GREECE IN ASIA MINOR, 1919-1922
C. Hurst and Co. Publishers, 2010.
‘Chronicles and analyses the events leading to the Asia Minor disaster in considerable depth, giving a highly detailed account, which is unique to this volume, of the Greek administration in Smyrna, providing rich and illuminating detail.’ — Dr Steven Morewood, University of Birminghamin
In 1919, at the behest of the victorious first World War allies, Greece sent an expeditionary force to occupy Smyrna and the Vilayet of Aidin pending final Allied agreement to the terms of the peace treaty with the Ottoman Empire. The immediate mission was to protect the very large Greek and other Christian communities from the depredations of the Turkish nationalists. The underlying Greek motivation was the pursuit of the age‑old ‘Great idea’ which aspired to incorporate the un-redeemed Hellenes within the Greek Kingdom.
After a bungled military landing in May 1919 and in the face of innumerable challenges, a civil administration under High Commissioner Aristidis Stergiadis made heroic efforts to govern effectively and even‑handedly over the disparate populations. The odds, however, were overwhelmingly against an enduring success. In September 1922 the catastrophic rout of the Greek army at the hands of the Turkish nationalists resulted in a civilian bloodbath, the destruction of Smyrna and the expulsion of Hellenism from Asia Minor.
This history is considered here against the background of fluid post‑war Allied relations, major foreign financial interests, the plight of the Christian minorities in Turkey, the inexorable rise of Turkish nationalism, the fraught political situation at home and developments both on the military front and in diplomatic negotiations. Greece in Asia Minor reassesses the work and reputation of the much‑maligned Aristidis Stergiadis, the reluctant but dedicated public servant, and challenges the view that he was the principal author of the ‘Smyrna catastrophe’.
Of Smyrniot descent, Victoria Solomonidis studied at Athens University and the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (UCL) before completing her doctoral thesis at King’s College, University of London, where she is a fellow. Beyond her academic interests she has extensive experience in international cultural relations. (Oct. 2010)