Greek civilians mourn their dead relatives, Smyrna massacre, 1922
|Target||Greek population, particularly Pontic, Cappadocian and Ionian people|
|Deportation, mass murder, death march, others|
|Perpetrators||Ottoman Empire, Turkish National Movement|
The Greek genocide, part of which is known as the Pontic genocide, was the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Christian Ottoman Greek population from its historic homeland in Asia Minor, central Anatolia, Pontus, and the former Russian Caucasus province of Kars Oblast during World War I and its aftermath (1914–23). It was instigated by the government of the Ottoman Empire against the Greek population of the Empire and it included massacres, forced deportations involving death marches, summary expulsions, arbitrary execution, and the destruction of Christian Orthodox cultural, historical, and religious monuments. The Ottoman authorities are accused of having planned and instigated the massacre and 'ethnic cleansing' of the Greeks of Anatolia on the pretext that like the Armenians many Pontic Greeks and Caucasus Greeks had fought in or collaborated with Russian forces on the Caucasus Front of the First World War and then with Britain's ally the Kingdom of Greece, which invaded and occupied a large part of western Anatolia in the 1919-22 Greco-Turkish War. This pretext was used despite the fact that most of the victims of the genocide were clearly innocent civilians, including women and children, and were often from parts of Anatolia where ethnic Greeks had not traditionally had many close links with the Russian Empire or from those that were far removed from the main theatre of the 1919-22 Greek-Turkish War. According to various sources, several hundred thousand Ottoman Greeks died during this period. It began at the same time as the Armenian Genocide and is considered by many scholars to have been part of the same genocidal policy. Most of the refugees and survivors fled to Greece (amounting to over a quarter of the prior population of Greece), some, especially those in Eastern provinces, took refuge in the neighbouring Russian Empire. Thus by the end of the 1919–22 Greco-Turkish War, most of the Greeks of Asia Minor had fled or been killed, those remaining were transferred to Greece under the terms of the later 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey, which formalized the exodus and barred the return of the refugees. Other ethnic groups were similarly attacked by the Ottoman Empire during this period, including Assyrians and Armenians, and some scholars and organizations have recognized these events as part of the same policy of extermination.
The Allies of World War I condemned the Ottoman government-sponsored massacres as crimes against humanity. More recently, the International Association of Genocide Scholars passed a resolution in 2007 affirming that the Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities of the Empire, including the Greeks, was genocide. Some other organisations have also passed resolutions recognising the campaign as a genocide, as have the parliaments of Greece, Cyprus and Sweden.
- 1 Background
- 2 Origins
- 3 Events
- 4 Aftermath
- 5 Genocide recognition
- 6 Memorials
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 Bibliography
- 10 Further reading
At the outbreak of World War I, Asia Minor was ethnically diverse, its population including Turks, Azeris, Pontic Greeks (including Caucasus Greeks), Armenians, Kurds, Zazas, Circassians, Assyrians, Jews, and Laz people.
Among the causes for the Turkish campaign against the Greek population was a fear that the population would aid the Ottoman Empire's enemies, and a belief among some Turks that to form a modern nation state it was necessary to purge from the territories of the state those national groups who could threaten the integrity of a modern Turkish nation state.[page needed]
According to a German military attaché, the Ottoman minister of war Ismail Enver had declared in October 1915 that he wanted to "solve the Greek problem during the war... in the same way he believe[d] he solved the Armenian problem."
The Greek presence in Asia Minor has been dated to at least the time of Homer around 800 BCE. The geographer Strabo referred to Smyrna as the first Greek city in Asia Minor. Greeks referred to the Black Sea as the "Euxinos Pontos" or "hospitable sea" and starting in the eighth century BCE they began navigating its shores and settling along its coast. The most notable Greek cities of the Black Sea were Trebizond, Sampsounta, Sinope and Heraclea Pontica.
During the Hellenistic period (334 BC - 1st century BC) that followed the conquests of Alexander the Great, Greek culture and language began to dominate Asia Minor. The Hellenization of the region accelerated under Roman and early Byzantine rule, and by the early centuries AD the local Anatolian languages had become extinct, being replaced by the common Koine Greek language. The resultant Greek culture in Asia Minor flourished during the following millennium under the Greek-speaking Byzantine Empire. Until the Turkic peoples began their late medieval conquests of this empire, Byzantine Greek citizens were largest group of indigenous peoples living in Asia Minor. Even after the Turkic conquests of the interior, the Black Sea coast and mountains of Asia Minor remained the heart of a vibrant Greek state, the Empire of Trebizond, until its eventual conquest by the Ottoman Turks in 1461.
