Nihal Atsız

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Nihâl Atsız
Nihal atsiz2.jpg
BornMehmet Nail oğlu Hüseyin Nihâl
January 12, 1905
Kadıköy, Constantinople, Ottoman Empire[1][2][3][4]
DiedDecember 11, 1975(1975-12-11) (aged 70)
İçerenköy, Istanbul, Turkey
Resting placeKaracaahmet Cemetery, Istanbul
OccupationWriter, novelist, poet and philosopher
EducationHistory of literature
Notable worksBozkurtların Ölümü (Death of the Grey Wolves)
SpouseMehpare Hanım (1931–35)
Bedriye Atsız (1936–75)
Children3 (one adopted)

Hüseyin Nihâl Atsız (Ottoman Turkish: حسين نيهال آتسز‎; January 12, 1905 – December 11, 1975)[5] was a prominent Turkish nationalist writer, novelist, poet, historian and philosopher. Nihâl Atsız self-identified as a racist, Pan-Turkist and Turanist.[6][7][8] He also criticized Islam in his later life.[9][10] He was the author of over 30 books and numerous articles and was in strong opposition to the government of İsmet İnönü, which he criticized for co-operating with the communists.[11] He was accused of plotting to overthrow the government.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Nihâl Atsız in his early days

Nihâl Atsız was born on January 12, 1905 at Kasımpaşa, Istanbul. His father was navy commander Mehmet Nail Bey, from the Çiftçioğlu family of Torul, Gümüşhane; and his mother was Fatma Zehra, daughter of navy commander Osman Fevzi Bey, from the Kadıoğlu family of Trabzon. Nihâl Atsız had two sons from his second wife Bedriye Atsız: Yağmur Atsız, a left-wing journalist and writer, and Dr. Buğra Atsız, academician and nationalist writer; he also had an adopted daughter: Kaniye Atsız. Atsız had a younger brother, Nejdet Sançar, also a prominent personality of the Pan-Turkist ideology.[13]

Education and professional life[edit]

He began to study at the Military School of Medicine in 1922 but was expelled due to his ultra-nationalist views and activities as he declined to salute an officer of Arab origin who was of a superior rank than his in 1925.[14] He then began to study at the Teachers College in Istanbul and the Istanbul University School of Literature and graduated from both in 1930. Following he became assistant to Professor Fuat Köprülü at the Istanbul University.[15] He challenged the Turkish History Thesis and following this incident he was dismissed from the University in 1932.[16] After he worked in high schools in Malatya and Edirne as a teacher but due to his persistent challenge of the Turkish History Thesis he often faced difficulties in his career.[17] Following his imprisonment in due to the Racism-Turanism Trials in 1944–1945 he wasn't rehired as a teacher and only in 1949 he was employed at the Süleymaniye Library, where he was active until 1969.[18] After his retirement in 1969 he kept publishing Ötüken.[19]


Atsız was a publisher of several magazines. Atsız published several academic essays about Ottoman literature and history. He began to publish magazines in 1931, which he kept doing until 1975. Atsız Mecmua was the first Pan-Turk magazine, which was published from 15 May 1931 to 25 September 1932.[20] He also published Orhun from 1933 to 1934 and again from 1943 to 1944.[21] Orkun, as a successor of Orhun, was first published in 1950 and later in 1962-63.[22] His last magazine Ötüken was published from 1964 to 1975.[23]


Nihâl Atsız in the 1930s

Nihâl Atsız was an important ideologue who lived during the early years of the Republic of Turkey. His circle attacked Atatürk's leadership, condemned Turkey's foreign policy, and particularly the appeasement policy vis-a-vis the Soviet Union. Most importantly, his supporters ridiculed Kemalist attempts at connecting Turks with early Anatolian and Mesopotamian civilizations in the Atatürk era. His views on Atatürk became more positive after the military coup against the Democrat Party in 1960 and he stressed Atatürk's nationalism in his writings.

