Atatürk's Istanbul Journey


Every summer an the rumour of a journey to Istanbul been passed from ear to ear but a few days later the travel route was changed to Konya or İzmir. In our imagination Istanbul had passed away into dream.

The gossip appeared again in the summer of 1927. We were ordered to get ready for ajourney to Istanbul. A battalion of guardsmen was in preparation. We were undecided despite all of this, because the train could change its direction to Eskişehir.

Finally we were on our way to Istanbul and we were to return to Istanbul, especially to the sea that we were longing for for a long time.

Everybody was happy in the train.

After Pendik, we were passing through the nice villages, rumour of Atatürk’s journey had spread and applause was coming from the villages. We were joyful. Some of our friends arranged a small band and played marches.

Istanbul welcomed the great hero joyfully.

The Ertuğrul yacht bringing Atatürk from Derince turned over to Kız Kulesi. Hundred thousands Istanbul residents showed their joyful happiness, by cheering “long-live!” It was so exciting.

Atatürk disembarked to the palace from the yacht. Friends went to their houses in the evening. I was on duty.

9 pm. telephone rang and the voice of chief aide-de-camp was heard.

- Hurry up! The Fasıl music group is going to go to the Palace with its full members.

- But sir, some friends have gone to their houses.

The harsh soldier, aide-de-camp got very angry and gave an order and then hung up.

Hafız Yaşar was living in Aksaray, Zühtü Bardakoğlu was living in Teşvikiye, Abdülahlik in Eyübsultan and the others were living in different districts.

Without hope, I took the telephone and called the nearest police stations of my friends and asked them to bring them to palace promptly. Just half an hour passed and the aide-de-camp called again and roared.

- Whoever is there, call to come here urgently?

Nobody is here except me.

I took my Ney under my arm and left for the Palace. The way to Palace was filled with people. I could hardly get to the garden of the Palace. But the bayonet of the sentry shone in front of me.

- Forbidden...

The battalion troop of guardsmen doesn’t let even a bird in.

Come on... turn back.

Around thousand residents were in this palace during the Sultan’s time, now Atatürk’s few employees were lost there. By the time I found the kitchen I asked the chef to take me to Atatürk. He laughed. “ I could hardly find here in half an hour I won’t go anywhere,” he said.

When a waiter came, I found the department of the aide-de-camps and with his help ud player Şevki had come. Nobody was there except the two of us.

Without hope, we both went the before Atatürk. Two friends played a “Peşrev” (prelude) there was neither a singer nor any other musician. Atatürk said to Şevki.

- Please sing a Gazel (extemporaneous vocal Taksim).

Şevki’s voice is terrible but my clever friend started to a Taksim (partition) with his marvellous playing of ud in the Rast makam, the one of the makam’s Atatürk liked. Atatürk’s started to sing, in reply to the Taksim. By that time some of our friends were able to arrive and we together played and sang until the late time of the night. There was a dining table for 24 persons in the middle of the hall. Nuri Conker was sitting on his right hand side, on the left-hand side future Member of Parliament Asaf’s wife was seated, the others I knew were the Minister of Education, Asaf, Şükrü Kaya and some further guests.

Those times Atatürk was preparing his Grand Speech. The talk was of this subject. Atatürk read some prepared parts of the Speech and narrated his memories.

Hours passed while we are sitting at the table eating and drinking. I only know that, until that time, if there was a music group in a party, music always continued from the beginning till the end. But we had been in the Palace for about 4 or 5 hours and had only played for a short time and now for about two hours we were sitting there.