GEORGE E. GRUEN
After the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I, Turkish nationalists under the dynamic leadership of Gen. Mustafa Kemal (later, Atatürk) created the modern Turkish Republic. The Allies had occupied the Ottoman capital of Istanbul and planned to divide the bulk of the sultan's remaining domains, with the British and French to rule the former Arab provinces under mandates from the League of Nations, while the Italians and Greeks were to receive significant portions of coastal Anatolia. The Treaty of Sevres in August 1920 also provided for granting autonomy and eventual independence to the predominantly Armenian and Kurdish regions in the east.
The Treaty of Sevres was never ratified. The Greek occupation of Izmir on May 15, 1919, under cover of Allied warships, was the act that helped Kemal galvanize Turkish popular resistance, resulting in the reconquest of Anatolia. That was completed in September 1922, with the recapture of Izmir (Smyrna). The Allies agreed to restoration of Turkish sovereignty in Istanbul, the strategic Turkish Straits, and Eastern Thrace. (The straits consist of the Bosporus, which connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara in Istanbul, and the Dardanelles, which connect the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean. Until the construction of several bridges in recent decades, the straits separated European Turkey from Asiatic Turkey.) After months of difficult negotiations, a peace treaty was signed at Lausanne on July 23, 1923.
In 1934 the grateful Turkish parliament bestowed upon the victorious General Kemal the name Atatürk (Father Turk). Atatürk consciously distanced himself from the multiethnic and polyglot characteristics of the defeated Ottoman Empire. He sought instead to forge a new unified Turkish identity, drawing on the myths of the Turks' pre-Islamic Central Asian tribal