He was foremost known for his nationalist views, his active campaign against Turkish communists, and his embracing of Tengriistic ancient Turkic traditions. Atsız viewed racism and pan-Turkism as the two main components of Turkish nationalism and disputed the ideologues of the likes of Ziya Gökalp or Hamdullah Suphi Tanriöver who didn't share his views regarding racism,[24] however, according to him, racism "is not about measuring head, analysing blood or counting seven ancestors as a couple of phony zanies claimed"[25] and during the Racism-Turanism trials, he stated he counts partly non-Turks who served Turkishness a lot (e.g. Bayezid I) and don't have any feeling of another race Turks as well.[26] He was among the authors that influenced a type of Turkish nationalism known as Ülkücü movement (translated as "idealist"), a nationalist movement later associated to Alparslan Türkeş (and which was a break with Atsız's previous ideology of Pan-Turkism, on the grounds that it reconciles with Islam instead of denouncing it as "Arab religion", which Atsız previously stated).[9] He wrote that the Kipchaks in Lithuania and Kirghiz are from the same blood and therefore Turks, but "alien people" living in Turkey like Jews or Negroes are not Turks even if they speak Turkish.[21]

Kemalism, which had been condemned so harshly in his novel "Dalkavuklar Gecesi" (Night of the Sycophants) is the founding ideology of the Republic of Turkey. The nature and the type of Kemalist nationalism during the Early Republican Period (1923–50) had since 1923 have interpreted Turkish identity under the guiding light of constitutional principles which equated ‘Turkishness’ with being a Turkish citizen. Identifying all Turkish citizens as Turks proper, the three constitutions of the Republican Era were completely and positively blind to ethnic, and religious differences between Turkish citizens and disassociated ‘Turkishness’ from its popular meaning: that is, the name of an ethnic group. Supporters of this view argue that Republican statesmen rejected the German model of ethnic nationalism and emulated the French model of civic nationalism by reducing ‘Turkishness’ to a legal category only. In other words, citizens of Turkey who happened to be of Kurdish, Greek, Armenian, Jewish or Assyrian descent had only to accept a plebiscite, according to this view, to take advantage of the opportunity of Turkification, as far as their citizenship status was concerned, and gaining full equality with ethnic Turks, provided that they remained faithful to their side of the bargain.[27]

In 1934, he had written that "the Jew" was among "the internal enemies of Turkey" but in 1947, he praised the Jewish people for setting an example of strong nationalism (Zionism): indeed, the Jews managed "to get back the land they had lost 2,000 years ago and to revive Hebrew which has remained only in the books and turn into a spoken language."[28]

He thought Turks and non-Turks should not intermarry and love has not the same value as nationalist feelings. He further believed nationalism was superior than religion and Islam was a manifestation of the struggle of the Arabs to form a nation.[29]

Legal prosecution[edit]

Nihâl Atsız goes to trial

In 1944 he was prosecuted twice. Once he was prosecuted on the initiative of Sabahattin Ali for accusing him (and 3 other communists) of being a traitor and warning Prime Minister Şükrü Saracoğlu about them, who established positions, which Atsız believed was with the help of the Minister of National Education.[30][31] Atsız knew Ali from before as they shared a room with him in the 1920s,[32] when Sabahattin Ali was a nationalist.[33] He was given a sentence of 6 months in the trial against Sabahattin Ali, which was later reduced to a suspended sentence of 4 months.[34] During the Atsız-Ali trial, rallies by adherents to the political right-wing spectrum in support of Atsız were held several times, most notably on 3 May 1944. Many of the attendants of these rallies were arrested and later prosecuted during the so-called Racism-Turanism trial [tr]. During this trial Atsız and thirty others, amongst them also Reha Oğuz Türkkan, Alparslan Türkeş, were prosecuted for inciting racism and Turanism.[35] He first got sentenced to 6 years and 6 months in prison, after the sentence was lowered to 1 year and 6 months and at the end he (along with the other nationalists) received an amnesty.[36] In 1973, despite his health problems, he received a prison sentence of 15 months because of his writings against Kurdish separatists, after 6 years of trials. He wrote Kurds should leave Turkey (if they insist on keeping the pro-Kurdish propaganda) and learn from the Armenians what happens to the people who challenge the Turkish nation. Many people; including mayors, journalists, writers, university teachers and students; requested president Fahri Korutürk to release Atsız from prison. After ​2 12 months, he was pardoned.[37] [38]


