Who is Eleanor Roosevelt?

Who is Eleanor Roosevelt?

Eleanor Roosevelt
U.S. First Lady, Diplomat (1884–1962)

The wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt changed the role of the first lady through her active participation in American politics.

Who Was Eleanor Roosevelt?

Born in 1884 in New York City, Eleanor Roosevelt was the niece of one U.S. president, Theodore Roosevelt, and married a man who would become another, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Redefining the role of the first lady, she advocated for human and women’s rights, held press conferences and penned her own column. After leaving the White House in 1945, Eleanor became chair of the U.N.’s Human Rights Commission. The groundbreaking first lady died in 1962 in New York City.

Marriage to Franklin D. Roosevelt

After Eleanor Roosevelt became reacquainted with her distant cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1902, the two embarked on a clandestine relationship. They were engaged in 1903 and, over the objections of Franklin’s mother, Sara, were married on March 17, 1905, a ceremony that featured President Theodore Roosevelt walking his niece down the aisle. The couple went on to have six children: Anna, James, Franklin (who died as an infant), Elliott, Franklin Jr. and John.

As her husband achieved success in politics, Eleanor found her own voice in public service, working for the American Red Cross during World War I. She also exerted herself more prominently after Franklin suffered a polio attack in 1921 that essentially left him in need of physical assistance for the rest of his life.

U.S. First Lady

When Franklin Roosevelt took office as president in 1933, Eleanor dramatically changed the role of the first lady. Not content to stay in the background and handle domestic matters, she gave press conferences and spoke out for human rights, children’s causes and women’s issues, working on behalf of the League of Women Voters.

Along with penning her own newspaper column, “My Day,” Eleanor focused on helping the country’s poor, stood against racial discrimination and, during World War II, traveled abroad to visit U.S. troops. She served in the role of first lady until Franklin Roosevelt’s death on April 12, 1945.

United Nations and Presidential Appointments

Following her husband’s passing, Eleanor told interviewers that she didn’t have plans for continuing her public service. However, the opposite would actually prove to be true: President Harry Truman appointed Eleanor as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, a position in which she served from 1945 to 1953. She became chair of the U.N.’s Human Rights Commission and helped to write the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—an effort that she considered to be her greatest achievement.

President John F. Kennedy reappointed her to the United States delegation to the U.N. in 1961, and later named her to the National Advisory Committee of the Peace Corps and as chair of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women.

Young Eleanor Roosevelt

Who is Eleanor Roosevelt?

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was born on October 11, 1884, in New York City. Known as a shy child, Eleanor experienced tremendous loss at a young age: Her mother died in 1892 and her father followed suit two years later, leading to her being placed under the care of her maternal grandmother.

Eleanor was sent to Allenswood Academy in London when she was a teenager—an experience that helped draw her out of her shell.

Relationships and Sexual Orientation

Much has been made of the outside-the-marriage relationships cultivated by Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, both before and after they became nationally known figures. For her part, Eleanor was said to be enamored of her personal bodyguard, Earl Miller. Additionally, her fondness for journalist Lorena Hickok was something of an open secret, the two engaging in extensive correspondence that produced some 3,500 letters.

Eleanor Roosevelt’s Books

Outside of her political work, Eleanor wrote several books about her life and experiences, including This Is My Story (1937), This I Remember (1949), On My Own (1958) and Autobiography (1961).

Death and Legacy

Eleanor died of aplastic anemia, tuberculosis and heart failure on November 7, 1962, at the age of 78. She was buried at the family estate in Hyde Park.

A revolutionary first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt was one of the most ambitious and outspoken women to ever live in the White House. Although she was both criticized and praised for her active role in public policy, she is remembered as a humanitarian who dedicated much of her life to fighting for political and social change, and as one of the first public officials to publicize important issues through the mass media.

Quick Facts

    Eleanor Roosevelt

    U.S. First Lady, Diplomat

Birth Date
    October 11, 1884

Death Date
    November 7, 1962

Place of Birth
    New York, New York

Place of Death
    New York, New York

    Eleanor Roosevelt

    “Little Nell”

Full Name
    Anna Eleanor Roosevelt

Source: Who is Eleanor Roosevelt?


Who is Joan Cusack?

Who is Joan Cusack?

Joan Cusack
Actress, Film Actress, Film Actor/Film Actress (1962–)

Comedic actress Joan Cusack, sister of actor John Cusack, earned best supporting actress nominations for roles in the films ‘Working Girl’ and ‘In & Out.’

Joan Cusack was born October 11, 1962, in New York City. She began making films in her teens and soon became known for her hilarious supporting characters in such films as My Bodyguard (1980) and Sixteen Candles (1984). She made her film breakthrough as an adult in Working Girl (1988). In the early 1990s, she left Hollywood to spend more time with family. Her 1997 comeback, the film In & Out, was to rave reviews, with Cusack later winning an Emmy for her guest role in the TV series Shameless.

Early Life

Born October 11, 1962, in New York City, Joan Cusack is the daughter of an actor and a math teacher. Cusack grew up in a family of thespians: All four of her siblings have pursued acting careers, most notably her youngest brother, John. She grew up in the Chicago suburbs and attended the Piven Theater Workshop. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison with a degree in English in 1985.

Early Films

Cusack began making films in her teens and soon became known for her hilarious, and often touching, supporting characters in such films as My Bodyguard (1980) and Sixteen Candles (1984). The young actress gradually received more grown-up roles, finding her breakthrough role in Working Girl (1988) and earning a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination playing Melanie Griffith’s street-smart best friend. She also received strong reviews the following year for the drama Men Don’t Leave with Jessica Lange.

The Films of the 1990s

Who is Joan Cusack?

In the early 1990s, Cusack left Hollywood for Chicago to spend more time with her family. When she finally made her comeback in 1997, it was to rave reviews as a bride who gets left at the altar when her fiancé (Kevin Kline) realizes he’s gay in In & Out. Cusack earned her second Best Supporting Actress nomination for her performance. That same year, she gave a brief but memorable performance in her brother John’s vehicle, Grosse Point Blank. She finished the decade turning in a number of strong supporting performances in such films as Arlington Road, Runaway Bride and Cradle Will Rock, as well as providing the voice for Jessie the Cowgirl in Toy Story 2 (all in 1999).

Into the New Century

Cusack entered the 2000s as she left the 1990s: busy. Usually appearing as a supporting actress, Cusack appeared in a long string of movies, including High Fidelity (2000), School of Rock (2003) and Raising Helen (2004). She also expanded her voice work in such animated films as Chicken Little (2005), Toy Story 3 (2010) and Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs. Evil (2011). She also landed a role on a Showtime original TV series in 2011, playing Sheila Jackson on the drama-comedy Shameless, which enters its sixth season in 2016. For her work in Shameless, Cusack has received Emmy nominations for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series five years running, winning in 2015.

Personal Life

Cusack married attorney Richard Burke in 1993. The couple has two sons, Dylan and Miles.

Quick Facts

    Joan Cusack

    Film Actress

Birth Date
    October 11, 1962 (age 56)

    University of Wisconsin at Madison

Place of Birth
    New York, New York

Zodiac Sign

Source: Who is Joan Cusack?

Who is Neil Armstrong?

Who is Neil Armstrong?

Neil Armstrong
Pilot, Explorer, Astronaut (1930–2012)

Astronaut, military pilot, and educator, Neil Armstrong made history on July 20, 1969, by becoming the first man to walk on the moon.


Neil Armstrong was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, on August 5, 1930. After serving in the Korean War and then finishing college, he joined the organization that would become NASA. He joined the astronaut program in 1962 and was command pilot for his first mission, Gemini VIII, in 1966. He was spacecraft commander for Apollo 11, the first manned lunar mission, and became the first man to walk on the moon. He died in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2012.

Military Service

Astronaut Neil Armstrong developed a fascination with flight at an early age and earned his student pilot’s license when he was 16. In 1947, Armstrong began his studies in aeronautical engineering at Purdue University on a U.S. Navy scholarship.

