Submitted in support of a resolution recognizing the Armenian, Assyrian, and Pontic and Anatolian Greek genocides of 1914-23, presented to the membership of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), 2007.
Ottoman Genocide against Christian Minorities: General Comments and Sources
"It is believed that in Turkey between 1913 and 1922, under the successive regimes of the Young Turks and of Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk), more than 3.5 million Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Christians were massacred in a state-organized and state-sponsored campaign of destruction and genocide, aiming at wiping out from the emerging Turkish Republic its native Christian populations. This Christian Holocaust is viewed as the precursor to the Jewish Holocaust in WWII. To this day, the Turkish government ostensibly denies having committed this genocide."
— Prof. Israel Charney, President of the IAGS
"Turks admit that the Armenian persecution is the first step in a plan to get rid of Christians, and that Greeks would come next. ... Turkey henceforth is to be for Turks alone."
— Peter Balakian, The Burning Tigris, quoting the New York Times, September 14, 1915.
"While the death toll in the trenches of Western Europe were close to 2 million by the summer of 1915, the extermination of innocent civilians in Turkey (the Armenians, but also Syrian and Assyrian Christians and large portions of the Greek population, especially the Greeks of Pontos, or Black Sea region) was reaching 1 million."
— Peter Balakian, The Burning Tigris, p. 285-286.
In an article for the August 1, 1926 edition of the Los Angeles Examiner, Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) also affirms the slaughters. Kemal writes:
"those ... left-over from the former Young Turkish Party, ... should have been made to account for the lives of millions of our Christian subjects who were ruthlessly driven en masse, from their homes and massacred ..."
— Mustafa Kemal — Emile Hildebrand, "Kemal Promises More Hangings of Political Antagonists in Turkey," Los Angeles Examiner, August 1, 1926 (Sunday edition, Section VI).
"If members of the United Nations pass appropriate legislation such incidents such as pogroms of Czarist Russian and the massacres of Armenians and Greeks by Turkey would be punishable as genocide."
— "Genocide Under the Law of Nations," New York Times, January 5, 1947.
Contemporary newspaper commentary
THE CALVARY OF A NATION: A PERSONAL NARRATIVE
"The extermination of the Armenians is well under way. Thousands of Nestorians and Syrians [of the Assyrian Orthodox Church] have vanished from the face of the earth. More than 300,000 Greeks have been deported from the Ottoman Empire, and many more sent to the interior. The fate that awaits the surviving Christians and Jews — in fact, of all the non-Turkish elements — depends on the term of the fratricidal war and its fortunes. The Young Turks are watchfully waiting to carry out their program: 'Turkey for the Turks.'"
Atlantic Monthly, November 1916
The Greek Genocide
Note: Anatolia (from the Greek meaning east) and Asia Minor are both terms used to designate the area now known as Turkey. Pontos, or Pontus, a large mountainous province along the southern shores of the Black Sea, and the Pontians, or Pontic Greeks, who first settled there in 800 B.C., are often specifically mentioned in documentation. The Pontian region is part of Anatolia. Other areas of Anatolia long settled by Greeks are Ionia (the western coastal province of Smyrna and environs) and Cappadocia (a large central province). Lesser known, but equally important, Greek settlements in Anatolia include Bithynia, Caria, Cilicia, Galatia, Lycaonia, Lycia, Lydia, Mysia, Pamphylia, Paphlagonia, Phrygia, and Pisidia.
Henry Morgenthau, Sr.
"The martyrdom of the Greeks, therefore, comprised two periods: that antedating the war, and that which began in the early part of 1915. The first affected chiefly the Greeks on the seacoast of Asia Minor. The second affected those living in Thrace and in the territories surrounding the Sea of Marmora, the Dardanelles, the Bosphorus, and the coast of the Black Sea. These latter, to the extent of several hundred thousand, were sent to the interior of Asia Minor. The Turks adopted almost identically the same procedure against the Greeks as that which they had adopted against the Armenians. They began by incorporating the Greeks into the Ottoman army and then transforming them into labour battalions, using them to build roads in the Caucasus and other scenes of action. These Greek soldiers, just like the Armenians, died by thousands from cold, hunger, and other privations. The same house-to-house searches for hidden weapons took place in the Greek villages, and Greek men and women were beaten and tortured just as were their fellow Armenians. The Greeks had to submit to the same forced requisitions, which amounted in their case, as in the case of the Armenians, merely to plundering on a wholesale scale. The Turks attempted to force the Greek subjects to become Mohammedans; Greek girls, just like Armenian girls, were stolen and taken to Turkish harems and Greek boys were kidnapped and placed in Moslem households. The Greeks, just like the Armenians, were accused of disloyalty to the Ottoman Government; the Turks accused them of furnishing supplies to the English submarines in the Marmora and also of acting as spies. The Turks also declared that the Greeks were not loyal to the Ottoman Government, and that they also looked forward to the day when the Greeks inside of Turkey would become part of Greece. These latter charges were unquestionably true; that the Greeks, after suffering for five centuries the most unspeakable outrages at the hands of the Turks, should look longingly to the day when their territory should be part of the fatherland, was to be expected. The Turks, as in the case of the Armenians, seized upon this as an excuse for a violent onslaught on the whole race. 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. These caravans suffered great privations, but they were not submitted to general massacre as were the Armenians, and this is probably the reason why the outside world has not heard so much about them. The Turks showed them this greater consideration not from any motive of pity. The Greeks, unlike the Armenians, had a government which was vitally interested in their welfare. At this time there was a general apprehension among the Teutonic Allies that Greece would enter the war on the side of the Entente, and a wholesale massacre of Greeks in Asia Minor would unquestionably have produced such a state of mind in Greece that its pro-German king would have been unable longer to keep his country out of the war. It was only a matter of state policy, therefore, that saved these Greek subjects of Turkey from all the horrors that befell the Armenians. But their sufferings are still terrible, and constitute another chapter in the long story of crimes for which civilization will hold the Turk responsible.