|Total Population Figures for the Ottoman Greeks of Anatolia|
|Greek census (1910–12)||Ottoman census (1914)||Soteriades (1918)|
Following similar accords made with Bulgaria and Serbia, the Ottoman Empire signed a small voluntary population exchange agreement with Greece in 14 November 1913. Another such agreement was signed 1 July 1914 for the exchange of some "Turks" of Greece for some Greeks of Aydin and Western Thrace, after the Ottomans had forced these Greeks from their homes in response to the Greek annexation of several islands. The swap was never completed due to the eruption of WW I. This Ottoman pattern, using a population swap to permanently formalize a population removal that had already been conducted, would be repeated with the Population exchange between Greece and Turkey, which formalized and made permanent the preceding exodus of Asia Minor Greeks occasioned by the Greek genocide.
Beginning in the spring of 1913, the Ottomans implemented a programme of expulsions and forcible migrations, focusing in Greeks of the Aegean region and eastern Thrace, whose presence in these areas was deemed a threat to national security. While discussions for population exchanges were still conducted, Special Organization units attacked Greek villages forcing their inhabitants to abandon their homes for Greece, being replaced with Muslim refugees. The Ottoman government adopted a "dual-track mechanism" allowing it to deny responsibility for and prior knowledge of this capaign of intimidation, emptying Christian villages. Such an incident took place in Phocaea (Greek: Φώκαια), a town in western Anatolia twenty-five miles (40 km) northwest of Smyrna, on 12 June 1914 where 50 people were killed and the slain bodies of men, women and children were thrown down a well. At the same time, spontaneous attacks of Muslim emigrants were committed against Christian villages without government supervision
The involvement in certain cases of local military and civil functionaries in planning and executing anti-Greek violence and looting led ambassadors of Greece and the Great Powers and the Patriarchate to address complaints to the Porte. In protest to government inaction in the face of these attacks and to the so called "Muslim boycott" of Greek products that had begun in 1913, the Patriarchate closed Greek churches and schools in June 1914.
Responding to international and domestic pressure, Talat Pasha headed a visit in Thrace in April 1914 and later in the Aegean to investigate reports and try to sooth bilateral tension with Greece. While purporting that he had no involvement or knowledge of these events, Talat met with Kuşçubaşı Eşref, head of the "cleansing" operation in the Aegean littoral, during his tour and advised him to be cautious not to be "visible".
In the summer of 1914 the Special Organization (Teşkilat-ı Mahsusa), assisted by government and army officials, conscripted Greek men of military age from Thrace and western Anatolia into Labour Battalions in which hundreds of thousands died. Sent hundreds of miles into the Interior of Anatolia, these conscripts were employed in road-making, building, tunnel excavating and other field work but their numbers were heavily reduced through either privations and ill-treatment or by outright massacre by their Ottoman guards. The policy of persecution and ethnic cleansing was expanded to other regions of the Empire including Pontus, Cappadocia and Cilicia.
The forceful expulsion of Christians of western Anatolia, especially Ottoman Greeks, bares many similarities with policy towards the Armenians, a point not lost to US ambassador Henry Morgenthau or historian Arnold Toynbee. Certain Ottoman officials, such as Şükrü Kaya, Nazım Bey and Mehmed Reshid, played a role in both, Special Organization units and labour battalions were involved in both campaigns and a dual plan combining unofficial violence and the cover of state population policy was in implementation in both cases.
World War I
However, after November 1914 Ottoman policy towards the Greek population shifted; state policy was since restricted to the forceful immigration to the interior of Greeks living in coastal areas, particularly the Black Sea region, close to the Turkish-Russian front. This change of policy was due to a German demand for the persecution of Ottoman Greeks to stop, after Eleftherios Venizelos had stated this as a condition of Greece's neutrality to the German ambassador in Athens. Venizelos also threatened to undertake a similar campaign against Muslims that were living in Greece in case that Ottoman policy wouldn't change. While the Ottoman government tried to implement this change in policy, it wasn't successful and attacks, even murders, continued to occur unpunished by local officials in the provinces, despite repeated instructions in cables sent from the central administration. Arbitrary violence and extortion of money intensified later, providing ammunition for the Venizelists arguing that Greece should join the Entente.
