Following the destruction of Smyrna in September 1922, Kemalist authorities did not allow males of military age to leave Turkey. Instead, these men were deported to the interior where they were subjected to slavery before mysteriously dying. In Death by Government, R.J. Rummell, Professor Emeritus of Political Science estimates that following September 1922 and the Smyrna fire, the Kemalists killed 190,000 males, the vast majority Greeks.
In 1923 an International Commission of Inquiry investigated the treatment of Greek prisoners (Hellenic military personnel and native Greeks) who returned to Greece from Turkey, most of them in a state of complete exhaustion. Doctors who treated them in Greece referred to them as 'living ghosts' or 'walking skeletons'. The Commission concluded that their treatment was 'a flagrant violation of the laws of war', and some acts were in contravention of the Geneva Convention. The following is the testimony of Emmanuel Ziraki, and Nicolas Zacharenaki who managed to make it out alive.
We were taken prisoners at Mudania. The Turkish Army proceeded to the disarmament of all our division and we were then conducted to a barbed wire enclosure, where they took away all our clothing, leaving us with our underclothes. There followed ill-treatment of every description. Our division was broken up into small groups and the march into the interior began. In all the villages we passed we were received by the villagers with showers of stone or other sharp missiles. On the way we encountered the dead bodies of Greek soldiers who had gone before us, and who had succumbed under the harsh treatment of their guides and the Turkish villagers. Those who were not able to keep up with the march were killed on the spot. The same happened to anyone daring to walk for a moment out of line. On our weary march we encountered also the dead bodies of women, young girls, and civilians.... We two were included in a group of 1000 prisoners who were destined for the village Ivrendi, where we arrived after a march of eight days. We were only allowed to rest at night, marching the whole day long from sunrise to sunset, naked and without any food. Many of our companions perished on the march from sheer hunger, thirst, or fatigue. Our guides helped in this by their bayonets, which they used frequently to aid the work of death. We have seen with our own eyes the assassination of one of our number on the pretext of him having wished to drink from a river we were just crossing.
The following correspondence between Greek and American officials highlights the extent of the deportations.
United States Department of State Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, 1922
U.S. Government Printing Office, 1922. pp940-941.
The Representative of the Greek Government (Vouros) to the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs, Department of State (Dulles).
Washington, October 10, 1922.
MY DEAR MR. DULLES: I beg to inform you that my Government has instructed me to lay before the American Government an urgent protest against the order of the Kemalists for the deportation of the male Christian population in the interior of Asia Minor.
The refugees, who up to the present moment, have arrived in Greece and who exceed half a million, are exclusively women and children under 15 years of age, or aged men above sixty. This separation of the heads of families from their own families, who thus remain without support, makes the work of relief exceedingly difficult.
An elementary humanitarian duty imposes to the Christian world to come to the assistance of these Christians thus deported to the interior of Asia Minor.
My Government believes that it is advisable that committees be constituted by the International Red Cross and eventually also by the League of Nations and other organizations, especially American, which shall be entrusted with the duty of following the fate of these unfortunate populations and save them from certain death which will be the inevitable result of the exactions inflicted upon them.
According to existing information the deported exceed one hundred thousand men.
The Greek Government has already addressed in the above sense an appeal to the International Red Cross and the League of Nations. It considers, however, that it would be of real effect if the Allied Great Powers use all their influence with Khemal to the effect of saving these deportees and that they were willing to assist in the manner they deem advisable, the work for the relief of these unfortunate ones.
Trusting, my dear Mr. Dulles, that you will be kind enough to bring the above appeal to the attention of the American Government, I beg [etc.]