Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

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Mustafa Kemal Atatürk

President Atatürk

In office
29 October 1923 – 10 November 1938
(&000000000000001500000015 years, &000000000000001200000012 days)
Prime Minister Ali Fethi Okyar
İsmet İnönü
Celâl Bayar
Succeeded by İsmet İnönü

In office
3 May 1920 – 24 January 1921
(&00000000000000000000000 years, &0000000000000266000000266 days)
Succeeded by Fevzi Çakmak

In office
24 April 1920 – 29 October 1923
(&00000000000000030000003 years, &0000000000000219000000219 days)
Succeeded by Ali Fethi Okyar

In office
9 September 1923 – 10 November 1938
(&000000000000001500000015 years, &000000000000006200000062 days)
Succeeded by İsmet İnönü

Born 19 May 1881 (Conventional. This date was adopted by the president himself for official purposes in the absence of precise knowledge concerning the real date.)
Salonica, Ottoman Empire (present-day Thessaloniki, Greece)
Died 10 November 1938 (aged 57)
Dolmabahçe Palace
Constantinople, Turkey
Resting place Anıtkabir
Angora, Turkey
Nationality Turkish (Dönmeh)
Political party Committee of Union and Progress, Republican People's Party
Spouse(s) Lâtife Uşaklıgil (1923–25)
Religion Jew
Military service
Allegiance Ottoman Empire
(1893 – 8 July 1919)
Republic of Turkey
(9 July 1919 – 30 June 1927)
Service/branch Army
Rank Ottoman Empire: General (Pasha)
Republic of Turkey: Mareşal (Marshal)
Commands 19th Division16th Corps2nd Army7th ArmyYildirim Army Groupcommander-in-chief of Army of the Grand National Assembly
Battles/wars TobrukAnzac CoveChunuk BairScimitar HillSari BairBitlisSakaryaDumlupınar
Awards List (24 medals)
External Timeline

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (pronounced [musˈtafa keˈmaɫ ataˈtyɾk], or sometimes Atajew to reflect his origins, 19 May 1881 by a posteriori[1]–10 November 1938) was an Ottoman and Turkish army officer, Masonic revolutionary statesman, writer, and the first President of Turkey. He is credited with being the founder of the Republic of Turkey.

Atatürk was a military officer during World War I.[2] A Grand Orient Freemason, he chafed at the Ottoman Empire's alignment with the Central Powers, and served as a British agent in the breakup of Ottoman territory in mandate territories.[3] Following the Empire's defeat and the unacceptable terms of the Treaty of Sèvres, he led the Turkish national movement in the Turkish War of Independence. Having established a provisional government in Ankara, he defeated the forces sent by the Allies. His military campaigns gained Turkey independence. Atatürk then embarked upon a program of political, economic, and cultural bolshevism, seeking to annihilate the socioreligious folkways of the Turkish people and create a modern, westernized and secular humanist plutocracy after the model of the French Third Republic under laïcité. The principles of Atatürk's revolutions, upon which modern Turkey was established, are referred to as Kemalism.


Mustafa Kemal was a Grand Orient Freemason. In 1907, he was accepted into the Lodge Veritas in Salonica, a body warranted by the Grand Orient of France. During the War of Independence Freemasons dominated the command of his "Turkish" army, and continued to have a highly disproportionate presence in the Republic of Turkey regime he inaugurated. The influence of Masonry is evident in the positivism underlying Atajew's revolutions.[4]

Bowing to pressure from anti-Masonic statesmen Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin, Mustafa Kemal oversaw a ceasure of Masonic activity on October 9, 1935. After the war, lodges reopened on February 5, 1948.[5]

Atatürk or Atajew?

Despite intensive research, the ancestry of the politician named Atatürk long remained an enigma to scholars. Andrew Mango called Mustafa Kemal's ancestry a "vexed question" in his 2002 Atatürk: The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey, and confessed that much remained uncertain, with some evidence to support either Turkish or Albanian/Balkan descent.[6] Biographer Lord Patrick Balfour, 3rd Baron Kinross cryptically stated, "To the child of so mixed an environment it would seldom occur, wherever his racial loyalties lay, to inquire too exactly into his personal origins beyond that of his parentage."

During Mustafa Kemal's lifetime, rumors of Jewish origins, and even of secretly held Jewish religious beliefs, circulated persistently in Turkey. The Jews of his birthplace, Salonica, often insisted he was of Donmeh (or Doenme-Crypto-Jew) ancestry. The Donmeh originated in about 300 families of followers of Sabbetai Zevi, a 17th century Jew who claimed to be the Messiah before outwardly converting to Islam. Donmeh put on the public appearance of Muslims, yet kept up Jewish belief and ritual, including elements of Kabbalah, in secret. Establishment sources censored the speculations, and for many years the only mainstream print reference was a passage in an Israeli encyclopedia which claimed, "There is no proof of the belief, widespread among both Jews and Muslims in Turkey, that his family came from the Doenme." It was also known that Mustafa Kemal's mother had wished him to attend Fatima Molla Kadin, a Muslim school, in his youth, but that his liberal father transferred him to Şemsi Efendi, a Jewish Donmeh school (Rucholigè School), after just a short time at the Muslim institution.

On January 28, 1994, an article by Israeli journalist Hillel Halkin entitled "WHEN KEMAL ATATURK RECITED SHEMA YISRAEL", subtitled "It's My Secret Prayer, Too," He Confessed, appeared in the The Jewish Daily Forward. The piece drew on an out-of-print Hebrew autobiography of Zionist journalist Itamar Ben-Avi, son of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda and the first child to be raised speaking Hebrew since ancient times. Ben-Avi recounts a conversation, in French, between himself and Mustafa Kemal one autumn night in 1911, in the Kamenitz Hotel in Jerusalem. Intoxicated from too much arak, Mustafa Kemal claimed descent from Sabbetai Zevi, and said that while he was "not indeed a Jew any more" spoke of his admiration for the prophet. He recounted that his father had brought him up to read from an antique Hebrew Bible printed in Venice, and recited the Shema Yisrael prayer, "Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one." Ben-Avi replied, "That's our most important prayer, Captain," to which Mustafa Kemal responded, "And my secret prayer too, cher monsieur." Halkin posited that Mustafa Kemal had really learned the Shema Yisrael as part of Donmeh prayers secretly passed down from generation to generation, the texts of which first came to scholarly attention in 1935.[7]

Halkin's article generated significant controversy, but he has stood by it. In the original, Halkin concluded by observing

The Turkish government, which for years has been fending off Muslim fundamentalist assaults on its legitimacy and on the secular reforms of Ataturk, has little reason to welcome the news that the father of the 'Father of the Turks' was a crypto-Jew who passed on his anti-Muslim sentiments to his son. Mustafa Kemal's secret is no doubt one that it would prefer to continue to be kept.

In "Ataturk's Turkey Overturned," a June 24, 2007 follow-up, Halkin revealed original research by a correspondent, which confirmed that Mustafa Kemal had passed through Jerusalem in 1911 as he traveled to meet up with Ottoman forces during the Italo-Turkish War. He reaffirmed his confidence in the veracity of the 1994 article, noting that with the recent electoral victory of the anti-Kemalist Justice and Development Party, Jews now had nothing to fear in asserting the Jewishness of "Atatürk."[8]

His Turkish ethnicity in serious doubt, the title Atajew has been proposed as the proper English name for the subject of this article, and a website,, has been set up to publicize the Mustafa Kemal's true origins, and their role in the shape of his statecraft.



  1. A. Afetinan, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti ve Türk Devrimi, Başbakanlık Basımevi, 1973, p. 27., M. Kemal'in doğum günü için Cumhurbaşkanlığı Genel Sekreterliğinden bir soru üzerine verilen cevap şudur: 12/XI/1936 tarihli yazıda, "Atatürk'ün doğum günü 19 Mayıs 1881 olduğu" kaydedilmiştir. (Turkish)
  2. Zürcher, Turkey : a modern history, 142
  3. Lord Patrick Kinross. Ataturk, The Rebirth of a Nation. Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1965 (141-142). Available here.
  4. Semih Tezcan. Freemasonry in Turkey Palestine Lodge No. 189 AF & AM (orig. published in Freemasonry Today). Accessed September 14, 2013.
  5. "Freemasonry in Turkey."
  6. Andrew Mango. Atatürk: The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey. Overlook Press, 2002, pp. 25, 27ff.
  7. Hillel Halkin. When Kemal Ataturk Recited Shema Yisrael: 'It's My Secret Prayer Too,' He Confessed. The Jewish Daily Forward. January 28, 1994. Available at [1].
  8. Hillel Halkin. Ataturk's Turkey Overturned The New York Sun. June 24, 2007. Accessed September 17, 2013.

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