Atatürk: father of a nation and a real drunk

Atatürk in a common pose with a full glass of Turkish raki.

Atatürk in a common pose with a full glass of Turkish raki.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk is the national hero of Turkey. He was an army officer, a revolutionary, founder of  modern day Turkey and one hell of a drinker. The man drunk a liter of raki, the Turkish national liquor, a day. Probably also the reason why he died only 57 years old from a chronic liver disease. Still he is the man that turned the declining Ottoman Empire with it’s Islamic laws to a modern secular state. With that he brought his people freedom to drink.

Atatürk was born in the Greek city of Thessaloniki, which at that time (1881) was still part of the Ottoman Empire. As many people in the Balkans he was probably a real mix. His father was said to be an Albanian, where he might also had some Slavic and Jewish blood. However the family he grew up in was an ordinary middleclass Muslim family. Thessaloniki at that time as one of the few territories on the Balkan peninsula was still under Turkish rule. The Ottoman empire was already heavily declined and by that time it had already given up territories in Hungary, Bosnia, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria. And things weren’t really looking up. The Turkish regime was old fashioned, crusted and suffering from corruption. And worst of all: Alcohol was still officially prohibited in the Empire.

Atatürk like his father joined the military and had his share in the Young Turk Revolution in 1908. Two years later he was sent  to stop the Albanian revolt and in 1911 he fought in the Italo-Turkish war.  These battles weakened the Ottoman Empire even more and the Balkan states that were still oppressed saw their chance. In 1912 Atatürk and the other Turkish officers had to rush home, when Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Montenegro started the first Balkan War, trying to drive the Ottomans off the European continent. When the Bulgarians on one side and the Serbians and Greeks on the other started fighting over won territory, Atatürk saw his chance and reclaimed some of the lands Bulgaria had conquered in Thrace. In World War I the Empire hooked up with Germany and Austria-Hungary and therefor lost the war. These new humiliations led to the Turkish War of Independence against the Greek, Armenian and allied forces controling territories in modern day Turkey. In 1923 the Republic of Turkey was proclaimed.

Basically Atatürk not only saved face for the Turks. He led them into the 20th century as a modern republic, where politics and church were kept seperate. For this he is still idolized in Turkey. In statues, on money or stamps, Atatürk is simply everywhere. In the many movies made about him he is shown as a flawless superior human being.  A fearless warrior, who’s loyalty to Turkey was unbreakable. A lot of Turks therefor were really upset when Can Dundar (a Kemalist himself) made a more realistic movie in 2008 called ‘Mustafa’. In this documentary he showed the human side of ‘Father Turk’. Mustafa Kemal was a heavy smoker, afraid in the dark and he drunk a bottle of raki (about 40 to 50% alcohol) a day.

Where we thought that second thing isn’t what people want to hear about there heroic role model, it was actually the raki part that shocked most people. Turkey is still an Islamic country and the current government of prime minister Erdogan is always trying to get his people off the booze. A lot of Turks rather deny the true lifestyle of Atatürk. As the journalist Reha Muhtar explained on Turkish television: “Of course Atatürk had his human weaknesses. But what’s the point of showing them? He is the great leader, the cement to our nation. If you break down the idea of ‘Atatürk, our great leader’, Turkey will fall apart.”

But there’s also the young generation that finds the truth quite a fresh breeze after the thick fog of propaganda spread over the nation through the years. In Dutch media the 19-year old Feliz said about Mustafa: “This documentary was not amazing, but it was nice to see the human side of Atatürk for the first time. Critics say that in the documentary Atatürk was small. Well, was he big than? Didn’t he drink raki? Didn’t he smoke? We need to stop treating this man as a prophet.”

In 1937 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. Obviously his heavy drinking – something he did all of his adult life – was the cause, but still he tried to maintain this lifestyle that he loved so much. That didn’t help of course and the 10th of November 1938 he blew out his last breath at age 57. Not the most heroic end for a national hero perhaps. But someone who has been drinking and fighting all his life is likely to die of one of them.

Well, we’re not judging about what Turks nowadays chose to believe or remember. Nor will we judge Mustafa Kemal as a soldier or a statesman. We just think that it’s impressive that someone who drinks a bottle of hard liquor a day can grow out to be the father of a nation and idolized long after his death. So Şerefe to that!

Micky Bumbar

More drinkers that left their mark on the world’s history.

Advertisements

56 thoughts on “Atatürk: father of a nation and a real drunk

  1. As a Turk and a Kemalist myself, i’m in two minds about this. I knew Ataturk enjoyed a drink or two, but not to the degree described here, this doesn’t change my opinion or my beliefs, but I thank you for mentioning what you have here in this piece. I don’t live in Turkey but Erdogan’s new laws strike me as a infrigement on human rights. People should be able to drink if they want, when they want.
    Thanks for posting this.

