Why 30 August is an important day in Turkey?

30 August is known in Turkey as Victory Day (Zafer Bayramı). It’s a National holiday on which the Turks honor the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and commemorate their military victory over the Greek troups in 1922.

Before we can explain the importance of 30 August, a little background information is needed. We start after the  First World War. Turkey, that time still called the Ottoman Empire, was under the absolute reign of the sultan. During the war, the Ottoman Empire fought on the side of Germany. After the war, this allowed the allied countries (eg. England, France, Italy, Greece) to take control by forcing a tight peace treaty on the country: the Treaty of Sèvres. This pact was signed on 10 August 1920 after 15 months were spend to draw it up. In this treaty the Ottoman Empire was divided among the allied countries. The Ottoman sultan was accepting this. But some determined army generals, under whom Mustafa Kemal, did not.

Resist

Somehow Mustafa Kemal succeeded in motivating the Turkish army and the Turkish people to resist the sultan and the foreign occupants. On May 15 1919 the Greek army occupied Smyrna (today’s Izmir). On May 19 1919 Atatürk landed in Samsun near the Black Sea which is seen as the start of the Turkish War of Independence.

Battle of Dumlupınar

After a progression of heavy wars, the Turks defeated at last by beating the Greeks out of Anatolia. This happened after the Battle of Dumlupınar near Afyon. The battle of Dumlupınar started on 26 August 1922. By that time, both the Turks and the Greek suffered already a lot from the lenghty war. Both parties had won and lost battles and at that specific moment there was actually no prospect of a quick ending of the conflict. The Greek army was stronger in numbers, but the Turks had the advantage of more heavy artillery and talented cavallery. But where the Greek soldiers were morally weak after the long war away from their homes, the Turks on the other hand were determined to defend their soil to the bitter end.

Victory

On 30 August 1922 the Turkish revolutionary army defeated the Greek troups in the Battle of Dumlupınar. The Greek defense broke completely and the Turks marched all the way to Smyrna.

The Battle of Dumlupınar is seen as the last fight in the War of Independence, and therefore August 30 1922 is named Victory Day. A few months later, the Pact of Sèvres was replaced by the more forbearing Treaty of Lausanne in which the current borders of Turkey were established.

Atatürk

On 29 October 1923 Mustafa Kemal – later honored with the title Atatürk, Father of Turks – officially declared the Republic of Turkey, and was elected as the country’s first president.

 

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