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Memorable Encounters with Atatürk

Edited By Gönül Bakay and Leyla Pekcan

The book is a collection of memoirs related to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. The recollections of 27 people who met Atatürk in person reflect the environment in which they grew up. The accounts of their childhood during the founding period of the Turkish Republic provide a wealth of information enabling historians to reconstruct how the perception of Atatürk was transformed during a time of profound political change.

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About the Interviewees


Ülkü Adatepe

She was the adopted daughter of Atatürk. She recently passed away (August 1, 2012). Her mother was very poor and lived with her grandfather near Atatürk’s home in Selanik. When her grandfather died, she was raised by Atatürk’s mother, Zübeyde hanım. After his mother’s death, Atatürk invited Ülkü’s mother to live with him in Ankara. Later, she married a French teacher, who was a train stationmaster, and subsequently became pregnant. Atatürk said, it doesn’t make a difference whether the child is a girl or a boy, name her “Ülkü”. Ülkü became a favourite of Atatürk as she grew up. She used to wake him every morning, calling him “my Atatürk”, and would accompany him on most of his travels.

She reminisces that he was a humorous man who liked to joke with people. Every morning, she would have her breakfast with Atatürk. She remembers that Atatürk would read every night till the early hours. Sometimes his guards would not allow Ülkü to go early in the morning to wake him up, telling her that he should rest. Ülkü tells that people always assumed that Atatürk died from cirrhosis of the liver, caused by heavy drinking, but she explains that Atatürk had suffered from Malaria when he was very young and that it was never properly treated, and that he suffered relapses from time to time. This weakened his...

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