    Like

    • Thanks a lot for your comment… I was actually wondering how Turks would react to the story. So far it was pretty quiet.
      I hope the current situation in Turkey will improve soon. Do you still have family living there? I was there June 2011 for the last time and it was amazing. Would be a shame if this beautiful country is turned into a police state!
      Cheers,
      Micky

      Like

      • You’re welcome! As for the quietness of other Turks on here, it may be because referring to the Founder as someone who consumed alcohol offends them. You may well get views and comments on this, though.

        My father’s side of the family all live there. The last I went there was in April of 2011. Many, many people are against the current government and want their voices heard. It’s a beautiful place with an astounding history and watching it fall to ruin at the hands of the powerful really does break my heart.

        Thank you for getting back to my comment,
        Mel

        Like

      • I really think that considering a father of a nation and a geneius as a drunk is a rude behavior. First of all, he was not a drunk at all, only he SOMETIMES enjoyed rakı. If he were a drunk, he could not achieve to win the battles and build the Turkish Republic. Second is nobody have ever seen or treated as prophet. It has nothing about it. He was a great man, a state builder and a hero of a nation.

        Like

    • Melly1994- in order to die of liver cirossis it was more than a “drink or two” lets face it, Ataturk is the Hitler of Byzantines, Cilicia, Kurdistan, Pontus Greeks and Assyrians. We are the true indigenous people of what is called Republic of Turkey (est 1923) Ataturk merely finished what the Ottoman Pashas /Bloody Sultan Hamid started = elimination of all non Turkic, Gavurs (non Muslims) stealing and looting EVERYTHING including confiscation of religious buildings, churches etc., Take a look at any building in Turkey that is over 100 years old, it was built by non Turkic people.
      Turkic people invaded from Central Asia Mongolia where the Turkic Ughyur Muslim Tribes orginate from. Most Turks today have a lot of Greek, Armenian or Kurdish blood washing out some of the Mongolian features. The Ottoman Empire is nothing to be proud of, Europe, Northern Africa and middle east were devasted by the sword of the Ottoman including slaughtering of their own muslim brothers who would not be Turkified or taxed higher. Ataturk is no one in history to be proud of. Hell even the grand mosque in Istanbul (formally Constaniople) was the St. Hagia Sofia then SHAMELESSLY converted to a mosque where today Turkish government tries to call it a “museum” without ANY mention of the people who built it. However Islamic prayers are allowed, if a Christian tries to pray in THEIR converted church they would be arrested or killed like Hrant Dink. Turkocentrism is very sick and so is Islamofacisim which is what Turkey has turned into with the Pro Islamic leaning AKP who by the way hates Kemalists.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Causes

        It has many possible causes; sometimes more than one cause is present in the same person. Globally, 57% of cirrhosis is attributable to either hepatitis B (30%) or hepatitis C (27%).[18] Alcohol consumption is another important cause, accounting for about 20% of the cases.[18]
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cirrhosis#Causes

        byzentine empire invaded much more lands and applied real massacres. you are another outdated greek patriot. you come with 200 years old debates, which all have been disproven. you shits are so lazy that whole europe has to pay for your international debts. your thieving and lying face can be understood from this simple fact which you dont pay your debts.

        Like

      • Hahaha I am Greek? That’s new to me. I really thought I was from Holland. But you probably know best!

        Like

      • But ataturk killed thousands of kurd and destroyed thousand of kurdish village . Kurds was not allowed to speach in kurdish . Do you think any human do something like this . How you do if some one foce you to speach only kurdish . there are about 35 milliond kurd in this area.

        Like

      • Well he was pretty rough on many people. Greeks and Armenians are also not his biggest fans.
        Cheers,
        Micky

        Like

      • whole not true or not false but at least worrying for me … turks, kurds, greeks, armenians and all other nations have to learn living together in peace on this lonely planet … cheers

        Like

      • if a Christian tries to pray in THEIR converted church they would be arrested or killed like Hrant Dink.

        i’m sorry, with all my respects, Do you know how Hrant Dink died? And also i prayed in Ayasofia but i’m still alive… (maybe that’s because i didn’t turned that into a show)

        I’m an Armenian and a Christian and i found your comment very ignorant and offensive. We are brothers with Turks, Greeks and Jews. You found the example to this harmony on the back streets of the neighborhood called “Şişli”

        Like

    • People drink in Turkey when they want lol what are you accusing Erdogan with? what was so Great about Turkey after his death. He killed tons of the religious freedoms for his own people. As an American who followed Trukey’s history, Erdogan was the ONLY true leader that took Turkey out of the swamp… Turkey is now a great power in the region.

      Like

      • Haha Erdogan is a big pussy. He is the reason why life in Turkey got shittier, why less tourists are coming and for that the economy gets worst. For sure as long as he is in charge they will never come into EU. Basically he is the cancer tumor of Turkey!