In 1949, as part of his scholarship, Armstrong trained as a pilot in the Navy and two years later, served in the Korean War. He flew 78 combat missions during this military conflict. He left the service in 1952, and returned to college. A few years later, Armstrong joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which later became the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). For this government agency he worked in a number of different capacities, including serving as a test pilot and an engineer. He tested many high-speed aircraft, including the X-15, which could reach a top speed of 4,000 miles per hour.

Who is Neil Armstrong?

Astronaut Program

In his personal life, Armstrong started to settle down. He married Janet Shearon on January 28, 1956. The couple soon added to their family. Son Eric arrived in 1957, followed daughter Karen in 1959. Sadly, Karen died of complications related to an inoperable brain tumor in January 1962. The following year, the Armstrongs welcomed their third child, son Mark.

That same year, Armstrong joined the astronaut program. He and his family moved to Houston, Texas, and Armstrong served as the command pilot for his first mission, Gemini VIII. He and fellow astronaut David Scott were launched into the earth’s orbit on March 16, 1966. While in orbit, they were able to briefly dock their space capsule with the Gemini Agena target vehicle. This was the first time two vehicles had successfully docked in space. During this maneuver, however, they experienced some problems and had to cut their mission short. They landed in the Pacific Ocean nearly 11 hours after the mission’s start, and were later rescued by the U.S.S. Mason.

Moon Landing

Armstrong faced an even bigger challenge in 1969. Along with Michael Collins and Edwin E. “Buzz” Aldrin, he was part of NASA’s first manned mission to the moon. The trio were launched into space on July 16, 1969. Serving as the mission’s commander, Armstrong piloted the Lunar Module to the moon’s surface on July 20, 1969, with Buzz Aldrin aboard. Collins remained on the Command Module.

At 10:56 PM, Armstrong exited the Lunar Module. He said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” as he made his famous first step on the moon. For about two and a half hours, Armstrong and Aldrin collected samples and conducted experiments. They also took photographs, including their own footprints.

Returning on July 24, 1969, the Apollo 11 craft came down in the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii. The crew and the craft were picked up by the U.S.S. Hornet, and the three astronauts were put into quarantine for three weeks.

Before long, the three Apollo 11 astronauts were given a warm welcome home. Crowds lined the streets of New York City to cheer on the famous heroes who were honored in a ticker-tape parade. Armstrong received numerous awards for his efforts, including the Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

Later Contributions

Armstrong remained with NASA, serving as deputy associate administrator for aeronautics until 1971. After leaving NASA, he joined the faculty of the University of Cincinnati as a professor of aerospace engineering. Armstrong remained at the university for eight years. Staying active in his field, he served as the chairman of Computing Technologies for Aviation, Inc., from 1982 to 1992.

Helping out at a difficult time, Armstrong served as vice chairman of the Presidential Commission on the space shuttle Challenger accident in 1986. The commission investigated the explosion of the Challenger on January 28, 1986, which took the lives of its crew, including school teacher Christa McAuliffe.

Who is Neil Armstrong?

Death & Legacy

Despite being one of the most famous astronauts in history, Armstrong largely shied away from the public eye. He gave a rare interview to the news program 60 Minutes in 2005. He described the moon to interviewer Ed Bradley, saying “It’s a brilliant surface in that sunlight. The horizon seems quite close to you because the curvature is so much more pronounced than here on earth. It’s an interesting place to be. I recommend it.” That same year, his authorized biography came out. First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong was written by James R. Hansen, who conducted interviews with Armstrong, his family, and his friends and associates.

Even in his final years, Armstrong remained committed to space exploration. The press-shy astronaut returned to the spotlight in 2010 to express his concerns over changes made to the U.S. space program. He testified in Congress against President Barack Obama’s decision to cancel the Constellation program, which included another mission to the moon. Obama also sought to encourage private companies to get involved in the space travel business and to move forward with more unmanned space missions.

Taking this new decision, Armstrong said, would cost the United States its leadership position in space exploration. “America is respected for its contributions it has made in learning to sail on this new ocean. If the leadership we have acquired through our investment is simply allowed to fade away, other nations will surely step in where we have faltered. I do not believe that would be in our best interests,” he told Congress, according to a report on NewsHour.

Armstrong underwent a heart bypass operation in August 2012. A few weeks later, on August 25, 2012, at the age of 82, Neil Armstrong died of complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was survived by his second wife, Carol, in Indian Hill, Ohio, and his two sons from his first marriage. He and his first wife divorced in 1994.

Shortly after his death, his family released a statement: “For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

News of Armstrong’s death quickly spread around the world. President Obama was among those offering their condolences to his family and sharing their remembrances of the late space pioneer. “Neil was among the greatest of American heroes—not just of his time, but of all time,” Obama said, according to the Los Angeles Times. His Apollo 11 colleague Buzz Aldrin said that “I know I am joined by millions of others in mourning the passing of a true American hero and the best pilot I ever knew. My friend Neil took the small step but giant leap that changed the world and will forever be remembered as a landmark moment in human history,” according to CBS News.

Quick Facts

Neil Armstrong

Pilot, Explorer, Astronaut

Birth Date
August 5, 1930

Death Date
August 25, 2012

Purdue University, University of Cincinnati

Place of Birth
Wapakoneta, Ohio

Place of Death
Cincinnati, Ohio

Source: Who is Neil Armstrong?

Who is Marilyn Monroe?

Who is Marilyn Monroe?

Marilyn Monroe
Film Actress, Actress, Classic Pin-Ups, Film Actor/Film Actress (1926–1962)

Who Was Marilyn Monroe?

Actress Marilyn Monroe was born on June 1, 1926, in Los Angeles, California. During her all-too-brief life, Marilyn Monroe overcame a difficult childhood to become one of the world’s biggest and most enduring sex symbols. During her career, Monroe’s films grossed more than $200 million. Monroe died of a drug overdose on August 5, 1962, at only 36 years old.

What Is Marilyn Monroe’s Real Name?

Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson.


Monroe had three husbands in her lifetime. As a teen, she wed merchant marine Jimmy Dougherty. In 1954 she was briefly married to baseball great Joe DiMaggio, and two years later, she married playwright Arthur Miller.


The year 1946 brought a lot of changes for Monroe. She not only divorced her husband, Jimmy Dougherty, but she also signed her first movie contract. With the movie contract came a new name and image; she began calling herself “Marilyn Monroe” and dyed her hair blonde, though her acting career didn’t really take off until a few years later.

Monroe’s small part in John Huston’s crime drama The Asphalt Jungle (1950) garnered a lot of attention. That same year, she impressed audiences and critics alike with her performance as Claudia Caswell in All About Eve, starring Bette Davis. She would soon become one of Hollywood’s most famous actresses; though she wasn’t initially considered to be star acting material, she later proved her skill by winning various honors and attracting large audiences to her films.

In 1953, Monroe delivered a star-making turn in Niagara, as a young married woman out to kill her husband with help from her lover. The emerging sex symbol was paired with another bombshell, Jane Russell, for the musical comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). The film was a hit and Monroe continued to find success in a string of light comedic fare, such as How to Marry a Millionaire, with Betty Grable and Lauren Bacall; There’s No Business like Show Business (1954), with Ethel Merman and Donald O’Connor; and The Seven Year Itch (1955).

With her breathy voice and hourglass figure, Monroe became a much-admired international star, despite her chronic insecurities regarding her acting abilities. Monroe suffered from pre-performance anxiety that sometimes made her physically ill and was often the root cause of her legendary tardiness on film sets, which was so extreme that it often infuriated her co-stars and crew. “She would be the greatest if she ran like a watch,” director Billy Wilder once said of her. “I have an aunt Minnie who’s very punctual, but who would pay to see Aunt Minnie?” Throughout her career, Monroe was signed and released from several contracts with film studios.

Tired of bubbly, dumb blonde roles, Monroe moved to New York City to study acting with Lee Strasberg at the Actors’ Studio. She returned to the screen in the dramatic comedy Bus Stop (1956), playing a saloon singer kidnapped by a rancher who has fallen in love with her. She received mostly praise for her performance.

