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Sabiha Rıfat was born in 1910 in Manastır. Her father, Captain Rıfat Bey, was working in his hometown Macedonia, the year Sabiha was born. In the same year, the uprising, which will go down in history as the 31 March incident, started against the Union and Progress Committee, which overthrew Abdulhamid II and took power. The "Army of Action" was appointed from Thessaloniki to suppress this uprising. Captain Rıfat Bey came to Istanbul as an officer tasked with suppressing this rebellion. The Ottoman State was going through a turbulent period at that time. Even if one rebellion was suppressed in the Ottoman Empire, which was fighting on many fronts at the same time, another one would begin immediately. Captain Rıfat Bey, who came to Istanbul on temporary duty, could not return to his hometown again.


He was a progressive Ottoman officer. He was a wounded, tired warrior who fought with the enemy in the Balkans, Kars and Palestine, and was taken prisoner.


He was exiled to Biga when he threw a chair on the head of the district governor of Uskudar during an argument. The occupation of Izmir caused confusion in Biga, as it did in the whole Aegean region. There was no gas, no electricity, no oil, no sugar in Biga, where armed clashes took place every day... At night, all officers' families gathered in one place, sharing whatever they had.

It was the most devastating days of the Great War. Even men of his own people could cooperate with the enemy. Everyone else was overcoming their difficulties, holding on closer together with hope within them. Sabiha Rıfat saw both betrayal and friendship.

On the same days, the officers that they spent time with were disappearing one by one. Now neither her young mother nor her old grandmother nor her weak brother had any safety.


One evening her father told them to go to Edremit with a new order. They set out early in the morning. Only a few hours into their journey their paths were surrounded by collaborator gangs. They were taken prisoner. The wife of one of the missing officers was with them. They were released shortly afterwards, but were soon intercepted by other gangs. This time, they were being very harsh on her father, butting him, kicking him, punching him. The whole family was crying and scared.


Sabiha gently nestled in her grandmother: 

"Will they cut us down?"

Her grandmother hugged her granddaughter tightly. She started whispering in her ear a Balkan prayer that they shared together during their most joyful times. Little Sabiha was calming down...

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