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The Hidden Horrors of Smyrna

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Ted Karakostas

Mustafa Kemal, (or Kemal Ataturk as he is known to his Turkish and Western admirers) is looked upon in the West as a reformer who converted the Turkish nation into a democratic and secular society. The cult of Mustafa Kemal has been carefully cultivated and preserved by the authoritarian military of Turkey, and has been successfully exported towards the United States and Western Europe with the help of the Great Powers. The myths about Mustafa Kemal are beginning to unravel.


It is becoming increasingly clear to various scholars and writers that Kemal's Revolution was a failure. As Islamic fundamentalists are successfully overturning the policies that Kemal imposed through terror and brute force, the world is beginning to see the Turkish Republic as it really is, free of the myths and propaganda that have kept the Genocide of the Armenians, Assyrians, and Hellenes hidden from the view of western societies. The burning of the ancient city of Smyrna, and the ruthless massacre of defenseless Greek and Armenian Christians took place in full view of the Western Powers whose ships were in the harbors of that City when Kemal's Armies exterminated the Greeks and the Armenians. At the present time, the mythical views of Mustafa Kemal and the Turkish Republic are held only by the most fanatical pro-Turkish zealots in America and Europe.




The supporters of Turkish repression, aggression, and Genocide denial continue to adhere to the myth of Mustafa Kemal as hero and freedom fighter. It is appropriate for Greeks to challenge the cult of Kemal by embracing and preserving the memory of a real hero who stands in contrast to everything Kemal represented.


"The tales vary as to the manner of Chyrsostom's death, but the evidence is conclusive thathe met his end at the hands of the Ottoman populace. A Turkish officer and two soldiers went to the offices of the Cathedral and took him to Nureddin Pasha, the Turkish Commanderin chief, who is said to have adopted the medieval plan of turning him over to the fanatical mob to work its will upon him. There is not sufficient proof of the veracity of this statementBut it is certain that he was killed by the mob. He was spat upon, his beard torn out by the Roots, beaten, stabbed to death, and then dragged about the streets".


The Blight of Asia by George Horton


Metropolitan Chrysostom of Smyrna stands as a symbol for all those in Smyrna who perished. This was merely one atrocity similarly carried out against 100,000 Greek and 30,000 Armenian Christians in Smyrna, figures emanating from Marjorie Housepian Dobkin in her well researched study on the events that culminated in the destruction of Smyrna entitled "Smyrna 1922 the Destruction of a City". Metropolitan Chrysostom has been honored by the Orthodox Church of Greece by being proclaimed a Saint in 1992. Outside the Greek Church and Nation, it appears this brave cleric who refused to leave his flock even at the expense of his own safety, has been forgotten.


That Mustafa Kemal is openly glorified by Western statesmen, diplomats, politicians, academics, and editorial writers demonstrates the extent to which history has been successfully rewritten. The task of any project about the Hellenic Genocide must be to democratize discussions and debates about Turkey. Smyrna was initially rewarded to Greece by the Treaty of Sevres in 1919, and the liberation of that City was the natural extension of the Greek victories that were achieved during the Balkan Wars of 1912-13. It is in Smyrna where the dreams of Hellenism ultimately died, and where the Great Powers stood aside as the innocent where slaughtered.




"The Smyrna of the Hellenistic and Roman Years was a brilliant Asian capital, admired by Strabo, Cicero, and Pliny, the latter of whom called it lumen or moonlight. Thus the myth of Smyrna through Latin literature, was integrated into the European Consciousness.


Smyrna the Metropolis of the Asia Minor Greeks


published by


Centre for Asia Minor Studies


"During the days of the Byzantine Empire, that splendid romantic and tragic powerwhich developed a magnificent civilization and kept the lamp of learning alight all through the dark days of the Middle Ages, Asia Minor flourished and was the province whichcontributed most to the strength and firmness of the general fabric. The exploits ofNikephoras Phokas and the romance of Diogenes Akritas, were immortalized in verse, are well known even to those scholars who are not Byzantine specialists. Those were the days of the great land barons who kept regal state and whose forgotten history Should be a vast treasure-house for romantic novelists. Later, Ionia is of intense interest To the whole Christian world. It is the land of the Revelation, of the Seven Churches, and the wonderful mystic poem of Saint John the Divine. Six of the Candles went out in eternal darkness long ago, but that of Smyrna burned brightly until its destruction on the thirteenth of September 1922, by the Turks of Mustafa Kemal and the death of the last of its great Bishops whose martyrdom fitly ended its glorious Christian history.