In 1957, Monroe starred in The Prince and the Showgirl with Laurence Olivier, who also directed and produced the film. She often didn’t show up for filming and her erratic behavior on set created a tense relationship with her co-stars, the crew and Olivier. The film received mixed reviews and was a box office hit in Britain, but not as popular in the United States. The troubled production was the backdrop for the 2011 film My Week with Marilyn, starring Michelle Williams as Monroe.

‘Some Like It Hot’

In 1959, Monroe returned to familiar territory with the wildly popular comedy Some Like It Hot, with Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis. She played Sugar Kane Kowalczyk, a singer who hopes to marry a millionaire in this humorous film, in which Lemmon and Curtis pretend to be women. They are on the run from the mob after witnessing the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and hide out with an all-girl orchestra featuring Monroe. Her work on the film earned her the honor of “Best Actress in a Comedy” in 1959, at the Golden Globe Awards.

‘The Misfits’

Reunited with John Huston, Monroe starred opposite Clark Gable and Montgomery Clift in The Misfits (1961). Set in Nevada, this adventure drama features Monroe, who falls for Gable’s cowboy but battles him over the fate of some wild mustangs. This was her last completed film.

In 1962, Monroe was dismissed from Something’s Got to Give — also starring Dean Martin — for missing so many days of filming. According to an article in The New York Times, the actress claimed that the absences were due to illness. Martin declined to make the film without her, so the studio shelved the picture.

At the time, Monroe’s professional and personal life seemed to be in turmoil. Her last two films, Let’s Make Love (1960) and The Misfits (1961) were box office disappointments.

In her personal life, Monroe had a string of unsuccessful relationships: Her 1954 marriage to baseball great Joe DiMaggio only lasted nine months. Later, she was married to playwright Arthur Miller from 1956 to 1961.

On May 19, 1962, Monroe made her now-famous performance at John F. Kennedy’s birthday celebration, singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.”

Who is Marilyn Monroe?

Early Life

Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson (later baptized as Norma Jeane Baker) on June 1, 1926, in Los Angeles, California. During her all-too-brief life, she overcame a difficult childhood to become one of the world’s biggest and most enduring sex symbols.

Monroe never knew her father, and once thought Clark Gable to be her father — a story repeated often enough for a version of it to gain some currency. However, there’s no evidence that Gable ever met or knew Monroe’s mother, Gladys, who developed psychiatric problems and was eventually placed in a mental institution. As an adult, Monroe would maintain that one of her earliest memories was of her mother trying to smother her in her crib with a pillow. Monroe had a half-sister, to whom she was not close; they met only a half-dozen times.

Growing up, Monroe spent much of her time in foster care and in an orphanage. In 1937, a family friend and her husband, Grace and Doc Goddard, took care of Monroe for a few years. The Goddards were paid $25 weekly by Monroe’s mother to raise her. The couple was deeply religious and followed fundamentalist doctrines; among other prohibited activities, Monroe was not allowed to go to the movies. But when Doc’s job was transferred in 1942 to the East Coast, the couple could not afford to bring Monroe with them.

At seven years old, Monroe returned to a life in foster homes, where she endured sexual assault on several occasions; she later said that she had been raped when she was 11 years old. But she had a way out through marriage, and she wed her boyfriend Jimmy Dougherty on June 19, 1942, at the age of 16. By that time, Monroe had dropped out of high school (age 15). A merchant marine, Dougherty was later sent to the South Pacific. Monroe went to work in a munitions factory in Van Nuys, California, where she was discovered by a photographer. By the time Dougherty returned in 1946, Monroe had a successful career as a model, and had changed her name to Marilyn Monroe in preparation for an acting career. She dreamt of becoming an actress like Jean Harlow and Lana Turner.

Death and Legacy

On August 5, 1962, at only 36 years old, Marilyn Monroe died at her Los Angeles home. An empty bottle of sleeping pills was found by her bed. There has been some speculation over the years that she may have been murdered, but the cause of her death was officially ruled as a drug overdose. There have also been rumors that Monroe was involved with President John F. Kennedy and/or his brother Robert around the time of her death.

Monroe was buried in her favorite Emilio Pucci dress, in what was known as a “Cadillac casket”—the most high-end casket available, made of heavy-gauge solid bronze and lined with champagne-colored silk. Lee Strasberg delivered a eulogy before a small group of friends and family. Hugh Hefner bought the crypt directly next to Monroe’s, and Monroe’s ex-husband, Joe DiMaggio, famously had red roses delivered to her crypt for the next 20 years.

Monroe did not own a house until the last year of her life, and had surprisingly few possessions. One that she prized was an autographed photo of Albert Einstein, which included an inscription: “To Marilyn, with respect and love and thanks.”

During her career, Marilyn Monroe’s films grossed more than $200 million. Today, she is still considered one of the world’s most popular icons of sex appeal and beauty, and is remembered for her idiosyncratic sense of humor and sly wit; once asked by a reporter what she wore to bed, she replied, “Chanel Number 5.”

On another occasion, she was asked what she thought of Hollywood: “If I close my eyes and think of Hollywood, all I see is one big varicose vein,” she replied. Monroe is also remembered for her romantic relationships with Marlon Brando, Frank Sinatra, Yves Montand and director Elia Kazan, in addition to her three marriages.

Monroe has been imitated over the years by a number of celebrities, including Madonna, Lady Gaga and Gwen Stefani.

In 2011, several rare photos of Marilyn Monroe were published in a book of photographs by famed photographer Sam Shaw. In 2017, another book of little-seen treasures made it to shelves in The Essential Marilyn Monroe, with Joshua Greene retouching old photos taken by his dad, Milton Greene, in the 1950s.

August 2018 brought the publication of another biography of the screen legend, Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon, by Charles Casillo. The book made headlines for its revelation that nude footage of Monroe from a bedroom scene in The Misfits, previously believed to have been destroyed, remained extant. The footage would have made up one of the first nude scenes of a major Hollywood star in a studio movie; it ultimately was cut out of the film by its director, Huston, but preserved by producer Frank Taylor.

Source: Who is Marilyn Monroe?

Who is Albert Einstein?

Who is Albert Einstein?

Albert Einstein, (born March 14, 1879, Ulm, Württemberg, Germany—died April 18, 1955, Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.), German-born physicist who developed the special and general theories of relativity and won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 for his explanation of the photoelectric effect. Einstein is generally considered the most influential physicist of the 20th century.

Childhood and education

Einstein’s parents were secular, middle-class Jews. His father, Hermann Einstein, was originally a featherbed salesman and later ran an electrochemical factory with moderate success. His mother, the former Pauline Koch, ran the family household. He had one sister, Maria (who went by the name Maja), born two years after Albert.

Einstein would write that two “wonders” deeply affected his early years. The first was his encounter with a compass at age five. He was mystified that invisible forces could deflect the needle. This would lead to a lifelong fascination with invisible forces. The second wonder came at age 12 when he discovered a book of geometry, which he devoured, calling it his “sacred little geometry book.”

Einstein became deeply religious at age 12, even composing several songs in praise of God and chanting religious songs on the way to school. This began to change, however, after he read science books that contradicted his religious beliefs. This challenge to established authority left a deep and lasting impression. At the Luitpold Gymnasium, Einstein often felt out of place and victimized by a Prussian-style educational system that seemed to stifle originality and creativity. One teacher even told him that he would never amount to anything.

Yet another important influence on Einstein was a young medical student, Max Talmud (later Max Talmey), who often had dinner at the Einstein home. Talmud became an informal tutor, introducing Einstein to higher mathematics and philosophy. A pivotal turning point occurred when Einstein was 16. Talmud had earlier introduced him to a children’s science series by Aaron Bernstein, Naturwissenschaftliche Volksbucher (1867–68; Popular Books on Physical Science), in which the author imagined riding alongside electricity that was traveling inside a telegraph wire. Einstein then asked himself the question that would dominate his thinking for the next 10 years: What would a light beam look like if you could run alongside it? If light were a wave, then the light beam should appear stationary, like a frozen wave. Even as a child, though, he knew that stationary light waves had never been seen, so there was a paradox. Einstein also wrote his first “scientific paper” at that time (“The Investigation of the State of Aether in Magnetic Fields”).

