1922 01 The Greco Turkish War - Identity Politics at its Worst


This is great, having the views from the other parts of the region impacted is very valuable.


Some more things to add for Bulgaria, though it technically takes place in 1923 it is a direct result of the previous problems and it also closes the book on Stambolyisky. Spoiler: It wont be a happy ending.

From the time that Alexander Stambolyisky took power in October of 1919, his main diplomatic goal was always to restore good diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. There are no concrete evidence on why he wanted it so badly though. Some historians suggest that he was trying to garner Serbian support, who would in turn help support Bulgarian claims on the Aegean, as the denied access to the Aegean was a huge economic detriment to Bulgaria; however that is mostly speculation. (Note that similar talks with Yugoslavia did occur in 1945 and those were much more in depth). Whatever his reasons were though, he was determined to improve relations with the Kingdom and this led to the signing of the Nish Agreement in 1923.

  • As per the Agreement: Bulgaria takes it upon herself to find and eliminate all IMRO bases within her territory; it’s border forces are to provide full assistance to any Kingdom of SCS units that are chasing IMRO members, that includes allowing SCS soldiers to enter Bulgarian territory when in pursuit of them; de-forest of the border area to improve security;

The main negotiator on the Bulgarian side, Colonel Stefan Noykov, attempted several times to include a clause in the treaty where the Kingdom of SCS would agree to also ‘seek to remove the threat at its source’ (ie. the forced Serbian assimilation policies in Macedonia). These were not accepted and the agreement also fell through, but was saved after Noykov received orders from Stambolyisky to sign it.

Quick note on the IMRO: that organization is a direct continuation of the old IMARO organization - the Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organisation. It operated from 1893 until the end of the Serbian campaign in 1915 when it became an official part of the Bulgarian army as the 11th Macedonian Infantry Division. In late 1919, prior to the signing of the Neully treaty, Stambolyisky had ordered the leaders of the IMRO, General Alexander Protogerov and Todor Alexandrov arrested. While in prison they were faced with three options:

  • Be sent to Serbia where they would face trial for terrorist activities.
  • Be sent to Greece where they would face trial for terrorist activities.
  • Be imprisoned and shot while ‘attempting to escape’.

Instead however, they were rescued from prison by their sympathisers (and with the silent approval of the city governor). They would reform the IMRO shortly thereafter and begin carrying strikes against Serbia and Greece, from their HQ in the Bulgarian border town of Petrich. Note this will also be the main reason for the brief Bulgarian-Greek skirmish in 1925.

Of course the IMRO also carried out many assassination against Bulgarian politicians who opposed them. Thing is, by 1923 Stambolyisky had complete control of the government. Tsar Boris III basically held no power, all opposition parties were labelled as traitors and were blamed for the consequences of WW1, the IMRO was hunted down, the old Bulgarian Generals who were viewed as heroes were subjected to smear campaigns; even the majority of the Bulgarian urban population was against him, as his Agrarian Union mostly favoured the suburban areas. To ensure that no real opposition could be formed against him, Stambolyisky established the Orange Guard, a group of lightly armed peasant militias who would carry out attacks against non-wanted opposition elements. However, once news of the Nish Agreement became public knowledge that was the last straw.

Now, the Bulgarian Military Union had been planning a coup since late 1922, but the agreement sped up its preparation greatly and on 3 AM on the 9th of June it began. The Military Union had the Sofia garrison under their full control and they were easily able to take out the Orange Guard. The same happened in other major cities as well. The ‘rebels’ were led by former military officers (many of whom used their old military uniforms for the occasion), IMRO fighters and volunteer militia groups called - shpitskomandi. Government forces were unable to offer any significant resistance, many of them were lightly armed and lacked firepower.

Side note: In case you are wondering how the rebels were able to gather so many firearms; as per the Neully treaty, the Bulgarian army had to surrender pretty much all of its weapons to the Allied occupation group. And they did… sort of. In reality many of the ‘surrendered’ weapons were defective or outdated models, while the main rifles and machine-guns were stored away in hidden caches for ‘better days’.

The following morning Tsar Boris III signed a declaration that recognized the newly established government. There were reports that he was forced into signing it, though its important to note that the Tsar was well aware of the planned coup and did not reveal it, despite meeting with Stambolyisky one day earlier. It’s very possible that the ‘threats’ were made only for the foreign newspapers.

Many Agrarian leaders were arrested, some even executed. Those who managed to flee the country like Rayko Daskalov were eventually hunted down and killed by IMRO agents. The Bulgarian Socialist Party, arguably their only allied party, declared neutrality and did not take part in the takeover. They did receive a letter from the USSR, ordering them to take part in it, but by the time that telegram was received the coup was long over.

Fearing for his life, Stambolyisky fled the capital and would hide out from village to village. For a time he even attempted to form a counter-cup force, comprised of several thousand peasants. The city of Pazardzhik was besieged, but his troops never stood a chance. Finally he was betrayed and his hideout was stormed by government forces. Stambolyisky was forced to give himself up in order to spare any bloodshed.

After a quick trial in Pazardzhik he was taken to his home village of Slavovica by IMRO soldiers. They would proceed to torture him mercilessly, starting by cutting off his arm; the same arm he used to sign the Nish Agreement. The torture of Stambolyisky continued until he was finally beheaded and his body mutilated.

Later Alexander Tsankov, new Prime-Minister post coup, would say the following: “Once he started passing sentences, he could not escape his fate. His days were numbered. For (the IMRO) there was only one rule: We may delay, but we will not forget.”


