Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of Islam's City of Tolerance
On Saturday 9th September, 1922, the victorious Turkish cavalry rode into Smyrna, the richest and most cosmopolitan city in the Ottoman Empire. What happened over the next two weeks must rank as one of the most compelling human dramas of the twentieth century. Almost two million people were caught up in a disaster of truly epic proportions.
The Chicago news reporter, John Clayton, suddenly realised that he could no longer bring himself to write the the sort of reports expected of him by Admiral Mark Bristol. The scale of the disaster was such that he was at long last forced to admit the truth about what was taking place in Smyrna. "The loss of life is impossible to compute," he wrote. "The streets are littered with dead... Except for the squalid Turkish quarter, Smyrna has ceased to exist... the problem of the minorities is here solved for all time." In a sentence that was guaranteed to provoke Admiral Bristol's wrath, he added: "no doubt remains as to the origin of the fire... the match was applied by Turkish regular soldiers. pp324-25.