Einstein’s education was disrupted by his father’s repeated failures at business. In 1894, after his company failed to get an important contract to electrify the city of Munich, Hermann Einstein moved to Milan to work with a relative. Einstein was left at a boardinghouse in Munich and expected to finish his education. Alone, miserable, and repelled by the looming prospect of military duty when he turned 16, Einstein ran away six months later and landed on the doorstep of his surprised parents. His parents realized the enormous problems that he faced as a school dropout and draft dodger with no employable skills. His prospects did not look promising.

Fortunately, Einstein could apply directly to the Eidgenössische Polytechnische Schule (“Swiss Federal Polytechnic School”; in 1911, following expansion in 1909 to full university status, it was renamed the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, or “Swiss Federal Institute of Technology”) in Zürich without the equivalent of a high school diploma if he passed its stiff entrance examinations. His marks showed that he excelled in mathematics and physics, but he failed at French, chemistry, and biology. Because of his exceptional math scores, he was allowed into the polytechnic on the condition that he first finish his formal schooling. He went to a special high school run by Jost Winteler in Aarau, Switzerland, and graduated in 1896. He also renounced his German citizenship at that time. (He was stateless until 1901, when he was granted Swiss citizenship.) He became lifelong friends with the Winteler family, with whom he had been boarding. (Winteler’s daughter, Marie, was Einstein’s first love; Einstein’s sister, Maja, would eventually marry Winteler’s son Paul; and his close friend Michele Besso would marry their eldest daughter, Anna.)

Einstein would recall that his years in Zürich were some of the happiest years of his life. He met many students who would become loyal friends, such as Marcel Grossmann, a mathematician, and Besso, with whom he enjoyed lengthy conversations about space and time. He also met his future wife, Mileva Maric, a fellow physics student from Serbia.

Who is Albert Einstein?

From graduation to the “miracle year” of scientific theories

After graduation in 1900, Einstein faced one of the greatest crises in his life. Because he studied advanced subjects on his own, he often cut classes; this earned him the animosity of some professors, especially Heinrich Weber. Unfortunately, Einstein asked Weber for a letter of recommendation. Einstein was subsequently turned down for every academic position that he applied to. He later wrote, Meanwhile, Einstein’s relationship with Maric deepened, but his parents vehemently opposed the relationship. His mother especially objected to her Serbian background (Maric’s family was Eastern Orthodox Christian). Einstein defied his parents, however, and in January 1902 he and Maric even had a child, Lieserl, whose fate is unknown. (It is commonly thought that she died of scarlet fever or was given up for adoption.)

The turning point came later that year, when the father of his lifelong friend Marcel Grossmann was able to recommend him for a position as a clerk in the Swiss patent office in Bern. About then, Einstein’s father became seriously ill and, just before he died, gave his blessing for his son to marry Maric. For years, Einstein would experience enormous sadness remembering that his father had died thinking him a failure.

With a small but steady income for the first time, Einstein felt confident enough to marry Maric, which he did on January 6, 1903. Their children, Hans Albert and Eduard, were born in Bern in 1904 and 1910, respectively. In hindsight, Einstein’s job at the patent office was a blessing. He would quickly finish analyzing patent applications, leaving him time to daydream about the vision that had obsessed him since he was 16: What would happen if you raced alongside a light beam? While at the polytechnic school he had studied Maxwell’s equations, which describe the nature of light, and discovered a fact unknown to James Clerk Maxwell himself—namely, that the speed of light remains the same no matter how fast one moves. This violates Newton’s laws of motion, however, because there is no absolute velocity in Isaac Newton’s theory. This insight led Einstein to formulate the principle of relativity: “the speed of light is a constant in any inertial frame (constantly moving frame).”

During 1905, often called Einstein’s “miracle year,” he published four papers in the Annalen der Physik, each of which would alter the course of modern physics:

1. “Über einen die Erzeugung und Verwandlung des Lichtes betreffenden heuristischen Gesichtspunkt” (“On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light”), in which Einstein applied the quantum theory to light in order to explain the photoelectric effect. If light occurs in tiny packets (later called photons), then it should knock out electrons in a metal in a precise way.
2. “Über die von der molekularkinetischen Theorie der Wärme geforderte Bewegung von in ruhenden Flüssigkeiten suspendierten Teilchen” (“On the Movement of Small Particles Suspended in Stationary Liquids Required by the Molecular-Kinetic Theory of Heat”), in which Einstein offered the first experimental proof of the existence of atoms. By analyzing the motion of tiny particles suspended in still water, called Brownian motion, he could calculate the size of the jostling atoms and Avogadro’s number (see Avogadro’s law).
3. “Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper” (“On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies”), in which Einstein laid out the mathematical theory of special relativity.
4. “Ist die Trägheit eines Körpers von seinem Energieinhalt abhängig?” (“Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?”), submitted almost as an afterthought, which showed that relativity theory led to the equation E = mc2. This provided the first mechanism to explain the energy source of the Sun and other stars.

Einstein also submitted a paper in 1905 for his doctorate.

Other scientists, especially Henri Poincaré and Hendrik Lorentz, had pieces of the theory of special relativity, but Einstein was the first to assemble the whole theory together and to realize that it was a universal law of nature, not a curious figment of motion in the ether, as Poincaré and Lorentz had thought. (In one private letter to Mileva, Einstein referred to “our theory,” which has led some to speculate that she was a cofounder of relativity theory. However, Mileva had abandoned physics after twice failing her graduate exams, and there is no record of her involvement in developing relativity. In fact, in his 1905 paper, Einstein only credits his conversations with Besso in developing relativity.)

In the 19th century there were two pillars of physics: Newton’s laws of motion and Maxwell’s theory of light. Einstein was alone in realizing that they were in contradiction and that one of them must fall.

Who is Albert Einstein?

General relativity and teaching career

At first Einstein’s 1905 papers were ignored by the physics community. This began to change after he received the attention of just one physicist, perhaps the most influential physicist of his generation, Max Planck, the founder of the quantum theory.

Soon, owing to Planck’s laudatory comments and to experiments that gradually confirmed his theories, Einstein was invited to lecture at international meetings, such as the Solvay Conferences, and he rose rapidly in the academic world. He was offered a series of positions at increasingly prestigious institutions, including the University of Zürich, the University of Prague, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and finally the University of Berlin, where he served as director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics from 1913 to 1933 (although the opening of the institute was delayed until 1917).

Even as his fame spread, Einstein’s marriage was falling apart. He was constantly on the road, speaking at international conferences, and lost in contemplation of relativity. The couple argued frequently about their children and their meager finances. Convinced that his marriage was doomed, Einstein began an affair with a cousin, Elsa Löwenthal, whom he later married. (Elsa was a first cousin on his mother’s side and a second cousin on his father’s side.) When he finally divorced Mileva in 1919, he agreed to give her the money he might receive if he ever won a Nobel Prize.

One of the deep thoughts that consumed Einstein from 1905 to 1915 was a crucial flaw in his own theory: it made no mention of gravitation or acceleration. His friend Paul Ehrenfest had noticed a curious fact. If a disk is spinning, its rim travels faster than its centre, and hence (by special relativity) metre sticks placed on its circumference should shrink. This meant that Euclidean plane geometry must fail for the disk. For the next 10 years, Einstein would be absorbed with formulating a theory of gravity in terms of the curvature of space-time. To Einstein, Newton’s gravitational force was actually a by-product of a deeper reality: the bending of the fabric of space and time.

In November 1915 Einstein finally completed the general theory of relativity, which he considered to be his masterpiece. In the summer of 1915, Einstein had given six two-hour lectures at the University of Göttingen that thoroughly explained an incomplete version of general relativity that lacked a few necessary mathematical details. Much to Einstein’s consternation, the mathematician David Hilbert, who had organized the lectures at his university and had been corresponding with Einstein, then completed these details and submitted a paper in November on general relativity just five days before Einstein, as if the theory were his own. Later they patched up their differences and remained friends. Einstein would write to Hilbert,

Today physicists refer to the action from which the equations are derived as the Einstein-Hilbert action, but the theory itself is attributed solely to Einstein.