In July 1915 the Greek chargé d'affaires explained that the deportations "can not be any other issue than an annihilation war against the Greek nation in Turkey and as measures hereof they have been implementing forced conversions to Islam, in obvious aim to, that if after the end of the war there again would be a question of European intervention for the protection of the Christians, there will be as few of them left as possible." According to George W. Rendel of the British Foreign Office, by 1918 "...over 500,000 Greeks were deported of whom comparatively few survived." In his memoirs, the United States ambassador to the Ottoman Empire between 1913 and 1916 wrote "Everywhere the Greeks were gathered in groups and, under the so-called protection of Turkish gendarmes, they were transported, the larger part on foot, into the interior. Just how many were scattered in this fashion is not definitely known, the estimates varying anywhere from 200,000 up to 1,000,000."[page needed]
Despite the shift of policy, the policy of evacuating Greek settlements and relocating the inhabitants was continued, albeit in a limited scale. The policy was targeted to specific regions that were considered militarily vulnerable, not the whole of the Greek population. As a 1919 Patriarchate account records, the evacuation of many villages was accompanied with looting and murders, while many died as a result of not having been given the time to make the necessary provisions or of being relocated to uninhabitable places.
State policy towards Ottoman Greeks changed again in the fall of 1916. With Entente forces occupying Lesbos, Chios and Samos since spring, the Russians advancing in Anatolia and Greece expected to enter the war siding with the Allies, preparations were made for the deportation of Greeks living in border areas. Of particular concern for the Ottoman government were the Pontic Greeks and Caucasus Greeks of northeast Anatolia and the region of Kars Oblast in the South Caucasus, who were accused of fighting in or collaborating with the Russian Caucasus Army that had defeated an Ottoman division at the Battle of Sarikamish.
In January 1917 Talat Pasha sent a cable for the deportation of Greeks from the Samsun district "thirty to fifty kilometres inland" taking care for "no assaults on any persons or property". However, the execution of government decrees, which took a systematic form from December 1916, when Behaeddin Shakir came to the region, was not conducted as ordered: men were taken in labour battalions, women and children were attacked, villages were looted by Muslim neighbours. Germanos Karavangelis, the bishop of Samsun, reported to the Patriarchate that thirty thousands had been deported to the Ankara region and the convoys of the deportees had been attacked, with many being killed. Talat Pasha ordered an investigation for the looting and destruction of Greek villages by bandits. Later in 1917 instructions were sent to authorize military officials with the control of the operation and to broaden its scope, now including persons from cities in the coastal region. However, in certain areas Greek populations remained undeported.
Greek deportees were sent to live in Greek villages in the inner provinces or, in some case, villages where Armenians were living before being deported. Greek villages evacuated during the war due to military concerns were then resettled with Muslim immigrants and refugees. According to cables sent to the provinces during this time, abandoned moveable and non-movable Greek property was not to be liquidated, as that of the Armenians, but "preserved".
On 14 January 1917 Cosswa Anckarsvärd, Sweden’s Ambassador to Constantinople, sent a dispatch regarding the deportation decision of the Ottoman Greeks:
What above all appears as an unnecessary cruelty is that the deportation is not limited to the men alone, but is extended likewise to women and children. This is supposedly done in order to much easier be able to confiscate the property of the deported.
Methods of destruction which caused death indirectly – such as deportations involving death marches, starvation in labour camps, concentration camps etc. – were referred to as "white massacres". Ottoman official Rafet Bey was active in the Genocide of the Greeks and on November 1916 he stated "We must finish off the Greeks as we did with the Armenians… today I sent squads to the interior to kill every Greek on sight…”.
According to the official Ottoman documents, in January 1919, the Ottoman government allowed the return of some Greek who were deported, gave them financial aid and gave back their properties.
In an October 1920 report a British officer describes the aftermath of the massacres at Iznik in north-western Anatolia in which he estimated that at least 100 decomposed mutilated bodies of men, women and children were present in and around a large cave about 300 yards outside the city walls.
The systematic massacre and deportation of Greeks in Asia Minor, a program which had come into effect in 1914, was a precursor to the atrocities perpetrated by both the Greek and Turkish armies during the Greco-Turkish War, a conflict which followed the Greek landing at Smyrna in May 1919 and continued until the retaking of Smyrna by the Turks and the Great Fire of Smyrna in September 1922. An estimated 50,000 and to 100,000 Greeks and Armenians perished in the fire and accompanying massacres. According to Norman M. Naimark "more realistic estimates range between 10,000 to 15,000" for the casualties of the Great Fire of Smyrna. Some 150,000 to 200,000 Greeks were expelled after the fire, while about 30,000 able-bodied Greek and Armenian men were deported to the interior of Asia Minor, most of whom were executed on the way or died under brutal conditions. George W. Rendel of the British Foreign Office, among other diplomats, noted the massacres and deportations of Greeks during the Greco-Turkish War. They killed an estimated 348,000 Anatolian Greeks. There were also massacres of Turks carried out by the Hellenic troops during the occupation of western Anatolia from May 1919 to September 1922.
For the massacres that occurred during the Greco-Turkish War of 1919–1922, British historian Arnold J. Toynbee wrote that it was the Greek landings that created the Turkish National Movement led by Mustafa Kemal: "...The Greeks of 'Pontus' and the Turks of the Greek occupied territories, were in some degree victims of Mr. Venizelos's and Mr. Lloyd George's original miscalculations at Paris."