Polycarp, the Patron Saint of Smyrna during the long years of its existence as a Christian City, was burned alive in an ancient stadium, whose contour is still plainly visible, on February twenty-sixth, in the year AD, 156"


Greek Civilization has again and again developed in Asia Minor to be crushed by Asiatic Invasion".


Excerpts from the Blight of Asia by George Horton




During the First World War, the Young Turks sought to exterminate the Christian populations of Asia Minor. On May 14th, 1914 Minister of the Interior Talaat Bey and the Director of the Ministry of the Interior Ibrahim Hilmi wrote a letter to the Governor of Smyrna,


"The Subject Greeks who constitute the majority of the inhabitants of your district, are taking advantage of the present circumstances to provoke a revolutionary movement, conducive to an intervention of the Great Powers.


The Ottoman Greeks who live along the Coast of the Vilayet of Smyrna are working day and night in order to succeed in the attainment of their, "Grand Idea." There can therefore be no doubt that the existence of Ottoman Greeks in the Turkish Empire thus imbued with revolutionary ideas is fatal to the state, from the Political and administrative point of view.


It is imperative for political reasons that the Greeks dwelling along the Coast of Asia Minor be compelled to Evacuate their villages in order to settle in the Vilayet of Erzerum and Chaldea. If they refuse to emigrate to the places assigned to them, you should issue verbal instructions to Musselman brothers so that they may, by all kinds of excesses, compel the Greeks to leave their homes of their own accord.


Do not in this case forget to obtain from these emigrants declarations to the effect that they are leaving their Hearths and homes of their own free will, so that no political complications may later result therefrom".


During the period of the First World War, the aim of Greece was to extend the liberation that had been achieved By Greeks since 1821 towards the Greeks who were the victims of Ottoman Turkish Genocide. The opportunity Arose when the Young Turk regime angered Great Britain and France by aligning with Germany. The British and The French invited Greece into the war, and went so far as to offer Smyrna to Athens. Prime Minister Eleutherios Venizelos claimed Asia Minor for Greece at the Peace Conference of 1919 on the basis of self determination. "In sanctioning the right of peoples to decide their lot, this principle evidently does not deprive them of the right to choose for themselves annexation to a state of the same nationality, already existing, in preference to the creation of an autonomous state. It is incontestable that such is the preference of the Greeks of Asia Minor, As to Greece, their mother country".


The Greek claims in Smyrna and Asia Minor were put forward on the basis of humanitarian and democratic ideals. This was in contrast to the interests of the Great Powers. The Italians put forward their own competing claims for Smyrna, and when that historically Hellenic City was ultimately rewarded to Greece, the Italians would proceed to conspire against the Greek liberation.


Smyrna was the political and military headquarters for the Greek Army in Asia Minor. American Consul General to Smyrna George Horton wrote about the Greek Army,


"The regime of the Greeks in Asia Minor was the only civilized and beneficent regime which that country has seen since Historic times." SUBJECT: The Near East Question. By the American Consul General to Smyrna George Horton to The Secretary of State Washington. September 27, 1922.


In his "History of the Greek People" William Miller writes about Greece's acquisition of Smyrna, "Smyrna and its territoryremained nominally Turkish, in token of which a Turkish flag (following Cretan precedent) was to fly over one of its outerforts; but Greece was to exercise the rights of sovereignty over the City and territory with a local Parliament, which in fiveyears time might ask the Council of the League of Nations for their "definitive incorporation in the Kingdom of Greece."


Anti-Hellenic biases and propaganda have long asserted that Greece "invaded" Turkey. This is entirely untrue. The myth of "national feeling" among the Turks has been overestimated. The Kemalist movement was able to win support from the Turkish masses less by national sentiment than by racial hatred of Greeks. Consul General George Horton in his September 1922letter to the State Department stated,


"Previous to this, there had been no such thing as patriotism among the Turks, an ignorant, nomadic people. But the landingof the Greeks gave Mustafa Kemal the very argument he desired for uniting Turks and the forming of an army. He could not incite the Musselman peasant to leave his plough or his camels or his herd of goats by an appeal to his patriotism; but an appeal to his fanaticism to drive out the hated Greeks and plunder their rich towns and capture their women found a ready response".


