Hüseyin Nihâl Atsız (Ottoman Turkish: حسين نيهال أتسز) (January 12, 1905 – December 11, 1975) was a prominent Turkish nationalist writer, novelist, poet and philosopher. Nihâl Atsız was a fervent supporter of the Pan-Turkist and Turanist ideologies, and an avid sympathizer of Nazism, as he was known to be an open anti-Semite for most of his public life. He is 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. He was accused of plotting to overthrow the government.
Mehmet Nail oğlu Hüseyin Nihâl|
January 12, 1905
Kadıköy, Constantinople, Ottoman Empire
December 11, 1975 (aged 70)|
İçerenköy, Istanbul, Turkey
|Resting place||Karacaahmet Cemetery, Istanbul|
|Occupation||Writer, novelist, poet and philosopher|
|Education||History of literature|
|Notable works||Bozkurtların Ölümü (Death of the Grey Wolves)|
|Spouse||Bedriye Atsız (second wife)|
|Children||Yağmur (son), Prof. Dr. Buğra (son), Kaniye (daughter)|
|Relatives||Mehmet Nail Bey (father), Fatma Zehra (mother)|
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).
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.
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."
Atsız majored in History of Literature, and 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. 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").
Nihal 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. Nihal 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 also had a younger brother, Nejdet Sançar, also a notable writer and publicist.
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).
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", consisted of articles and comparative studies on his works, life and views.
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". 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".