Quotes by United States Officials
Woodrow Wilson United States President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924):
“I am in hearty sympathy with every just effort being made by the people of the United States to alleviate the terrible sufferings of the Greeks of Asia Minor. None have suffered more or more unjustly than they."1
Henry Morgenthau In a telegram to the Secretary of State regarding Ottoman Greek deportations conducted in 1915, Henry Morgenthau (1856-1946), United States ambassador to Turkey, states:
"Evidently Turkish nationalistic policy is aimed at all Christians and not confined to Armenians."2
In an article first published in The Red Cross Magazine (March, 1918), Henry Morgenthau (1856-1946), United States ambassador to Turkey, asked:
"Will the outrageous terrorising, the cruel torturing, the driving of women into the harems, the debauchery of innocent girls, the sale of many of them at eighty cents each, the murdering of hundreds of thousands and the deportation to, and starvation in, the deserts of other hundreds of thousands, the destruction of hundreds of villages and cities, will the wilful execution of this whole devilish scheme to annihilate the Armenian, Greek and Syrian Christians of Turkey -- will all this go unpunished?"3
In his memoirs Ambassador Morgenthau's Story (1918) Henry Morgenthau wrote:
"Acting under Germany's prompting, Turkey now began to apply this principle of deportation to her Greek subjects in Asia Minor... This procedure against the Greeks not improperly aroused my indignation. I did not have the slightest suspicion at that time that the Germans had instigated these deportations, but I looked upon them merely as an outburst of Turkish ferocity and chauvinism. By this time I knew Talaat well; I saw him nearly every day, and he used to discuss practically every phase of international relations with me. I objected vigorously to his treatment of the Greeks; I told him that it would make the worst possible impression abroad and that it affected American interests... "Turkey for the Turks" was now Talaat's controlling idea."4
"Their [the Young Turks] passion for Turkifying the nation seemed to demand logically the extermination of all Christians---Greeks, Syrians, and Armenians."5
"The Armenians are not the only subject people in Turkey which have suffered from this policy of making Turkey exclusively the country of the Turks. The story which I have told about the Armenians I could also tell with certain modifications about the Greeks and the Syrians. Indeed the Greeks were the first victims of this nationalizing idea."6
“The Turks adopted almost identically the same procedure against the Greeks as that which they had adopted against the Armenians.”7
George Horton In a report addressed to the US Secretary of State, George Horton (1859-1942), former United States Consul General at Smyrna, wrote:
“I wish to repeat that the consistent policy of the Turk, since the fall of Abdul Hamid, has been the expulsion, killing and elimination of the Christian races."8
Lewis Einstein Lewis Einstein was the late Special Agent of the American Embassy at Constantinople. In his memoires he writes:
"The persecutions of the Greeks are assuming unexpected proportions. Only a fortnight ago they reassured and told that the measures taken against the Greek villages in Marmora were temporary and not comparable with those against the Armenians. Now it looks as if there is equality in suffering and that the intention existed to uproot and destroy both peaceful communities."
In 1917 a relief organization by the name of the Relief Committee for Greeks of Asia Minor was formed in response to the deportations and massacres of Greeks in the Ottoman Empire. The committee worked in cooperation with the Near East Relief in distributing aid to Ottoman Greeks in Thrace and Asia Minor. The organisation disbanded in the summer of 1921 but Greek relief work was continued by other aid organisations.
German and Austro-Hungarian diplomats, as well as the 1922 memorandum compiled by George W. Rendel on "Turkish Massacres and Persecutions", have provided evidence for series of systematic massacres and ethnic cleansing of the Greeks in Asia Minor. The quotes have been attributed to various diplomats, notably the German ambassadors Hans Freiherr von Wangenheim and Richard von Kühlmann, the German vice-consul in Samsoun Kuchhoff, Austria's ambassador Pallavicini and Samsoun consul Ernst von Kwiatkowski, and the Italian unofficial agent in Angora Signor Tuozzi. Other quotes are from clergymen and activists, notably the German missionary Johannes Lepsius, and Stanley Hopkins of the Near East Relief. Germany and Austria-Hungary were allies of the Ottoman Empire in World War I.
The accounts describe systematic massacres, rapes and burnings of Greek villages, and attribute intent to Ottoman officials, namely the Ottoman Prime Minister Mahmud Sevket Pasha, Rafet Bey, Talat Pasha and Enver Pasha.