This view is affirmed by Middle Eastern historian George Lenczowski in his entry on Turkey that appears in his book,"The Middle East in World Affairs",


"The Greek landing in Smyrna acted as a powerful stimulant for Turkish action. The Turks might have surrendered to and endured Western dictation, but the thought of being invaded and occupied by the Greeks was revolting. The Turks Traditionally considered the Greeks a subject race and simply could not stomach the reversal of roles".


The destruction of Smyrna was undertaken with the complete approval and knowledge of Mustafa Kemal. Paul Fregosi inhis recent book "Jihad refers to Kemal and Smyrna,


"That night the European, Greek, and Armenian quarters went up in flames. Kemal Mustafa Ataturk, soldier hero and future President of Turkey, watched the fire from his mansion, high on a hill overlooking the inferno. "It is a sign that Turkey is purged of the traitors, the Christians, and the foreigners, and that Turkey is for the Turks" he said".


Edward Hale Bierstadt of the United States Emergency Committee was in Smyrna and later wrote a book on theevents in his book "The Great Betrayal",


"Before and after the occupation the people of the city had been crowding on to the long quais begging that they might be taken away by any ship that would and could carry them. But now, with the city in flames, the quais were soon packed close with those whose only hope lay in flight. It is impossible to achieve complete accuracy as to the figures involved in the Smyrna debacle, but by checking one authority against another it is computed that approximately 100,000 persons were massacred, 280,000 were crushed together on the quais praying for their safety, and still another 160,000 were deported by the Turks into the interior, never to be seen again".


Writing in her book, Smyrna 1922 the Destruction of a City", Marjorie Housepian Dobkin writes about American attempts to suppress the facts pertaining to Smyrna and to discredit Bierstadt's book when it appeared.


"No one publication caused quite as much concern at the State Department as Edward Hale Bierstadt's "The Great Betrayal.""(Allen) Dulles leaned more heavily on the word of some of the relief officials present at the Smyrna proceedings. He urged them to write letters to editors, taking issue with Bierstadt's book."


Sir Valentine Chirol in a series of lectures on the Near East referred to Smyrna.


"One has only to look at what happened at Angora after the Turks had smashed the Greek Armies and turned the essentially Greek city of Smyrna into an ash-heap as a proof of their of victory".


The case for remembering Smyrna is made by Paul Fregosi in his book "Jihad",


"The last days of Greek Smyrna (today's Izmir) does not make for pleasant reading either. But it is necessary reading, in the same way that we are urged to remember the murder of six million Jews by the Christian Germans in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and the other Nazi concentration camps during World War II".


Fregosi concludes,


"There were twentyone foreign warships in Smyrna harbor that day; three American destroyers; two British battleships; three cruisers; and six destroyers; an Italian cruiser and destroyer; and three French cruisers; and two destroyers. Their orders were to observe strict neutrality as the Turks took over the city from the departing Greeks. They carried out their orders with aloof and superb inhumanity. Thousands of tightly packed Greek and Armenian refugees, men, women, and children, stood all night, standing shoulder to shoulder on the wharf, screaming for help. The band on the deck of British battleship played a light musical selection to show that whatever might be happening around them, stiff upper lipped Britons knew how to remain cool in the direst of circumstances. "


"The wretched Greeks and Armenians screamed all night for help in the name of God and humanity."


The horrors of Genocide and mass extermination that occurred in Smyrna following the conquest of that liberated city by the Kemalists should concern all free men and women everywhere. A sinister pact was made by the Great Powers with the nefarious Mustafa Kemal who bears the greatest responsability for these atrocities. The rewriting and suppression of history is an act of censorship that denies knowledge and information to the world as a whole. Turkish polices of denial, and those who collaborate with the deniers are practitioners of censorship and ignorance.


If the values of human rights in the world today are to mean anything, then it is time for the truth to be known. Turkey remains one of the great practitioners of torture and ethnic cleansing. Turkey cannot be reformed until Turkish society comes to terms with its notorious past. The victims of the Genocide at Smyrna deserve to be mourned and remembered. It is time to mourn and honour real heroes such as Metropolitan Chrysostom, and to place Kemal in the category of mass criminals such as Hitler and Stalin.

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