Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (March 12, 1881 - November 10, 1938), Turkish soldier and statesman, was the founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey. He was born in the Ottoman city of Selânik (now Thessaloniki in Greece), where his birthplace is the Turkish Consulate and is also preserved as a museum. In accordance with the then prevalent Turkish custom, he was given the single name Mustafa. His father, Ali Riza (Efendi) was a customs officer who died when Mustafa was a child, his mother was Zübeyde (Hanim).
Ataturk's Early career
Mustafa studied at the military secondary school in Selânik, where he was given the additional name Kemal ("perfection") by his math teacher in recognition of his academic brilliance. As Mustafa Kemal he entered the military academy at Monastir (now Bitola) in 1895. He graduated as a lieutenant in 1904 and was posted to Damascus. He soon joined a secret society of reform-minded officers called Vatan (Fatherland) and became an active opponent of the Ottoman regime. In 1907 he was posted to Selânik and joined the Committee of Union and Progress commonly known as the Young Turks.
The Young Turks seized power from the Sultan Abdul Hamid II in 1908, and Kemal, became a senior military figure. In 1911 he went to the province of Libya to take part in the defence against the Italian invasion. During the first part of the Balkan Wars Kemal was stranded in Libya and unable to take part, but in July 1913 he returned to Constantinople and was appointed commander of the Ottoman defences of the Gallipoli area on the coast of Thrace. In 1914 he was appointed military attache in Sofia, partly to remove him from the capital and its political intrigues.
Ataturk as War Commander
When the Ottoman Empire entered World War I on the side of Germany, Kemal was posted to Rodosto (now Tekirdag) on the Sea of Marmara. His area of command again included the Gallipoli area, and he was thus the Ottoman commander against the invading allied forces during the Gallipoli landings by British, French and ANZAC forces in April 1915. Here he made his name as a brilliant military commander, although he was extremely wasteful of the lives of his troops, who died in large numbers in "human wave" attacks. Nevertheless he was the first Ottoman military commander to defeat a western army in living memory, and became a national hero, awarded the title Pasha (commander).
During 1917 and 1918 Kemal Pasha was posted to the Caucasus front fighting the Russian forces with some success, and then to the Hejaz, where the Arab Revolt against Ottoman rule was in progress. He became increasingly critical of the incompetent conduct of the war by the Sultan's government, and also of German domination of the Empire. He resigned his command, but eventually agreed to return to command Ottoman forces in Palestine.
In October 1918 the Ottomans capitulated to the Allies, and Kemal became one of the leaders of the party which favoured a policy of defending...