Yikes, looking back l swear I did not meant for it to be this long… Ahem, anyways here are some more useful links:

Orange Guard: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_Guard

The IMRO (Bulgarian page has more pictures): https://bg.wikipedia.org/wiki/Вътрешна_македонска_революционна_организация#Предистория

Stambolyisky (again Bulgarian page since it has more pictures; final picture is a ‘bloody signature’ made with his own blood just prior to the execution): https://bg.wikipedia.org/wiki/Александър_Стамболийски

9th June coup: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulgarian_coup_d'état_of_1923

Todor Alexandrov and Alexander Protogerov (again, more pictures): https://bg.wikipedia.org/wiki/Тодор_Александров


Identity policy at its worst - Treaty of Lausanne

A documentary of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation about the consequences of the Treaty of Lausanne, based on the book of Bruce Clark “Twice a Stranger: How Mass Expulsion Forged Modern Greece and Turkey”. While it is greek language documentary, half of it contains english speaking analysis about how Turkish and Greek nationalism, first by the population exchange and later about how the refugees got into an assimilation policy, destroyed social coherence in both sides of the Aegean. Greek Anatolian refugees are coming to Greece speaking only Turkish and having their own music, facing racism and called “Turkseed”. Muslim refugees are coming to Turkey speaking only Greek and having “christian” customs (drinking alcohol, women without headscarfs) and facing racism from Anatolian Turks as “infidels”

From the same documentary, interviews with 1922 refugees, Greek and Turkish, subtitled


This is all great stuff - I’m only getting nervous about getting all of this into 15 minutes or less :smiley:


I am going to write about ethnic cleansing and massacres during the Greco-Turkish war. My main source will be Justin McCarthy’s Death and Exile. McCarthy is considered as very pro-Turkish, still his work is generally acclaimed due to its consideration of often forgotten suffering of Muslim Turks during the war with Christians. Though, McCarthy considers only Muslim’s suffering, since he claim that there are dozens of academic works on the massacres of Christians, but none on of the Muslims. Therefore, I have to find something about Greek massacres, as well.


Try “The Blight of Asia” of George Horton. He was the US Consul in Smyrna. The book and his views are predominantly anti-turkish, but he was an eye-witness. Check, as well, the archive of the New York Times


Maybe make a 20 minute episode as an exception :slight_smile: just this once.


A few notes which I managed to find that might be neat:

  • Some of the stored Bulgarian weapons (that were originally supposed to be handed over to the Entente) were smuggled into Turkey to help arm them. This isn’t a new thing as during WW1 there were already established smuggling rings that would transfer wheat from Bulgaria to Turkey.
  • Turkish troops that were being chased by Greek forces in Thrace were allowed entry into Bulgaria and they even spent several months there. (this is one thing I’m very curious about and will try to find more info)


Unfortunately, I couldn’t manage to find time to making summary, so I will give you the whole chapter, so you could make it for yourself. Sorry for that.


On 13 May 1919, the Senior Allied Officer in the flotilla off Izmir, British Admiral Calthorpe, notified the governor (vali) of Aydin Vilâyeti and the Ottoman military commander that the forts and defensive batteries of the city would be occupied by the Allies on the next day. No notice was given of the impending Greek occupation, but the suspicions of the Turks were aroused. Suspecting the worst, the vali begged that, if the city were to be occupied, it be occupied by Allied, not solely Greek troops. 18 The forts were taken on 14 May. That evening, the vali was notified that Greek troops would be landing the next morning, in accordance with Article VII of the Mudros Armistice. After protesting the action, the vali stated that he was forced to accept the occupation, with the understanding that it would be temporary. He agreed that Ottoman soldiers in Đzmir would be withdrawn into their barracks so as to prevent incidents between Greek and Ottoman troops. He also requested that 100 English, French, or Italian soldiers be sent into the city along with the Greeks, to keep order. He was refused.
Greek troops began to land after 8 a.m. on the fifteenth. One group landed at the central quay of Đzmir, where they were greeted by Greek Bishop
Chrysosthomos, who blessed them with his episcopal cross. They were also greeted by “an excited mob of Greek civilians who hung on in clots and filled the air with enthusiastic cries.” 19 Accompanied by the mob, the troops marched directly to the offices of the provincial government, past the barracks into which the Ottoman soldiers had been collected. As they reached the government offices, a shot rang out. 20 The civilian mob fled in terror, and the Greek troops began to fire on the government offices and the barracks.
Whoever fired the first shot will never be known. Turks accused an unknown Greek in the crowd of firing at the government buildings. Greeks accused an unknown Turk, firing from the government buildings. Of more importance are the results of the shot. What occurred in Đzmir took place in the sight of scores of neutral and pro-Greek European witnesses. Three of the many reports:
[The statement of the officers of the British ship the S/S Brescia] After the firing had somewhat abated, [Greek] soldiers and civilians commenced breaking into premises, apparently Turkish. The civilians took a very active part in operations, in several instances they were seen to take firearms from the soldiers and use them in order to gain admission to these premises.
Several civilians, apparently Turks who were arrested by the mob, were subjected to severe cruelty by both soldiers and civilians until they collapsed; they were then dragged out of sight into a café.
Everything was comparatively quiet until a batch of prisoners under a white flag, holding their hands up and escorted by Greek troops, marched along the [water] front. Firing was then resumed from different houses and after the prisoners had passed, a long line of killed and wounded were seen along the front. 21
[The statement of Donald Whitall, British resident of Đzmir] From there [the custom-house] up to the Kramer Palace Hotel I was the unwilling witness of the massacre of some thirty unarmed men, who were being marched with
hands up. This butchery was committed by Greek soldiers entirely.
At a point between the Corn Exchange and the Orient Bank I saw six being shot out of one batch within ten yards. At a point higher up I saw five others succumbing under the fire of Greek rifles. Close to the landing place of the Cordelio boats I saw a lot more shot down. Near Kramer I witnessed three more cases of shooting. . . . 22
[The statement of the Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. Arizona] Old men, unarmed, and other unoffending civilian Turks were knocked down by the Greeks, killed by stabbing with knives or bayonets, and then afterwards, having their valuables and clothing stripped off their bodies, were thrown into the sea. In one instance, the man was again shot after being thrown into the sea, this by Greek soldiers. Many of the prisoners, including high military officers, as they were marched along with hands up were permitted to be beaten by the rabble who followed. Specific instances are cited by these same eyewitnesses where Turkish soldiers and officers 23 were bayoneted from behind by their Greek guards, while the rabble rifled their pockets and then threw their bodies into the sea. Many of the worst instances of inhuman treatment of the Turks were while they were under arrest and on the open sea front at noonday. 24
From the center of the city, the mob, assisted by Greek soldiery, fanned out to the city’s neighborhoods. Property was stolen, whole neighborhoods ransacked. Greek soldiers only occasionally stopped the looting of Muslim property; more often they joined in the looting. Mobs of local Greeks went from house to house, stealing all they found. Stores, businesses, and factories owned by Turks were looted of all their goods. In the process of pillaging, many hundreds of Turks were killed in their houses and shops. Others were simply killed in the streets. The Turks of the city were not armed, the Ottoman gendarmerie had been disarmed and often imprisoned or themselves killed. For the Turks, there was no defense. 25 Perhaps 700 to 800 Turks were killed, 26 while three Greek soldiers died. 27 Worse scenes were enacted in the villages that surrounded the city, many of which were sacked and destroyed. In one
town, the Greeks demanded a payment of 500 gold liras so that the town would not be pillaged. Once the ransom was paid, the town was sacked. Other suburban towns were simply robbed of all they had. 28 Europeans living in the areas surrounding Đzmir listed villages such as Cim Ovasi, Cücükler, Keler, Sasal, Deǧirmen, Lere, Tiratsa, Palamut, Çileme, Gürece, and many others, by name, as having been sacked by Greeks, with heavy loss of life. 29 An indication of the terror of the Turkish villagers is that whole villages fled to Đzmir, rather than remain in their homes, despite the obvious danger to Turks in the city. 30 As the British Control Officer who investigated the situation reported: “The Greeks in the country round Smyrna have looted the arms-depots, have sacked Turkish villages, and hunted down Muslims.” 31
The Greek policy of disarming Turks and arming local Greeks began in Đzmir. Unlike some village Turks, the Turks of Đzmir were not particularly wellarmed. Thus, when the Đzmir Turks heard of the impending Greek occupation, they attempted to obtain arms from the armory in the central army barracks. Their demands were refused, but they broke down the doors and had begun to take weapons when Ottoman soldiers fired on them and forced them to flee. The Ottoman soldiers were under orders to keep the peace and acted accordingly. When the Greek occupation was accomplished, and these same soldiers had been marched off, many beaten and killed, the weapons from the barracks armory were distributed to the Greeks of Đzmir. 32 The official British Military Representative in Đzmir formally (though diffidently) protested the distribution of arms to the Greek population of the region: “Constant shooting, looting, and hunting-down of Turks has taken place. . . . It is therefore a possible inference that this arming of the civil population has been done with the object of aggression against the Turkish population.” 33
The Ottoman soldiery was treated particularly badly by the Greek mob and Greek troops. Greek civilians and soldiers robbed and murdered many Ottoman soldiers, tortured others, and subjected them all to great harassment and indignity. The officers who survived the march from their barracks to the quay were imprisoned in the lowest hold of a
Greek ship, a hold that had been used to transport horses. Meanwhile, the barracks and government offices were looted. The house of each Ottoman officer was identified and systematically looted. Wives of some officers were raped. 34
In addition to provincial military officers, prominent Turkish officials and civilians were also selected for death – newspaper editors and reporters, retired leaders of the gendarmerie, officials of the Public Debt Administration, etc. Many of these were simply murdered and thrown into the sea. 35
Perhaps the most important analysis of the events at Đzmir was the report of the Allied Commission of Inquiry. In July of 1919 the Allies sent a commission, led by one French, one Italian, one English, and one American delegate, to investigate the atrocities in Đzmir. Britain had agreed to the Commission reluctantly, out of fear that refusing to investigate the atrocities would be politically damaging at home. 36 The report stated that the Ottoman government had kept proper order in Đzmir. The pretext of a need for Greek occupation to protect local Greeks was labelled as completely false. Greek soldiers and officials were blamed for events subsequent to the occupation, and Greek massacre and pillage were identified as such. In short, the document was an indictment of the Greek invasion, of subsequent Greek actions, and, by inference, of Allied support for the Greeks.
The immediate political importance of the Allied commission might have been great, had it reached a wide audience. However, it was suppressed. The British, who had a great stake in the success of the Greek occupation, correctly sensed that publication of the report would hurt their plans for postwar Anatolia and would reflect poorly on them, as well as on their Greek allies. One Foreign Ministry official, Phipps, commented, “I do not think it would be advisable to issue any important part of this dispatch [i.e., the Allied Report] as a White Paper at present. The Greeks come out so badly that the less we publish the better.” 37 Calls by members of Parliament for dissemination of the report were refused. 38
Many of the scenes reported from the Izmir occupation and massacre were reminiscent of the atrocities of the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 and the Balkan Wars. In many ways, the atrocities of the Đzmir invasion were the more revolting for having taken place in a great city that was completely at peace. There had been no Ottoman resistance in Đzmir; Ottoman soldiers, on orders from Istanbul and faced with the superiority of the Allied fleet, had obeyed their orders and surrendered peacefully. The populace could not rebel. Yet the Ottoman soldiers and Turkish civilians in Đzmir were treated like combatants in a particularly vicious war. Rapes and mutilations were common, murder and pillage ubiquitous.

After consolidating their hold on the sancak of Đzmir, the Greeks began an advance past the boundaries that had been assigned to them at the Peace Conference. They marched up the Meander Valley, taking the city of Aydin on 27 May 1919. They then took Nazilli, from which they retired late in June. On 30 June, the Greek army was driven from Aydin by Turkish forces. The Greeks retreated to Karabunar, then to Deǧirmencik, but Greeks attacking from the south retook Aydin on 4 July. North of Đzmir, the Greeks moved beyond the Đzmir Sancaǧi and took Manisa on 25 May. On 11 June, they moved from Menemen (within their assigned sphere) to Bergama. At Bergama they were once again forced to retreat by Turkish forces. They retreated to Menemen, which was in turn taken by the Turks. However, the Turkish forces were too weak to sustain continued battle in Aydin Vilâyeti and on June 23 Greek army units landed at Dikili, took Bergama, and occupied the other towns they had lost. In July, Greek troops “mopped-up” remaining Turkish guerrilla forces. Thus, throughout the months of June and July 1919, the province of Aydin was embroiled in war.
As the Greeks advanced through Aydin Vilâyeti, all Turkish villagers who remained in their villages were disarmed, at first peaceably. For example, in Kasaba, a detachment of Greek soldiers took the city unopposed. The Ottoman officials and gendarmes were disarmed, as was the Turkish populace, and their guns given to local Greeks, who, along with Greek soldiers, proceeded to pillage the town. 40 The same happened at Nazilli, Manisa, Menemen, and other occupied towns and villages. The Greek commander of Aydin ordered the Turks of the city to deliver up 6,000 guns ( 26 June 1919), which they could not do, because there were so few guns in the city. A house to house search was therefore instituted, and all who were in a house in which a gun was found were shot. 41 In Tire, the gendarmes and others were disarmed in the usual pattern, and thus they and the Ottoman officials were then not able to intervene as Greek soldiers robbed the town and surrounding villages. 42 There is evidence that local Greeks were even given Greek army uniforms, as well as arms, and wore them as they attacked Turkish villages. 43
Patterns set in earlier wars were followed again by the Greeks in Anatolia. In both the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 and the Balkan Wars, local Christians had been used as shock troops to kill local Muslims, with the ultimate aim of forcing Muslim migration. In these earlier wars, the set policy of the conquerors was to disarm Muslims and leave them completely defenseless, faced with the choice of flight or death; so it was, also, in Anatolia. Wherever Greek forces went, Turkish civilians and gendarmes were systematically disarmed. Turkish villagers were often beaten until they revealed the hiding places of weapons – a process particularly hard on those who had no such secret caches. The guns that had been seized, along with other weapons brought by Greek soldiers, were then distributed to local Greeks and Armenians. This pattern was as invariable as it had been in the Balkans. The invading Greek army assumed, correctly, that many local Christians could be counted on as their partisans. 44 Fear of Turkish sniping and of guerrilla actions could explain the disarming of Muslims; in the light of the very real possibility of revolt against the occupying Greeks, it made sense to disarm Turks. Arming the local Greeks did not. The Greek army, at least in theory, had been sent to Anatolia to protect the populace and insure civil order. Disarming all civilians would have been consistent with that goal. Disarming only the majority group, the Turks, was only consistent with a goal of creating a Greek majority in the region by killing or forcing the flight of the majority Muslims.
Under the official pretext of providing “scouts” and other irregular troops, local Anatolian Greeks were also supplied with arms from Greek military stores. Rifles were brought in by ship to equip them. Of course, once armed, irregulars were free to do what they wished, including attacking their fellow citizens. Most who were thus armed were never enrolled in Greek fighting units, and even those who actually did participate in organized units were released after the battles and retained their arms. 45 On many occasions, Greek authorities explained atrocities against Muslims as the work of bands of “irregulars” whom they could not control.

Greek depredations in western Anatolia were reported more fully than attacks on Muslims in other regions and in other times. This was due to the Allied nature of the Đzmir occupation. Detailed documentary evidence of Greek activities in Anatolia exists, particularly in British archives: The Greeks were in Anatolia solely because of the support of the powers who had been victorious in World War I, especially the British. The occupation of Đzmir was in many ways the creation of Lloyd George. 47 In fact, British support of the Greeks was so great that British sailors at Đzmir were ordered not to intervene even when they personally observed massacres of Turks, leaving the sailors “unwilling, impotent, and infuriated spectators of some of the worst Greek outrages.” 48 Because of this British involvement, British intelligence agents and diplomats, centered in Đzmir and Istanbul, followed the occupying Greek armies and reported back to London in detail. These documents are a fine source of historical detail. The reports were not without bias, but they were generally reliable in their facts.
In considering British reports, one must separate the reporting of events from analysis and comments. For western Anatolia and the Balkans, the British consular and (less often, significantly) military intelligence officers were often accurate observers, but their own prejudices and lack of experience in the region just as often caused them to interpret incorrectly what they had seen. For example, the Advance British Headquarters General Staff Intelligence reported accurately Greek atrocities against Turks in the ÖdemişTire region. Murders, rapes, robberies, imprisonment on false charges, destruction of property, and so forth – by Greek soldiers and local Greeks – were all catalogued. However, in analyzing the subsequent flight of Turkish peasants from the region, an intelligence officer added, “It may have been a guilty conscience that compelled them [to flee]; but, more probably, Nationalist propaganda had forced them to think that if they stopped behind they would suffer at the hands of the Greeks.” 49 Surely intelligence officers should have seen from their own reports that no “Nationalist propaganda” was needed to convince Turkish peasants that they were in real danger. This sort of analysis points up two basic prejudices of British observers, 50 for which the researcher must always watch -the search for any reason other than the real one, Greek atrocities, for Turkish suffering (which they were forced to admit was very real) and the denial of commonsense reactions on the part of Turkish peasants. Thus, Turks who fled in justified fear of massacre were assumed to have fled because of their “guilty consciences” (no evidence was given of any acts they had committed for which they should have felt guilty) or their unthinking acceptance of propaganda. In fact, what the Turkish peasants exhibited was a highly rational response to their environment. When they could fight, they fought; when they could not, they fled. 51
British agents reported primarily from Anatolian cities and large towns, because it was difficult and dangerous for them to go into the countryside. Nevertheless, they did manage to gain a certain amount of accurate intelligence from the countryside, as well as the city.

The Muslim inhabitants of cities in the province of Aydin were subject to persecution from the first days of the Greek occupation. In no sense could these urban Turks have been considered a military danger. Villagers might, and often did, harbor anti-Greek guerrillas, but the cities were disarmed and under complete Greek control. They were not able to assist Nationalist forces because of Greek interdiction of movement in and out of the cities. In short, Turks in Aydin, Menemen, Manisa, Nazilli, or any of the occupied cities could not have acted in any effective way against the Greeks. It is instructive that the cities briefly retaken by Turkish forces in 1919, such as Bergama and Aydin, were assaulted from outside by Turkish armed forces, not taken by revolt by the defenseless Turks inside them. There was no military excuse for attacks on urban Muslims, but their passivity did not save them.
The pattern of Greek actions against the Turkish population was fairly consistent. First, all Ottoman police and soldiers and Muslim civilians were disarmed. Then, guns were distributed to the local Greeks. Next, officials of
the Ottoman government and Muslim religious leaders were imprisoned or deported. Following this, plunder, murder, and rape began, sometimes immediately, sometimes after a short time had elapsed. Turkish houses and government buildings were destroyed. Muslim religious buildings and institutions, the most potent symbols of Muslim identity, came in for violent abuse. On entering Manisa, for example, the Greek army violated all the mosques in the cities as well as dervish convents, the theology school, and the Muslim cemetery. The Turks of all the cities of Aydin Vilâyeti suffered to some degree. The cities discussed here are only those for which the most detailed and accurate information is available.
Menemen. At Menemen, Turks had been disarmed after the peaceful 53 surrender of the city to the Greeks, who immediately arrested many Ottoman officials. The Greeks were then armed, and a massacre ensued. That the massacre was preplanned is indicated by the fact that before the attacks, all Greek houses in the city had been marked with white crosses. 54 Fortunately for the historical record, British Control Officers 55 arrived in Menemen unannounced just as the murders commenced. They saw the bodies of the kaymakam and of the Turkish gendarmes in the konak (government administration house) and observed the murders of Turks on the streets. From what they saw, the observers readily identified the Menemen events as a massacre, not a battle – “only the Greeks were firing.” Turkish houses in Menemen were emptied and pillaged. What was not taken was destroyed: 56 from 300 to 400 Turks may have been killed in the city; 1,300 in the nearby countryside. 57
Although less visible to British agents, the same sort of pillage and massacre was occurring in the countryside surrounding Menemen. Admiral Calthorpe, commenting to London on the fact that some Turks of Menemen had managed to survive, stated, “In my opinion the Greeks are responsible for the whole affair. . . . Only their complete lack of organization prevented them from obtaining a greater measure of success. It is also possible that the unexpected presence of British witnesses cooled them a little.” 58
Aydin. The major provincial city of Aydin was taken with no resistance on 27 May 1919. For a while there was quiet. This may have been the result of the anomalous position of the Greeks. In taking Aydin, they had gone beyond the limits of their grant by the Allies and had advanced into an area that was incontestably Turkish in population. 59 The Allies were thus watching events in Aydin carefully. Nevertheless, on the tenth day of occupation the murders began when six Turks were killed in the street by Greeks led by a Greek army officer. On the same day, four Turkish houses were attacked and the women within raped. From then on, attacks against Turks and Turkish property were constant. 60 Indignities upon Muslim Turks ranged from the petty, such as forcibly removing all fezzes (even from Christians and Jews), to rape and murder.

Under pretext of interrogation, Turks were removed from Aydin and surrounding villages and then butchered. 61 Villages in the Aydin region were burned and their inhabitants massacred.
The Greek representatives in Aydin made it plain that, despite the Turkish majority in the region and the fact that the Greeks had not been awarded Aydin by the Allies, they planned to remain. The Greek commandant in Aydin notified the local Turkish leaders that the Greek occupation was not temporary, but was an annexation by Greece. To reinforce this, Ottoman officials and Turkish notables, including the sancak governor, judges, and the head of the Tobacco Regie, were arrested. Most of these were killed, including the governor.
The Turks of Aydin were rescued by Turkish military forces, who took the city from the Greeks after two days of battle. Those two days allowed the Greeks to burn down the Muslim quarter and engage in further massacres before their retreat. The Turks estimated that 2,000 Muslims had been killed in the city and from 300 to 400 Christians, both figures perhaps exaggerations. The report of a British witness to the events in Aydin recorded that the deaths in the city were organized by the Greek army. On 28 June, machine guns were mounted on roofs and the Turkish quarter was bombarded and set ablaze. “All the Turks who tried to escape from the flames were shot with machine guns and rifles by the Greek soldiers and
civilians to whom rifles had been distributed.” The firing and burning continued into the next day; “the firing, the screams, and the noise were dreadful to hear.” 62
The Turkish soldiers who entered Aydin saw Turkish corpses on the ground and the devastated Turkish Quarter. In revenge, many Christians were attacked in the street before Colonel Şevket could restore order. 63 When the Greeks retook Aydin, the surviving Turks were gone, preferring to be refugees. British accounts of the events in Aydin corroborate the summary made by the Ottoman delegation to the Versailles Peace Conference: “Of the 30,000 Turks living in the city of Aydin, only a few families remain. 5,800 homes have been destroyed and 81 Turkish villages in the city’s environs have been burnt.” 64
Nazilli. The town of Nazilli was occupied by Greeks on 2 June and held for 17 days. During the occupation, the usual pillaging, rape, and murder of Turks took place. Local Greeks were aided in this by Greek soldiers and by convicts 65 who were released from jail by the soldiers. When the Greeks were forced by Turkish troops to retreat from Nazilli on 19 June, they took with them a large group 66 of Turks with their hands tied. These were killed en route and the villages on the Greek line of march were pillaged and what inhabitants remained in the villages were killed. 67
Kasaba. In Kasaba, the first action of the Greek soldiery was to disarm the Turks. After guns had been distributed to local Christians, pillaging of Muslim homes began, part of a pattern well-known to the Muslims. The Turks feared what was coming next, especially because the Greek colonel in charge of the city had called in Ottoman government officials and the mufti of the city and notified them that he considered all Muslims to be belligerents in a war zone. The Muslims waited “as if under a sentence of death.” 68
The Turkish defeat of the Greeks at Bergama and the subsequent Greek retreat was the last Turkish victory for some time. The relatively small number of Turkish soldiers proved unable to hold against a Greek army supported by the Allies. “On the 23rd June the Greeks landed near Dikili and reoccupied Bergama, burning on the way ten Turkish villages, containing 1,095 houses. The number of homeless Turks who assembled in consequence at Soma was 70,000.”


The killing of Turkish villagers and pillage of Turkish villages began immediately after the Greek landing at Đzmir. Greeks from Đzmir and surrounding Greek villages, many armed by the Greek military, attacked Turks. Sometimes accompanied by Greek soldiers, they went into the surrounding villages and pillaged and murdered. As mentioned before, many of the massacres were done in the sight of Westerners, who reported the Greek deeds village by village. Apparently the conquerors had no thought of their consequent image in the West, or they were confident that it would hold up no matter what their actions. Greeks from villages outside the city joined in the massacres, attacking Turkish villages. “Greek armed bands from Sevdi Keuy and the neighboring Greek villages have spread about in all directions looting and shooting down the Turks.” 70 The pillage and murder spread south to the Urla Peninsula, where Turkish villages were burned. 71 Approximately 3,000 Turks were killed. 72 The British Commanding Officer in Đzmir summarized the obvious condition of the countryside in a cable:
The Greeks in the country round Smyrna have looted the armsdepots, have sacked Turkish villages, and hunted down Moslems. General anarchy appears to prevail in many places where the Greeks are in a majority. 73
The Turkish villages of the Urla Peninsula were pillaged by Greek soldiers, with attendant killings. 74
When the region around the city of Aydin was taken ( June 1919), the Turkish residents of a number of surrounding villages, including Michanje [sic], Kara Pinar, Erikli, Kadiköy, and Yeniköy, were massacred and the villages burned. 75 Other villages soon joined the list, especially when the Greeks first retreated from the city in June of 1919. As mentioned before, Greece had been awarded only the sancak of Đzmir by the Allies. However, by the end of May 1919, Greek troops had already gone beyond the sancak’s borders, taking Manisa on 25 May and Bergama on 11 June. Bergama was recaptured by Turkish forces, then taken again by Greeks who landed near Dikili and marched inland. Both on their retreat and subsequent advance, Greek troops massacred Turkish villagers. Greek forces retreating from Nazilli ( 19 June 1919) destroyed the villages along their route and killed whichever inhabitants they could find. 76 The Greek contingent of troops that marched toward Bergama from Dikili burned at least ten villages, destroying 1,100 Turkish homes. 77 Even the Greek navy entered into the massacre of civilians. Greek boats shelled Turkish villages near Ayvali, for no military purpose whatsoever. 78
As they advanced into the interior, the Greek regular army joined with local Greeks to pillage and murder, and British soldiers whose duty it was to observe the Greek advance and Greek atrocities particularly mentioned the rape of Turkish women by Greek soldiers. 79 In most cases, however, attacks on Turks were made by local Anatolian Greeks armed by Greek soldiers. Many of these locals were more or less under Greek military authority, even wearing Greek military uniforms. 80 When the Greek columns advanced into the interior they were preceded by guerrilla bands, called chettés, made up of local Greeks and Armenians. These bands functioned as scouts and shock troops, but they were mainly occupied with attacks on Turkish villages. At first they attacked the villages on the army’s line of march, often assisted by regular soldiers, then, when the area was secure, fanned out to attack outlying villages. 81
Rape was common in occupied villages, as was abduction of women by Greek soldiers and civilians. Diplomatic descriptions of the types and frequency of rape range from the detailed and gruesome to British
understatement: “Violence to Moslem women on the part of Greek soldiers appears to have occurred.” 82
Because most depredations on the Turkish population took place in villages, few of which contained European observers or even Ottoman officials who could report back to Istanbul, most atrocities could only be known by the reaction of the victims (usually flight), the demographic evidence (whole regions denuded of Turkish population 83 ), or reports after the fact (European observers who saw burned villages with bodies in their streets). In only a few villages were outside observers present to witness the massacres. Even towns, such as Ahmedli, were only occasionally the subject of observation by Allied Control Officers. In Ahmedli, a French sergeant happened to be present to corroborate the citizens’ story of imprisonment and gruesome murder. 84
Of course, once they realized that the Greek army was advancing, sensible Turks fled. They knew of the events of Đzmir and of the fate of the Balkan Muslims in 1912. As the Greeks advanced toward Ayvali, “Practically all Turkish villages were found deserted but the inhabitants having fled in a hurry did not manage to take away any of their belongings with them.” 85
Once the Ottoman gendarmerie had been disarmed, Greek soldiers attacked Turkish villagers with impunity. In the small area of Tire Kazasi, the British recorded 32 villages as having been attacked and robbed by Greek soldiers, many of them more than once, in a two-month period. 86 It should be remembered that these were only those villages that had come to the attention of the British representatives in Tire. In the same period in the Tire area, 22 Turks were known to have been killed by Greeks, 32 Turks imprisoned without trial. Goods plundered from the Turkish villages were openly sold by Greeks in the bazaar at Ödemiş. 87
In the district round Soghandere, between 25 and 30 villages have been destroyed with massacre of the entire population.
Between Akhissar and Manissa, 82 villages have been attacked in this way with varying degrees of massacre. Some, but not all, have been burned. On June 24th at Bashlamish near Akhissar, Greek soldiers and Armenian “chettis” surrounded the village, collected the inhabitants between the ages of 12 and 60 years and massacred almost all. 4 of these were beaten before being killed. . . .
Turkish civilians, especially “notables” are being collected in various towns and villages, throughout the occupied country behind Smyrna, and marched off as “prisoners of war.”
Bands of these prisoners pass through Smyrna almost daily, and disappear. They are supposed to be deported to Greece, but nobody hears from them, and the corpses of some of them have been found.
These deportations have taken place at: Kasaba, Manissa, Nif, Alashehir, Salihli, Ushag, Kula, Mamara [sic], Akhissar, Tira, Odermish [sic], Barindir [sic], Turbali, Aidin

European commentators on the events in Anatolia found it hard to credit the evidence of Greek atrocities. This was especially true of the British. The British had been the instigators of the Greek invasion, smoothing the way for the Greek troops, providing political and logistic support, and arguing the Greek case in international forums such as the Paris Peace Conference. In terms of investment and prestige, the British had much to lose if the Greek invasion was proved to be a long series of massacres. Moreover, the spirit of philhellenism was strong in England. Therefore, despite the overwhelming evidence brought forth by British observers, the atrocities of the Greeks in their initial occupation in Aydin Vilâyeti were dismissed in British governmental circles and British public opinion. It was not until the events of the Greek occupation of the Marmara Sea region that the British were forced to open their eyes.
The region of Anatolia closest to Istanbul, the Đzmit Peninsula, was first taken from Ottoman control by the British. Before and during the short British occupation, all was relatively peaceful. The Christians in the area, particularly, were recognized by the Allies as being in no danger. All that changed when the region was turned over to the Greeks. The pattern seen before in Aydin Vilâyeti and elsewhere was then repeated in towns such as
Yalova, Gemlik, Đzmit, and in surrounding villages. First came the search for Turkish arms and the disarming of Ottoman gendarmes, then the pillage and murder. Crops were destroyed; fruits were stripped from the trees. Eventually the villages were destroyed and the Turks forced to become refugees or die. All this took place but a short journey from British headquarters in Istanbul. British officials, reporters, and even university professors could and did visit the sites, and the ensuing full and detailed reports could not be ignored.
In the region seized by the Greeks, Turkish villagers were indiscriminately slaughtered. At first, Allied observers felt that the murderous actions were those of local Greeks in quest of revenge for real or fancied wrongs. However, even the British observers, who so wanted to find in the Greeks a positive force for “Christian Civilization in the East,” were forced to admit the character of the Greek atrocities:
A distinct and regular method seems to have been followed in the destruction of [Turkish] villages, group by group, for the last two months, which destruction has even reached the neighborhood of the Greek headquarters.
The members of the [Inter-Allied] Commission consider that, in the part of the kazas of Yalova and Guemlek occupied by the Greek army, there is a systematic plan of destruction of Turkish villages and extinction of the Moslem population. The plan is being carried out by Greek and Armenian bands, which appear to operate under Greek instructions and sometimes even with the assistance of detachments of regular troops. 89
There can be no doubt that the burning of villages, massacres, and forced migrations were sanctioned by the Greek military and government. The American High Commissioner, Admiral Bristol, commented on “the Greek atrocities, which appear to have been carried out in cold blood, according to a prearranged plan.” 90 The British General Franks, on the scene in the Gemlik region, reported that burnt-out villages such as Karacali and Nash were close to Greek headquarters, but they were nevertheless burned,
without interference by the Greek army and with “obvious signs of atrocities.” 91 Though intervention would have been easy, the Greek army had not attempted to stop the destruction. Other British officers investigated Greek atrocities in other areas. For example, in the vicinity of Kandira, “The soldiers took everything possible such as money, cattle, and effects; having recourse to torture in all instances where pressure seemed necessary to them. Cases of rape and murder were prevalent. Some villages were either totally, or in part destroyed. Totally destroyed – Mehter Keui, Lazlar Keui, Ahmak Keui, Omer Agha Keui, and Sira Keui.” 92 The Greeks occupied Şile twice. “During the second occupation, from November 1920 to March 1921, a band of 200 men on their way to Ismidt, composed of soldiers and some civilians, officered by a Captain and three Lieutenants, terrorized the district. Twenty of these men under [guerrilla leader] Katsaros remained in the district destroying nearly all the villages and robbing the peasantry of their valuables and cattle. Many of the inhabitants were beaten, some were hanged by their feet over straw fires, others were killed outright and some women were raped.” 93 In the region of Beykos, an Allied Commission of Inquiry found “widespread murder committed by Greek troops.” 94
Those villagers who survived the Greeks were usually those who fled before the Greeks arrived, but some were forcibly evicted: “In the first week of November [ 1920] the town of Karamürsel was entirely looted and 14 neighboring villages burned by the Greek troops after desultory fighting with Nationalist irregulars. The Turkish officials were carried off to Yalova and the remaining population shipped across to the other side of the Gulf of Ismidt, whence the bulk of them came on as refugees to Constantinople.” 95
[ May 1921] General Franks, in making an appeal yesterday for full liberty of action for Red Crescent to succour and remove Moslem population of Gemlek area, telegraphed that this commission is convinced that Power in occupation [ Greece] is proceeding upon system of destruction of Moslem element, Greek troops and brigands appearing to act on programme in complete accord. . . . 96
[ June 1921] Notwithstanding visit of commission of enquiry and decision of High Commissioners to authorize removal of refugees by Red Crescent, Greek military authorities continued up to the latter part of last week to display bad spirit and to place obstacles in the way of removal. Greek officer commanding at Yalova was particularly obstructive. Greek military authorities appear to be hand in glove with Greek brigands and much under their influence. 97
Professor Arnold Toynbee, who came to Anatolia as a reporter/ analyst for the Manchester Guardian, expected a far different situation than the one he found. As the holder of the Korais Chair in Byzantine and Modern Greek Language, Literature, and History at the University of London, and during the war no friend of the Turks, 98 Toynbee expected to see noble actions from Greeks, base actions from Turks. He realized the reality of Greek actions and intentions after viewing the massacres at Yalova and Gemlik and subsequently investigating the continuing destruction around Đzmir. He, like the Inter-Allied investigation Committee quoted before, concluded that massacres and expulsions of Turks were planned by the Greek government. 99
Information on Greek atrocities in the small villages of the Marmara region is scant, but there are a number of detailed accounts, verified by Allied observers, of such atrocities. The accounts often indicate the precarious state of those Turks who managed to survive the initial onslaught of the Greek invasion and now lived under Greek domination. For example, in the village of Arablar (which was in the Marmara Region and under British observation), Greek “brigands” and Greek inhabitants of the village of Afisia and other nearby villages attacked the village, murdered some, and took away seven men and two women. The men were killed, the women raped. Eventually, the women were allowed to go to Karabiga. One hundred ninety other refugees from Arablar had already arrived there. Half the village had been burned and, out of fear and lack of places to live, the villagers had fled aboard the H.M.S. “Stuart,” protected by the British. 100
The place of the Greeks from the village of Afisia in the murders at Arablar
was one of “support troops” for the “brigands.” The so-called brigands were in reality villagers themselves, at least one of whom was from Afisia. 101 An Allied commission investigating the incident at Arablar noted that no regular Greek soldiers were involved, with the exception of a deserter from the Greek army. “At the same time the commission have remarked that in all cases the Turkish villagers have been disarmed while the Greek villagers are armed, thus leaving them entirely at the mercy of their Greek neighbours, whereas no steps appear to have been taken to safeguard their lives or property by the military government.” 102
The British High Commissioner, Rumbold, accurately summarized the condition of western Anatolia when he stated, “It is clear that the greater part of what the Greeks describe as their zone of operations is gradually being reduced to the condition of a wilderness.”