        Like

      • Turkey has more tourists then ever so Erdogan is doing something right and the economy in Turkey IS booming. He’s definitely no ‘pussy’ like you say. He loves his country with as much passion as Ataturk did. His values on specific factors do differ in certain respects but thats to restore certain values that have been lost. Ataturk loved to drink and turned Turkey into a culture of drinking, considering he died of cirrhosis of the liver it just proves he didn’t give a damn about the negative impact of creating a nation of casual drinkers

        Like

      • Erdogan is a little bitch. It should be every peron’s own decision to drink or not. Nobody needs a Putin-wannabe to watch over our health. Don’t even want to get started on him violating human rights and freedom in media.Pure from a drinker’s perspective he is a megalomanic asshole.
        Cheers,
        Micky

        Like

  2. Because of Ataturk we are still muslims. The current government tries to make us more Arabic. I still cant believe that people are voting for Erdogan. The AKP says, there is no such thing as ‘Turk’. they forbid to say I am a Turk. When the Kurds are saying, I am a Kurd, Kurdistan etc. there is nothing wrong but when we say in our own country I am a Turk, proud to be a Turk etc. we are facists. And the AKP doesn’t even respect the islam. They made fun of the quran several times and calls the terrorist leader ocalan a sultan and people still vote for him. Because of Erdogan alot of soldiers were fallen. He brought our army in shame several times. Our soldiers wanted to go in Iraq, 40.000 peshmerga was waiting there and what is the order? Turn back. Ataturk said when the British and French were arriving in Gallipoli; They will go back like they came to here.
    And the Americans putted sacks on the head of the Turkish soldiers and again Erdogan didn’t opened his mouth. He will pay for all of this. You can’t put our nation and our army in shame like this. The world begged for us several times and look at us now. We really need a new Ataturk. I think only Osman Pamukoglu can save us. He was an old general who was responsible for eliminating 6.000 PKK terrorists. He has the real soul of a Turk. But my nation is sleeping and I would be really upset if he won’t become a prime minister.
    Again we are Turks and our religion is islam. Yes alcohol is forbidden in islam. But Allah says every human has his own freedom in the end you will answer your sins.
    We Turks just love to drink sometimes. Many Ottoman sultans drank too and some even died because of alcohol overdose. And ofcourse I am proud of the Ottoman Empire but it is over now. The Arabs betrayed us and look at their situation now. All the Arab countries who was a part of the Ottoman Empire are in big chaos. And look at the meaning of the Palestanian flag, it was made against the Ottoman Turks to declare their own state. And we all see in what sitiation they are now. If the Arabs didn’t betray us Israel woulnd’t even exists. I know the Palestanians situations are messed up but my Uygur brothers and sisters in China are suffering of the Chinese. I am ashamed that we don’t help them. We talk about Palestania but not even about our own people in East Turkistan. We Turks want a new Gökturk Empire. 350 million Turks wants to unite. We are Asians not Arabs. The Arabs wants a new Ottoman Empire but we don’t. They think islam is Arabic and they want us to learn Arabic. in Turkey we only want to speak Turkish and we read the quran in Turkish so we can understand it. And nearly all Arabs call our father Ataturk a traitor and the enemy of islam. We don’t want to unite with those who doesn’t respect our father.
    They call him a British agent and they’re sayin that the Gallipoli war was fake and that the situation of the middle east now is thanks to Ataturk. Can you believe that? They’re not only traitors but also good liars. I don’t hate any race, but I hate those who doesn’t respect my nation and ancestors.

    I know this has nothing much to do with this thread but I want everyone to know about our history and the situation of now.

    Greetings,

    Mustafa Kemal

    Like

  3. I would really like to buy this poster of Ataturk drinking Raki as a gift for my bro in law who is Turkish and has been searching for it.
    Can anyone help ?
    Thanks in advance.

    Like

    • it is a fake picture for your info. pretty obvious too, look at the glass, anyone with an operational frontal lobe could see it.

      Like

  4. Pingback: Erdogan, the enemy of the true drinker | Lords of the Drinks

  5. Pingback: Sultan Selim II ‘the Drunkard’, who initiated the downfall of the Ottomans | Lords of the Drinks

  6. Pingback: Sultan Selim II ‘the Drunkard’, who initiated the downfall of the Ottoman Empire | Lords of the Drinks

  7. Pingback: Kokoreç, the forbidden hangover food from Turkey | Lords of the Drinks

    • Well somebody’s parents were apparently a little too busy to teach their kids proper manners.
      I know he’s a national hero for most Turks. Greeks and Armenians have a different opinion about him. That’s why we stayed away from judging him as an officer or a politician and just mentioned his drinking habbits which were impressive.
      Cheers,
      Micky

      Like

      • Hahahaha and I suppose his liver failure at age 57 was because he was such a moderate drinker. Or do you want to tell us he was even a teetotaler?

        Like

      • i am an Armenian and i love Atatürk. I respect his leadership. That’s why while you say “Greeks and Armenians ” add the starting “some” of the sentence, please.

        Like

  8. Great story and very solid historical perspective. Even Turksh themselves are not that accurate talking on Mustafa Kemal’s life or their own republic’s history. I do congratulate you. Sherefe brothers !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well… As many people in the Balkans they like to make the history a little more heroic. It’s quite funny to see Greek, Serbian, Bulgarian and Turkish history books and how they describe the same events very different.
      Cheers,
      Micky

      Like

    • Well… You can stop reading too my friend. Glad to see your parents taught you good manners. Cheers!

      Like

      • Son of a bitch , as you said he is a Turkish national hero, Dont talk shit if you dont have a real proof. I am also glad to see your parents taught you not a single good manners ,dont spread your bulshit to public who don’t even have any idea about who is Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. I am Turkish , i haven’t seen a single photo of Ataturk with a glass of Raki

        Like

      • Believe what you want. Cause I don’t follow your idealistic propaganda, I’m a son of a bitch? Now whose parents failed to raise their kid right?!

        Like

  9. Ataturk was a zionist jew. He was planted in the Ottoman army by western powers to eradicate islam from turkey. He managed to antagonize all nations around Turkey and managed to win the love of only the jews and Israel. Did not he ask the british ambassador to succeed him as president of his nation? Can any one explain this move?

    Like

    • Well, honestly I am not sure what this has to do with his drinking but indeed there were rumours that he was of Jewish origin. Could have been slander from his opponents too. Who knows…
      Cheers,
      Micky

      Like

      • @Micky Bumbar – Congrats, u seem to have attracted the lowest iq’s of internet, it does say a few things about the article itself…
        @Son Of Dardanil – thats the stupidest theory ive heard, and i have a lot of tinfoil hat wearing friends.

        Like

  10. As a Kemalist Turk living in Turkey, i am glad to see someone finally talking about his drinking habits without making it an arguement against him. That reminded me a little story about him. After ottoman empire collapsed by the time he arrived Aegean Costs of Anatolia with Turkish army, Greeks trying to dominate the region. He was sipping his rakı watching the sunset view upon the sea and asked if Greeks do the same. They responded Greeks don’t drink rakı. He said “if they don’t even drink rakı watching this view, why they even wanna be here?” Maybe we all should drink more raki, he accomplished most of his dreams after all. Kemalists say, Ataturk built a whole new country while he was drunk, Erdogan still can’t rule it properly even he is sober 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. i can’t figure out the purpose of this entry, is it to insult Atatürk in a camoflagued way? Is it to diminish his achievements cuz “he was just a smoker and a hard drinker at the end of the day!”

    Like

  12. i have found yor site while serching for the trace of Paulaner monks and doppelbock on the internet. you said “I hope the current situation in Turkey will improve soon” in august 2013 but nothing has changed yet. i have read all those incredibly interesting comments and calm answers of you. şerefine dostum-cheers my friend

    Like

  13. Hello, I am a medical doctor and currently doing my PhD in enzymology abroad also I am a proud Turk. I liked reading your article despite I have known some of the facts that you have mentioned have no real basis. I am %99 sure that Atatürk died out of liver cancer not from Cirrhosis as many believe. There are a lot of indication regarding my liver cancer theory but I will cut to the basis. For a person to have cirrhosis and die from it at that early age with the best medical care Turkey could offer he would have to continually drink massive amounts of alcohol. There are a lot of sources from his “drinking buddy’s that he drank a glass or two to encourage free speach in the table. And he spoke very rationally , and even after e everyone went home he would stay up until 3 or 4 and mentally discuss the opinions given that day. And also if he did indeed drink a liter of strong alcohol per day we would see massive indications. Not a punctual person who wake up fresh at 7. Another indication would be alcohol withdrawal, I know that according to your article that you believe that he consumed 1 liter a day. But as a person who has given his entire life in order to gain a great understanding of the human body I can solemnly say he would have massive withdrawal symptoms in the noon , witch was the time he was actually governing the Turkish republic. Besides withdrawal symptoms, he would also have a distinct treamor in the hands knees and sometimes shoulders because of the massive alcohol consumption. Which we see no indication at many video evidences what so ever. I believe I have mad my point feel free to ask or disagree with me. BTW It wouldn’t really change anything for me if he was actually a drunk. The reason why I am so against the idea is that it is false, and many Turkish politicians uses this argument to dismiss his ideas and reforms. Even our PM once said , are we really supposed to follow a bunch of rules that is written by a couple of drunkards. Also sorry for bad English it’s actually my 4’th one.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s