He was claimed to be a sympathizer of the Nazi government,[6][39] Despite the resemblances Atsız had with Adolf Hitler, he denied these claims[40] as he started to publish his ideas even before Hitler was well-known in Turkey.[41]

In the Orhun, Atsız wrote in support for the establishment of a Greater Turkish Empire spanning from the Mediterranean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Corry Guttstadt mentioned: "His Turkism was based on ties of blood and race; he advocated a return to pre-Islamic Turkish beliefs."[8]

Professor Jacob M. Landau in his book “Exploring Ottoman and Turkish History” says: "Atsiz was a great admirer of the race theories of Nazi Germany, expressing some of them repeatedly in his own works during the 1930s and 1940s (with the Turks labelled as the 'master race'). His articles insisted, again and again, that Pan-Turkism could – and should – be achieved by war." [42]

His legacy[edit]

Nineteen young academicians and authors, assembled under a nationalist association "Siyah Beyaz Kültür ve Sanat Platformu", published a book on him, "Vaktiyle Bir Atsız Varmış",[43] consisted of articles and comparative studies on his works, life and views. In the Maltepe district in Istanbul, a park is named after him.[44]

Political groups[edit]

In Turkey in 2012 a nationalist group calling itself "Genç Atsızlar" ("Young Atsızes") emerged, participating in anti-Armenian demonstrations in Istanbul, carrying banners stating "You are all Armenians, You are all bastards", in response to the slogan "We are all Hrant Dink, We are all Armenians".[45][46] In February 2015, in response to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, Anti-Armenian banners of Genç Atsızlar appeared in cities around Turkey, including banners in İstanbul condemning the Khojaly Genocide, and a banner in Muğla proclaiming "We celebrate the 100th anniversary of our country being cleared of Armenians".[47]

Turkism day[edit]

On the 3 May 1945, Atsız, Alparslan Türkeş, Reha Oğuz Türkkan, Nejdet Sançar and others, all imprisoned in the Tophane military prison, held a meeting in memory of the rallies held on the 3 May 1944 in support of Atsız during the trial between Atsız and Sabahattin Ali. This meeting was the beginning of the annual celebrations of the Turkism Day.[35]

Literary Work[edit]

His essays about history are gathered and published as a book under the name of Türk Tarihinde Meseleler (Issues in Turkic History). He also served as a literature teacher for a number of years.

A famous politicised novel of his was Dalkavuklar Gecesi (Night of the Sycophants), a historical allegory and critique of Kemalism.[27] Published in 1941, it tells the story of political corruption during the Hittite era but actually referring (in a roman a clef fashion) to the injustices and arbitrariness of Atatürk's rule during the 1930s, especially the Turkish History Thesis, and the sycophants around him.

Atsız is also an important novelist and poet. His historical epic novel Bozkurtların Ölümü (Death of the Grey Wolves) is one of the most popular historical novels in Turkish literature. The book concerns the last days of the first Gök Türk Empire and the impossible rebellion of Prince Kür-Şad and his forty warriors against the Chinese invaders, referring to the attempt to kidnap the Chinese emperor by Ashina Jiesheshuai in 639. His original Turkic name is unknown, Kürşad is a made-up name by Atsız. Its sequel Bozkurtlar Diriliyor (Revival of the Grey Wolves) tells the story of Urungu (the unknown son of Kür-Şad) and the beginning of the second Gök Türk Empire. His third novel, Deli Kurt (Mad Wolf), is about the mystic romance between a Sipahi warrior (who was actually an unknown member of the Ottoman dynasty) and a mysterious shamanist nomad woman in the early Ottoman Empire.

Atsız wrote a satirical political comedy about the İnönü government, Z Vitamini (Vitamin Z), which was about a fictional special vitamin which gives immortality to the dictator and his government. It was published in 1959.

His last novel, Ruh Adam (Soul Man), is quite a complex psychological novel. The book has a spiritual and mystical atmosphere, full with surrealistic, allegorical figures such as Yek (who symbolizes Satan) and Lieutenant Şeref (who symbolizes Honour). It has a complex story, which is generally about the forbidden platonic love affair between an alcoholic ex-army officer and a diabolical, mysterious young high school student. The plot develops on the reincarnation of two lovers, which was a warrior banned from the army because of his love to the girl was greater than his love to his country in ancient nomad times. It was inspired by Atsız's own life.[48]

His poems are in the style of Pre-Islamic literature and his common themes are idealism, honour, forbidden love, war and history. His complete poetic works (except for a few) have been published under the name of Yolların Sonu ("End of Roads").



  • Dalkavuklar Gecesi (Night of the Sycophants), İstanbul 1941. ISBN 978-975-437-804-7
  • Bozkurtların Ölümü (Death of the Grey Wolves), İstanbul 1946. ISBN 978-975-437-800-9
  • Bozkurtlar Diriliyor (Revival of the Grey Wolves), İstanbul 1949. ISBN 978-975-437-800-9
  • Deli Kurt (Mad Wolf), İstanbul 1958. ISBN 978-975-437-801-6
  • Z Vitamini (Vitamin Z), İstanbul 1959. ISBN 978-975-437-804-7
  • Ruh Adam (Soul Man), İstanbul 1972. ISBN 978-975-437-802-3


  • 'Dönüş' (The Return), In Atsız Mecmua, sayı.2 (1931), Orhun, Sayı.10 (1943)
  • 'Şehidlerin Duası' (Prayer of Martyrs), In Atsız Mecmua, Sayı.3 (1931), Orhun, Sayı.12 (1943)
  • 'Erkek, Kız' (Boy, Girl), In Atsız Mecmua, Sayı.4 (1931)
  • 'İki Onbaşı, Galiçiya...1917...' (Two Corporals, Galicia...1917...), In Atsız Mecmua, Sayı.6 (1931), Çınaraltı, Sayı.67 (1942), Ötüken, Sayı.30 (1966)
  • 'Her Çağın Masalı: Boz Doğan ve Sarı Yılan' (Tale of All Ages: Grey Hawk and Yellow Snake), In Ötüken, Sayı.28 (1966)


Other works[edit]

  • Divan-ı Türk-i Basit, Gramer ve Lugati (Divan-ı Türk-i Basit, Grammar and Dictionary), Graduating Thesis, Institute of Turkology, no. 82, 111 pages (İstanbul, 1930)
  • "Sart Başı"na Cevap (Answer to Head of Sart), İstanbul, 1933.
  • Çanakkale'ye Yürüyüş (Walking to Çanakkale), İstanbul, 1933.
  • XVIıncı asır şairlerinden Edirneli Nazmî'nin eseri ve bu eserin Türk dili ve kültürü bakımından ehemmiyeti (Production of who's one of the poet in 16the century and importance of this production on Turkish Language and Culture), İstanbul, 1934.
  • Komünist Don Kişot'u Proleter Burjuva Nâzım Hikmetof Yoldaşa (To Communist Don Quixote Proletarian Bourgeois Comrade Nazım Hikmetof), İstanbul, 1935.
  • Türk Tarihi Üzerinde Toplamalar, I. Bölüm (Collections on Turkic History, Episode I), İstanbul, 1935.
  • XVinci asır tarihçisi Şükrullah, Dokuz Boy Türkler ve Osmanlı Sultanları Tarihi (Şükrullah who's one of the historian in 15the century, Nine tribe Turks and History of Ottoman Sultans), İstanbul, 1939.
  • Müneccimbaşı, Şeyh Ahmed Dede Efendi, Hayatı ve Eserleri" (Head of Chaldeans, Şeyh Ahmed Dede Efendi, His Life and Works), İstanbul, 1940.
  • 900. Yıl Dönümü (1040–1940) (900th Anniversary (1040–1940)), İstanbul, 1940.
  • İçimizdeki Şeytanlar (Demons Among Us), İstanbul, 1940.
  • Türk Edebiyatı Tarihi (History of Turkic Literature), İstanbul 1940.
  • En Sinsi Tehlike (Most Insidious Danger), İstanbul, 1943.
  • Hesap Böyle Verilir (To be brought to book such), İstanbul, 1943.
  • Türkiye Asla Boyun Eğmeyecektir (Turkey shall never surrender), İstanbul, 1943.
  • Osmanlı Tarihleri I (Ottoman History I), İstanbul, 1949.
  • Türk Ülküsü (Turkic Ideal), İstanbul 1956.
  • Osman (Bayburtlu), Tevârîh-i Cedîd-i Mir'ât-i Cihân, İstanbul, 1961.
  • Osmanlı Tarihine Ait Takvimler I (Celandars belonging to Ottoman History I), İstanbul, 1961.
  • Ordinaryüs'ün Fahiş Yanlışları (Criminal mistakes of professor in ordinary), İstanbul 1961.
  • Türk Tarihinde Meseleler (Problems in Turkic History), Ankara, 1966.
  • Birgili Mehmed Efendi Bibliyografyası, İstanbul, 1966.
  • İstanbul Kütüphanelerine Göre Ebüssuud Bibliyografyası (Bibliography of Ebüssuud to İstanbul Library), İstanbul 1967.
  • Âlî Bibliyografyası, İstanbul, 1968.
  • Âşıkpaşaoğlu Tarihi (History of Âşıkpaşaoğlu), İstanbul, 1970.
  • Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnâmesi'nden Seçmeler I (Anthology from Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnâmesi I), İstanbul 1971.
  • Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnâmesi'nden Seçmeler II (Anthology from Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnâmesi II), İstanbul 1972.
  • Oruç Beğ Tarihi (History of Oruç Beğ), İstanbul, 1973.