Additionally, The New York Times and its correspondents have made extensive references to the events, recording massacres, deportations, individual killings, rapes, burning of entire Greek villages, destruction of Greek Orthodox churches and monasteries, drafts for "Labor Brigades", looting, terrorism and other "atrocities" for Greek, Armenian and also for British and American citizens and government officials. The newspaper was awarded its first Pulitzer Prize in 1918 "for the most disinterested and meritorious public service rendered by an American newspaper—complete and accurate coverage of the war". More media of the time reported the events with similar titles.
Henry Morgenthau, the United States ambassador to the Ottoman Empire from 1913 to 1916 accused the "Turkish government" of a campaign of "outrageous terrorizing, cruel torturing, driving of women into harems, debauchery of innocent girls, the sale of many of them at 80 cents each, the murdering of hundreds of thousands and the deportation to and starvation in the desert of other hundreds of thousands, [and] the destruction of hundreds of villages and many cities", all part of "the willful execution" of a "scheme to annihilate the Armenian, Greek and Syrian Christians of Turkey." However, months prior to the First World War, 100,000 Greeks were deported to Greek islands or the interior which Morgenthau stated, "for the larger part these were bona-fide deportations; that is, the Greek inhabitants were actually removed to new places and were not subjected to wholesale massacre. It was probably the reason that the civilized world did not protest against these deportations..."
US Consul-General George Horton reported, "One of the cleverest statements circulated by the Turkish propagandists is to the effect that the massacred Christians were as bad as their executioners, that it was '50–50.' " On this issue he comments: "Had the Greeks, after the massacres in the Pontus and at Smyrna, massacred all the Turks in Greece, the record would have been 50–50—almost." As an eye-witness, he also praises Greeks for their "conduct [...] toward the thousands of Turks residing in Greece, while the ferocious massacres were going on...", which, according to his opinion, was "one of the most inspiring and beautiful chapters in all that country’s history."
According to various sources the Greek death toll in the Pontus region of Anatolia ranges from 300,000 to 360,000. Estimates for the death toll of Anatolian Greeks as a whole are significantly higher, a team of American researchers found in the early postwar period that the total number of Greeks killed may approach 900,000 people.
According to the figures by the Greek government together with the Patriarchate, a total of one million people were estimated to be massacred.
According to the International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples, between 1916 and 1923, up to 350,000 Greek Pontians were reportedly killed in massacres, persecution and death marches. Merrill D. Peterson cites the death toll of 360,000 for the Greeks of Pontus. According to George K. Valavanis "The loss of human life among the Pontian Greeks, since the Great War (World War I) until March 1924, can be estimated at 353,000, as a result of murders, hangings, and from punishment, disease, and other hardships."
Constantine G Hatzidimitriou writes that "loss of life among Anatolian Greeks during the WWI period and its aftermath was approximately 735,370." Edward Hale Bierstadt states that "According to official testimony, the Turks since 1914 have slaughtered in cold blood 1,500,000 Armenians, and 500,000 Greeks, men women and children, without the slightest provocation.". At the Lausanne conference in late 1922 the British Foreign Minister Lord Curzon is recorded as saying "a million Greeks have been killed, deported or have died."
In 1916, Emanuel Efendi, a Ottoman deputy, said that "550,000 Greeks... were killed."
Article 142 of the 1920 Treaty of Sèvres, prepared after the first World War, called the Turkish regime "terrorist" and contained provisions "to repair so far as possible the wrongs inflicted on individuals in the course of the massacres perpetrated in Turkey during the war." The Treaty of Sèvres was never ratified by the Turkish government and ultimately was replaced by the Treaty of Lausanne. That treaty was accompanied by a "Declaration of Amnesty", without containing any provision in respect to punishment of war crimes.
In 1923, a population exchange between Greece and Turkey resulted in a near-complete elimination of the Greek ethnic presence in Turkey and a similar elimination of the Turkish ethnic presence in much of Greece. According to the Greek census of 1928, 1,104,216 Ottoman Greeks had reached Greece. It is impossible to know exactly how many Greek inhabitants of Turkey died between 1914 and 1923, and how many ethnic Greeks of Anatolia were expelled to Greece or fled to the Soviet Union. Some of the survivors and expelled took refuge in the neighboring Russian Empire (later, Soviet Union).
In 1955, the Istanbul Pogrom caused most of the Greek inhabitants remaining in Istanbul to flee and migrate from there. Historian Alfred-Maurice de Zayas identifies Istanbul Pogroms as a very serious crime against humanity and he states that, small Greek causality[clarification needed] and especially the flight and big migration of Greeks after the pogrom corresponds to the "intent to destroy in whole or in part" criteria of the Genocide Convention.
