Turks Massacre Greek Boy Scouts, The Milwaukee Journal, 22 August 1919.
The massacre of Greeks at Aydin took place in June of 1919. According to one French source, some 1,500-2,000 Greeks were massacred.1 Aydin (Grk: Αϊδίνι) was located in the valley of the Meander River, 110km south-east of İzmir and comprised 35,000 people, 8.000 of whom were Greek.
In May 1919, seven months after the end of hostilities in WW1, Hellenic forces were deployed to western Asia Minor to prevent further atrocities against the Ottoman Empire’s minorities. Two months prior, Greek delegates seized documents that indicated that Turks were planning a wholesale massacre in the Aydin province.2 By the end of May, Hellenic forces arrived at Aydin.
These forces soon came under fierce attack by çetes (irregulars) resulting in a retreat. Following the retreat, the Turkish force executed citizens, tortured, raped and set fire to houses and churches in a massacre that lasted 3 days.
When Hellenic forces re-entered Aydin, they discovered the bodies of hacked and bullet ridden Greeks lying on roads and in burnt houses. In the church of Saint George, hundreds of bodies of women and children were found burnt alive, some after having been raped. At Umurlu, all the Greeks were massacred and their bodies thrown into three huge wells. Some escaped the massacre by hiding in Armenian churches and a French monastery. Thousands took to the mountains and hid in the dense forest thinking they would be spared but the Turks found them and massacred them. In the Metropolitan church, priests were killed and incinerated before the altar.3 Reports were also received describing the massacre of Jews at Deirmendjik close to Aydin.4
Greek Boy Scouts also Massacred
Greek Boy Scout groups began forming in Asia Minor at the conclusion of the First World War (October 1918) and three groups formed at Aydin. At İzmir, 17 Boy Scout groups existed while another 46 formed in other parts of Asia Minor. They took part in religious, athletic and philanthropic activities.
During the massacre, the regional leader of the Greek Boy Scouts of Aydin, Nikos Avgeridis (pictured, seated), along with his 31 boy scouts and their leaders were captured and imprisoned in the town hall. They were directed to the shores of the Evdona river where one of the çetes, Adnan Menderes, asked Avgeridis to renounce his Christian faith and his ethnicity. Avgeridis declined and uttered the words Long live Hellas. With a sword Menderes removed one of his eyes. He was asked again, and Avgeridis replied in the same way. He was then skinned alive and his body dumped in the Evdona River. Avgeridis’ 31 Boy Scouts also refused to renounce their faith and ethnicity and were blindfolded, tortured and massacred.
Similar massacres of Boy Scouts in Asia Minor occurred in April 1922 at Söke where 13 Boy Scouts were massacred, and in August 1922 at Çiftlik (Gr: Kato Panagia) where 800 people were massacred, among them Greek Boy Scouts. The massacre of Boy Scouts in Asia Minor brought indignation and protests by scouting organisations all over the world and was reported in the mainstream media. In 1922, Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout movement requested that the Council of the League of Nations be informed of the massacre of Boy Scouts that was occurring in Asia Minor.5
Last edited 1 Jul 2018
1. Documents of the Inter-Allied Commission of Inquiry into the Greek Occupation of Smyrna and Adjoining Territories. p.12. Web. 30 Jun 2018. <http://www.ataa.org/reference/iacom.pdf>
2. Greeks Capture Documents Directing Massacre in Aydin Province, The Washington Herald, 20 March 1919.
3. Aydin a Vast Sepulchre, The New York Times, 29 August 1921.
4. Greeks Sentence Two Turks to Death for Massacre, The Washington Times, 12 July 1921.
5. Council of the League of Nations, Ref. Code : R1755/48/24212/23548
Monument erected in memory of the massacred Boy Scouts of Aidin and Sokia. Location: Boeotia, Greece.