External links[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^üseyin_nihal_atsız
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Ölüm yıl dönümünde Hüseyin Nihal Atsız kimdir?". (in Turkish). December 11, 2019. Retrieved February 24, 2021.
  6. ^ a b Landau, Jacob M. (1981). Pan-Turkism in Turkey. London: C. Hurst & Company. p. 94. ISBN 0905838572.
  7. ^ (October 22, 2007). "İçimizdeki Şeytanlar (Hüseyin Nihal ATSIZ) | Bilgicik.Com" (in Turkish). Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  8. ^ a b Guttstadt, Corry (May 20, 2013). Turkey, the Jews, and the Holocaust. Cambridge University Press. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-521-76991-4.
  9. ^ a b Cenk Saraçoğlu, Nihal Atsız's World-View and Its Influences on the Shared Symbols, Rituals, Myths and Practices of the Ülkücü Movement
  10. ^ (October 22, 2007). "Yobazlık Bir Fikir Müstehasesidir (Hüseyin Nihal ATSIZ) | Bilgicik.Com" (in Turkish). Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  11. ^ Biography of Nihâl Atsız Archived August 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine (Turkish)
  12. ^ Özkırımlı, Umut; Sofos, Spyros A (2008). Tormented by history: nationalism in Greece and Turkey. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 136. ISBN 9780231700528.
  13. ^ Uzer, Umut (2016). An Intellectual History of Turkish Nationalism. Utah: The University of Utah Press. p. 125. ISBN 9781607814658.
  14. ^ Aytürk, Ilker (April 2011). "The Racist Critics of Atatürk and Kemalism, from the 1930s to the 1960s". Journal of Contemporary History. Sage Publications. 46 (2): 314. doi:10.1177/0022009410392411. JSTOR 41305314. S2CID 159678425 – via JSTOR.
  15. ^ "Project MUSE - Antimodernism". Retrieved October 7, 2020.
  16. ^ Aytürk, Ilker (April 2011), p.316
  17. ^ Aytürk, Ilker (April 2011),p.316
  18. ^ Aytürk, Ilker (April 2011),p.318
  19. ^ Uzer, Umut (2016), p.127
  20. ^ Landau, Jacob M. (1981). Pan-Turkism in Turkey. London: C. Hurst & Company. p. 76. ISBN 0905838572.
  21. ^ a b Landau, Jacob M.; Landau, Gersten Professor of Political Science Jacob M.; Landau, Yaʻaqov M. (1995). Pan-Turkism: From Irredentism to Cooperation. Indiana University Press. p. 88. ISBN 9780253328694.
  22. ^ Ercilasun, Ahmet Bican (2018). Atsız, Türkçülüğün Mistik Önderi. ISBN 9786052221068.
  23. ^ Uzer, Umut (2016), p.137
  24. ^ Uzer, Umut (2011). Identity and Turkish Foreign Policy : The Kemalist Influence in Cyprus and the Caucasus. Bloomsbury. pp. 48–49. ISBN 9781848855694.
  25. ^ 14208729. "ÖTÜKEN- Şubat 1966". Issuu. Retrieved January 14, 2021.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  26. ^ Akgöz, Serkan; Sançar, Nejdet (2017). 1944 Irkçılık Turancılık Davası Mahkeme Günlükleri. ISBN 9786058359550.
