Atatük's Memory of Damascus


It was nearly morning when Atatürk told us of the following occurrence.

He was a young staff officer in Damascus. He was enjoying himself until late every night but he was at his office on time in the morning. One of the enviors complained about him to the Marshal. The Marshal knew him very well and how he had carried his responsibilities. He came to Mustafa Kemal’s office about this complaint together with the informer at the hour when work started. Mustafa Kemal had come to his office and started his work fastidiously. He was busy preparing a military operation. The Marshal, turning to the informer said.

- I wish you would work successfully and would enjoy yourself not only at nights but in the day time also.

This occurrence reminded me of another one that my father Dr. Ali Yaver Ataman told us. He had just graduated from of medical school and been appointed to Damascus. Once a day he was together with his friends and ate and drank and had heart to heart talks. They were talking against the Sultan. Meanwhile young staff officer Kulağası (rank between captain and major) approached their table

- What a pity. He could be an informer, they say. Thn they fell silent. The young staff officer had arrived.

- What were you talking about friends? Why did you stop talking?

- Nothing, we were just talking heart to heart.

- No, you were talking about something. You were talking against our Sultan. Weren’t you?

Young doctors glaze each other. The young staff officer laughed loudly.

- Don’t be afraid of me I have more to add than you.

They invite the young staff to their table. The name of that young staff officer is Mustafa Kemal.

Long years passed. Atatürk came to Kastamonu for the first phase of the hat reform. The leader of the Party Dr. AliYaver was among the people who met him.

The Great Leader makes his Great Speech, than he sees my father while he is resting in the Party building.

- I think I know you sir. Without waiting for his reply:

- I think we met in Damascus.

This is an interesting example showing the strength of his memory.

There are preparations in Ankara. The Ankara Palace Hotel is trying to get ready. Tailcoats and smokings have been sewn for the members of the Presidency Turkish Music Group of Fasıl. The Queen and the King of the brother country of Afghanistan will visit Ankara. The notes of Afghanistan's National Anthem have been delivered to us. Must needs we shall play the national anthems as well. Afghanistan has a national anthem in “Hüseyni makam” but not in accordance with the rules of our music.

The train has arrived at the station.

First, the King then the Queen, with her lady in waiting, got off the train. Great Atatürk met his guests. All the people in Ankara filled the station.

The King bowed in great respect, then kissed Atatürk’s hand and introduced the Queen and the other high officials.

The “Şir” word is at the front each of the names of the King’s high officials but there is no one resembling a lion, most of them are slim. (Şir means lion in Persian)

There was a big party in Ankara Palace Hotel at the night of the day they arrived. We were participating as the Turkish Fasıl Music Group.

We went to the hotel at the set time. A quite large table was prepared and the seats of the protocol guests were arranged; guests were coming one by one.

We had been notified that we should play our National Anthem when Atatürk arrived and play the Afghan national anthem as soon as King appeared.

The time was nearly up when a rumour started that Atatürk and the King would come together.

Which march were we to play first, since it was not possible to play both of them at the same time. We were at a loss, asked some people, we knew but we couldn’t get a satisfactory reply.Meanwhile and fortunately the protocol manager Mr. Saffet came and ended our indicisiveness.

After then Atatürk came together with İnönü. Our national anthem was played then king and queen entered the hall.

King was wearing an army uniform, the queen was wearing a marvellous white evening gown and a crown with precious jewels.

Especially a big brilliant one in the middle of the crown was shining like a projector with her movements.

The party was going on in a friendly atmosphere. Speeches were made. The glasses were emptied. I noticed the king only drank ayran (yogurt with water) and ate a little.

The presidency orchestra was playing beautiful compositions from time to time. We were waiting for our turn. We were busy eating our meal on the table laid before us us and there ws also beef salami on the table. Mr. Hafız ate a piece of it and one of our friends, a famous singer known as joking Abdülhalik saw him eating salami and told him that it was made of pork. Hafız Mehmet’s anxiety and upsetness had been a subject for our jokes for a long time.