The word genocide was coined in the early 1940s, the era of the Holocaust, by Raphael Lemkin, a Polish lawyer of Jewish descent. In his writings on genocide, Lemkin is known to have detailed the fate of Greeks in Turkey. In August 1946 the New York Times reported:
Genocide is no new phenomenon, nor has it been utterly ignored in the past. ... The massacres of Greeks and Armenians by the Turks prompted diplomatic action without punishment. If Professor Lemkin has his way genocide will be established as an international crime...
The 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1948 and came into force in January 1951. It defines genocide in legal terms. Some historians and other scholars employ other definitions of genocide, which they consider better suited for academic use.
Before creation of the word "genocide", the destruction of the Ottoman Greeks was known by Greeks as "the Massacre" (in Greek, η Σφαγή), "the Great Catastrophe" (η Μεγάλη Καταστροφή), or "the Great Tragedy" (η Μεγάλη Τραγωδία). Contemporary accounts employed such terms as "annihilation", "systematic extermination", "persistent campaign of massacre", and "wholesale massacre".
In December 2007 the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) passed a resolution affirming that the 1914–23 campaign against Ottoman Greeks constituted genocide. Employing the term "Greek Genocide", it affirmed that Ottoman Greeks were subject to genocide alongside other groups, namely Armenians and Assyrians. The resolution was adopted on 1 December 2007 and the press release issued by the organization on 16 December. The IAGS resolution was passed with an "overwhelming" majority. Several scholars researching the Armenian genocide, such as Peter Balakian, Taner Akçam, Richard Hovannisian and Robert Melson, stated that the issue had to be further researched before a resolution was passed."
Historian Mark Mazower states that the deportation of Greeks by the Ottomans was on a "relatively small scale and do not appear to have been designed to end in their victims' deaths. What was to happen with the Armenians was of a different order". Manus Midlarsky notes a disjunction between statements of genocidal intent against the Greeks by Ottoman officials and their actions, pointing to the containment of massacres in selected "sensitive" areas and the large numbers of Greek survivors at the end of the war. Because of cultural and political ties of the Ottoman Greeks with European powers, Midlarsky argues, genocide was "not a viable option for the Ottomans in their case." Taner Akçam refers to contemporary accounts noting the difference in government treatment of Ottoman Greeks and Armenians during WW I and concludes that "despite the increasingly severe wartime policies, in particular for the period between late 1916 and the first months of 1917, the government's treatment of the Greeks -although comparable in some ways to the measures against the Armenians- differed in scope, intent, and motivation". Niall Ferguson has drawn a comparison between sporadic massacres of Pontic Greek communities after 1922 and the fate of the Armenians. As per the IAGS resolution, genocide scholars, such as Dominik J. Schaller and Jürgen Zimmerer, have stated that the "genocidal quality of the murderous campaigns against Greeks" is "obvious". Historian Angelos Elefantis "has expressed his shock at the use of the word "genocide" in relation only to the Smyrna massacres", although not concerning the anti Greek atrocities in general.
Seminars and courses in several western universities examine the events. These include the College of Charleston, the University of Michigan Dearborn and the University of New South Wales which has a dedicated research unit.
Following an initiative of MPs of the so-called "patriotic" wing of the ruling PASOK party's parliamentary group and like-minded MPs of conservative New Democracy, the Greek Parliament passed two laws on the fate of the Ottoman Greeks; the first in 1994 and the second in 1998. The decrees were published in the Greek Government Gazette on 8 March 1994 and 13 October 1998 respectively. The 1994 decree affirmed the genocide in the Pontus region of Asia Minor and designated 19 May (the day Mustafa Kemal landed in Samsun in 1919) a day of commemoration, while the 1998 decree affirmed the genocide of Greeks in Asia Minor as a whole and designated 14 September a day of commemoration. These laws were signed by the President of Greece but were not immediately ratified after political interventions. The leftist newspaper "Avgi" (Αυγή, Dawn) had the initiative for freezing the application of this law. The subject became the center of a political debate between various Greek politicians, with the left being against it. The president of the left-ecologists coalition Synaspismos party Nikos Konstantopoulos and A. Elefantis, known for his books on the history of Greek communism, were some of the politicians who expressed their opposition to the decree. However, not all the left was unanimous on this. The non-parliamentary left-wing nationalist intellectual and author George Karabelias bitterly criticized Elefantis and others (mainly from the left) who opposed the recognition of genocide and called them "revisionist historians", accusing the Greek main-stream left of a "distorted ideological evolution". He said that for the Greek left 19 May is a "day of amnesia".
In the late 2000s the Communist Party of Greece adopted the term "Genocide of the Greeks of Pontus" (Γενοκτονία Ποντίων) in its official newspaper Rizospastis and participates in memorial events.
