12 Mar 2015

Erdogan's New Turkey: Goodbye Atatürk, Hello Atatürk

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey's incumbent president and past prime minister, struggles to escape the shadow of modern Turkey's founder. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk looms large over his country's past, present and future. It is hard to dismantle the figure, the legacy and the lasting authority of Atatürk, very much to Erdoğan's dismay, especially as Erdoğan seeks to radically redefine the country -- from the place of religion in society to a reform of the constitution, including a shift to a presidential system.


For a short moment, a few months ago, it seemed as if Erdoğan had received help from an unlikely source: Adolf Hitler. Hitler and his national socialists were big fans of Atatürk and his "New Turkey" -- so much so that they instituted a minor cult around the Turkish leader in the Third Reich. Hitler's dictum that Atatürk and the Turkish nationalist movement had been his shining star in the darkness of the democratic Weimar Republic in the 1920s, became the official line of the Third Reich.

Reactions in Turkey were not only immediate but also quite positive, primarily newspapers close to the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) -- Erdoğan's party -- that seemed interested in discussing Nazi fandom of Atatürk as a means to discredit Atatürk and his project.

More by Stefan Ihrig at Huff. Post