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Fatma Seher Erden
Fatma Seher Erden
Nickname Kara Fatma
Born 1888
Died 1955 (aged 66–67)
Place of birth Erzurum, Ottoman Empire
Place of death İstanbul, Turkey
Buried at İstanbul, Kulaksız cemetery
Allegiance  Turkey
Years of service 1919-1923
Rank First Liutenant
Commands held Militia
Battles/wars War of Independence
Awards Medal of Independence

Kara Fatma (1888 -1955) or more formally Fatma Seher Erden, was a decorated Turkish heroine who distinguished herself in the Turkish War of Independence.


Literally the word kara means "black" and sometimes used as a synonym for "brunette"; but when used as a human modifier it usually means "courageous".


She was born in Erzurum. Her father was Yusuf Ağa. Her husband died during the Caucasus Campaign in the First World War. In 1919, she travelled to Sivas where a congress was held by Mustafa Kemal Pasha (then Atatürk). She requested to be enlisted in the army. After Mustafa Kemal Pasha's approval, she formed a militia group. There were 43 women in addition to 700 men under her command. She was taken prisoner twice by the Greek army. According to an interview in Tanin newspaper, during her second imprisonment she was taken to the headquarter of General Nikolaos Trikoupis where the general spoke to her. But she managed to escape from the prison.[1] She fought at both the İzmit-Bursa and İzmir fronts. According to the columnist Yılmaz Özdil, her unit was one of the first to enter İzmir during the Liberation of İzmir on 9 September 1922. Her unit controlled Karşıyaka (north of İzmir bay).[2]

Late years

Kara Fatma and colleagues

Although female soldiers were unheard of until 1919, Kara Fatma was officially appointed as a soldier, as were some others (Like Halide Edip Adıvar). She began her military career as a corporal and ended as a first lieutenant. She then retired and donated her pension to the Turkish Red Crescent. For a while she almost faded away, but in 1933, a journalist found her living in poverty in a former Russian monastery in Istanbul with her grand child. In 1944, she published her memoirs.[3] She was given work and honoured by displaying her medal on military parades in national days. She died on 2 July 1955 at the Darülaceze,[4] (a protection house for the poor and old, run by the Municipality of Istanbul since the Ottoman times) where she spent the last years of her life.


She was decorated with a Medal of Independence, a medal reserved to those people who contributed to the Turkish War of Independence.

See also

  • Women in Turkey


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