THE ASIA MINOR TRAGEDY: AN EYE-WITNESS TESTIMONY
Michail Angelou was born in 1882 in Kiouplia (Tr: Küplü) in the Bithynia region of Asia Minor (today Turkey). He married Argyro Gounaris with whom he had 2 children. He studied pharmacy in Constantinople and opened a pharmacy in his home town Küplü. Angelou served in the Ottoman Army during the First World War. He became a member of the Turkish National Assembly of Ankara, and was also recruited into the Kemalist Army as an aid for transporting injured soldiers.
After hearing that Kemalist forces were planning to burn his home town, he notified his friends and relatives and told them to abandon the town. At the same time he organised the transfer of medicine and equipment from seven hospitals by loading them onto wagons and transported them to Greece along with the fleeing town-folk.
Angelou was on close terms with Kemalist personnel. In one conversation, a Kemalist boasted about the massacre of Christians in the Nicomedia (Tr: İzmit) region. Angelou wrote:
As we were traveling, by chance I saw in the other section of the train carriage a colleague of mine, sub-lieutenant 'C', Commander of the 4th Company Machine Gun Brigade from the Dardanelles 61st Division. I approached my colleague who appeared bewildered. He asked me how I managed to still be alive. He told me that they had killed all the Christians in the Nicomedia region, Adapazari, Ortakoy, as well as the two provinces of Nicaia [Tr: İznik] and Nicomedia. We slaughtered the majority of 70-80,000 people, but not only Christians but we also fought Circassians starting from Biga and Aznavur Pasha and we continued, he said. In only one day, I shot sixty women and children that were fleeing towards a mountain near a hill with my machine gun, that you are familiar with.
The Turkish administration had a list of 300 people wanted for treason. Included on that list was Michail Angelou. It was for that reason that he didn’t publish his memoirs until after his death and was also unable to visit his homeland. Angelou moved to Edessa, Greece and opened his own pharmacy and became the president of the Pharmaceutical Group of Edessa. He died in 1968 aged 86.
His memoirs were published in 2013 under the title Asia Minor Tragedy: An Eye-Witness Testimony (Η Μικρασιατική Τραγωδία: Υπ’ αυτόπτου Μάρτυρος. Αυτοβιογραφική Μαρτυρία) and is a valuable resource on the massacre of Greeks in the Bithynia region during the Greek Genocide written by a member of the Kemalist army.
Michail Angelou with a war medal awarded to him by the Austrians for his effort while serving in the Ottoman Army at Gallipoli (1915)