In response to the 1998 law, the Turkish government released a statement which claimed that describing the events as genocide was "without any historical basis". "We condemn and protest this resolution" a Turkish Foreign Ministry statement said. "With this resolution the Greek Parliament, which in fact has to apologize to the Turkish people for the large-scale destruction and massacres Greece perpetrated in Anatolia, not only sustains the traditional Greek policy of distorting history, but it also displays that the expansionist Greek mentality is still alive," the statement added.
On 14 May 2013, the government of New South Wales was submitted a genocide recognition motion by Fred Nile of the Christian Democratic Party, and was later passed making it the fourth political entity to recognise the genocide.
Reasons for limited recognition
The United Nations, the European Parliament, and the Council of Europe have not made any related statements. According to Constantine Fotiadis, professor of Modern Greek History at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, some of the reasons for the lack of wider recognition and delay in seeking acknowledgement of these events are as follows:[page needed]
- In contrast to the Treaty of Sèvres, the superseding Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 dealt with these events by making no reference or mention, and thus sealed the end of the Asia Minor Catastrophe.
- A subsequent peace treaty (Greco-Turkish Treaty of Friendship in June 1930) between Greece and Turkey. Greece made several concessions to settle all open issues between the two countries in return for peace in the region.
- The Second World War, the Civil War, the Military junta and the political turmoil in Greece that followed, forced Greece to focus on its survival and other problems rather than seek recognition of these events.
- The political environment of the Cold War, in which Turkey and Greece were supposed to be allies – facing one common Communist enemy – not adversaries or competitors.
In his book With Intent to Destroy: Reflections on Genocide, Colin Tatz argue that Turkey denies the genocide so as not to jeopardize "its ninety-five-year-old dream of becoming the beacon of democracy in the Near East".
In their book Negotiating the Sacred: Blasphemy and Sacrilege in a Multicultural Society, Elizabeth Burns Coleman and Kevin White present a list of reasons explaining Turkey's inability to admit the genocides committed by the Young Turks, writing:
Turkish denialism of the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians is official, riven, driven, constant, rampant, and increasing each year since the events of 1915 to 1922. It is state-funded, with special departments and units in overseas missions whose sole purpose is to dilute, counter, minimise, trivialise and relativise every reference to the events which encompassed a genocide of Armenians, Pontian Greeks and Assyrian Christians in Asia Minor.
and propose the following reasons for the denial of the genocides by Turkey, quote:
- A suppression of guilt and shame that a warrior nation, a ‘beacon of democracy’ as it saw itself in 1908 (and since), slaughtered several ethnic populations. Democracies, it is said, don’t commit genocide; ergo, Turkey couldn’t and didn’t do so.
- A cultural and social ethos of honour, a compelling and compulsive need to remove any blots on the national escutcheon.
- A chronic fear that admission will lead to massive claims for reparation and restitution.
- To overcome fears of social fragmentation in a society that is still very much a state in transition.
- A ‘logical’ belief that because the genocide was committed with impunity, so denial will also meet with neither opposition nor obloquy.
- An inner knowledge that the juggernaut denial industry has a momentum of its own and can’t be stopped even if they wanted it to stop.
Memorials commemorating the plight of Ottoman Greeks have been erected throughout Greece, as well as in a number of other countries including Germany, Canada, the United States and, most recently, Australia.
- Academic quotes on the Greek genocide
- Armenian Genocide
- Assyrian Genocide
- Genocide denial
- Greek refugees
- Istanbul Pogrom
- Human rights in Turkey
- The Twenty Classes
- Megali Idea
- Republic of Pontus
- Cappadocian Greeks
- Jones 2010, pp. 150–51: ‘By the beginning of the First World War, a majority of the region’s ethnic Greeks still lived in present-day Turkey, mostly in Thrace (the only remaining Ottoman territory in Europe, abutting the Greek border), and along the Aegean and Black Sea coasts. They would be targeted both prior to and alongside the Armenians of Anatolia and Assyrians of Anatolia and Mesopotamia… The major populations of "Anatolian Greeks" include those along the Aegean coast and in Cappadocia (central Anatolia), but not the Greeks of the Thrace region west of the Bosphorus… A "Christian genocide" framing acknowledges the historic claims of Assyrian and Greek peoples, and the movements now stirring for recognition and restitution among Greek and Assyrian diasporas. It also brings to light the quite staggering cumulative death toll among the various Christian groups targeted… of the 1.5 million Greeks of Asia minor – Ionians, Pontians, and Cappadocians – approximately 750,000 were massacred and 750,000 exiled. Pontian deaths alone totaled 353,000.
