05 February 2007
Is not the Greek Dutchman, Dr. Georgios Nakratzas, the living end? So contrary to the bulk of his Greek brethren, drunk with "patriotism" and anti-Turkish bashing, to the extent of thinking little of making any false statement (why, just like the Armenians). Yet here we have this riveting example of whale-sized integrity. (And he's very brave, too, daring to go against this hateful, nationalistic tide.)
Back in 2001, the good doctor was unhappy over Greek claims for "genocide" (the kind that Tessa Savvidis Hofmann criticized the Greek government for not going far enough on), and he let the falsifiers have it with both barrels. Do pay attention to the interesting yet little-known historical facts Dr. Nakratzas was kind enough to educate us on.
(Highlighting below is Holdwater's. A "Post from an Enlightened Greek" will follow.)
On around 15th September Greek television revived the issue of the Asia Minor catastrophe; once again, the leading players were stars of the patriotic PASOK party, such as Mr. G. Kapsis. This is a politician whose record includes the proposal which he laid before the Greek Parliament on 12th May 1997, together with MPs G. Haralambous and G. Diamantidis, that the 15th September be made an official day of remembrance in commemoration of the genocide of the Greeks of Asia Minor. Speaking on television Mr. Kapsis had much to say about his own version of history, but forgot, of course, to mention the crimes perpetrated by the Greek army before the Turkish troops occupied Smyrna, where – it is true – terrible crimes were committed (among the victims of these crimes were members of the author’s family).
Dr. Georgios Nakratzas' book:
Asia Minor and the Ethnic Origins of the
Refugees: The Greek Imperialist Policy
of 1922 and the Asia Minor Catastrophe
One might also mention the crime of genocide committed by Greek troops against the civilian Turkish population of Aydin on 28th and 29th June 1919 . To quote from the author’s own work, Asia Minor and the origins of the refugees, page 123: While the Turkish forces counter-attacked against the Greeks, their successful approach to the bridge over the River Maiandros was the signal the Greeks had been awaiting. They first of all set fire to the four corners of the Turkish quarter, and then placed machine guns and armed soldiers and civilians at street corners, in high buildings and on the minarets. From these positions they opened fire on the local people, who attempted in terror to flee their burning houses. Injured people lying in the streets were compelled to return to their homes, where many poor people – old people, women and children – were burned alive.
In all 4400 people died – 4000 Muslims and only 400 non-Muslims. An act of genocide perpetrated by the Greek army against the entire Turkish population of the city of Aydin.
When it came to genocide and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, it was in fact the Greek army which led the way. The first example was the slaying of 32,000 unarmed Turks and Jews in Tripoli in 1821, and the ethnic cleansing of the entire Slav-speaking population of Kilkis in 1913.
It is time Mr. Kapsis remembered the old proverb: People in glass houses…
(After receipt of this letter, and after certain articles and letters in the newspaper Avyi Simitis withdrew from the National Printing Office the decree, already signed, and – having replaced the word ‘genocide’ with the word ‘ memory’, sent it to the Council of State for their opinion.)
The Right Honorable Kostas Simitis
Prime Minister of Greece
Dr. Georgios Nakratzas
Rotterdam, 20th February 2001
Subject: Presidential Decree on the Genocide of the Greeks of Asia Minor
I have followed with interest the reaction of the Greek press to the proposal by Mr. Venizelos, Minister for Culture in the Greek government, concerning the signing of a Presidential Decree on making the 15th September an official day of remembrance of the genocide of the Greeks of Asia Minor by the Turks in 1922. The articles in the newspaper Avyi on 18th February 2001 were particularly impressive and informative.
As a writer and the descendant of refugees from Asia Minor, I believe it is incumbent on me to comment on the articles mentioned above, in order to fill in certain gaps in historical memory, especially that of the younger generation in Greece. The draft law laid before Greek Parliament on 12th May 1997 by the Members of Parliament G. Haralambous, G. Diamantidis and G. Kapsis, on the introduction of the aforesaid official day of remembrance, contains the following words: …in a geographical region which saw the magnificent achievement of the idea of the multi-ethnic state with Greek culture and consciousness, either at the time of the heirs of Alexander, or during the Roman era, the years of Byzantium or the age of the Ottomans…
This nationalistic text submitted by the three MPs reflects a conscious or unwitting absence of historical knowledge in respect of the issue of the ethnic consciousness of the Greek-speaking people of Asia Minor during the period of the Roman Empire of the East ( Byzantium ) or the Ottoman Empire .
During the Byzantine era and the early part of the Ottoman Empire the Greek-speaking but actually multiethnic populations of Asia Minor did not regard themselves as Greeks but Romaioi, a word later corrupted to Romioi.
National identities were invented by the theoretical thinkers of the western Renaissance, and mainly used after the French Revolution to combat theocracy and feudalism, systems which characterized the social structure of the various empires. Concepts such as multinational state with Greek ethnic consciousness are a stark contradiction, in themselves contradicting the views of the MPs introducing this bill. At another point in their text the 3 MPs claim that the backbone of Greek civilization was uprooted, together with all its traditions and a rich three-thousand year Greek presence, with no attempt made to save them… The text is an attempt to present the Greek presence in western Asia Minor and Smyrna as continuing uninterrupted over the last three thousand years. This is a notion quite at odds with historical reality – a reality of which the three MPs are probably ignorant.
It is well known from historical sources that in 1333 Smyrna was a city in ruins, while in 1390, the date of the fall of the last Byzantine bastion in Asia Minor, Philadelpheia (Alasehir) the whole region, both Smyrna and its hinterland, was literally depopulated of Christians. In 1402 the Han of Mongolia, Tamerlaine, slaughtered or enslaved all the remaining Christian inhabitants of Smyrna and its hinterland, who had fled there for refuge, in order to punish the Sultan Vayazit. In a recent academic study Ms. Anagnostopoulou informs us that in 1520 in the villayet of Aydin the Christian population amounted to just 0.9% of the total population, increasing by the end of the same century to 1.55%. Even as late as 1717 the city of Smyrna had 19 mosques, 18 synagogues and just 2 Orthodox churches.
A wholesale migration of Orthodox Christians into the villayet of Aydin took place after 1839, following the publication of the Tanzimat – a decree promulgated by the Sultan to the effect that both Christian and Muslim serfs were now free to leave the feudal estates.
The Orthodox economic migrants of the villayet of Aydin came from the islands or the Balkan lands of the empire, settling there to seek work. It is for the descendants of these migrants that the three Greek MPs are now claiming a three-thousand year presence in the region!
In 1912, according to the statistics compiled by Sotiriadis, and used officially by the government of Eleftherios Venizelos, in the villayet of Aydin – a huge region consisting of the sadzak of Magnesia, Smyrna, Aydin, Denisli and Mendese – out of a total population of 1,659,529 the Orthodox Christians accounted for 622,810, or 37.75% of the population, while Anagnostopoulou puts the figure lower at 435,398 or 26.2%. Of the 622,810 Greeks cited by Sotiriadis as inhabitants of the villayet of Aydin, 395,559, or 63.5%, lived in six coastal districts of the sadzak of Ismir , i.e. in a relatively small strip along the shore. The remaining Orthodox Christians were submerged in the great sea of Muslim populations.
The Presidential Decree also contains the following statement:
…Thus more than 1.5 million Greeks of Asia Minor were forced, mainly after the dramatic events of 1922, to abandon the homes of their forebears in Asia Minor and settle, as refugees, in Greece and in other regions…
Despite the fact that the text of the Presidential Decree now awaiting signature is intended to make the 15th September an official day of remembrance, as a physician – even though my special area is the lungs, rather than the mind – I have to point out that the authors of the text are showing definite clinical symptoms of historical amnesia!
How little the homes of the Greeks of Asia Minor were really the ‘homes of their forefathers’ we have made clear in the preceding paragraph.
What the authors of the text fail to mention is the question of what the Greek army was doing in the regions of Proussa, Kutahya, Afion Kara-Hisar and the Sangari River – regions where the Greek population was either an insignificant minority or entirely non-existent.
