Turkey halts at the time of Atatürk's death

Turkey halts to commemorate the 83rd anniversary of Atatürk’s death

At 9:05 a.m., sirens sounded across the country and life came to a standstill to pay tribute to Atatürk, the father of the Turks.

Turkey halted today to commemorate with emotion the 83rd anniversary of Atatürk’s death, which occurred on November 10, 1938: a day in which the entire country came to a standstill at 9:05 a.m. -the time of his death- while sirens sounded in the streets, and in which the highest political authorities paid homage to the man who in 1923 achieved the independence of the nation and the birth of the Republic.

As is traditional, Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan and the country’s top political leaders paid tribute to Kemal Atatürk by visiting his mausoleum in Ankara (Anıtkabir) and laying flowers on his grave. “We will never allow the integrity of our country, the survival of our State, the unity, peace and ancient values of our noble nation, to be attacked,” Erdoğan wrote in the memorial book of the mausoleum.

Thousands of Turks also took this day to visit Anıtkabir and pay tribute to the one considered as the father of the country in Turkey.

Later, in a speech delivered during an event in Ankara, the Turkish President stressed the importance of continuing Atatürk’s vision of the country. “It is important to commemorate Atatürk, but the main thing is to understand Atatürk by following the story of his struggle, and to correctly identify the reasons behind it,” he said.

“In the Great Discourse (Nutuk), three objectives that had to be achieved with the founding of the Republic, were declared (by Atatürk)… to advance our country to the level of the most prosperous and the most civilized countries of the world; make it possible for our nation to acquire the necessary resources and means for her to live in nation-wide prosperity; and raise our national culture above the level of contemporary civilization,” Erdoğan explained.

“This is the direction in which the Gazi (Atatürk) turned our nation. Not words, but actions,” added the Turkish leader, stressing that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk actively fought where it was necessary for the independence and future of Turkey, and that he always closely followed current events in Europe and the world to anticipate events.

Life stood still for 2 minutes all over Turkey

As is tradition, at 9:05 in the morning Turkey time (07:05 CET) the sirens sounded in unison throughout the country, and life came to a standstill as everyone stood and observed two minutes of silence, as a sign of respect.

This happened all over Turkey at the same time, both in small towns and in large cities like Istanbul.

In the city’s Dolmabahçe Palace, where thousands of people queued to visit the room where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk died at the age of 57, there were also emotional moments.

The struggle for the independence of a nation

Mustafa Kemal led the Turkish War of Independence to expel the foreign powers that wanted to divide Anatolia and the invading Greek forces that had landed on the west coast of Turkey, and that came to advance to Ankara. With everything against him after the defeat of the Ottomans in World War I, the phrase Atatürk said then, became famous: “There is no line of defence, but an area to defend; and that area is the entire country”.

After the decisive Battle of Dumlupınar (August 26, 1922) in which the Greeks suffered a crushing defeat, on September 11 the British Empire, France, Italy and Greece were forced to sign a peace treaty with the Turks, signing themselves later the Treaty of Lausanne, which practically delimited the current borders of modern Turkey.

In November of that year the new Turkish government officially abolished the sultanate (the last sultan had escaped into exile with the British), and two years later the caliphate. A year later, on the night of October 28, 1923, Mustafa Kemal delivered a speech in which he said to former comrades in arms and politicians: “Sirs, we should declare the Republic tomorrow.”

Indeed, on October 29, 1923, the Turkish parliament met and proclaimed the Turkish Republic as the new government regime, electing Mustafa Kemal (already nicknamed “Atatürk”, or “Father of the Turks“) as the first president of Turkey: a post that he would keep until his death.