There is no one who does not know the love of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk for children. So much so that he gifted children a unique holiday in the world! He was a great leader who did not hesitate to take care of children even in the most difficult conditions, even in times of war. He knew that the way to “contemporary civilization level” was through the importance given to children. For this reason, he set an example for his country with the attention he showed to children. In his speeches, he often talked about his love for children and the value he placed on them.
For example, “Little ladies, little gentlemen! You are all a rose, a star, the light of fortune of the future…” or “Children should be protected from all kinds of neglect and abuse, and should be treated more privately than adults under any circumstances.” He showed his love and sensitivity to children with words such as: In the eyes of Atatürk, all the children of the nation were his children. However, some children had the chance to spend more time with Atatürk. Atatürk adopted 8 children from different parts of Anatolia and took care of them until the end of his life. Here are Atatürk’s spiritual children and the great love he has for them…
Sabiha was born in Bursa in 1913. He was the youngest of 6 siblings. He lost his parents while he was still in primary school. Atatürk met Sabiha in Bursa in 1925. He closely witnessed Sabiha’s difficult life. Then he talked to Sabiha’s older brother and adopted Sabiha. Upon Atatürk’s sensitivity to education, he was immediately enrolled in Çankaya Primary School. After primary school, she attended Üsküdar Girls’ College. She started to study at the Aviation School of the Turkish Aeronautical Association in 1935.
Sabiha was a pretty good student. After successfully completing his education in Turkey, he went to the Soviet Union to continue his education on aviation. After returning home, he entered Eskişehir Air School. He specialized in fighter and bomber aircraft. He made successful flights in the Sheikh Rıza rebellion that broke out in 1937. A year later, she represented Turkish women in the best way with her Balkan tour, which she went on at Atatürk’s request. In this way, she began to be recognized in Europe. She worked as a head teacher at Türkkuşu, a flight school within the body of the Turkish Aeronautical Association. Sabiha Gökçen ended her successful aviation career in 1955. Sabiha Gökçen, who is among Atatürk’s adopted children, went down in history as the first Turkish female fighter pilot, thanks to Atatürk’s guidance and determined personality. Gökçen passed away in 2001…
2. Ulku Adatepe
Ülkü Adatepe’s mother, Vasfiye Hanım from Thessaloniki, was the adopted daughter of Atatürk’s mother, Zübeyde Hanım. They had come from Thessaloniki to Istanbul together. After the death of Zübeyde Hanım, Vasfiye Hanım settled next to Atatürk’s sister Makbule Atadan. Later, Vasfiye Hanım, who came to Ankara to visit Atatürk, married Tahsin Çukuroğlu, who worked at the Forest Farm.
Ülkü, the youngest among Atatürk’s adopted children, was born in 1932. Atatürk himself gave his name. Atatürk took Ülkü with him when he was only 40 days old and kept him with him until the end of his life. He took Ülkü with him on all his travels. Father and daughter were playing games together at the Çankaya Mansion, and swimming together in Florya. In the morning, Atatürk was awakened by Ülkü. Atatürk was personally interested in Ülkü’s education. Ülkü was the greatest symbol of Atatürk’s love for children.
3. Ayşe Afet İnan
Afet Inan was working as a young teacher at the age of 17 at Reddi Ilhak Primary School in Izmir. They met on October 11, 1925, when Atatürk visited this primary school on his trip to Izmir. Afet Inan, like Ataturk, was from Thessaloniki. Afet Inan wanted to continue her education, especially to learn new languages. He conveyed this request to Atatürk. Attaching great importance to education, Atatürk welcomed Inan’s request and took Inan under his protection.
Atatürk sent Inan to Lausanne to learn French. After Afet Inan returned to Turkey in 1928, she continued her education at the French High School for Girls in Istanbul. After her education here, she took the teaching exams and got a teaching certificate. Later, he was appointed to Ankara Music Teachers’ School as a History and Citizenship teacher.
Inan took important roles in the establishment process of the Turkish Historical Society in the following periods. He served as the vice president of this institution for many years. In addition, he worked as a director at Ankara University Turkish Revolution History Institute. After receiving the title of professor in 1950, he published many works on Atatürk and Turkish history.
4. Nebile Irdelp
Nebile had come to Dolmabahçe Palace with her 2 friends in 1927 to visit Atatürk. His friends left the palace after the visit. However, Nebile joined Atatürk’s adopted children and stayed with Atatürk. Later, he was sent to Ankara to continue his education. After completing her education, she married Tahsin Bey, the Chief Clerk of the Vienna Embassy. Of course, Atatürk was among the guests at the wedding in Ankara Palas in 1929. Unfortunately, Nebile also got a serious illness during Atatürk’s illness and died in 1943.
5. Rukiye Erkin
Atatürk and Rukiye met while Atatürk was visiting Konya. Rukiye was an orphan girl and unfortunately lived in very bad conditions. Atatürk, who could not remain unresponsive to this situation, adopted Rukiye and brought him to Ankara. Atatürk took care of Rukiye and provided her with an education. Rukiye later married Captain Hüsnü Erkin. Their wedding took place in Dolmabahçe Palace. Atatürk and his adopted daughter Rukiye performed the wedding opening dance…
6. Zehra Aylin
During his visit to Amasya, Atatürk adopted an orphaned girl, Zehra. Thus, Zehra came to Ankara. She studied at the primary school in the garden of Çankaya Mansion with Sabiha and Rukiye, Atatürk’s other adopted children. In the years that followed, she was sent to London to continue her education. However, she could not adapt to London and the boarding school she attended. On top of that, Atatürk allowed him to return home. He died in 1936 when he fell from the window of the train he was traveling on, while passing from London to Paris. When the news of Zehra’s death reached Atatürk, “Now I am saddened. She was a very intelligent and stubborn girl, I loved it”, she expressed her sadness. Zehra’s body was later brought to Istanbul and buried here.
7. Abdurrahim Tuncak
Another name among Atatürk’s adopted children, Abdürrahim Tuncak was an orphan who lived in Van. Atatürk brought Abdürrahim to Istanbul and placed him with his mother, Zübeyde Hanım. After the National Struggle was won, Abdürrahim was brought to Ankara. He was enrolled in a primary school close to the Çankaya Mansion. After primary school, he was sent to industrial school. However, when Atatürk married Latife Hanım, Abdürrahim was sent to İzmir. He started to live here with Zübeyde Hanım. When Atatürk and Latife Hanım broke up, she returned to Ankara.
Atatürk wanted Abdürrahim to study abroad. Thus, Abdürrahim began studying at the Berlin Technical University. All expenses were covered by Atatürk himself. Abdürrahim took the surname “Tuncak” in 1934. He acted as a translator between the delegations during the purchase of the Savarona Yacht. Tuncak worked at the Central Bank for many years and retired from there. Abdurrahim Tuncak passed away in 1999.
8. Sığırtmaç Mustafa
Mustafa was the child of a poor Bulgarian immigrant family. He met Atatürk in Yalova. Mustafa was a shepherd in Yalova. While herding cattle, he met Atatürk. They chatted for a long time…
Since Mustafa grew up and lived in a poor family, he had some illnesses. Atatürk took Mustafa under his protection and sent him to the children’s hospital in Şişli. He was very interested in the treatment process. After Mustafa regained his health, he was enrolled in primary school. He continued his education life under the auspices of Atatürk. He graduated from the military high school and the Military Academy. He followed in his spiritual father’s footsteps and became an officer. After retiring, he returned to Yalova and died in 1987.