Greeks were a minority only in the sadzak of Proussa, where, according to Sotiriadis, of a total population of 353,976, Orthodox Christians numbered 85,505, or 23.3%, mainly settled in the coastal areas. According to Anagnostopoulou, the Romioi of the sadzak of Proussa numbered not 85,505 but just 56,233, while in the other regions mentioned above the number of Greeks was negligible, if indeed there was a Greek presence at all.
In 1922 the Greek army in this region was no more than an army of occupation, conducting an imperialist-expansionist campaign within the heart of Turkish national territory.
The text of the Presidential Decree also states that the Greeks were compelled – mainly after the dramatic events of 1922 – to leave their homes, but it is silent on two important details, i.e. what was the behaviour of the Greek populations before the battle of Ankara in 1922, and who imposed the compulsory exchange of populations.
To examine the first of these questions we might take as an example the behaviour of the Greek population of Proussa, who – according to Anagnostopoulou – amounted to 5100 individuals out of a population of 85,600.
Dr. Georgios Nakratzas
The writer Adamantiadis, descended from a Proussa family, describes how the occupation of Eski-Sehir by the Greek army was celebrated by the Greeks of Proussa with a torchlit procession, while the Greek inhabitants of military age, although they were Ottoman subjects, joined the ranks of the Greek army of occupation and fought against the Turkish army of liberation, led by Kemal Attaturk, on the nearby front. To really appreciate the importance of the events narrated by Adamantiadis, one needs to ask oneself how the Greek authorities would have reacted after the Second World War if – during the Bulgarian occupation of eastern Macedonia – the Slav-speaking Macedonians of Serres and Drama had welcomed with torchlit processions the Bulgarian troops, and if some of them had donned Bulgarian uniform and fought against the Greek army at some point of a hypothetical battlefront. We are well aware of the moral contempt felt by the Greek people for those security squads wearing German uniforms during the Occupation of our own country. That the people of Proussa should have fled before the imminent onslaught of the Turkish army is all too understandable. It is well known that the Greeks in areas not close to the battlefields were forced to flee as refugees, like, for example, the people of Cappadocia and eastern Thrace . In the study by Svolopoulos – published by the extreme nationalist Society for Macedonian Studies in Thessaloniki – it is explicitly stated that the compulsory exchange of populations was not proposed, and insisted on, by the Turkish government, but by the Greek government of Eleftherios Venizelos. Svolopoulos states that since the Turkish government was opposed to the exchange, there was a widespread feeling within the Greek government that 500,000 Turks from northern Greece should be forcibly removed from their homes and taken to somewhere on the Turkish coastline. Svolopoulos writes that this idea was abandoned because of the very poor impression it would have made on the Europeans. In the end the Turkish government was obliged to consent to the Greek proposal for a compulsory exchange of populations.
It is not my purpose in writing this letter to hurl allegations of crimes committed in other times, in different social systems with different moral standards.
My purpose is instead to support the statement made by Professor Antonis Bredimas of the University of Athens , in an article he wrote for the Avyi newspaper on 18th February 2001 , as follows: But if one wants to look ahead and not back into the past, one must take to heart the recommendation made recently by a fellow academic of mine: The two peoples should recognize what they have suffered at each other’s hands, and ask forgiveness for what they have done to one another.
Dr. Georgios Nakratzas
ASIA MINOR AND THE ORIGINS OF THE REFUGEES
The imperialist Greek policy of 1922 and the Asia Minor catastrophe
BATAVIA PRESS, Thessaloniki , 2000
Central Distribution in Greece
Thessaloniki : tel. 031 237463 Athens : tel. 01 3639336
Anadolu ve Rum Gocmenlerin Kokeni The imperialist Greek policy of 1922 and the Asia Minor catastrophe
Central Distribution in Turkey
KITABENI, Catalcesme No 54/a, Istanbul
Istanbul Tel : 212.5124328 212.5112143
Post from an Enlightened Greek
(The following appeared on a forum, signed "Docklands," dated Jan. 13, 2005)
It has been very interesting reading these pages. I couldnt help at feeling a need to add my own viewpoint as well. Its not every day a Turk asks the Greeks what they think of Turkey! The distinction made by many fellow skyscrapers between Turkish people and and the Turkish State is one that I generally agree with, however we must remember that most nations get the government they deserve. It is also interesting to note that many people still feel an uneasiness, or a difficulty in talking about Turkey in a dispassionate way. This is understandable. It is almost like coming off drugs. One minute you are civil and nice and understanding, and the next the old prejudices come streaming back. For many people (especially of my generation - not that old but not that young ;-) defining Greek nationality was almost by definition expressed through a diet of Turk bashing and anti-turkish retoric. Turks were mongols from the east that destroyed eastern christianity and enslaved greek people for 400 years. Our history stopped in 1453 and restarted in 1821 as if nothing of any major significance occured in between.
