A letter from a martyr, Major Ali Faik Bey

A letter from a martyr, Major Ali Faik Bey

Turkey lost many of her great sons in wars that brought the end of an empire and helped the creation of a modern Turkish republic. The turning point in the history of that tumultuous period in the history of the nation might be the Gallipoli Campaign. One major figure that the Gallipoli Campaign produced was a young officer called Mustafa Kemal, who in the subsequent years emerged as the commander of the Turkish liberation war and the architect of the modern republic.

I have no idea when I last spoke with Erdal Kabatepe, an eminent businessman who spent years in various capacities to promote Turkish-American business relations. He first sent a mail out of the blue and later we had a small talk on the phone. He was talking about a book he wrote in Turkish and the English version, which was in the pipeline. “I, Major Ali Faik Bey” was the title of the book.

It was not a novel nor was it a straightforward chronicle or a biography. Kabatepe wrote on the life story of an Ottoman officer, Major Ali Faik Bey, who lost his life during the Gallipoli Campaign and whose diaries somehow made its way to Australia and preserved. Major Ali Faik Bey was the grandfather of Kabatepe.

“This is the story of a life completely based on facts, mostly composed of well-documented events. The narrative enhancements by the author were meant to provide a connection between the chapters by linking them with ordinary emotions. The real purpose of this work is to bring to light the diaries that Major Ali Faik Bey, died a martyr, kept during his Regimental Commandry in the 1st Balkan War as well as his Battalion Commandry in the Gallipoli War. These diaries have been included in the book along with their verbatim translations,” Kabatepe explained.

Unfortunately, while the copies of the diaries could be found by Kabatepe, the original copies are now missing and probably in some private library in Australia where they were taken after the war.

Kabatepe was clear in stressing that he was not trying to write history give a voice to the plain facts as they were perceived by his grandfather. “In the process of working on this book, I have observed that many books written on history have broken, became warped versions and have strayed far from the facts of the truth. All I tried to do was to give a voice to the plain facts. Any historian who may use this book as a reference may rest assured that they are not being misled.”

Obviously, wars are no joke. Only people with courage, love for humanity and capable of embracing the adversaries can come out of a war becoming friend with the enemy he fought with. I was impressed reading the book written by Kabatepe, which indeed was very much like a letter from his grandfather.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk,