30th August 1922 was an important turning point in the challenging battles, leading to the founding of the Republic of Turkey. It was the date when the Great Offensive took place, ending in victory. Now, known as the Victory Day, it is a national public holiday and is commemorated with various activities. Victory Day is one of the most important public holidays in Turkey, following the Republic Day on 29th October, which celebrates the proclamation of the Republic.
The history of Victory Day dates back to the end of the First World War. The Ottoman Empire was on the defeated side after the war and occupied by the Allies. In order to end this occupation, in 1919 the fight for liberation began. The Turkish army was fighting different nations on many fronts and in 1921 in the Battle of Sakarya the Turkish military managed to push back the Greek army. Encouraged by the victory, the Turkish military began preparing for a major offensive battle. For this “Great Offensive”, the Turkish army deployed weapons, ammunition and soldiers to Anatolia in secret; the troops were quickly trained, and all forces were mobilised. The Turkish military worked to carry out these preparations in a very short period and on 26th August 1922 it launched an attack on the enemy army.
The Greek army was pushed back in the Aegean region from Afyon to Izmir, and the Turkish army reclaimed all the territory which was formerly occupied by the Greek army. Although 30th August was not the exact date when the occupying armies were completely driven out of the country’s territory, nevertheless it was the battle paving the way for the victory. Since the Great Offensive Day was under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal, the Commander-in-Chief, it is known in Turkish, literally as the “Field Battle of the Commander-in-Chief”. However, in English, it is usually referred to as the “Battle of Dumlupınar”.
The Victory Day was first celebrated in 1923 in the provinces of Afyonkarahisar, Denizli, Kahramanmaraş, Ankara and Izmir, a year after the victory. Until 1935, it was officially celebrated throughout the country and became a national holiday.
For many years, the Victory Day has been officially celebrated in Turkey with ceremonies taking place throughout the country. People prepare by hanging Turkish flags from their balconies and out of the windows of their houses as a symbol of their pride, and dress in elaborate costumes to take part in the official celebration. During the official celebrations, troops from the Turkish Armed Forces take part in parades, speeches, demonstrations and other commemorating activities. Airforce planes carry out exciting performance during the morning and in the evening, and people take part in lantern processions through the streets. Also, statesmen and citizens conduct visits to Anıtkabir in Ankara, the mausoleum which houses the body of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. If your holiday in Turkey happens to coincide with this date, you can take part in the ceremonies, and witness one of the country’s most important days.