Amb. Henry Morgenthau, Sr. "The Murder of a Nation," ch. XXIV in Ambassador Morgenthau's Story, 1919 (written in 1916, before Greece entered the war on the side of the Allies in 1917, therefore before the further massacres of Greeks between 1916 and 1923), pp. 52-53.
When "the civilized world did not protest against these deportations the Turks afterward decided to apply the same methods on a larger scale not only to the Greeks but to the Armenians, Syrians, Nestorians, and others of its subject peoples."
"the Greeks were the first victims of this nationalizing idea ... in the few months preceding the European War, the Ottoman Government began deporting its Greek subjects along the coast of Asia Minor."
"The story which I have told about the Armenians I could also tell with certain modifications about the Greeks and the Syrians."
— Morgenthau, Ambassador Morgenthau's Story
"By ridding themselves of the Armenians, Greeks, or any other group that stood in their way, Turkish nationalists were attempting to prove how they could clarify, purify, and ultimately unify a polity and society so that it could succeed on its own, albeit Western-orientated terms. This, of course, was the ultimate paradox: the CUP committed genocide in order to transform the residual empire into a streamlined, homogeneous nation-state on the European model. Once the CUP had started the process, the Kemalists, freed from any direct European pressure by the 1918 defeat and capitulation of Germany, went on to complete it, achieving what nobody believed possible: the reassertion of independence and sovereignty via an exterminatory war of national liberation."
— Mark Levene, "Creating a Modern 'Zone of Genocide': The Impact of Nation— and State-formation on Eastern Anatolia, 1878-1923."
"The Turks extended their policy of exterminating the Christians of the empire to the Armenians, Greeks, Syrians, and Lebanese."
"German military officers, diplomats, and civilians also witnessed the planning and execution of the genocide of Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek Christians as it unfolded."
"Absent a governmental intention to exterminate the Christians of the empire, it would be nearly impossible to explain how the massacres, rapes, deportations, and dispossessions of the Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek Christians living in the Ottoman Empire at the time of World War I could have taken place on such a vast scale."
— Hannibal Travis, "Native Christians Massacred," Genocide Studies and Prevention, December 2006 (see further quotes from this source in the section on the Assyrian genocide).
Contemporary commentary and official pronouncements
14 May 1914: Official document from Talaat Bey Minister of the Interior to Prefect of Smyrna: "The Greeks, who are Ottoman subjects, and form the majority of inhabitants in your district, take advantage of the circumstances in order to provoke a revolutionary current, favourable to the intervention of the Great Powers. Consequently, it is urgently necessary that the Greeks occupying the coastline of Asia Minor be compelled to evacuate their villages and install themselves in the vilayets of Erzerum and Chaldea. If they should refuse to be transported to the appointed places, kindly give instructions to our Moslem brothers, so that they shall induce the Greeks, through excesses of all sorts, to leave their native places of their own accord. Do not forget to obtain, in such cases, from the emigrants certificates stating that they leave their homes on their own initiative, so that we shall not have political complications ensuing from their displacement."
31 July 1915: German priest J. Lepsius: "The anti-Greek and anti-Armenian persecutions are two phases of one — the extermination of the Christian element from Turkey."
16 July 1916: German Consul Kuchhoff from Amisos to Berlin: "The entire Greek population of Sinope and the coastal region of the county of Kastanomu has been exiled. Exile and extermination in Turkish are the same, for whoever is not murdered, will die from hunger or illness."
30 November 1916: Austrian consul at Amisos Kwiatkowski to Austrian 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."
13 December 1916: German Ambassador Kuhlman to German Chancellor Hollweg in Berlin: "Consuls Bergfeld in Samsun and Schede in Kerasun report of displacement of local population and murders. Prisoners are not kept. Villages reduced to ashes. Greek refugee families consisting mostly of women and children being marched from the coasts to Sebasteia. The need is great."
20 January 1917: Austrian Ambassador Pallavicini: "the situation for the displaced is desperate. Death awaits them all. I spoke to the Grand Vizier and told him that it would be sad if the persecution of the Greek element took the same scope and dimension as the Armenia persecution."
31 January 1917: German Chancellor Hollweg's report: "... 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."
— Sources: Found in the archives of the Foreign Ministry of Greece, as reported by Professor Kostas Fotiadis, professor of History at Aristotelian University in Greece and compiled in a 14 volumes of documentation: Constantinos Emm. Fotiadis, The Genocide of the Pontus Greeks. Vol. 13 is: The Genocide of the Pontus Greeks by the Turks: Archive documents of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Britain, France, the League of Nations and S.H.A.T., Heodotus, Greece (2004). See also http://www.greek-genocide.net/quotes
MASSACRES OF GREEKS IN TURKEY REPORTED
Hundreds Killed by Turks and Bulgars in Many Towns, London Hears
— New York Times, 20 April 1916
"Stories of cruelty and outrage in the expulsion of the inhabitants from the villages — features which it was impossible indeed should be lacking — are simply confirmed. A good many girls are in the hospitals at Aivali in consequence of their treatment by the moharjis."
— Manchester Guardian, 29 June 1914
MASSACRE OF GREEKS
CHARGED TO THE TURKS
Priest, Old Men and Children
Are Reported Slain—Bodies
Are Thrown into Well.
— Atlanta Constitution, June 17, 1914
MASSACRES OF GREEKS IN TURKEY REPORTED
Hundreds Killed by Turks and Bulgars in Many Towns London Hears
— The New York Times, April 20, 1916
"The story of the Greek deportations is not yet generally known. Quietly and gradually the same treatment is being meted out to the Greeks as to the Armenians and Syrians [Assyrians]. Although closely guarded, certain echoes come out from time to time. There were some two or three million Greeks in Asia Minor at the outbreak of the war in 1914 subject to Turkish rule. According to the latest reliable and authoritative accounts, some seven to eight hundred thousand have been deported, mainly from the coast regions into the interior of Asia Minor. At the declaration of the present war all persecutions were stopped, but the spring of 1915 brought to the stage a tragic, novel drama, unique in the history of the world as to its horrors and destructiveness — that is, the Armenian deportation; under that innocent name the extermination of a Christian race was started. Along with the Armenians most of the Greeks of the Marmora regions and Thrace have been deported on the pretext that they gave information to the enemy. Along the Aegean coast, Aivalik stands out as the worst sufferer. According to one report, some 70,000 Greeks have been deported towards Konia and beyond. At least 7000 have been slaughtered. The Greek Bishop of Aivalik committed suicide in despair."
— Frank W. Jackson, Chairman of the Relief Committee for Greeks of Asia Minor, October 17, 1917
"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?"
— Henry Morgenthau, "The Greatest Horror in History," Red Cross Magazine, March 1918.
"Les persécutions antihelléniques poursuivies en Turquie depuis le début de la guerre européenne ne sont que la continuation du plan d'extermination de l'Hellénisme mis, depuis 1913, en pratique par les Jeunes-Turcs."
"The anti-Greek persecutions carried out in Turkey since the beginning of the European War are but the continuation of the plan of extermination of Hellenism practiced by the Young Turks, since 1913."
— From the reports of diplomatic and consular officials.
— Les Persécution Antihelléniques en Turquie Depuis le Début de la Guerre Européenne. D'après les rapports officiels des agents diplomatiques et consulaires (Paris, Librairie Bernard Grasset, 1918), Introduction.
"... the Greeks of Anatolia are suffering the same or worse fate than did the Armenians in the massacres of the Great War. The deportation of the Greeks is not limited to the Black Sea Coast but is being carried out throughout the whole of the country governed by the Nationalists. Greek villages are deported entire, the few Turkish or Armenian inhabitants are forced to leave, and the villages are burned. The purpose is unquestionably to destroy all Greeks in that territory and to leave Turkey for the Turks. These deportations are, of course, accompanied by cruelties of every form just as was true in the case of the Armenian deportations five and six years ago."
— Stanley Hopkins, American employee of the Near East Relief, 16/11/1921
"In 1916, the Pontic Greeks along the Black Sea coast were again targeted. Six thousand Pontian men, women, and children of the Bafra area were burned alive as they took refuge in churches. In the town of Alajam another 2,500 Pontians were slaughtered. Of the 25,000 inhabitants of the Bafra region alone, 90 percent were eliminated by mass slayings or by sending them on long death marches where they were often raped and robbed and left to die of disease and starvation."
— Dr. Harry Psomiades, The Phantom Republic of Pontos and the Magali Catastrophe (The Hellenic Studies Forum Inc. of Australia, 1992)
A study of this question may be found in Publication No. 3, of the American Hellenic Society, 1918, in which the statement is made that one million, five hundred thousand Greeks were driven from their homes in Thrace and Asia Minor, and that half these populations had perished from deportations, outrages and famine.
"The violent and inflammatory articles in the Turkish newspapers, above referred to, appeared unexpectedly and without any cause. They were so evidently 'inspired' by the authorities, that it seems a wonder that even ignorant Turks did not understand this. Cheap lithographs were also got up, executed in the clumsiest and most primitive manner-evidently local productions. They represented Greeks cutting up Turkish babies or ripping open pregnant Moslem women, and various purely imaginary scenes, founded on no actual events or even accusations elsewhere made. These were hung in the mosques and schools. This campaign bore immediate fruit and set the Turk to killing, a not very difficult thing to do."
— George Horton, The Blight of Asia (1956)
April 5, 1922: The American Consul at Aleppo, Jesse B. Jackson, filed a report from Dr. Mark H. Ward and Dr. F. D. Yowell, Director of the Near East Relief unit at Harpoot. In it Ward and Yowell testify to the tens of thousands of Greeks from the Black Sea region — two-thirds of whom were women and children — being marched south, with medical attention, food and shelter denied to them, causing many thousands to perish from 'starvation, exposure, typhus, and dysentery.'