Einstein was convinced that general relativity was correct because of its mathematical beauty and because it accurately predicted the precession of the perihelion of Mercury’s orbit around the Sun (see Mercury: Mercury in tests of relativity). His theory also predicted a measurable deflection of light around the Sun. As a consequence, he even offered to help fund an expedition to measure the deflection of starlight during an eclipse of the Sun.

Who is Albert Einstein?

World renown and Nobel Prize

Einstein’s work was interrupted by World War I. A lifelong pacifist, he was only one of four intellectuals in Germany to sign a manifesto opposing Germany’s entry into war. Disgusted, he called nationalism “the measles of mankind.” He would write, “At such a time as this, one realizes what a sorry species of animal one belongs to.”

In the chaos unleashed after the war, in November 1918, radical students seized control of the University of Berlin and held the rector of the college and several professors hostage. Many feared that calling in the police to release the officials would result in a tragic confrontation. Einstein, because he was respected by both students and faculty, was the logical candidate to mediate this crisis. Together with Max Born, Einstein brokered a compromise that resolved it.

After the war, two expeditions were sent to test Einstein’s prediction of deflected starlight near the Sun. One set sail for the island of Principe, off the coast of West Africa, and the other to Sobral in northern Brazil in order to observe the solar eclipse of May 29, 1919. On November 6 the results were announced in London at a joint meeting of the Royal Society and the Royal Astronomical Society.

The headline of The Times of London read, “Revolution in Science—New Theory of the Universe—Newton’s Ideas Overthrown—Momentous Pronouncement—Space ‘Warped.’” Almost immediately, Einstein became a world-renowned physicist, the successor to Isaac Newton.

Invitations came pouring in for him to speak around the world. In 1921 Einstein began the first of several world tours, visiting the United States, England, Japan, and France. Everywhere he went, the crowds numbered in the thousands. En route from Japan, he received word that he had received the Nobel Prize for Physics, but for the photoelectric effect rather than for his relativity theories. During his acceptance speech, Einstein startled the audience by speaking about relativity instead of the photoelectric effect.

Einstein also launched the new science of cosmology. His equations predicted that the universe is dynamic—expanding or contracting. This contradicted the prevailing view that the universe was static, so he reluctantly introduced a “cosmological term” to stabilize his model of the universe. In 1929 astronomer Edwin Hubble found that the universe was indeed expanding, thereby confirming Einstein’s earlier work. In 1930, in a visit to the Mount Wilson Observatory near Los Angeles, Einstein met with Hubble and declared the cosmological constant to be his “greatest blunder.” Recent satellite data, however, have shown that the cosmological constant is probably not zero but actually dominates the matter-energy content of the entire universe. Einstein’s “blunder” apparently determines the ultimate fate of the universe.

During that same visit to California, Einstein was asked to appear alongside the comic actor Charlie Chaplin during the Hollywood debut of the film City Lights. When they were mobbed by thousands, Chaplin remarked, “The people applaud me because everybody understands me, and they applaud you because no one understands you.” Einstein asked Chaplin, “What does it all mean?” Chaplin replied, “Nothing.”

Einstein also began correspondences with other influential thinkers during this period. He corresponded with Sigmund Freud (both of them had sons with mental problems) on whether war was intrinsic to humanity. He discussed with the Indian mystic Rabindranath Tagore the question of whether consciousness can affect existence. One journalist remarked,

It was interesting to see them together—Tagore, the poet with the head of a thinker, and Einstein, the thinker with the head of a poet. It seemed to an observer as though two planets were engaged in a chat.

Einstein also clarified his religious views, stating that he believed there was an “old one” who was the ultimate lawgiver. He wrote that he did not believe in a personal God that intervened in human affairs but instead believed in the God of the 17th-century Dutch Jewish philosopher Benedict de Spinoza—the God of harmony and beauty. His task, he believed, was to formulate a master theory that would allow him to “read the mind of God.” He would write,

I’m not an atheist and I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages.…The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God.

Nazi backlash and coming to America

Inevitably, Einstein’s fame and the great success of his theories created a backlash. The rising Nazi movement found a convenient target in relativity, branding it “Jewish physics” and sponsoring conferences and book burnings to denounce Einstein and his theories. The Nazis enlisted other physicists, including Nobel laureates Philipp Lenard and Johannes Stark, to denounce Einstein. One Hundred Authors Against Einstein was published in 1931. When asked to comment on this denunciation of relativity by so many scientists, Einstein replied that to defeat relativity one did not need the word of 100 scientists, just one fact.

In December 1932 Einstein decided to leave Germany forever (he would never go back). It became obvious to Einstein that his life was in danger. A Nazi organization published a magazine with Einstein’s picture and the caption “Not Yet Hanged” on the cover. There was even a price on his head. So great was the threat that Einstein split with his pacifist friends and said that it was justified to defend yourself with arms against Nazi aggression. To Einstein, pacifism was not an absolute concept but one that had to be re-examined depending on the magnitude of the threat.

Einstein settled at the newly formed Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, New Jersey, which soon became a mecca for physicists from around the world. Newspaper articles declared that the “pope of physics” had left Germany and that Princeton had become the new Vatican.

Who is Albert Einstein?

Personal sorrow, World War II, and the atomic bomb

The 1930s were hard years for Einstein. His son Eduard was diagnosed with schizophrenia and suffered a mental breakdown in 1930. (Eduard would be institutionalized for the rest of his life.) Einstein’s close friend, physicist Paul Ehrenfest, who helped in the development of general relativity, committed suicide in 1933. And Einstein’s beloved wife, Elsa, died in 1936.

To his horror, during the late 1930s, physicists began seriously to consider whether his equation E = mc2 might make an atomic bomb possible. In 1920 Einstein himself had considered but eventually dismissed the possibility. However, he left it open if a method could be found to magnify the power of the atom. Then in 1938–39 Otto Hahn, Fritz Strassmann, Lise Meitner, and Otto Frisch showed that vast amounts of energy could be unleashed by the splitting of the uranium atom. The news electrified the physics community.

In July 1939 physicist Leo Szilard convinced Einstein that he should send a letter to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt urging him to develop an atomic bomb. With Einstein’s guidance, Szilard drafted a letter on August 2 that Einstein signed, and the document was delivered to Roosevelt by one of his economic advisers, Alexander Sachs, on October 11. Roosevelt wrote back on October 19, informing Einstein that he had organized the Uranium Committee to study the issue.

Einstein was granted permanent residency in the United States in 1935 and became an American citizen in 1940, although he chose to retain his Swiss citizenship. During the war Einstein’s colleagues were asked to journey to the desert town of Los Alamos, New Mexico, to develop the first atomic bomb for the Manhattan Project. Einstein, the man whose equation had set the whole effort into motion, was never asked to participate. Voluminous declassified Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) files, numbering several thousand, reveal the reason: the U.S. government feared Einstein’s lifelong association with peace and socialist organizations. (FBI director J. Edgar Hoover went so far as to recommend that Einstein be kept out of America by the Alien Exclusion Act, but he was overruled by the U.S. State Department.) Instead, during the war Einstein was asked to help the U.S. Navy evaluate designs for future weapons systems. Einstein also helped the war effort by auctioning off priceless personal manuscripts. In particular, a handwritten copy of his 1905 paper on special relativity was sold for $6.5 million. It is now located in the Library of Congress.

Einstein was on vacation when he heard the news that an atomic bomb had been dropped on Japan. Almost immediately he was part of an international effort to try to bring the atomic bomb under control, forming the Emergency Committee of Atomic Scientists.

The physics community split on the question of whether to build a hydrogen bomb. J. Robert Oppenheimer, the director of the atomic bomb project, was stripped of his security clearance for having suspected leftist associations. Einstein backed Oppenheimer and opposed the development of the hydrogen bomb, instead calling for international controls on the spread of nuclear technology. Einstein also was increasingly drawn to antiwar activities and to advancing the civil rights of African Americans.

In 1952 David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s premier, offered Einstein the post of president of Israel. Einstein, a prominent figure in the Zionist movement, respectfully declined.