It has been and still is a very difficult process to rdefine the image of Turkey/Turks in a Greek's mind. And that doesnt even consider the fairly recent memories of the many Greeks who descend from Asia Minor and the stories as expresed by grandparents who suffered - as many who have posted here testify. Personally I don't have any of those experiences as my family's roots were in Epirus. But my late grandmother did have some stories to tell about Italians and Germans and I have to admit I dont particularly harbour any ill-feeling to those nations (not too much love either mind-you)
And then there is the reality. For every Greek who has suffered so has a Turk. The exchange of populations was not one sided and it was the idiotic Greek policy of invading Asia-Minor, that gm alluded to, which led to the events of 1922. Many Greek muslims left for Turkey at the time, and settled on the west coast of asia minor. many of them didnt even speak turkish much like many pontioi didnt speak Greek. Apparently there are still greek speaking muslims from Crete in Asia Minor today. A turkish aquaintance once told me that some inland turks still call natives of Izmir & surrounding areas "Greeks".
History didnt stop in 1453 either. The Greeks were not wiped out by the occupation and the Byzntine empire was a shadow of its former self by then anyway mainly thanks to the Italians and other assorted francs. Greeks had almost exclusive control of the foreign office of the Ottoman empire, from time to time they virtually ruled over Romania (Wallachia) through the local greek despots and princes, they controlled the navy, and a large number of them fled to the West and helped to bring about the rennaisance by circulating the ancient greek texts kept by byzantines. The reason it took 400(on average) years to be "freed" from the Ottoman empire was because too many people were doing too well out of it. It only collapsed when it too (like the Byzantines before them) became too weak and "sick" to survive te pressures.
The people of the Ottoman empire were also extremely diverse. While "original" ottomas may have been asiatic the western ottomans of the 19th century were predominantly Balkan converts - Bulgarian, Slavic, Greek, Alabnian(lots of Albanians), and others. The ruling classes also owed a lot to the Jannisaries which we know were anything but turkish. To say that western ottomans were mongols is very far fetched. You only need to see Ataturks face who born in Thessaloniki. The term turkish, as i understand, was an insult in the ottoman empire. Turkish nationalism grew as a reaction of muslims who were being put into a corner by the rising tide of christian balkan nationalisms (Greek, Serb, Bulgarian).
Because I know this, and because these are facts and not fiction, i have nothing against turks and i resent the way certain things were presented to us when we were younger. I am sure Turkish eduacation isnt much better in this respect. I don't know many Turks but I have Greek Muslim friends from Thrace who have "turkish" culture but feel more Greek/Balkan and we get on really well. Religion is barely an issue for them. They go to mosque as often as i go to church (once a year from the outside).
However there are still major issues between the 2 countries. It is to be hoped they are resolved. It might take time but through forums like this people are beginning to be a bit more understanding. There are aslo powerful economic interests. I dont suppose anyone would give a sht who got to some barren Aegean rock first if there wasnt any oil in the Aegean. It can only be a good thing for our countries if we can co-exist peacefully. We may never be brothers as someone said(although some of us maybe more than we realise) but we can certainly be friends. Sorry about the long post and I'm also sorry it has nothing to do with skyscrapers. :)
The source site of this article gets revised often, as better information comes along. For the most up-to-date version, and the related photos, the reader may consider reviewing the direct link as follows: