep them marching on nonetheless. Those who are determined to forge ahead without resting never, never get tired. The youth of Turkey will tirelessly march towards their destination, towards their lofty ideals.

The heroic Turkish soldier has understood the significance of the battles of Anatolia and fought for a new ideal.

There are many countries, but a single civilization. In order to make progress, every nation must join this one civilization.

No part of our fatherland can be evacuated before it is wetted by the blood of the citizens.

Freedom, equality and justice all equally depend on national sovereignty.

Our government is not warlike nor does it seek adventure...

Modern thought should find its inspiration in human rights and reaffirm that these rights are inalienable. Taking inspiration from these principles, we wish to establish constructive and friendly relations with our neighbors to the East and to the West.

The new Turkish State is a people’s government. It is the government of people.

In some places I saw women who put a piece of cloth or a towel over their heads to hide their faces. When a man passed by they turned their backs or huddled on the ground. What is the meaning of such behavior? How can the mothers and daughters of a civilized nation adopt this bizarre manner, this barbarous posture? Such a spectacle makes a nation the object of ridicule. This must be remedied at once.

Human society consists of two species - women and men. How could one segment of society go forward while the other segment is ignored? When half of the body remains chained to the ground, how could the other part rise to sky?

Only through education a nation achieves the high status of a free, independent and esteemed society. There will be no Bolshevism in Turkey. Because the foremost objective of the Turkish government is to provide freedom and happiness for the people, to take good care of the civilian population as well as our military.

Our nation has crushed the enemy forces... But to achieve independence we must observe the following rule: The only power that will propel us to this goal is the economy. Political and military victories -- No matter how mighty they are -- cannot endure unless they are crowned by economic triumphs.

Some foreign writers keep praising me personally. They mention nothing about the greatness of the Turkish Nation, her humanist values, and the imprint of civilization she has left on the world. This country, under all circumstances, will become modern, civilized, and innovative. For us this is a matter of life.

We shall make the expansion and rise of Turkish culture the mainstay of the Turkish Republic. When I speak of a national program of education, I mean a culture freed of a antiquated superstitions, from foreign ideals alien to our innate qualities, from outside influences, from the East or West -- I mean a culture worthy of our national and historic talents.

Our political views are geared to serving the people: They stress the people’s direct use of political power, sovereignty and administration.

We are being asked whether our government is democratic or socialist? Ours is neither a democratic nor a socialist government. It is a form of government unlike the types found in textbooks, unlike any of the others. Ours is the government that embodies and represents national sovereignty and the national will. Sociology will define it as “the people’s government.” In terms of social doctrine, we are workers who are struggling to save our lives and our independence. We are poor people. Each one of us has a right and authority. We earn this right through work. Those who lie on their backs and while their time away without doing any work can have no place in our social structure.

Ours is a social doctrine, which tries to provide a legal basis for building the social structure upon labor.

Our doctrine envisions a national struggle against imperialism which seeks annihilate us and against capitalism which wants to devour us as a nation.

It is alleged that we do not resemble the democracies or socialism or anything. Actually, we should be proud of bearing no resemblance, because we resemble only ourselves.

Is our dress national? Is it civilized? Is it international? It is a grotesque mixture of styles. Our nation is worthy of a civilized, international way of of dressing. That is what we are going to wear: Boots or shoes on our feet, trousers on our legs, shirt and tie, jacket and waistcoat.... And naturally, to complete all this, a headgear with a brim. I want to make this clear: This is a head-cover called “hat.”

It has been necessary to abolish the fez, which used to sit on our heads as the symbol of ignorance, of fanaticism, of animosity towards progress and civilization -- And to adopt in its place, the hat which is the headdress of the civilized world. Thus we had to demonstrate also that there was no difference in mentality between the Turkish Nation and other civilized societies.

The Republic of Turkey can never be the land of Sheikhs, dervishes, disciples and lay brothers. The straight and true path is the road to civilization.

All the sects and their convents, congregation places, and mausoleum have been closed and titles such as sheikh, dervish, disciple, choleric, occultist, necromancer, mausoleum custodian and the like have been abolished. This was necessary in order to prove that our nation is not a primitive tribe enamored of superstitions.

Can a society be called a civilized nation if its members are led by the nose by sheikhs, by the leaders and lords of sects, by spiritual guides? Can it be a civilized nation if it entrusts its destiny and its life to fortune-tellers, sorcerers, soothsayers and amulet peddlers?

If I had not become the President of the Republic, I would have wanted to serve as Minister of Public Education to play a leading role in national education. In the political and social life of our nation, in her intellectual orientation, we shall be guided by scholarship and science.

There are those who do not want modern schools. But that is what the nation wants. Leave this poor nation alone! Let the poor children get their education! This nation needs modern schools.