Increasing professional isolation and death

Although Einstein continued to pioneer many key developments in the theory of general relativity—such as wormholes, higher dimensions, the possibility of time travel, the existence of black holes, and the creation of the universe—he was increasingly isolated from the rest of the physics community. Because of the huge strides made by quantum theory in unraveling the secrets of atoms and molecules, the majority of physicists were working on the quantum theory, not relativity. In fact, Einstein would engage in a series of historic private debates with Niels Bohr, originator of the Bohr atomic model. Through a series of sophisticated “thought experiments,” Einstein tried to find logical inconsistencies in the quantum theory, particularly its lack of a deterministic mechanism. Einstein would often say that “God does not play dice with the universe.”


In some sense, Einstein, instead of being a relic, may have been too far ahead of his time. The strong force, a major piece of any unified field theory, was still a total mystery in Einstein’s lifetime. Only in the 1970s and ’80s did physicists begin to unravel the secret of the strong force with the quark model. Nevertheless, Einstein’s work continues to win Nobel Prizes for succeeding physicists. In 1993 a Nobel Prize was awarded to the discoverers of gravitation waves, predicted by Einstein. In 1995 a Nobel Prize was awarded to the discoverers of Bose-Einstein condensates (a new form of matter that can occur at extremely low temperatures). Known black holes now number in the thousands. New generations of space satellites have continued to verify the cosmology of Einstein. And many leading physicists are trying to finish Einstein’s ultimate dream of a “theory of everything.”

Source: Who is Albert Einstein?

Who Is Ataturk?

Who Is Ataturk?

Kemal Atatürk, (Turkish: “Kemal, Father of Turks”), original name Mustafa Kemal, also called Mustafa Kemal Paṣa, (born 1881, Salonika [now Thessaloníki], Greece—died November 10, 1938, Istanbul, Turkey), soldier, statesman, and reformer who was the founder and first president (1923–38) of the Republic of Turkey. He modernized the country’s legal and educational systems and encouraged the adoption of a European way of life, with Turkish written in the Latin alphabet and with citizens adopting European-style names.

One of the great figures of the 20th century, Atatürk rescued the surviving Turkish remnant of the defeated Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I. He galvanized his people against invading Greek forces who sought to impose the Allied will upon the war-weary Turks and repulsed aggression by British, French, and Italian troops. Through these struggles, he founded the modern Republic of Turkey, for which he is still revered by the Turks. He succeeded in restoring to his people pride in their Turkishness, coupled with a new sense of accomplishment as their nation was brought into the modern world. Over the next two decades, Atatürk created a modern state that would grow under his successors into a viable democracy. (For a more complete discussion of this period in Turkish history, see Turkey, history of: The emergence of the modern Turkish state.)

Who Is Ataturk?

Early life and education

Atatürk was born in 1881 in Salonika, then a thriving port of the Ottoman Empire, and was given the name Mustafa. His father, Ali Riza, had been a lieutenant in a local militia unit during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78, indicating that his origins were within the Ottoman ruling class, if only marginally. Mustafa’s mother, Zübeyde Hanım, came from a farming community west of Salonika.

Ali Riza died when Mustafa was seven years old, but he nevertheless had a significant influence on the development of his son’s personality. At Mustafa’s birth, Ali Riza hung his sword over his son’s cradle, dedicating him to military service. Most important, Ali Riza saw to it that his son’s earliest education was carried out in a modern secular school, rather than in the religious school Zübeyde Hanım would have preferred. In this way Ali Riza set his son on the path of modernization. This was something for which Mustafa always felt indebted to his father.

After Ali Riza’s death, Zübeyde Hanım moved to her step-brother’s farm outside Salonika. Concerned that Mustafa might grow up uneducated, she sent him back to Salonika, where he enrolled in a secular school that would have prepared him for a bureaucratic career. Mustafa became enamoured of the uniforms worn by the military cadets in his neighbourhood. He determined to enter upon a military career. Against his mother’s wishes, Mustafa took the examination for entrance to the military secondary school.

At the secondary school, Mustafa received the nickname of Kemal, meaning “The Perfect One,” from his mathematics teacher; he was thereafter known as Mustafa Kemal. In 1895 he progressed to the military school in Monastir (now Bitola, Macedonia). He made several new friends, including Ali Fethi (Okyar), who would later join him in the creation and development of the Turkish republic.

Having completed his education at Monastir, Mustafa Kemal entered the War College in Istanbul in March 1899. He enjoyed the freedom and sophistication of the city, to which he was introduced by his new friend and classmate Ali Fuat (Cebesoy).

There was a good deal of political dissent in the air at the War College, directed against the despotism of Sultan Abdülhamid II. Mustafa Kemal remained aloof from it until his third year, when he became involved in the production of a clandestine newspaper. His activities were uncovered, but he was allowed to complete the course, graduating as a second lieutenant in 1902 and ranking in the top 10 of his class of more than 450 students. He then entered the General Staff College, graduating in 1905 as a captain and ranking fifth out of a class of 57; he was one of the empire’s leading young officers.

Who Is Ataturk?

Military career

Mustafa Kemal’s career almost ended soon after his graduation when it was discovered that he and several friends were meeting to read about and discuss political abuses within the empire. A government spy infiltrated their group and informed on them. A cloud of suspicion hung over their heads that was not to be lifted for years. The group was broken up and its members assigned to remote areas of the empire. Mustafa Kemal and Ali Faut were sent to the Fifth Army in Damascus, where Mustafa Kemal was angered by the way corrupt officials were treating the local people. Becoming involved again in antigovernment activities, he helped found a short-lived secret group called the Society for Fatherland and Freedom.

Nevertheless, in September 1907 Mustafa Kemal was declared loyal and reassigned to Salonika, which was awash with subversive activity. He joined the dominant antigovernment group, the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), which had ties to the nationalist and reformist Young Turk movement.

In July 1908 an insurrection broke out in Macedonia. The sultan was forced to reinstate the constitution of 1876, which limited his powers and reestablished a representative government. The hero of this “Young Turk Revolution” was Enver (Enver Paşa), who later became Mustafa Kemal’s greatest rival; the two men came to dislike each other thoroughly.

In 1909 two elements within the revolutionary movement came to the fore. One group favoured decentralization, with harmony and cooperation between the Muslims and the non-Muslims. The other, headed by the CUP, advocated centralization and Turkish control. An insurrection spearheaded by reactionary troops broke out on the night of April 12–13, 1909. The revolution that had restored the constitution in 1908 was in danger. Military officers and troops from Salonika, among whom Enver played a leading role, marched on Istanbul. They arrived at the capital on April 23, and by the next day they had the situation well in hand. The CUP took control and forced Abdülhamid II to abdicate.

Enver was thus in the ascendancy. Mustafa Kemal felt that the military, having gained its political ends, should refrain from interfering in politics. He urged those officers who wanted political careers to resign their commissions. This served only to increase the hostility of Enver and other CUP leaders toward him. Mustafa Kemal turned his attention from politics to military matters. He translated German infantry training manuals into Turkish. From his staff position he criticized the state of the army’s training. His reputation among serious military officers was growing. This activity also brought him into contact with many of the rising young officers. A feeling of mutual respect developed between Mustafa Kemal and some of these officers, who were later to flock to his support in the creation of the Turkish nation.

The CUP, however, was fed up with him, and he was transferred to field command and then sent to observe French army maneuvers in Picardy. Although consistently denied promotion, Mustafa Kemal did not lose faith in himself. In late 1911 the Italians attacked Libya, then an Ottoman province, and Mustafa Kemal went there immediately to fight. Malaria and trouble with his eyes required him to leave the front for treatment in Vienna.

In October 1912, while Mustafa Kemal was in Vienna, the First Balkan War broke out. He was assigned to the defense of the Gallipoli Peninsula, an area of strategic importance with respect to the Dardanelles. Within two months the Ottoman Empire lost most of its territory in Europe, including Monastir and Salonika, places for which Mustafa Kemal had special affection. Among the refugees who poured into Istanbul were his mother, sister, and stepfather.

The Second Balkan War, of short duration (June–July 1913), saw the Ottomans regain part of their lost territory. Relations were renewed with Bulgaria. Mustafa Kemal’s former schoolmate Ali Fethi was named ambassador, and Mustafa Kemal accompanied him to Sofia as military attaché. There he was promoted to lieutenant colonel.
Mustafa Kemal complained of Enver’s close ties to Germany and predicted German defeat in an international conflict. Once World War I broke out, however, and the Ottoman Empire entered on the side of the Central Powers, he sought a military command. Enver made him cool his heels in Sofia but finally gave him command of the 19th Division, which was being organized in the Gallipoli Peninsula. It was here that the Allies attempted their ill-fated landings, giving Mustafa Kemal the opportunity to throw them back and thwart their attempt to force the Dardanelles (February 1915–January 1916). During the battle, Mustafa Kemal was hit by a piece of shrapnel, which lodged in the watch he carried in his breast pocket and thus failed to cause him serious injury. His success at Gallipoli thrust Mustafa Kemal onto the world scene. He was hailed as the “Saviour of Istanbul” and was promoted to colonel on June 1, 1915.

In 1916 Mustafa Kemal was assigned to the Russian front and promoted to general, acquiring the title of pasha. He was the only Turkish general to win any victories over the Russians on the Eastern Front. Later that year, he took over the command of the Second Army in southeastern Anatolia. There he met Colonel İsmet (İnönü), who would become his closest ally in building the Turkish republic.

The outbreak of the Russian Revolution in March 1917 made Mustafa Kemal available for service in the Ottoman provinces of Syria and Iraq, on which the British were advancing from their base in Egypt. He was appointed to the command of the Seventh Army in Syria, but he was appalled by the sad state of the army. Resigning his post, he returned without permission to Istanbul. He was placed on leave for three months and then assigned to accompany Crown Prince Mehmed Vahideddin on a state visit to Germany.

On his return to Istanbul, Mustafa Kemal fell ill with kidney problems, most probably related to gonorrhea, which it is believed he had contracted earlier. (His physical problems would later require him to have a personal physician in constant attendance throughout his years as president of the Turkish republic.) He went to Vienna for treatment and then to Carlsbad to recuperate. While he was in Carlsbad, Sultan Mehmed V died, and Vahideddin assumed the throne as Mehmed VI. Mustafa Kemal was recalled to Istanbul in June 1918.

Through Enver’s machinations, the sultan assigned Mustafa Kemal to command the collapsing Ottoman forces in Syria. He found the situation there worse than he had imagined and withdrew northward to save the lives of as many of his soldiers as possible.

Fighting was halted by the Armistice of Mudros (October 30, 1918). Shortly afterward, Enver and other leaders of the CUP fled to Germany, leaving the sultan to lead the government. To ensure the continuation of his rule, Mehmed VI was willing to cooperate with the Allies, who assumed control of the government.

Who Is Ataturk?

The nationalist movement and the war for independence

The Allies did not wait for a peace treaty to begin claiming Ottoman territory. Early in December 1918, Allied troops occupied sections of Istanbul and set up an Allied military administration. On February 8, 1919, the French general Franchet d’Espèrey entered the city on a white horse, emulating Mehmed the Conqueror’s entrance in 1453 but signifying that Ottoman sovereignty over the imperial city was over. The Allies made plans to incorporate the provinces of eastern Anatolia into an independent Armenian state. French troops advanced into Cilicia in the southeast. Greece and Italy put forward competing claims for southwestern Anatolia. The Italians occupied Marmaris, Antalya, and Burdur, and on May 15, 1919, Greek troops landed at Izmir and began a drive into the interior of Anatolia, killing Turkish inhabitants and ravaging the countryside. Allied statesmen seemed to be abandoning Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points in favour of the old imperialist views set down in the secret treaties and contained in their own secret ambitions.

Meanwhile, Mustafa Kemal’s armies had been disbanded. He returned to Istanbul on November 13, 1919, just as ships of the Allied fleet sailed up the Bosporus. This scene, as well as the city’s occupation by British, French, and Italian troops, left a lasting impression on Mustafa Kemal. He was determined to oust them. He began meeting with selected friends to formulate a policy to save Turkey. Among these friends were Ali Fuat and Rauf (Orbay), the Ottoman naval hero. Ali Fuat was stationed in Anatolia and knew the situation there intimately. He and Mustafa Kemal developed a plan for an Anatolian national movement centred on Ankara.

In various parts of Anatolia, Turks had already taken matters into their own hands, calling themselves associations for the defense of rights and organizing paramilitary units. They began to come into armed conflict with local non-Muslims, and it appeared that they might soon do so against the occupying forces as well.

Fearing anarchy, the Allies urged the sultan to restore order in Anatolia. The grand vizier recommended Mustafa Kemal as a loyal officer who could be sent to Anatolia as inspector general of the Third Army. Mustafa Kemal contrived to get his orders written in such a way as to give him extraordinarily extensive powers. These included the authority to issue orders throughout Anatolia and to command obedience from provincial governors.

Modern Turkish history may be said to begin on the morning of May 19, 1919, with Mustafa Kemal’s landing at Samsun, on the Black Sea coast of Anatolia. So psychologically meaningful was this date for Mustafa Kemal that, when in later life he was asked to provide his date of birth for an encyclopaedia article, he gave it as May 19, 1919. Abandoning his official reason for being in Anatolia—to restore order—he headed inland for Amasya. There he told a cheering crowd that the sultan was the prisoner of the Allies and that he had come to prevent the nation from slipping through the fingers of its people. This became his message to the Turks of Anatolia.

The Allies pressured the sultan to recall Mustafa Kemal, who ignored all communications from Istanbul. The sultan dismissed him and telegraphed all provincial governors, instructing them to ignore Mustafa Kemal’s orders. Imperial orders for his arrest were circulated.

Mustafa Kemal avoided dismissal from the army by officially resigning late on the evening of July 7. As a civilian, he pressed on with his retinue from Sivas to Erzurum, where General Kâzim Karabekir, commander of the XV Army Corps of 18,000 men, was headquartered. At this critical moment, when Mustafa Kemal had no military support or official status, Kâzim threw in his lot with Mustafa Kemal, placing his troops at Mustafa Kemal’s disposal. This was a crucial turning point in the struggle for independence.

Kâzim had called for a congress of all defense-of-rights associations to be held in Erzurum on July 23, 1919. Mustafa Kemal was elected head of the Erzurum Congress and thereby gained an official status. The congress drafted a document covering the six eastern provinces of the empire. Later known as the National Pact, it affirmed the inviolability of the Ottoman “frontiers”—that is, all the Ottoman lands inhabited by Turks when the Armistice of Mudros was signed. It also created a provisional government, revoked the special status arrangements for the minorities of the Ottoman Empire (the capitulations), and set up a steering committee, which then elected Mustafa Kemal as head.

Mustafa Kemal sought to extend the National Pact to the entire Ottoman-Muslim population of the empire. To that end, he called a national congress that met in Sivas and ratified the pact. He exposed attempts by the sultan’s government to arrest him and to disrupt the Sivas Congress. The grand vizier in Istanbul was driven from office. The new government, which was sympathetic to the nationalist movement, restored Mustafa Kemal’s military rank and decorations.

Unconvinced of the sultan’s ability to rid the country of the Allied occupation, Mustafa Kemal established the seat of his provisional government in Ankara, 300 miles (480 km) from Istanbul. There he would be safer from both the sultan and the Allies. This proved a wise decision. On March 16, 1920, in Istanbul, the Allies arrested leading nationalist sympathizers, including Rauf, and sent them to Malta.

The conciliatory Istanbul government fell and was replaced by reactionaries who dissolved the parliament and pressured the religious dignitaries into declaring Mustafa Kemal and his associates infidels worthy of being shot on sight. The die was cast—it would be the sultan’s government or Mustafa Kemal’s.

Many prominent Turks escaped from Istanbul to Ankara, including İsmet and, after him, Fevzi (Çakmak), the sultan’s war minister. Fevzi became Mustafa Kemal’s chief of the general staff. New elections were held, and a parliament, called the Grand National Assembly (GNA), met in Ankara on April 23, 1920. The assembly elected Mustafa Kemal as its president.