- Jones 2010, p. 166: ‘An estimate of the Pontian Greek death toll at all stages of the anti-Christian genocide is about 350,000; for all the Greeks of the Ottoman realm taken together, the toll surely exceeded half a million, and may approach the 900,000 killed that a team of US researchers found in the early postwar period. Most surviving Greeks were expelled to Greece as part of the tumultuous "population exchanges" that set the seal on a heavily "Turkified" state.’
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The total number of Christians who fled to Greece was probably in the region of I.2 million with the main wave occurring in 1922 before the signing of the convention. According to the official records of the Mixed Commission set up to monitor the movements, the "Greeks' who were transferred after 1923 numbered 189,916 and the number of Muslims expelled to Turkey was 355,635 [Ladas I932, 438-439; but using the same source Eddy 1931, 201 states that the post-1923 exchange involved 192,356 Greeks from Turkey and 354,647 Muslims from Greece.
- Jones 2010, pp. 171–2: ‘A resolution was placed before the IAGS membership to recognize the Greek and Assyrian/Chaldean components of the Ottoman genocide against Christians, alongside the Armenian strand of the genocide (which the IAGS has already formally acknowledged). The result, passed emphatically in December 2007 despite not inconsiderable opposition, was a resolution which I co-drafted, reading as follows:...’
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Many (Greeks), however, were massacred by the Turks, especially at Smyrna (today’s İzmir) as the Greek army withdrew at the end of their headlong retreat from central Anatolia at the end of the Greco-Turkish War. Especially poorly treated were the Pontic Greeks in eastern Anatolia on the Black Sea. In 1920, as the Greek army advanced, many were deported to the Mesopotamian desert as had been the Armenians before them. Nevertheless, approximately 1,200,000 Ottoman Greek refugees arrived in Greece at the end of the war. When one adds to the total the Greeks of Constantinople who, by agreement, were not forced to flee, then the total number comes closer to the 1,500,000 Greeks in Anatolia and Thrace. Here, a strong distinction between intention and action is found. According to the Austrian consul at Amisos, Kwiatkowski, in his November 30, 1916, report to foreign minister Baron Burian: “on 26 November Rafet Bey told me: ‘we must finish off the Greeks as we did with the Armenians…’ on 28 November Rafet Bey told me: ‘today I sent squads to the interior to kill every Greek on sight.’ I fear for the elimination of the entire Greek population and a repeat of what occurred last year, Or according to a January 31, 1917, report by Chancellor Hollweg of Austria: the indications are that the Turks plan to eliminate the Greek element as enemies of the state, as they did earlier with the Armenians. The strategy implemented by the Turks is of displacing people to the interior without taking measures for their survival by exposing them to death, hunger, and illness. The abandoned homes are then looted and burnt or destroyed. Whatever was done to the Armenians is being repeated with the Greeks. Massacres most likely did take place at Amisos and other villages in Pontus. Yet given the large number of surviving Greeks, especially relative to the small number of Armenian survivors, the massacres apparently were restricted to Pontus, Smyrna, and selected other ‘sensitive’ regions.
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If above link doesn't work, search United Nations documents for "A people in continued exodus"
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In a groundbreaking move, the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) has voted overwhelmingly to recognize the genocides inflicted on Assyrian and Greek populations of the Ottoman Empire between 1914 and 1923. and: "The overwhelming backing given to this resolution by the world's leading genocide scholars organization will help to raise consciousness about the Assyrian and Greek genocides," Jones said on December 15. "It will also act as a powerful counter to those, especially in present-day Turkey, who still ignore or deny outright the genocides of the Ottoman Christian minorities".
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The International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) has voted overwhelmingly to recognize the genocides inflicted on Assyrian and Greek populations of the Ottoman Empire between 1914 and 1923. and: "The overwhelming backing given to this resolution by the world's leading genocide scholars organization will help to raise consciousness about the Assyrian and Greek genocides," Jones said on December 10. "It will also act as a powerful counter to those, especially in present-day Turkey, who still ignore or deny the genocides of the Ottoman Christian minorities".
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Και εάν η Κυβέρνηση για λόγους πολιτικής σκοπιμότητας θα αποσύρει το Π.Δ., η Αριστερά θα αναλάβει, όπως πάντα, να προσφέρει τα ιδεολογικά όπλα του πολέμου. Ο Άγγελος Ελεφάντης θα γράψει στο ίδιο τεύχος των Νέων πως δεν υπάρχει κανένας λόγος να αναγορεύσομε την 14 Σεπτεμβρίου του 1922 ούτε καν σε ημέρα εθνικής μνήμης. [And while the Government for the sake of political expediency withdraws the Presidential Decree, the Left undertakes, as always, to offer the ideological weapons for this war. Angelos Elefantis writes in the same page of the NEA newspaper (Feb. 24, 2001) that there is no reason to proclaim the 14th of September of 1922 not even to a day of national memory.]
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