Yowell and Ward affirmed: "The policy of the Turks toward the Greeks who were, and are still, being deported, through Sivas-Harpoot Diarbekr from the Black Sea Coast and the Konia district, seems to be one of extermination."
Yowell, May 5, 1922: "Conditions of Greek minorities are even worse than those of the Armenians. Sufferings of the Greeks deported from districts behind the battlefront are terrible and still continue. These deportees begun to reach Harpoot before my arrival last October. Of thirty thousand Greek refugees who left Sivas, five thousand died on the way before reaching Harpoot. One American relief worker saw and counted fifteen hundred bodies on the road east of Harpoot.
"In Harpoot district our relief has been to give these needy people in opposition to the wishes of the Turks who did everything in their power to prevent our doing so. We were not allowed to employ any Greeks in our work or to take any orphan children, left by dying Greek deportees, into our orphanages. Sick Greeks could not be received into our hospital except on the written order of the Turkish Commissioner.
"Two thirds of the Greek deportees are women and children. All along the route where these deportees have travelled Turks are permitted to visit refugee group and select women and girls whom they desire for any purpose. These deportations are still in progress, and if American aid is now withdrawn all will perish. Their whole route today strewn with bodies of their dead, which are consumed by dogs, wolves, vultures. The Turks make no effort to bury these dead and the deportees are not permitted to do so. The chief causes of death are starvation, dysentery, typhus. Turkish authorities frankly state that is their deliberate intention to exterminate the Greeks, and all their actions supports this statements. At present fresh deportations and outrages are starting in all parts of Asia Minor from northern seaports to the south eastern district.”
Dr. Mark H. Ward, Medical missionary for the Near East Relief, July 6, 1922: "From May, 1921, to March last, when I left, thirty thousand deportees, of whom six thousand were Armenians and the rest Greeks, were collected at Sivas and deported through Kharput to Bitlis and Van. Of these thirty thousand, ten thousand perished last winter and ten thousand escaped or have been protected by the Americans. The fate of the other ten thousand is not known. The deportations are continuing; every week's delay means deaths to hundreds of these poor people. The Turkish policy is extermination of these Christian minorities."
Documentary Evidence that Turkish Officials Ordered the Atrocities. Translated, it reads in part:
"To the Commandant of the Central Brigade: I call your attention to the following: There is nothing but death for the Greeks, who are without honor. As soon as the slightest sign is given you, destroy everything about you immediately. As for the women, stop at nothing. Do not take either honor or friendship into consideration when the moment of vengeance arrives!
— The Commandant of the Brigade, Mehmet Azit"
— Cited in Edward Hale Bierstadt, The Great Betrayal: A Survey of the Near East Problem, New York, 1924.
"The Committee of Union and Progress made a clear decision. The source of the problem in Western Anatolia would be removed, the Greeks would be cleared out by means of political and economical measures. Before anything else, it would be necessary to weaken and break the economically powerful Greeks."
— Nurdogan Taçlan, Ege'de Kurtulus Savasi Baslarken (Istanbul, 1970), p. 65. Quoted in Taner Akçam, A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility, translated by Paul Bessemer (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006), p. 103.
"The Turkish reprisals against the west Anatolian Greeks became general in the spring of 1914. Entire Greek communities were driven from their homes by terrorism, their homes and land and often their moveable property were seized, and individuals were killed in the process."
— Arnold Toynbee, The Western Question in Greece and Turkey (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1922), p. 140.
For further documentation, click here
Armenian/Pontian Joint Recognition
Armenian National Committee of America
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ANCA MARKS PONTIAN GREEK GENOCIDE REMEMBRANCE DAY
— Joins with Assyrian and Greek Communities in Seeking Justice for Turkey's Genocidal Crimes
May 19, 2007
WASHINGTON, DC — The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) joins with Pontian Greeks — and all Hellenes around the world — in commemorating May 19th, the international day of remembrance for the genocide initiated by the Ottoman Empire and continued by Kemalist Turkey against the historic Greek population of Pontus along the southeastern coast of the Black Sea.
"We join with the Hellenic American community in solemn remembrance of the Pontian Genocide, and in reaffirming our determination to work together with all the victims of Turkey's atrocities to secure full recognition and justice for these crimes," said Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA.
The Ottoman Empire, under the cover of World War I, undertook a systematic and deliberate effort to eliminate its minority Christian populations. This genocidal campaign resulted in the death and deportation of well over 2,000,000 Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks.
The Pontian Genocide has been formally acknowledged by Greece and Cyprus and, within the United States, by the states of New York, New Jersey, Florida, South Carolina, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, among others.
Note: While ANCA's affirmation of the Genocide of Greeks and Assyrians is greatly appreciated, many authorities consider the number of victims to be much greater than that recognized. For example, in his book Statistics of Democide, R.J. Rummel writes: "Democide had preceded the Young Turks' rule and with their collapse at the end of World War I, the successor Nationalist government carried out its own democide against the Greeks and remaining or returning Armenians. From 1900 to 1923, various Turkish regimes killed from 3,500,000 to over 4,300,000 Armenians, Greeks, Nestorians, and other Christians."
Bibliography of Books on the Pontic and Anatolian Greek Genocides
Note: For a more thorough list, including a large number of Greek-language sources, click here
Also, a number of books and reports can be downloaded here
James Levi Barton, The Near East Relief, 1915-1930. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1943.
Edward Hale Bierstadt, The Great Betrayal: A Survey of the Near East Problem. New York: R. M. McBride & company, 1924.
Carl C. Compton, The Morning Cometh. New York: Karatzas Publisher, 1986.
Marjorie Housepian Dobkin, Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a City. New York, NY: Newmark Press, 1998.
Constantinos Fotiadis (ed.), The Genocide of the Pontus Greeks. 14 vols. Herodotus, 2004.
Les Persécution Antihelléniques en Turquie Depuis le Début de la Guerre Européenne. D'après les rapports officiels des agents diplomatiques et consulaires. Paris: Librairie Bernard Grasset, 1918.
Thea Halo, Not Even My Name. New York: Picador USA, 2000.
Hofmann, Tessa, ed., Verfolgung, Vertreibung und Vernichtung der Christen im Osmanischen Reich 1912-1922. Münster: LIT, 2004. (pp. 177-221 on Pontian Greeks)
George Horton, The Blight of Asia: An Account of the Systematic Extermination of Christian Populations by Mohammedans and of the Culpability of Certain Great Powers; With a True Story of the Burning of Smyrna. Indianopolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1926.
Ioannis Karayinnides, The Golgotha of Pontos. Salonica, 1978.
Johannes Lepsius, Archives du genocide des Armeniens. Paris: Fayard, 1986.
Bernard Lewis, The Making of Modern Turkey. London: Oxford University Press, 1961.
Manchester League of Unredeemed Hellenes, Turkey's Crimes: Hellenism in Turkey. Manchester : Norbury, Natzio & Co., 1919.
J.A.R. Marriott, The Eastern Question: A Study in European Diplomacy. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1940.
Manus I. Midlarsky, The Killing Trap. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.
Henry Morgenthau, Sr., Ambassador's Morgenthau Story. Garden City, N.Y.: Page & Company, 1918. Also published by the Armenian General Benevolent Union of America, 1974.
Henry Morgenthau, Sr., I Was Sent to Athens. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran & Co, 1929.
Henry Morgenthau, Sr., An International Drama. London: Jarrolds Ltd., 1930.
Jean De Murat. The Great Extirpation of Hellenism and Christianity in Asia Minor: The Historic and Systematic Deception of World Opinion Concerning the Hideous Christianity's Uprooting of 1922. Miami, Fla.: [s.n.], (Athens [Greece]: A. Triantafillis) 1999.
Lysimachos Oeconomos, The Martyrdom of Smyrna and Eastern Christendom: A File of Overwhelming Evidence, Denouncing the Misdeeds of the Turks in Asia Minor and Showing Their Responsibility for the Horrors of Smyrna. London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1922.
Alexander Papadopoulos, Persecutions of the Greeks in Turkey before the European War: On the Basis of Official Documents. New York: Oxford University Press, 1919.
Ioannis Pavlides, Pages of History of Pontus and Asia Minor. Salonica, Greece, 1980.
G.W. Rendel, "Memorandum by Mr. Rendel on Turkish Massacres and Persecutions of Minorities since the Armistice." British Foreign Office Report, 1922. FO 371/7876. X/PO9194.
R. J. Rummel, Statistics of Democide, Chapter 5, "Statistics of Turkey's Democide — Estimates, Calculations and Sources."
S.J. and E.K. Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977.
Michael Llewellyn Smith, Ionian Vision: Greece in Asia Minor, 1919-1922. London: Allen Lane, 1973.
Dido Soteriou, Farewell Anatolia. Translated by Fred A. Reed. Athens: Kedros, 1991.
Harry Tsirkinidis, At Last We Uprooted Them: The Genocide of Greeks of Pontos, Thrace, and Asia Minor, through the French Archives. Thessaloniki: Kyriakidis Bros, 1999.
C. Tsoukalas, The Greek Tragedy. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969.
Mark H. Ward, The Deportations in Asia Minor, 1921-1922. London: Anglo-Hellenic League, 1922.
All these entries feature numerous scholarly citations and references from contemporary news accounts.
Feridunoğlu Osman Ağa (1883-1923) otherwise known as Topal Osman, was a brigand and Kemalist Military Commander responsible for the mass murder of a vast number of Greeks during the Greek Genocide. While serving for the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) in the Balkans as a volunteer he received an injury to his foot which resulted in him being referred to as Topal Osman (Topal meaning lame.1 In WW1 he would round up deserters, some of whom he enlisted in his band.
Osman Ağa roamed the Black Sea region with his band of ‘cut-throats’ and was responsible for numerous massacres and deportations of Greeks and Armenians. He had a fanatical loyalty to Mustafa Kemal who awarded him a colonelcy and also served as his bodyguard.2 He was appointed mayor of Giresun in 1919 as a reward for his murderous deeds. Mustafa Kemal's biographer Andrew Mango, refers to Topal Osman as 'a sadistic ethnic cleanser of Armenians and Greeks'.3
The Central Council of Pontus received eye-witness accounts of the following atrocities committed by Osman Ağa and published them in a report dated October 17, 19214:
In July of 1921, after having murdered the greatest part of the notables and robbed them of their fortunes, Osman Ağa deported the male population of Tirebolu (Gr: Tripolis) near Giresun, and Bulancak (Gr: Pulantzaki) to Harput, Mamouret-oul-Azis and Alpistan, while he shared the beautiful women with his fellow partisans. The victims were conveyed into the mountains by the çetes. Women and children who were left unprovided for and completely nude, perished from hunger. Of the 2,500 Greeks in Tirebolu, only 200 women and children remained, and of the 14,000 Greeks of Giresun only 4,000 women and children survived. The Greeks of Fatsa and Ünye were also invaded by Osman Ağa and suffered the same atrocities.
In the little village of Çakallı four hours from Samsun, Osman Ağa ordered the women and children (the men having previously been deported) to be locked up in some houses of the village and there they were burnt alive.
In the village of Kavak he committed the same crimes; only a single old man of 80 was saved.
At Havza he drove together the women and children on the banks of the river, where they were massacred and thrown into the river. All the Greek villages of the district were laid to ashes. Eighteen brides and girls of the above village were picked out by Osman Ağa for their beauty in order to be distributed to his fellow criminals, who after having satisfied their carnal appetites for several days, shut them up in a house and burnt them alive.
At Merzifon, Osman Ağa and his companions, after having completely bereaved all the Christians, put fire to the Greek and Armenian quarters. The scenes which took place in the course of the fire were heart appalling. All the exits were barricaded and the unfortunate people trying to escape were either mercilessly killed or thrown back into the fire without distinction of whether they were women, children or old men. In the course of 5 hours, 1800 houses along with their inhabitants were burnt down. It was impossible to describe the orgies committed against virgins and children. While they were performing these cruelties, they shouted at their victims; "Where are the English, the Americans and your Christ to save you?"
Other atrocities committed by Osman Ağa:
While on his way through the village of Kirli having lodged and fed at the expense of the people there, he demanded the daughter in law of Anastasse Agha, a notable of that village who refused. Osman Ağa then ordered Anastasse Agha to be butchered together with his four children and four other men.5
In June 1920 at the village of Enayet near Giresun, a family of 5 Greeks were murdered by Osman Ağa and his followers, and several women and young girls carried off. Houses were robbed and cattle stolen.6
In July 1920, Osman Ağa massacred 15 Christians in the village of Karali and Kuruk. Because of the violation of a Muslim woman by a man named Panayoti, 50 Greeks of this name were arrested and beaten and 2 tortured and killed. His followers then extorted large sums from the Christians while he himself threatened to massacre all Christians unless the San Remo decision was modified.7
In July 1920 Osman Ağa arrested and beat the Bishop of Sivas.8
On 20th of August 1920, Osman Ağa continued to extort money from the Christians and many of the richest had been reduced to poverty. On the night of the 13/14th of August, Osman arrested the whole male population of Giresun in order to expel them; his followers subsequently entering and pillaging their houses.9
On the 8th of September 1920, a newspaper report described how Osman Ağa carried out a ghastly series of atrocities in Giresun whereby he shut up all the males, and every evening led out five to be executed. The remaining Christians bought their liberty with a ransom of £300,000.10
The Daily Telegraph, Launceston, 8 September 1920.
In March 1921, Osman Ağa compelled the inhabitants of the village of Sivas to feed him and his band of 500 men for 3 weeks. At Ezboter 2 Greeks and an Armenian were arrested and after having their bare feet shod with horse shoes, they were massacred. He also ordered the massacres of women and children of the villages of Kul-Hisar , Mesudiye and Kirik.11
In 1921 on passing through Amasya and Çorum, Osman Ağa instructed his men to massacre every Christian man or woman whom they encountered.12
A report on the 9th of July 1921, described horrible details of the persecution of Christians when Osman Ağa arrived there on the second day of Bayram (a Turkish religious holiday) and murdered 10 Greeks, then surrounded the stores of the American Tobacco Company and arrested all the Greek clerks numbering some 800 and had them transported to an unknown destination. The Greek quarter was then surrounded and 1,500 other Greeks were arrested and deported to the interior.13
On the 20th of December 1921, a band of 100 Turco-lazes from Rize enlisted by the Mayor of Giresun Osman Ağa, landed at Ordu and were received by the authorities of the town. The following day they surrounded the streets and proceeded to pillage the shops of Christians taking with them 2 Greeks. The merchant Michel Macrides of Giresun was decapitated in a small boat by order of Osman Ağa and his body thrown into the sea. Several other notables were also deported causing a severe sense of terror among the other Christians.14
On the 25th of February 1922, 20 Greek villages were destroyed by fire in the region of Giresun by the order of Osman Ağa, Major of Giresun and Kemalist military commander, and on the 1st of March the villages of Beislan, Pozat, Topekeny and Kiavourhiki were also burned down, the inhabitants consisting only of women and children who were previously imprisoned in the houses, having completely perished in the flames.15
On the 23rd of March 1923, Osman Ağa strangled Trabzon Deputy Ali Sukru Bey to death because the Deputy criticized Mustafa Kemal. He was shot dead in Ankara on the 1st of April 1923 after an exchange of gunfire with the military police who had been sent to capture him. His body was hanged in front of the Turkish Parliament and later buried in Giresun. A statue of him was erected in Giresun which still stands today.
1. Mango Andrew, Ataturk. John Murray, London 1999, 551.
2. Turkish Affairs. Kemal's Bold Stroke, The Maitland Weekly Mercury. 4 Apr 1923, 5.
3. Mango, Ataturk, 383.
4. Black Book the Tragedy of Pontus 1914-1922. A few short notes on the Turkish cruelties perpetrated against the Greeks
of the Pontus during the months of June, July and August 1921. The Central Council of Pontus. Athens 1922, pp 20-21.
5. Yeghiayan Vartkes ed., British Reports on Ethnic Cleansing in Anatolia: 1919-1922, Center for Armenian Remembrance, USA 2007, XXXI,
6. ibid, 154
7. ibid, 157
8. ibid, 252
9. ibid, 170
10. Ghastly Atrocities,The Daily Telegraph, Launceston. 8 Sep 1920, 5.
11. Yeghiayan, British Reports, 252
12. Yeghiayan, British Reports, 257
13. 700,000 Greeks Victims of Turks, The New York Times. 10 July 1921, 4.
14. Yeghiayan, British Reports, 190.
15. UK Parliament Hansard, 3 April 1922.
Sophia Iakovides (1860-1942) was my maternal great-grandmother. Her husband was Michalis Iakovides (or Iakovou). She is pictured here seated to the right with her two sons Ioannis (left) and James (right) and her daughter Paschalia (seated left). The young boy is Michalis, son of Ioannis. c. 1924. Location?
The following testimony is related to the Iakovides (or Iakovou) and Margelis families, both of which were from Marmara Island (formerly Prokonessus) and was submitted by their great-granddaughter via our online questionnaire.
1. From which region of the Ottoman Empire were your ancestors from?:
My ancestors were from a village called Proastio on the Island of Marmara (Prokonnesus) which is currently part of Turkey.
2. How did their life change when the Neo-Turks and/or the Kemalists came to power? :
They were forcibly removed from their island on the 5th of June 1915 and taken across to Bandirma by boat and then forcibly marched to inland Anatolia to a place called Karacabey (Mihalıtsi) where they stayed until the end of WW1. Those who survived then walked back to Bandirma then caught boats back to their beloved island of Marmara.
3. Were they deported during the genocide? If so, when, where to, and describe their experience:
Yes. Many died along the way and many also died at Karacabey (Mihalıtsi) as they had no shelter and were exposed to disease. On their return they found their homes had been ransacked and robbed, their stock stolen and their boats gone.
My maternal grandparents Plutarchos and Theodosia Iakovides with their three children - George, Photini and baby Sophia. Date? Location?
4. Were they held in a concentration camp or labor camp? If so, where was it located and describe the conditions :
There was a sort of camp outside Bandirma. At Karacabey (Mihalıtsi) there was a township but no home/shelter for them. They had no money so conditions were tough at both locations.
5. Did they lose family and friends? If so, how did they cope?:
Yes. Family members died along the way and at their final destination. My maternal-grandparents Plutarchos Iakovides (1881-1942) and his wife Theodosia (1884-1959) lost their infant daughter Diamantoula at Karacabey (Mihalıitsi). Both my paternal grandmother's parents, Evangelos and Afratenia Halvatzis died at Karacabey (Mihalitsi) as did their 14 year old daughter Katerina.
6. Did anyone within Turkey including Turks try to help them during the genocide? :
There were no Ottoman (Turks?) residents on Marmara so the answer is ‘no’. (I'm sure?)Their eyes saw barbaric acts while they were on mainland Anatolia, acts which they did not speak of.
7. How did they cope emotionally with their genocide experience? Did it affect the remainder of their life?
Family members did not speak much of what they went through. Talk was only of their beloved island life on Marmara. That generation generally did not speak about it.
8. Did the denial of the genocide by the perpetrator (the successor state of Turkey) affect their ability to form closure?:
I'm not sure.
9. How did they feel about Turkey after the genocide? :
It was never Turkey to them. It was and remained their homeland, their place of birth, their Mikra Asia (Asia Minor), just as they referred to Constantinople as such, and not Istanbul. The comments were always that their interaction with the few Ottomans (Turks?) that they came in contact with were always cordial.
A comprehensive study of the victim toll of Greeks during the Greek Genocide has never been conducted. However, based on a prewar population of 2.5 - 3 million Ottoman Greeks and taking into account the 1.2 million Ottoman Greeks that arrived in Greece after 1922, it is likely that the victim toll of the Greek Genocide was somewhere in the vicinity of 1 - 1.5 million.
Below are figures published in various sources at the time of the genocide as well as estimates by scholars. It’s worth noting that there is no generally agreed definition of a victim when it comes to genocide. While some only include death from massacres and other atrocities in estimates others may include death from other methods such as death marches, famine, starvation and epidemics which Greeks were deliberately exposed to. In regards to death resulting from deportation it is worth considering a report by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief dated June 8, 1918 which stated that half of the deportees perished from torture and illness.1
- In 1917, the Evening Independent reported on a declaration made by Frank W. Jackson, chairman of the Relief Committee for the Greeks of Asia Minor. Jackson stated that there were some 2-3 million Greeks living under Turkish rule at the outset of WW1, and that by October 1917, “...some seven to eight hundred thousand have been deported, mainly from the coast regions into the interior of Asia Minor.”2
- On November 4, 1918 the Deputy of Aydin who was also a Member of the Ottoman Parliament, Emmanuel Emmanuelidis stated that 550,000 Greeks, “...were killed in the coastal regions of the Black Sea, Canakalle, Marmara and the Aegean Islands and other areas, and their property was seized and looted.”3
- According to estimates made by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “...1,500,000 Greeks of the Turkish Empire have been deported from their homes, usually under conditions which made probable death from starvation, disease, or exposure. Hundreds of thousands have died thus or have been massacred by Turkish soldier...”4
- The Ecumenical Patriarchate based in Constantinople estimated that between 1913-1918, 774,235 Greeks were deported from Thrace and Asia Minor including Pontus.5
- In a memorandum dated March 20, 1922 British diplomat George W. Rendel stated that during the course of WW1, “...over 500,000 Greeks were deported, of whom comparatively few survived.”6
- On December 1, 1922, Britain's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs stated that between 1914-1922: "...a million Greeks have been killed, deported or have died."7
- According to genocide scholar and author Adam Jones; “...for all the Greeks of the Ottoman realm taken together, the toll surely exceeded half a million, and may approach the 900,000 that a team of US researchers found in the early postwar period.”8
- According to Professor Hatzidimitriou who holds a Ph.D. in Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek history, based on Greek Patriarchate figures of 1910-1912 and Greek census figures of 1928, “the loss of life among Anatolian Greeks during the WW1 period and its aftermath was approximately 735,370.”9
- According to author and former military Attaché at the Greek Embassy in France HarryTsirkinidis, the death toll of Greeks was 1,574,235 based on Ecumenical Patriarchate figures and his own estimates. However Tsirkinidis argues that the death toll is probably higher if one takes into account the population of Greeks in the Ottoman Empire prior to the genocide which he estimates to be 3 million, and subtracts the figure of 1,221,000 which is the total number of Greeks that arrived in Greece post-genocide. In other words, a death toll of 1,779,000 or more.10
1. Tessa Hofmann, “Γενοκτονία εν Ροή – Cumulative Genocide,” in The Genocide of the Ottoman Greeks: Studies on the State-Sponsored Campaign of Extermination of the Christians of Asia Minor (1912-1922) and Its Aftermath: History, Law, Memory,” ed Tessa Hofmann et al. (Caratzas, 2011), 102.
2. “Turks Turned Against Greek: 700,000 Suffer.” The Evening Independent, October 17, 1917, 6.
3. Taner Akcam. A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility (Henry Holt and Company, 2006), 107.
4. “Turkish Cruelty Bred by Greeks.” New York Times, June 16, 1918, 42.
5. Ecumenical Patriarchate, Mavri Vivlos, Diogmon ke Martirion tou en Turkia Ellinismou: 1914-1918, (Constantinople, 1919), 409-413.
6. George William Rendel, "Memorandum by Mr. Rendel on Turkish Massacres and Persecutions of Minorities Since the Armistice," in British Documents on Foreign Affairs: Reports and Papers from the Foreign Office Confidential Print, Part II, Series B, Turkey, Iran and the Middle East, 1918-1939, Volume 3, The Turkish Revival 1921-1923, ed. Kenneth Bourne et al. (University Publications of America, 1985), 54.
7. “Turks Proclaim Banishment Edict to 1,00,000 Greeks,” New York Times, December 2, 1922, 1.
8. Adam Jones, Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction, 2nd ed. (Routledge, 2006), 166.
9. Constantine G. Hatzidimitriou ed, American Accounts Documenting the Destruction of Smyrna by the Kemalist Turkish Forces, September 1922, (Caratzas, 2005), 3.
10. Harry Tsirkinidis, A Synoptic History of the Genocide of the Greeks of the East: Documents of Foreign Diplomatic Archives, (Kyriakidis, 2009), 198-199.
Rafet Pasha, otherwise known as Rafet Bey or Refet Bele, was a member of the Committee of Union and Progress.
On 26 November 1916, Rafet Bey informed Dr. Ernst von Kwiatkowski, the Austro-Hungarian Consul in Samsun: "We must at last do with the Greeks as we did with the Armenians...". Two days later on 28 November 1916, Rafet Bey returned and advised Kwiatkowski: "We must now finish with the Greeks. I sent today battalions to the outskirts to kill every Greek they pass on the road."
Reports gathered by the Greek Legation at Constantinople in 1917, hold Rafet Pasha responsible for the arson and deportations in Samsun during 1916 and early 1917. In the reports, he is described as being “fanatic, passionate and to a high degree a hater of Greeks.” The report goes on to say that he had “become the scourge of the country and the tyrant of Christians.”
The London Morning Post's special correspondent stationed in Constantinople on 5 December 1918 wrote:
"Rafet Pasha, the late Governor of Bitlis, was sent to Samsoun with express orders to become a scourge to the Greeks. He did the work thoroughly. Over a hundred and fifty thousand were deported in this district and in Trebizond."
The perpetrators of the Greek Genocide were responsible for planning and executing the destruction of Greek communities during the genocide. They include members of the Committee of Union and Progress Party, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his nationalist supporters (Kemalists) as well as German military personnel.
A focus on some of the regions affected and other documentary evidence.