Greek Genocide History

1922: The Asia Minor Holocaust of 1922

Posted: Sunday, February 22, 2004 at 10:42 PM CT

LAUSANNE, Dec. 1 (NYT) A black page of modern history was written here today. Ismet Pasha stood before the statesmen of the civilized world and admitted that the banishment from Turkish territory of nearly a million Christian Greeks, who were two million only a few short years ago had been decreed. The Turkish Government graciously allows two more weeks for the great exodus.

The statesmen of the civilized powers accepted the Turkish dictum and set about ways to get those thousands of Greeks out of harm's way before they should meet the fate of 800,000 Armenians who were massacred in Anatolia in 1910 and 1917.

New Light on Turkish Massacres.

Here, in the beauty of the Winter sunshine of the Swiss Alps, diplomats have been for ten days talking political problems with the Turks, treating them as equals. Massacre and bloodshed seemed far away. But today a change took place, and a new light was thrown on the situation. The facts are not new: the world knows the Turks' cruelty and massacres. But the way their crimes were presented this afternoon came like a clever stage effect.

As an audience may change from smiles to tears, the diplomats here seem to have had their souls touched today as Lord Curzon unfolded the sinister story of the fate of the Greeks in Asia Minor; and today's events cannot but fail to have an important effect on the final settlement. In all probability no treaty will be written at this session, and in two weeks the conference will be adjourned, it is believed, to meet again in a month or six weeks. In the meanwhile the Turks will have time to think things over and become more reasonable or face the consequences.

Today's meeting was scheduled under the simple heading: "Exchange of Prisoners." The delegates rolled in luxurious automobiles to the old chateau. They left it two hours later with solemn faces. Within the ancient walls the shades of murdered thousands had poured to have their say.

Dr. Nansen Reads His Report

Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, who had been sent to Anatolia by the League of Nations, read his report on conditions there and made the radical recommendation that all Greeks under Turkish sovereignty be got away quickly to save them from starvation or death by other agencies. It was immediately apparent that something more than the mere discussion of the fate of some few thousands of prisoners of war had been staged.

Ismet Pasha arose and said that the Turks were willing to begin the discussion of means for getting all Greeks out of Turkey and suggested that the conference proceed at once to take up the subject of minorities.

Lord Curzon declared that he felt that many thousands of lives were at stake and said that quick action must be taken. He said that the Turks had decreed that all Greeks in Anatolia must get out by the last day of November and added that they had extended the date to December 13. Immediate steps, Lord Curzon said must be taken to remove the Greeks by that date.

Ismet Admits Decree of Banishment

Instead of retreating before Lord Curzon's attack, Ismet agreed that the Greeks must leave Anatolia and volunteered the statement the Greeks in Constantinople had better depart also. Lord Curzon protested that this would mean great economic loss for Turkey. Ex-Premiere Venizelos declared that if those hundreds of thousands were sent to Greece the country could not care for them and would have to ask the United States for aid. When Lord Curzon warned Ismet of danger to the Turks in Western Thrace, which remains Greek, Ismet coolly replied that it might be good idea to trade the Greeks in Turkey for the Turks in Greece.

Lord Curzon then said that he wished to give some statistics in order that there might be a clear idea what was at stake. He said that figures from American sources showed that before 1914 there were 1,600,000 Greeks in Anatolia. Between 1914 and 1918 300,000 died, left the country or otherwise disappeared. Between 1919 and 1922 another 200,000 left Anatolia or disappeared. In September and October of this year another reduction of 500,000 took place leaving now 500,000 or 600,000 Greeks in Anatolia, most of whom were males between 15 and 60, to whom the Turks had refused permission to leave.

A Million Greeks Wiped Out

"In other words" said the British Foreign Minister "a million Greeks have been killed, deported or have died." Lord Curzon said that there had been 300,000 Greeks in Constantipole, most of whom were still there, 320,000 Greeks in Eastern Thrace, some of whose families had been there for a thousand years and more, all had fled before the dread of the Turks, leaving desert areas behind them.

Turning to the issue of the prisoners of war, Lord Curzon said that the Greeks held 10,000 Turkish soldiers and about 3,800 Turkish civilians. The Turks hold about 30,000 Greek soldiers. He further pointed out that there were in Greece proper, in the Greek islands and Western Thrace 480,000 Moslems. He further mentioned 120,000 Greeks who have been deported by the Turks into inner Anatolia. He recommended that immediate steps be taken to solve the tragic problem.

Ismet demanded that the Greeks free at once the Turkish civilians whom they held, whom he called hostages. He said that some of Lord Curzon's figures were too high, but he did not deny that the Turks had decreed that all Greeks must leave their territory. The outcome of the discussion was the appointment of a subcommittee to consider means for getting the Greeks out of Turkish territory.

This story of the fate of 2,000,000 Greeks who were in Turkey takes no account of the wiping out of an almost equal number of Armenians of whom the Turks wished to be rid. After the massacres of war times only about 300,000 Armenians remain in Turkey. There is almost an equal number in Constantinople and Thrace. They must go somewhere else or be killed, in all probability.

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