Everywhere I went, the people, the villagers summarized the task for me with these two words: Roads and schools. They referred to road as “the wings of the villagers.” All economy is imbedded in the term ‘road‘ -and everything in the team ‘school.‘ The individuals trained by our schools should be capable of practicing their professions everywhere in the world.

High achievement in the fine arts is the most decisive proof that all reforms have succeeded. What a pity about those nations who fail to accomplish this.

If a nation is deficient in art and lacks creative artists, it cannot have a full life. An historical attribute of the Turkish nation is to love the fine arts and to attain greater heights.

We shall make the expansion and rise of Turkish culture in every era the mainstay of the Republic. I know how anxious you are to give impetus to our youth’s advancement in all the arts, in this; the greatest stride should be in Turkish music. Music is life’s joy, spirit, bliss, everything, but we ought to take note of what genre of music may be heard from the people of Anatolia.

The criterion of a nation’s transformation is its ability to realize and accept changes in music. Only by adapting national themes to contemporary musical norms could our national music make progress and take its place in universal music. This is an action for reform!

Gentlemen, you can call al become members of parliament or cabinet members or even president, but you cannot become creative artists.

No one is a nation’s master. There can only be service to the nation.

Republic is a form of government, which is predicated upon virtue. Republic is virtue.

Government has two objectives. One is the country’s defense, the other is providing for the nation’s welfare. The government that can secure these is a good government... The one that cannot is a bad government.

The cornerstone of education is an easy system of reading and writing. The key to this is the new Turkish alphabet based on the Latin script.

We are adopting the new Turkish alphabet in order to better express our beautiful language. Our lovely, melodious, rich language will reveal itself through the new script. We are forced to save ourselves from symbols, which for centuries kept our minds in their iron grip and baffled us.

The citizens must quickly learn the new alphabet. Teach it to every citizen, woman, man, porter, boatman... Remember, it is shameful if ten or twenty per cent of a nation is literate and eighty or ninety per cent is illiterate. Human beings should be ashamed of this... This nation has not been created to live in such shame.

Secularism brings to the citizens freedom of conscience and worship. Religion and faith are a matter of conscience. Everyone is free to act in accordance with the dictates of his own conscience. We are respectful of religions. All we are doing is to separate religious affairs from governmental affairs. As my moral legacy, I am not leaving behind any scripture, any dogma, any frozen or set rule. My moral legacy is science and reason. Those who choose to accept me, as their own after I am gone will be my moral heirs if they accede to the guidance of rationalism and science.

We are a nation without classes or special privileges.

The true owner and master of Turkey is the peasant who is the real producer.

In order to raise our new Turkey to the level that she is worthy of, we must, under all circumstances, attach the highest importance to the national economy.

We must liberate our concepts of justice, our laws and legal institutions from the bonds, which hold a tight grip on us although they are incompatible with the requirements of this century.

There are three hundred million Muslims in the world who are raised by their parents and teachers from whom they learn morality. But the regrettable fact is that these millions are in chains of bondage. The education they receive and the moral values they acquire have failed to instill in them the humanistic virtues necessary to break their fetters of slavery, because these masses have not also been through national education.

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.

The major challenge facing us is to elevate our national life to the highest level of civilization and prosperity.

Never fear to speak the truth, ideas can never be killed by force or violence, by artillery or rifle. The means that can best eliminate the dilemmas arising from freedom of the press is the freedom of the press itself.


I am not a dictator. It is said that I am powerful. Yes, this is true: There is nothing I want that I cannot achieve. I simply do not know how to act coercively and ruthlessly. A dictator subjugates other people. I would rather rule by winning hearts than by breaking hearts.

Even the guard at the door has no fear of me. Ask him if you like. It is impossible to build authority on fear.

I am a man of the heart. I always feel compelled to tell what I feel openly to the people. If I err, the people will contradict me.

Whatever we see on the face of the earth is the creative work of women... Women have not lagged behind men in science, scholarship and culture. Perhaps they have even gone farther ahead.

Start tape 1 (Excerpt from Ataturk’s speech to the Turkish youth on the tenth anniversary of the Republic in 1933)


Turkish Nation: This is the tenth anniversary of our Republic. It is the greatest holiday.

In a short period we have accomplished many major tasks. The greatest among them is the Turkish Republic whose foundation is Turkish heroism and high culture.

But we cannot regard what we have achieved as sufficient, we are obliged to, determined to do more, to accomplish greater things.

We shall raise our country to the level of the world’s most advanced civilized nations. We shall provide our nation with the most encompassing means and resources of welfare. We shall place our national culture above the level of contemporary civilization.

Marching on the road to progress and civilization the Turkish nation holds in her hands and in her head the torch of rational science.

The entire civilized world will once again realize that the Turkish nation is a great nation. Happy is the person who can say I am a Turk.

Peace is the most effective way for nations to attain prosperity and happiness.

As clearly as I see daybreak, I have the vision of the rise of the oppressed nations to their independence. If lasting peace is sought, it is essential to adopt international measures to improve the lot of the masses.

Unless the life of the nation faces peril, war is a crime.

Turks are the friends of all civilized nations.

If war were to explode all of a sudden like a bomb -- Nations would immediately join together their armed forces and their international resources to prevent it. The quickest and the most effective way to do this is to establish an international organization, which would prove to the aggressor that its aggression would not pay.

The prosperity of all humanity should take the place of hunger and misery... The citizens of the world should brought up in such a way that they shall be free of envy, greed and hatred.

Some leaders who fail to consider what a terrible tragedy war is have been pursuing aggressive objectives. They are corrupting the true meaning of nationalism. They are deceiving and leading astray their own nations. In these difficult times, the destiny of the world should be in the hands of leaders who have a conscious and character.

I have heard rumors about my health: “He is ill,” they say, “He is paralyzed. His days are numbered.” Here we are face to face. You see I am in perfect health, not paralyzed at all... The man who has devoted his whole life and his health to work in your interest is in good shape and will continue to strive for you. Because he lives for you. My strength comes from our mutual affection. Under the new system, this country and this nation will become one of the world’s most effective. I shall not die before I see this achieved.

Even if others will not respond to me in kind I will forgive them, forgiving is part of my nature.

The new Turkish society, with her new alphabet, national history, her own purified language, Her science and music, her technological institutions, with her women and men equal in all their rights - is the work of the past few years.

In the family of nations the Turkish Republic wants to serve as a useful, diligent, and peace-loving member. We do not adhere to any one school of economic thought. Neither Laissez-Faire, nor socialist, nor communist, nor statist, nor protectionist. New Turkey must maintain a mixed economic style.

It should not be assumed that we are antagonistic to foreign capital. There are certain economic problems, which we cannot solve with our own resources and our own capital. We have to look for friends willing to help us.

Democracy provides for the free development of individuals and refrains from government activities, which might impede their economic freedom and private enterprise.

If I had wanted to, I could have set up a military dictatorship and governed the country through it. But all I had in mind was to help create a modern state for my nation.

The extraordinary achievements of the Turkish Nation, including the political and social reforms of recent years, are truly the work of the nation herself. If our nation had lacked this talent and ability to progress, no force or power could have galvanized her to create all this. The source of our inspiration has been directly the conscience of the Turkish Nation.

The problem is not dying. It is to bring our ideals to fruition before we die.


Your foremost duty is to preserve and defend forever the Turkish independence and the Republic. This is the very foundation of your existence, and of your future, too. You will have enemies, at home and abroad, who will try to deprive you of this treasure. If some day you are compelled to defend your independence and Republic, you will not think within the limitations and constraints of the situation in which you find yourself. The prospects and conditions might look quite unfavorable.

The enemies conspiring against your independence and Republic might represent a victory unprecedented in the world. By force and by subterfuge, all of our beloved country’s fortresses may have been captured; all of its shipyards occupied, all of its armies dispersed, all of its land invaded.

To make matters far more sad and grave. Those in power in the country may be misguided and corrupt; they may even be traitors. Furthermore, those in power might identify their personal interests with the political designs of the invaders. The nation may be foundering in poverty and distress; it may be devastated and exhausted.

The youth of Turkey’s future! Even in such circumstances, it is your duty to save the Turkish independence and the Republic. The strength you need is in the noble blood that flows in your veins.

My worthless body will one-day turn to dust, but the Turkish Republic will live and flourish forever.

= = = = =

1) Prof. Talat HALMAN presented his own translations based on the speeches and statements of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's, the great leader and founder of Republic of Turkey, for his 71sth Commemoration at the Turkish Center in New York City on November 10, 2009.
2) Prof. Halman presented the above text as if "ATATURK ALIVE" in our times among over 70 slides that those brought in Ataturk himself and his own time through his images to the program.
3) The text of "Ataturk Alive" presentation and its permission obtained from Prof. Talat S. HALMAN directly for its e-publication on the Lightmillennium.Org.
4) Only the very first or max. two paragraphs may/could be e-published on other on-line platforms/websites with the full credit of Prof. Talat S. HALMAN and the Lightmillennium.Org among related URL address and with its hyperlink.
5) Prior permission is mandatory to reproduce any part of this text in any form or medium other than (4), and related permission must be obtained from Prof. Talat Halman via the Lightmillennium.Org. Thank you.

We are grateful and thankful to Prof. Halman for sharing his extraordinary translation and presentation with the Lightmillennium.Org, and its seeded global community. L.M.

-Previously published text is also available, please click>

Special Thanks to Azime Aydogmus for re-typing this.

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