After 60 years on the 1952 Revolution and 43 years on the death of Gamal Abdel-Nasser (1918 – 1970), who was president of Egypt from 1953 to 1970, the Academic Bookshop in Cairo has published the first part of a six-volume series entitled Gamal Abdel-Nasser, al-Awraq al-Khassa (Gamal Abdel-Nasser, the personal papers)
After 60 years on the 1952 Revolution and 43 years on the death of Gamal Abdel-Nasser (1918 – 1970), who was president of Egypt from 1953 to 1970, the Academic Bookshop in Cairo has published the first part of a six-volume series entitled Gamal Abdel-Nasser, al-Awraq al-Khassa (Gamal Abdel-Nasser, the personal papers), compiled by the former president’s daughter Hoda Abdel-Nasser. The first part, Gamal Abdel-Nasser, the student and military officer comes in 450 pages and includes some 1000 personal papers written by Nasser when he was a student at the Military Academy then an army officer. A DVD which holds another collection of Nasser’s personal documents is sold with the book.
Documents at home
“These papers, written by Nasser himself, express his thoughts, beliefs and policies in different stages. They were never intended for publication, thus enhancing their credibility,” Hoda Abdel-Nasser wrote in her introduction to the book. Dr Nasser mentions that she thoroughly searched her father’s possessions for any document about the secret organisation of the Free Officers, of which her father was a key member, and which toppled the royal regime back in 1952, in vain. She later found a very important document which included the plan for the 23 July 1952 coup—which was turned into a popular revolution—and which was handwritten by Nasser. Dr Abdel-Nasser also wrote that she found in one of the drawers of her father’s home desk a 300-page file that included documents belonging to the foreign ministry and dating from the nationalisation of the Suez Canal in 1956 till the withdrawal of the Israeli troops from Egypt in 1957. Hoda Abdel-Nasser mentioned that the documents in the book were not the only ones belonging to the late president; they were merely the ones he left in his desk at his home in Heliopolis. The major part of the documents are among the presidential archives in Abdin Palace in Cairo.
The book includes some of Nasser’s personal papers such as his Thanawiya Amma
(Secondary School certificate) examination application, his Military Academy ID and a number of letters to his father. In one of these letters, Nasser asked his father to swiftly send him his Military Academy tuition fees. In other letters he wrote to his father about the future of his brothers and sisters. A bank statement of the former president is printed in the book, as well his military degree and his marriage contract to Tahiya Kazem in 1944. Nasser’s memoirs during the Palestine war as well as during his service in Sudan, Palestine, Alamein and Cairo are also there. His secret military file, and his military reports can be found in the book, in addition to a handwritten copy of the details of a military operation during the Palestine war in 1948.
Gamal Abdel-Nasser was a charismatic leader who was well-loved by mainstream Egyptians but heavily criticised by the elite for launching a socialist economy by confiscating agricultural land and nationalising industrial projects in the early1960s. He spearheaded a pan-Arab nationalist movement which gained him popularity in the Arab World, but at the same time notoriety for meddling in the affairs of other Arab countries, frequently fomenting unrest by egging peoples against their ruling regimes. He was a pivotal figure in the non-aligned movement of Afro-Asian countries which was formed in the 1950s and which claimed to stand on equal distance from the two poles in the world at that time: the USA and the Soviet Union.
In 1956, Nasser nationalised the Suez Canal to use its proceeds to finance the Aswan High Dam, a national project. That move brought on the Anglo-French-Israeli invasion of the Canal towns in October 1956, but which was ended by withdrawal of their forces under pressure from the US and UN.
June 1967 saw the Six-Day War with Israel, the outcome of which was the loss of the Sinai Peninsula to Israel. In 1968 Nasser launched the War of Attrition against Israel and, in 1970, agreed to end fighting. He died of a heart attack in Cairo in September of the same year.
Nasser, who had married Tahiya Kazem in 1944 and had five children: Hoda, Khaled (who died last year), Abdel Hamid, Mona, and Abdel-Hakim—all of whom went on to achieve brilliant careers; is still viewed by many as a national hero.
Hoda Abdel-Nasser is Nasser’s eldest daughter. She holds a doctoral degree in political science and, during the past few years, has dedicated her efforts to preserve her father’s memory and heritage.
5 February 2012