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Letter to the Governor of Alabama
by Theodore G. Karakostas

(August 2001)


"It is a sign that Turkey is purged of the traitors, the Christians, and the foreigners, and that Turkey is for the Turks"
Mustapha Kemal

"It should be borne in mind that it has been for some time the policy of the Turkish nationalists to exterminate and eliminate the native Christian element in Turkey."
George Horton, American Consul
General to Smyrna

Governor Siegelman,

As an American of Hellenic descent and a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church, I was shocked to read your comments referring to the so called "Greek occupation" in Asia Minor. Sir, for a period of many centuries, the Hellenic nation was conquered, brutalized, and dehumanized. Christian children were taken into the Janissaries, converted to Islam, and trained in the murderous
ways of the Ottomans. The earliest Turkish conquest against the Greek Orthodox Byzantine Empire began in August 1071. The Turkish invasions were completed with the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 and the conquest of the Empire of Trebizonde in 1461.

The Turkish Empire lasted until 1918 when it mercifully collapsed following the extermination of over one and a half million Armenians, the first genocide of the twentieth century. Quite frankly, there is no such thing as a Turkish War of Independence. To give praise to a mass murderer like Mustapha Kemal is to profane the memory of his Greek, Armenian, and Assyrian victims.

Governor, you have not been properly informed regarding the events of 1919-1922. The Greek entry into Smyrna was a liberation, not an occupation. The Christian populations of Asia Minor and Anatolia were being exterminated when the Ottomans collapsed. The Greek army's presence in Smyrna was the fulfillment of the right to self determination which the Greeks who occupied those land for 3,000 years were entitled to.

Governor, you praise Mustapha Kemal but American Consul General to Smyrna George Horton used the word "extermination" to describe Kemal's policies towards the Christians. Similarly, a New York Times headline of August 5, 1922 declared "Extermination Turks Aim". Kemal's responsability for murder can be illustrated by the slaughter that took place in Smyrna when that ancient Hellenic city was set ablaze by the Turkish invaders and Kemal's soldiers proceeded to slaughter over 100,000 Greek and 30,000 Armenian civilians.

The fate that befall Smyrna's Greek Orthodox Archbishop illustrated what kind of man Kemal was. One of Kemal's top Generals Noureddin Pasha handed over the Archbishop to a Turkish mob who proceeded to humiliate him by shaving his beard and then to murder him by cutting off his eyes, nose, hands, and ears, and then throwing his remains into the Sea. Kemal and his associates were butchers and war Criminals.

As such, I am greatly disturbed not only that the Governor of Alabama would honor such a horrible man who belongs in the same category as Hitler and Stalin, but that the Governor would slander the Greek Army and the honorable and idealistic Greek soldier who fought for patriotic and spiritual ideals. The Greek cause in Asia Minor was a cause for freedom meant to overthrow the misery, slavery, and death imposed upon those people for centuries.

Aristedes Sterghiades, the Greek governor of Smyrna during the brief period of that city's liberation recognized the rights of Greeks and Turks. In fact, historians like Marjorie Housepian (Smyrna 1922, the Destruction of a City) and Michael Liewellyn Smith (Ionian Vision) have made clear that Turks in Smyrna were actually treated with preferential treatment. As such, the claim that the Greeks deliberately committed atrocities against Turks is absolutely untrue.

When all is said and done, Mustapha Kemal began his campaign as a stooge of the western powers. The Italians, the French, and the British all armed Kemal because they had imperialistic ambitions and were jealous of the Greeks. The Greeks had more right to be in Asia Minor than any of the western powers. There were well over one million Greeks in Asia Minor.

Asia Minor was once the heart of Christian civilization. The Seven Ecumenical Councils which interpreted the truths of the Christian faith all took place in Asia Minor. Kemal brought an end to Hellenic and Christian culture in Asia Minor. I greatly deplore your comments and your plans to commemorate the bloody military campaign of Kemal.

I would like to note the example that Kemal left behind in Turkey. In 1955, Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes used the anniversary of August 30 to incite the Turkish people against their Greek neighbors. The rhetoric of Menderes was fulfilled on September 6, 1955 with a violent and horrible pogrom against the Greek population of Constantinople in which Greeks were beaten, raped, and their Churches, homes, and stores destroyed. Kemal's final legacy was leaving behind a cult of personality honored by the Turkish military. America does not need to import this Turkish Cult of Personality which is a hallmark of authoritarian states.



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