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)

Hüseyin Nihâl Atsız (Ottoman Turkish: حسين نيهال أتسز‎; January 12, 1905 – December 11, 1975)[5][6] was a prominent Turkish nationalist writer, novelist, poet and philosopher. Nihâl Atsız called himself a racist and was a fervent supporter of the Pan-Turkist and Turanist ideologies, as well as an avid sympathizer of Nazism, as he was known to be an open antisemite for most of his public life.[7] He was the author of over 30 books and numerous articles. He was in strong opposition to the government of İsmet İnönü, which he criticized for co-operating with the communists.[8] He was accused of plotting to overthrow the government.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Nihâl Atsız in the 1930s

Nihâl Atsız was born on January 12, 1905 at Kasımpaşa, İstanbul. 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 Prof. Dr. Buğra Atsız, academician and nationalist writer; he also had a daughter: Kaniye Atsız. Atsız had a younger brother, Nejdet Sançar, also a prominent Turkish racist.[10]

Atsız dedicated his entire life to his children and especially to his most beloved granddaughter Maviş Atsiz (the daughter of Kaniye Atsiz). Nihâl Atsiz was remembered by his grand daughter as a kind and gentle person with children (in his free time he would always dedicate himself to reading and educating his grandchildren).[citation needed]

Education and professional life[edit]

He first studied at the Military School of Medicine but was expelled due to his ultra-nationalist views and activities. 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.[11] He has challenged the Turkish History Thesis and following this incident he was dismissed from the University. After he worked in different high schools as a teacher and was a researcher at the Süleymaniye Library from 1949 until 1969. After his retirement in 1969 he kept publishing Ötüken. [12] 1931 he began to publish magazins which he kept doing until 1975.


Atsız was the publisher of several magazins. Atsız was the first magazins which was published from 1931 to 1932. He also published Orhan from 1933 to 1934 and again from 1943 to 1944. Orkun was first published in 1950. His last magazin Ötuken was published from 1964 to 1975. [13]

Literary work[edit]

Atsız published several academic essays about Ottoman literature and history. His essays about history are gathered and published as a book under the name of Türk Tarihinde Meseleler (Several Issues in Turkish History). He served as a literature teacher for a number of years.

Atsız is also an important novelist and poet. His historical epic novel Bozkurtların Ölümü (Death of the Gray 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.

Its sequel Bozkurtlar Diriliyor (Revival of the Gray 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 and a mysterious shamanist nomad woman in the early Ottoman Empire. 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.

Atsız wrote one satirical political comedy about İnönü government in the 1940s, Z Vitamini (Vitamin Z), which was about a fictional special vitamin which gives immortality to the dictator and his government.

A famous politicised novel of his was Dalkavuklar Gecesi (Night of The Sycophants), a historical allegory and critique of Kemalism.[14] 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 early 1930s.

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 have been published under the name of Yolların Sonu ("End of Roads").


Nihâl Atsız in his early days
Nihâl Atsız goes to trial

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 building a civic nation model in the Early Republican Era. However, he also praised Atatürk.

He was foremost known for his nationalist views, his active campaign against Turkish communists, and his embracing of Tengriistic ancient Turkic traditions. 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).[15]

Kemalism, which had been condemned so harshly in his novel "Dalkavuklar Gecesi" (The 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, religious and linguistic 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.[14]

Atsız and his comrades published several Pan-Turkist magazines such as Ötüken, Yeni Hayat and Orkun. He wrote strong articles which criticized the government of İsmet İnönü and his alleged tolerance of communism in the country.

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 manage "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."[16]

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.[17]

Legal prosecution[edit]

In 1944 Atsız was prosecuted together with more than 30 others, amongst them also Alparslan Türkeş, for racism and pan-Turanism. 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 received an amnesty.[18] 1973 he received a prison sentence because of his writings against Kurds. He wrote Kurds should leave Turkey and learn from the Armenians what happens to the people who challenge the Turkish nation. After 2 1/2 months in prison, he was pardoned by the President Fahri Korutürk.[19]

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",[20] consisted of articles and comparative studies on his works, life and views.

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".[21][22] 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".[23]



  • Dalkavuklar Gecesi (Night of The Sycophants), İstanbul 1941. ISBN 978-975-437-804-7
  • Bozkurtların Ölümü (Death of the Gray Wolves), İstanbul 1946. ISBN 978-975-437-800-9
  • Bozkurtlar Diriliyor (Revival of the Gray 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' (Tomboy), 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 Nazmi of Edirne 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 Hikmettoff), İstanbul, 1935.
  • Türk Tarihi Üzerinde Toplamalar, I. Bölüm (Collection About Turkish 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 Inside of Us), İstanbul, 1940.
  • Türk Edebiyatı Tarihi (History of Tuskish 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 Turkish 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. ^ The Encyclopædia Britannica, Vol.7, Edited by Hugh Chisholm, (1911), 3; Constantinople, the capital of the Turkish Empire...
  6. ^ Britannica, Istanbul:When the Republic of Turkey was founded in 1923, the capital was moved to Ankara, and Constantinople was officially renamed Istanbul in 1930.
  7. ^ Guttstadt, Corry (2009). Turkey, the Jews and the Holocaust. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-76991-4.
  8. ^ Biography of Nihâl Atsız (Turkish)
  9. ^ Özkırımlı, Umut; Sofos, Spyros A (2008). Tormented by history: nationalism in Greece and Turkey. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 136. ISBN 9780231700528.
  10. ^ Uzer, Umut (2016). An Intellectual History of Turkish Nationalism. Utah: The University of Utah Press. p. 125. ISBN 9781607814658.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Uzer, Umut (2016). An Intellectual History of Turkish Nationalism. Utah: The University of Utah Press. p. 127. ISBN 9781607814658.
  13. ^ Uzer, Umut (2016). An Intellectual History of Turkish Nationalism. Utah: The University of Utah Press. p. 137. ISBN 9781607814658.
  14. ^ 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]
  15. ^ Cenk Saraçoğlu, Nihal Atsız's World-View and Its Influences on the Shared Symbols, Rituals, Myths and Practices of the Ülkücü Movement
  16. ^ Ofra Bengio, The Turkish-Israeli Relationship, New York-London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009, p. 77.
  17. ^ Uzer, Umut (2016). An Intellectual History of Turkish Nationalism. Utah: The University of Utah Press. p. 132,133. ISBN 9781607814658.
  18. ^ De Tapia, Stephane (2011). Die völkisch-religiöse Bewegung im Nationalsozialismus: eine Beziehungs- und Konfliktgeschichte. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. p. 304. ISBN 9783525369227.
  19. ^ Uzer, Umut (2016). An Intellectual History of Turkish Nationalism. Utah: The University of Utah Press. p. 132. ISBN 9781607814658.
  20. ^ (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
  21. ^ "Hocalı mitingini 'Genç Atsızlar' sabote etmiş", Radikal, 29-02-2012 [2].
  22. ^ "ANCA Condemns Anti-Armenian Protests in Turkey", Armenian Weekly, 26 February 2012 [3]
  23. ^ Nanore Barsoumian, "Banners Celebrating Genocide Displayed in Turkey", Armenian Weekly, 23 February 2015 [4].