On this day, May 19, 1919, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk launched his invasion of Samsun and began the Turkish War of Independence. At that point, the Ottoman government was under the control of the Triple Entente/WWI Allies. Turks in the Ottoman Empire had already completed the worst of the Armenian Genocide as well as the lesser know Assyrian Genocide. The Turks felt that, between the central Ottoman government in a vassal state to the Allies and the nationalist movements swelling in various parts of the Empire, it was incumbent upon the Turks to carve out a new nation and grab as much land as possible. Atatürk, appointed by the Ottoman government as Inspector of the Ninth Army Troops Inspectorate of the Empire in eastern Anatolia, left Constantinople aboard the now-famous SS Bandırma May 16. Instead of obeying the orders of the Ottoman government, he and a number of colleagues declared the beginning of the liberation movement. The Samsun landing on May 19 traditionally marks the beginning of this Turkish War of Independence.
Thomas E. Keefe
Assistant Professor of Humanities,