This is one of the most important name change entries in this series.

Ali Riza oglu Mustafa (1881-1934)

He was born in the city of Salonica, in what is today Thessaloniki, Greece to a middle-class Muslim family in the Ottoman Empire. Ataturk would attend military school and then briefly stationed in Syria and Palestine.

During World War I and the takeover of the Young Turks, Ataturk served in the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915. He would then become promoted to Lieutenant General. Although the Armenian Genocide took place which killed 1.5 million people, Ataturk was not linked to it.

While the Ottoman Empire lost a lot of its territory after the war, Ataturk already established an independence movement in Turkey. He was able to repel invasions from the European powers.

After the overthrow of Turkey’s final sultan, Ataturk came into power where he would spend the rest of his life implementing reforms throughout the new Republic of Turkey.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1934-1938)

ata: (Turkish) father
türk: (Turkish) Turk

One of those reforms was the Turkization of names. Ataturk was no exception to having a name change. While he was given the name Kemal by his mathematics teacher and kept it still, he adopted the surname Ataturk to represent his status within the new republic.


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