THE GREEK GENOCIDE: 1914-1923

 

The Greek Genocide was the systematic extermination of the Greek subjects of the Ottoman Empire before, during and after World War I (1914-1923). It was instigated by successive governments of the Ottoman Empire; the Committee of Union and Progress Party (C.U.P), and the Turkish Nationalist Movement of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.  It included massacres, forced deportations and death marches, summary expulsions, boycotts, rape, forced conversion to Islam, conscription into labor battalions, arbitrary executions, and destruction of Christian Orthodox cultural, historical and religious monuments. According to various sources, approximately 1 million Ottoman Greeks perished during this period.

The New York Times: January 13, 1915.

The first phase of the Greek Genocide commenced in the Spring of 1914 in Eastern Thrace and western Anatolia when Turks were ordered to boycott Greek businesses. Hundreds of thousands of Greeks from these regions were also deported during this period. With the outbreak of the Great War in July of 1914, all Ottoman Greek men aged between 21-45 years were conscripted into forced labor (or concentration) camps. Most of these men were to perish under appalling conditions after being forced to work around the clock with little food or water. These camps also served as a means to break up and disarm Greek communities, thus bringing about their eventual destruction. 

In 1915, under the guidance of German military personnel, the C.U.P ordered the deportation of Greek communities in the Dardanelles and Gallipolli regions under the pretext of military necessity. These Greeks were not permitted to take anything with them. Goods in their shops were later sold by the Turkish authorities. Entire communities living along the western coastline of Asia Minor were deported to the interior of Anatolia or to Turkish villages where they were forced to convert to Islam or face death. Homes in villages that were not burnt were seized by free-booters of neighboring communities. In some instances Greeks were forced to sign declarations saying they were leaving of their own free will. In most cases, before deportations took place, Turkish gendarmerie (police), irregulars and chettes seized money and valuables from the communities, as well as committing massacres and burning churches and schools. In the region of Pontus, Greek communities were deported usually during the peak of winter when fatalities could be at their highest. Stories of lethal injections, bodies being towed out to sea and dumped, and mass killings of Greeks in churches were also witnessed.

The New York Times: 10 July 1921.

According to the Chairman of the Greek Relief Committee Frank W. Jackson, by 1917, some 700,000-800,000 Greeks were deported mainly from the coastal regions to the interior of Turkey. The death toll from these deportations was high. With the Ottoman Empire's defeat in the Great War, leaders of the Committee of Union and Progress Party were given death sentences for their role in organizing the massacre of Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians during the war. But the formation of the Turkish Nationalist movement following the war under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, would result in further atrocities. This final phase, otherwise known as the Kemalist phase, was a continuation of earlier persecutions under the C.U.P and resulted in further massacres and deportations of Ottoman Greek communities. It culminated in the burning of the cosmopolitan city of Smyrna (today Izmir) to the ground and the resultant expulsion of the remaining Christian population from Turkey. All able-bodied males were refused exit from Turkey and were instead sent to the interior of Turkey where they were used in slave labor camps or were massacred.

 

Greek Genocide Days of Remembrance:

September 14: Asia Minor as a whole,
May 19: Pontus region,
April 6: Eastern Thrace region.

 

 

David Lloyd George - Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

“...tens of thousands of men, women and children have been deported, and tens of thousands have died. It was pure deliberate extermination.”

House of Commons, 4 August 1922.

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