Aristeidis Stergiadis

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The Greek leadership in Smyrna, October 1920: High Commissioner Aristeidis Stergiadis, Lt. Gen. Leonidas Paraskevopoulos and his chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Theodoros Pangalos.

Aristeidis Stergiadis (Greek: Αριστείδης Στεργιάδης) (1861, in Herakleion, Crete – 22 June 1949, in Nice, France) was the Greek high commissioner, or governor-general, of Smyrna during the Greek occupation of the city from 1919 to 1922. He was selected for the post by Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, who was a fellow Cretan. Stergiadis was arguably[citation needed] possessed of a strict sense of justice and a high ideal of duty, he lived as a hermit, accepting no invitations and never appearing in society. According to George Horton, Stergiadis informed him that he wished "to accept no favors and to form no ties, so that he might administer equal justice to all, high and low alike."

Aristidis Stergiadis was appointed the High Commissioner of Smyrna in February and arrived in the city four days after the 15 May 1919 landing. Stergiadis immediately went to work in setting up an administration, easing ethnic violence, and making way for permanent annexation of Smyrna. Stergiadis immediately punished the Greek soldiers responsible for violence on 15–16 May with court martial and created a commission to decide on payment for victims (made up of representatives from Great Britain, France, Italy and other allies).[1] Stergiadis took a strict stance against discrimination of the Turkish population and opposed church leaders and the local Greek population on a number of occasions. Historians disagree about whether this was a genuine stance against discrimination[2] or whether it was an attempt to present a positive vision of the occupation to the allies.[1]

This stance against discrimination of the Turkish population often pitted Stergiadis against the local Greek population, the church and the army. He reportedly would carry a stick through the town with which he would beat Greeks that were being abusive of Turkish citizens. Troops would disobey his orders to not abuse the Turkish population often putting him in conflict with the military. On 14 July 1919, the acting foreign secretary sent a long critical telegraph to Venizelos suggesting that Stergiadis be removed and writing that "His sick neuroticism has reached a climax."[1] Venizelos stuck with support of Stergiadis despite this opposition, while the latter oversaw a number of projects planning for a permanent Greek administration of Smyrna.[1]

At one point, Stergiadis interrupted and ended a sermon by the bishop Chrysostomos that he believed to be incendiary. George Horton writes:[3]

On one occasion I was present at an important service in the Orthodox Cathedral, to which the representative of the various powers, as well as the principal Greek authorities had been invited. The high-commissioner had given the order that the service should be strictly religious and non-political. Unfortunately, Archbishop Chrysostom (he who was later murdered by the Turks) began to introduce some politics into his sermon, a thing which he was extremely prone to do. Sterghiades, who was standing near him, interrupted, saying: "But I told you I didn’t want any of this." The archbishop flushed, choked, and breaking off his discourse abruptly, ended with, "In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Amen," and stepped off the rostrum.

He abandoned Smyrna on 25 September 1922 on a British ship, and was transported to Britain. Later the same year he moved to Nice,[citation needed] where he lived until the end of his life, on 22 June 1949.

His Herakleion residence houses the Public Archives and Library of Nicolas Kitsikis (1887–1978), the father of Dimitri Kitsikis. Stergiadis was the stepfather of Beata Kitsikis née Petychakis, Dimitri Kitsikis's mother.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Llewellyn-Smith, Michael (1999). Ionian vision : Greece in Asia Minor, 1919–1922. (New edition, 2nd impression ed.). London: C. Hurst. p. 92. ISBN 9781850653684. 
  2. ^ Clogg, Richard. A Concise History of Greece, page 93 [1]. Cambridge University Press, 20 June 2002 – 308 pages.
  3. ^ The Blight of Asia, An Account of the Systematic Extermination of Christian Populations by Mohammedans and of the Culpability of Certain Great Powers; with the True Story of the Burning of Smyrna; George Horton, 1926. Chapter 10 - The Greek Landing at Smyrna (Hellenic Resources Network).

Bibliography[edit]

  • Solomonidis, Victoria (1984). "Greece in Asia Minor: The Greek Administration in the Vilayet of Aydin" (PDF). University of London, King's College. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  • Dimitri Kitsikis - « Αριστείδης Στεργιάδης », στο Το κτίριο Γερωνυμάκη-Στεργιάδη στη συνοικία Σουλτὰν Ιμπραΐμ, Ηράκλειο, Κρήτη, ΤΕΕ/ΤΑΚ, 2008 (εικονογραφημένο).
  • Dimitri Kitsikis - «80 χρόνια από την Μικρασιατική Καταστροφή: Αριστείδης Στεργιάδης», Αθήνα, Τρίτο Μάτι, Καλοκαίρι 2002.
  • Dimitri Kitsikis - « Stergiades: l’homme d’une mission impossible, 1919-1922 », in Aux vents des puissances (Jean-Marc Delaunay, éd), Paris, Presses Sorbonne Nouvelle, 2008.