Turkish Genocides: The final elimination of the Greeks 1955
September 6th and 7th 2005 marked the 50 year anniversary of the Turkish immigrants to Asia Minor finally expelling the remains of the original Greek population of the country. The worst events took place in Constantinople, today named Istanbul by the Turks.
As reported by the German-Turkish human rights organisation Tüday:
On September 6th and 7th 1955 pogroms broke out – with backing and support from the state – against minorities in the western Turkish cities of Istanbul and Izmir (previously Smyrna). The attacks were initially directed against the Greek minorities in Istanbul. 83 churches were destroyed. Residential houses were looted and destroyed. As a consequence of the pogroms, 250,000 Greeks escaped from Turkey.
A Greek-German reports:
My mother grew up in Istanbul and continued to speak Greek with her Greek colleagues in Germany. But for a long time she did not tell anything. It took a long time for her to start talking about it. About how the Turks on the night before the 6th marked all Greek houses and hung Turkish flags on all those inhabited by Turks. Eventually she told about neighbours who sought help and desperately knocked the doors of their Turkish neighbours. And about how some put themselves protectively in front of their neighbours or let them stay hidden until the terrors were over.
00:10 on September 6th a bomb exploded in the garden of the Turkish consulate in the Greek town of Thessaloniki. Greek police arrived quickly and noted that an additional two bombs were in place but had not detonated. Only a Turkish guard was present in the building. An ensuing examination determined that the bombs had been placed and detonated by this Turkish guard and a Turkish student, who had brought the bombs from Turkey. Even before the bomb exploded, Turkish media reported that the birthplace of Kemal Atatürk had been demolished. That triggered great anger in Turkey. The Turkish authorities had transported great amounts of people by train and military vehicles from Anatolia to Constantinople.
Early in the morning at 5:50 these hordes attacked the Greek inhabitants. The violence continued until September 7th 02:00, while Turkish police assisted and guided the raging mobs. Then the attacks stopped as suddenly as they had started. Under the slogans: “Today your property – tomorrow you life” the mobs executed terrible atrocities. Their leaders knew that terror would cause the Greeks to flee from their homeland; and by destroying Greek churches etc. they would erase the memory of the Greek past.
Many Greeks lost their lives, among them a monk who was burned alive, and women were raped. Ancient Greek monuments were destroyed. 250,000 Greeks fled their lands never to return. In 1923 300,000 Greeks were living in Constantinople.
Before the catastrophe the following had happened:
In 1955 Cyprus was one of the most significant national issues in Turkey. A the end of August there was a conference in London with the participation of Greece and Great Britain with the purpose of settling the status of Cyprus. Cyprus had from the beginning been Greek, inhabited by Greeks, but was invaded in 1571 by the Osmannic Empire as part as the Islamic expansion. But the Muslim colonists had remained a minority, and were still so at the liberation of Cyprus and later at the collapse of the Osmannic Empire.
The newspaper ISTANBUL EXPRESS wrote on September 6th about the explosion in the memorial house of Kemal Atatürk in Thessaloniki – in Greece. On the same day demonstrations broke out in Turkey led by students. Within two days practically the entire Greek population had been driven from their areas. The police openly supported the attacks on the Greeks. Later it became known that the riots had been instigated by the Turkish secret police (Turkish National Intelligence Agency, MIT), and that the explosion in the house in Thessaloniki was planned by Kotay Engin, an MIT agent, who in 1992 was appointed governor of the Turkish province (OZGUR GUNDEM September 6th-7th 1992).
The disaster that struck the Greek population was of incomprehensible magnitude. Constantinople had always been Greek and capital of the East Roman Empire, but was conquered by Muslims in 1453 and suffered huge massacres. More than 500,000 Greeks were still living in Constantinople in 1920. The assault caused almost all Greeks to lose their houses, businesses, companies and trades. Almost all churches were destroyed, as well as Christian institutions, general stores, schools, newspapers, and even the cemeteries were systematically destroyed to erase every trace that the city had originally been Greek and inhabitated by Greeks. Today only between 1000 and 3000 are left, mostly elderly people. The final solution, the complete annihilation of the original population, is almost accomplished.
The material losses were:
Destroyed private homes: 2600
Destroyed shops: 4348
Destroyed hotels: 110
Destroyed pharmacies: 27
Destroyed factories: 21
Burned churches: 38
Destroyed churches: 35
Destroyed Christian schools: 35
Destroyed newspapers: 3