In June 1920 the Allies handed the sultan the Treaty of Sèvres, which he signed on August 10, 1920. By the provisions of this treaty, the Ottoman state was greatly reduced in size, with Greece one of the major beneficiaries. Armenia was declared independent. Mustafa Kemal repudiated the treaty. Having received military aid from the Soviet Union, he set out to drive the Greeks from Anatolia and Thrace and to subdue the new Armenian state.

As the war against the Greeks started to go well for Mustafa Kemal’s forces, France and Italy negotiated with the nationalist government in Ankara. They withdrew their troops from Anatolia. This left the Armenians in southeastern Anatolia without the protection of the French troops. With the French and Italians out of the picture, Kâzim then moved against the Armenian state. He was assisted by the Bolsheviks, who had established relations with the government of the GNA. Deserting their Armenian protégés, the Russians supplied the nationalists with weapons and ammunition and joined the assault on the Armenian Socialist Republic, which had been their own creation. This combined attack was too much for the Armenians, who were crushed in October and November 1920; they surrendered early in November. By the treaties of Alexandropol (December 3, 1920) and Moscow (March 16, 1921), the nationalists regained the eastern provinces, as well as the cities of Kars and Ardahan, and the Soviet Union became the first nation to recognize the nationalist government in Ankara. Turkey’s eastern borders were fixed at the Arpa and Aras rivers.

The Greeks were more difficult to overcome, as they continued the advance toward Ankara which had begun in June 1920. By the end of July they had taken Bursa and were pushing on toward Ankara. Ali Fuat was relieved as commander on this front and replaced by İsmet. The Turkish army stood its ground at the İnönü River, north of Kütahya. They threw the Greeks back on January 10, 1921, at the First Battle of the İnönü.

The Greeks did not resume their offensive until March 1921. İsmet again met them at the İnönü River, in a battle that raged from March 27 to April 1. On the evening of April 6–7, 1921, the Greeks broke off the engagement and retreated. In 1934, when the Turks were required by law to take last names, İsmet assumed the surname İnönü in memory of these important victories.

Undaunted, the Greeks launched another offensive on July 13, 1921. İsmet fell back to the Sakarya River, so close to Ankara that the artillery fire could be heard there. Opposition to Mustafa Kemal developed in the GNA, led by Kâzim, who had grown jealous. The opposition demanded that Mustafa Kemal’s powers be curtailed so that a new policy could be developed. In addition they sought to have Mustafa Kemal assume personal direction of the war against the Greeks, anticipating a Greek victory that would result in the destruction of Mustafa Kemal’s stature and charisma. On August 4, Mustafa Kemal agreed, on the condition, which was accepted, that he be granted all the powers assigned to the GNA. He then assumed the role of commander in chief with total authority. He defeated the Greeks at the Battle of the Sakarya (August 23–September 13, 1921) and initiated an offensive (August 26–September 9, 1922) that pushed the Greeks to the sea at Izmir.

With Anatolia rid of most of the Allies, the GNA, at the behest of Mustafa Kemal, voted on November 1, 1922, to abolish the sultanate. This was soon followed by the flight into exile of Sultan Mehmed VI on November 17. The Allies then invited the Ankara government to discussions that resulted in the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne on July 24, 1923. This treaty fixed the European border of Turkey at the Maritsa River in eastern Thrace.

The nationalists occupied Istanbul on October 2. Ankara was named the capital, and on October 29 the Turkish republic was proclaimed. Turkey was now in complete control of its territory and sovereignty.

Who Is Ataturk?

The Turkish republic

Mustafa Kemal then embarked upon the reform of his country, his goal being to bring it into the 20th century. His instrument was the Republican People’s Party, formed on August 9, 1923, to replace the defense-of-rights associations. His program was embodied in the party’s “Six Arrows”: republicanism, nationalism, populism, statism (state-owned and state-operated industrialization aimed at making Turkey self-sufficient as a 20th-century industrialized state), secularism, and revolution. The guiding principle was the existence of a permanent state of revolution, meaning continuing change in the state and society.

The caliphate was abolished on March 3, 1924 (since the early 16th century, the Ottoman sultans had laid claim to the title of caliph of the Muslims); the religious schools were dismantled at the same time. Abolition of the religious courts followed on April 8. In 1925, wearing the fez was prohibited—thereafter Turks wore Western-style headdress. Mustafa Kemal went on a speaking tour of Anatolia during which he wore a European-style hat, setting an example for the Turkish people. In Istanbul and elsewhere there was a run on materials for making hats. In the same year, the religious brotherhoods, strongholds of conservatism, were outlawed.

The emancipation of women was encouraged by Mustafa Kemal’s marriage in 1923 to a Western-educated woman, Latife Hanım (they were divorced in 1925), and was set in motion by a number of laws. In December 1934, women were given the vote for parliamentary members and were made eligible to hold parliamentary seats.

Almost overnight the whole system of Islamic law was discarded. From February to June 1926 the Swiss civil code, the Italian penal code, and the German commercial code were adopted wholesale. As a result, women’s emancipation was strengthened by the abolition of polygamy, marriage was made a civil contract, and divorce was recognized as a civil action.

A reform of truly revolutionary proportions was the replacement of the Arabic script—in which the Ottoman Turkish language had been written for centuries—by the Latin alphabet. This took place officially in November 1928, setting Turkey on the path to achieving one of the highest literacy rates in the Middle East. Once again Mustafa Kemal went into the countryside, and with chalk and a blackboard he demonstrated the new alphabet to the Turkish people and explained how the letters should be pronounced. Education benefited from this reform, as the youth of Turkey, cut off from the past with its emphasis on religion, were encouraged to take advantage of new educational opportunities that gave access to the Western scientific and humanistic traditions.

Another important step was the adoption of surnames or family names, which was decreed by the GNA in 1934. The assembly gave Mustafa Kemal the name Atatürk (“Father of the Turks”).

After having settled Turkey firmly within its national borders and set it on the path of modernization, Atatürk sought to develop his country’s foreign policy in similar fashion. First and foremost, he decided that Turkey would not pursue any irredentist claims except for the eventual incorporation of the Alexandretta region, which he felt was included within the boundaries set by the National Pact. He settled matters with Great Britain in a treaty signed on June 5, 1926. It called for Turkey to renounce its claims to Mosul in return for a 10 percent interest in the oil produced there. Atatürk also sought reconciliation with Greece; this was achieved through a treaty of friendship signed on December 30, 1930. Minority populations were exchanged on both sides, borders were set, and military problems such as naval equality in the eastern Mediterranean were ironed out.

This ambitious program of forced modernization was not accomplished without strain and bloodshed. In February 1925 the Kurds of southwestern Anatolia raised the banner of revolt in the name of Islam. It took two months to put the revolt down; its leader Şeyh Said was then hanged. In June 1926 a plot by several disgruntled politicians to assassinate Atatürk was discovered, and the 13 ringleaders were tried and hanged.

There were other trials and executions, but under Atatürk the country was steadfastly steered toward becoming a modern state with a minimum of repression. There was a high degree of consensus among the ruling elite about the goals of the society. As many of those goals were achieved, however, many Turks wished to see a more democratic regime. Atatürk even experimented in 1930 with the creation of an opposition party led by his longtime associate Ali Fethi, but its immediate and overwhelming success caused Atatürk to squash it.

In his later years Atatürk grew more remote from the Turkish people. He had the Dolmabahçe Palace in Istanbul, formerly a main residence of the sultans, refurbished and spent more time there. Always a heavy drinker who ate little, he began to decline in health. His illness, cirrhosis of the liver, was not diagnosed until too late. He bore the pain of the last few months of his life with great character and dignity, and on November 10, 1938, he died at 9:05 am in Dolmabahçe. His state funeral was an occasion for enormous outpourings of grief from the Turkish people. His body was transported through Istanbul and from there to Ankara, where it awaited a suitable final resting place. This was constructed years later: a mausoleum in Ankara contains Atatürk’s sarcophagus and a museum devoted to his memory.

Atatürk is omnipresent in Turkey. His portrait is in every home and place of business and on the postage and bank notes. His words are chiseled on important buildings. Statues of him abound. Turkish politicians, regardless of party affiliation, claim to be the inheritors of Atatürk’s mantle, but none has matched his breadth of vision, dedication, and selflessness.

Source: Who Is Ataturk?