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Last Updated: Friday, 4 February, 2005, 14:08 GMT
Ataturk diaries to remain secret
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
Ataturk is an icon in Turkey
Turkish officials have decided against making public the letters and diaries of the wife of modern Turkey's revered founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The issue over Latife Usakligil's documents had been hotly debated in the Turkish media as a 1980 court ban on their publication drew to an end.

Some Turks argued that the works would shed a more personal light on Ataturk and his short-lived marriage.

But others feared it might tarnish his image as a national hero.

The head of the Turkish History Foundation said Latife Usakligil's family have demanded that the documents continue to be kept secret.

"The issue is over. It is impossible for us now to release them," Yusuf Halacoglu told Anatolia news agency.

Much is known about Ataturk's public life - how he founded the Turkish Republic in 1923 and drove through an ambitious programme of Westernisation over the next decade.

He introduced the modern parliamentary system, made secularism the cornerstone of the Turkish state and gave full political rights to women.


But relatively little is known about his wife of just two years and their reportedly stormy marriage.

Latife Hanim, as she was known, was in her 20s and two decades younger than her husband when she married.

Memoirs of some of Ataturk's aides depicted her as an argumentative woman who was exasperated by her husband's drinking habits and would chide him in public.

However, her Western education, fluency in several languages and never wearing the veil is believed to have inspired many of Ataturk's reforms.

He divorced her in 1925. Although she lived until the 1970s she never spoke publicly about their marriage.

Ataturk died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1938.

The decision not to release the letters and diaries is a relief to those who feared they would be used to tarnish Ataturk's image.

"No-one in this country will have the power to make media monkeys out of Latife and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk," wrote columnist Emin Colasan in the Hurriyet newspaper.

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