  27. ^ a b The Racist Critics of Atatürk and Kemalism, from the 1930s to the 1960s, Ilker Aytürk (Bilkent University, Ankara), Journal of Contemporary History, SAGE Pub., 2011 [1]
  28. ^ Ofra Bengio, The Turkish-Israeli Relationship, New York-London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009, p. 77.
  29. ^ Uzer, Umut (2016), pp.132–133
  30. ^ Dincsahin, Sakir (2015). State and Intellectuals in Turkey: The Life and Times of Niyazi Berkes, 1908–1988. Lexington Books. pp. 70–71. ISBN 978-0-7391-9132-3.
  31. ^ "Başvekil Saraçoğlu Şükrü'ye İkinci Açık Mektup". Hüseyin Nihal Atsız (in Turkish). April 1, 1944. Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  32. ^ Aytürk, Ilker (April 2011), p.318
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^ a b "3 Mayıs Türkçülük Günü sözleri ve mesajları! Türkçülük Günü nasıl ortaya çıktı?". (in Turkish). Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  36. ^ De Tapia, Stephane (2011). Die völkisch-religiöse Bewegung im Nationalsozialismus: eine Beziehungs- und Konfliktgeschichte. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. p. 304. ISBN 9783525369227.
  37. ^ Uzer, Umut (2016). An Intellectual History of Turkish Nationalism. Utah: The University of Utah Press. p. 132. ISBN 9781607814658.
  38. ^ Ercilasun, Ahmet Bican (2018). Atsız, Türkçülüğün Mistik Önderi. ISBN 9786052221068.
  39. ^ Guttstadt, Corry (2009). Turkey, the Jews and the Holocaust. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-76991-4.
  40. ^ "Yalan • Hüseyin Nihal Atsız". Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  41. ^ (October 20, 2007). "En Sinsi Tehlike (Hüseyin Nihal ATSIZ) | Bilgicik.Com" (in Turkish). Retrieved December 6, 2020.
  42. ^ Landau, Jacob M. (2004). Exploring Ottoman and Turkish History. Hurst & Company. p. 258. ISBN 978-1-85065-752-1.
  43. ^ (Once upon a time there was Atsız) inspired by his verses: "Vaktiyle bir Atsız varmış derlerse ne hoş / anılmakla hangi bir ruh olmaz ki sarhoş?" (If one day some say "once upon a time there was Atsız", I would be delighted / Whose soul would not be intoxicated by being remembered?) ISBN 978-605-86024-6-5
  44. ^ İSTANBUL. "Maltepe'de bir parka 'Nihal Atsız' adı verildi". (in Turkish). Retrieved January 14, 2021.
  45. ^ "Hocalı mitingini 'Genç Atsızlar' sabote etmiş", Radikal, 29-02-2012 [2].
  46. ^ "ANCA Condemns Anti-Armenian Protests in Turkey", Armenian Weekly, 26 February 2012 [3]
  47. ^ Nanore Barsoumian, "Banners Celebrating Genocide Displayed in Turkey", Armenian Weekly, 23 February 2015 [4].
  48. ^ Ercilasun, Ahmet Bican (2018). Atsız, Türkçülüğün Mistik Önderi. ISBN 9786052221068.