Halet Çambel came into this world on 27 August 1916 as the third child of Mustafa Kemal's close friend “Staff Colonel Hasan Cemil Bey”, who was serving as military attaché in Germany, and “Remziye Hanım”, the daughter of the Berlin Ambassador “İbrahim Hakkı Pasha”. Her father, Hasan Cemil Bey, had fought on the Iraqi front as the commander of the 51st Infantry Regiment and was assigned to this task as his health deteriorated during the war needed to be treated. It was the most violent years of the great war. For this reason, it was not possible for them to return to their countries; Halet began studying in Germany by taking lessons from private tutors. She stayed with her family in Germany and Switzerland until 1924. When Halet returned to her homeland, she met the young Republic of Turkey, which was finally established and guaranteed by law that girls can also receive education. Even though she was still a middle school child, she immediately embraced the idea of a "republic", which she would proudly carry for the rest of her life. However, since she did not receive Turkish education in primary school, she had to attend a foreign language school. For this reason, she attended the "Arnavutköy American Girls' High School", the majority of which were non-Muslims. When she reached the high school age, she began to receive an education close to the education standard of today's modern universities. The lessons were not taught from a single book, each student could learn the subject from whichever book they wanted. In this way, they could have an idea about different views on the same subject. This enabled a multi-angle and critical teaching to take place.

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Halet Çambel had an aptitude for physics at first. She was influenced by the contemporary ideas of the famous physicists of the period and she wanted to work on these subjects, but she could not warm up to the physics teacher whom she was taking lessons from. She also became interested in mathematics by being influenced by her mathematics teacher, whose way of expression that she was close to. At the school she attended, students who were successful in mathematics, physics and English were given the right to choose an elective course. Halet, who has an interest in archery and horse riding, preferred fencing and art history. She was greatly influenced by her art history teacher. The trips they made with her to the historical places of Istanbul laid the foundations of her inclination to the field of archeology. Halet, who took fencing and art history lessons throughout her high school years, was unaware of what she learned would open what kind of doors up for her when she graduated from high school.