a project of ATASC

A Liberator

Hundreds of volumes have been written about Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s life and military leadership skills during the years after World War I and Turkey’s War of Independence. It was this period in his life when he truly established himself as Turkey’s hero. Although this website is kept brief, please see Books and Articles about Atatürk for more information.

After World War I, the Allied victors began seizing the defeated Ottoman Empire’s territories. Reverberations of the partitioned Empire are still felt to this day, as new countries emerged. For example, the territory of Syria was transferred (ie, mandated) to France and the territory of Iraq was mandated to the United Kingdom (see Map 2 and Map 3).


 Map 2.  Pre World War I Borders

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 Map 3. Post World War I Borders

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The remaining remnant of the Ottoman Empire (ie, the borders of modern-day Turkey), was to be further sectioned into mandates to France, Russia, Greece, and Italy, according to the Treaty of Sèvres (see Map 4). Although Russia wanted the city, Istanbul was occupied by Britain and France. Greece occupied western Turkey; Italy wanted the entire southern and southwestern sections. The new borders of the defeated Ottoman Empire were eventually reduced to a small area in Anatolia.


 Map 4. Treaty of Sèvres: Partitioning Turkey after World War I in 1919 

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Mustafa Kemal Atatürk rebelled against the Armistice of Mudros, the unjust terms of the Treaty of Sèvres, the last Ottoman sultan who became a puppet in the hands of the victors, and the occupation of his homeland by World War I victors in defiance of the terms of the armistice.  Headquartered in Ankara, he resigned from the Ottoman Army, created a provisional, secular government, declared the end of the Ottoman Sultanate, and organized and commanded rebellion armies. The Ottoman government, controlled by the British, issued a warrant for his arrest; he faced the death penalty if caught.  

This was Turkey’s War of Independence (1919 – 1922), also called the War of Liberation.

Atatürk established a Turkish Parliament (called the Grand National Assembly) in Ankara, and he and the National Army led the resistance against the occupation. Desperate battles were fought on multiple fronts against multiple armies, but this war was tantamount to the survival of Turkish existence. Atatürk and Turkish troops passionately battled against the invading armies in eastern, western, and southern Turkey to liberate the Motherland.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk knew exactly what was at stake.  As commander-in-chief, he utilized everything that he had learned since his academy days. Though not even forty-years old, he endured more of war’s horror and suffering so that his people could be delivered to their rightful home.  Atatürk was a military genius who could emerge out of chaotically changing governments, armies, and eras, with a clear vision of the how the present should be and how the future will be.  



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