There was much fear among the Allies that the Greeks and other Christians would suffer greatly when the city and region of Đzmit were retaken by the Nationalists. Greek actions there had given good cause for reprisals. British observers were on the scene when the Greeks abandoned the city and reported massacres of Turks. 106 Reprisals against Greeks were expected when the Turks occupied the city, but the British reported that none occurred, due to the “good bearing and discipline” of Nationalist troops. 107
The Greeks began to lose the war in August of 1921, when they were held at the Sakarya Line by the Turkish Nationalists. At first slowly, then precipitously, they retreated from the areas they had conquered. With their retreat came a change in the character of Greek actions against the Turks. Hopes and plans for a Greek western Anatolia had ended, and there was no longer any rational cause for the persecution of Muslim Turks. Yet, the massacres had a life of their own that went beyond rational, if vicious, policies of state. As the Greeks retreated, they destroyed more thoroughly than before all that was in their path. When they had been in the ascendancy, destroying all they found would have been folly, only Turkish property need be burned so that the owners might not return.
Therefore, Turkish houses were destroyed, not Greek houses; Turkish villages were burned, not Greek villages. In retreat, there was no longer reason to save anything, so all was destroyed – Christian property as well as Muslim. Whole cities were set on fire, Christian quarters burning alongside Muslim quarters. Crops were destroyed, ancient olive trees and grape vines cut down. The Greek army knew Greece would not now claim the new land and the Greeks and Armenians of western Anatolia knew they would no longer be able to live there, so hatred was given free reign.
The pattern of Greek retreat was set after their first real setback, the first battle of the Sakarya, after which they retreated to Eskişehir to regroup. At first, when it appeared the Greeks would rebound from their initial check and still hold much of Anatolia, their policies toward the land and the people appeared to have some military justification – a “scorched earth” policy. As
one rather cold-blooded contemporary military analyst described the Greek retreat to Eskişehir in October 1921:
The retreat was carried out with skill and in an orderly manner. The Greeks carried out a thorough devastation of the whole area which they evacuated, burning all the villages and thoroughly destroying the railway. 108
That their policy of scorched earth arose from more than military expediency became evident as the Greek retreat went on. They continued to destroy all that was in their path long after their defeat was certain. By 1922, Greek army units that would have better served as rear guards for the retreat were being delegated to destroy Anatolian villages with kerosene and gunpowder. The days of retreats “carried out with skill and in an orderly manner” were over. As the Greeks fled as quickly as they could to the sea, it appears that only the units carrying out the destruction of what remained behind were calm and orderly.
During the Greek retreat, one city after another was set aflame. Bilecik, Yenişehir, Đnegöl Afyon, Söǧü?t, and Adapazari were all burned, as were the other cities and villages along the Greek line of retreat. 109 The American consul at Đzmir, Park, who toured much of the devastated region immediately after the Greek loss, described the situation in the cities he had seen:
[Manisa] Almost completely wiped out by fire . . . 10,300 houses, 15 mosques, 2 baths, 2278 shops, 19 hotels, 26 villas. . . .
[Kasaba] The reliability of these statistics cannot be proven or disproven, and must be taken for what they are worth, but my own observation would indicate that they are approximately correct.
We were told that Cassaba was a city of 40,000 souls, 3,000 of whom were non-Moslems. Of these 37,000 Turks only 6,000 could be accounted for among the living, while 1,000 Turks were known to have been shot or burned to death. Of the 2,000 buildings that constituted the city, only 200 remained standing. . . . Ample testimony was available to the effect that the city was systematically destroyed by Greek soldiers, assisted by a number of
Greek and Armenian civilians. Kerosene and gasoline were freely used to make the destruction more certain, rapid, and complete.
[Alaşehir] Hand pumps were used to soak the walls of the buildings with Kerosene. . . . As we examined the ruins of the city, we discovered a number of skulls and bones, charred and black, with remnants of hair and flesh clinging to them. Upon our insistence a number of graves having a fresh-made appearance were actually opened for us as we were fully satisfied that these bodies were not more than four weeks old [i.e., the time of the Greek retreat through Alaşehir.] 110
Consul Park did not like Turks. He was distressed to see that the Greeks, whom he had supported, had committed such outrages. Yet, he was forced to agree that the evidence he had seen was conclusive. He saw evidence of the use of gasoline and “incendiary bombs” in many areas, as well as evidence that those Turks who had tried to put out the flames in their cities were shot down by Greek troops. He saw what he called “conclusive evidence of extensive personal violence inflicted upon the Turkish civilian inhabitants.” He concluded:

  1. The destruction of the interior cities visited by our party was carried out by Greeks.
  2. The percentages of buildings destroyed in each of the last four cities referred to were
    Magnesia 90 percent Cassaba 90 percent Alashehr 70 percent Salihli 65 percent
  3. The burning of these cities was not desultory, nor intermittent, nor accidental, but well planned and thoroughly organized.
  4. There were many instances of physical violence, most of which was deliberate and wanton. Without complete figures, which were impossible to obtain, it may safely be surmised that “atrocities” committed by retiring Greeks numbered well into thousands in the four cities under consideration. These consisted of all three of the usual type of such
    atrocities, namely murder, torture, and rape. 111
    The Greeks’ policy during their precipitous retreat through western Anatolia was simple – if at all possible, to destroy every Turkish village in their path. Greek soldiers took captives of every useful Turkish civilian found on their retreat, especially women and those men who could serve as guides. Those who were not useful were often killed. However, many Turkish villagers saw their impending fate before the Greek soldiers arrived in their villages and hid in the mountains. Indeed, many had fled when the Greeks had first taken their districts. 112
    All the inhabitants of the regions evacuated, no matter their sex, are taken away by the retreating Greek troops. Only those who had fled to the forests or the mountains escape the misfortune. All the villages on the route of the retreating Greek troops are burned. 113
    By the time of the Greek retreat, many sources were witness to their atrocities. The Ottoman and Ankara governments had long given detailed lists of burned villages, murders, rape, and pillage. British observers had listed many. These were now joined by increasingly detailed reports from other Western sources, including newspaper reporters. The British government was having increasing difficulty in keeping down the indignation that arose from the Greek massacres. Member of Parliament Aubrey Herbert asked in Parliament if it was not true that 5,000 out of 7,000 of the Turks in Yalova had been massacred. The government spokesman (Chamberlain) responded that he had no detailed statistics, but admitted “grave excesses.” 114 Viscount St. David, in a parliamentary speech, stated, “I am told that the number of Turkish villages burned by the Greeks is something like three or four hundred [actually an understatement].” The government agreed that villages had been burned, but was not willing to say how many. 115 Despite the mounting evidence, the British government still refused to provide even the Smyrna Report to the Commons. 116 Meanwhile, the British government was receiving reports from its investigation commission of “atrocities of appalling nature, including murder, torture, and mutilation” and statements that the “behavior of the Greek army in retreat is deplorable
    and unworthy of a civilized nation.” 117
    In one typical example of Greek actions during their retreat, on 14 February 1922, the Turkish village of Karatepe in Aydin Vilâyeti was surrounded by Greeks, both regular army and local Greek bands. All the inhabitants were put into the mosque, then the mosque was burned. The few who escaped the fire were shot. All moveable valuables and animals were stolen. 118
    Bursa was saved from the fate of so many other Anatolian cites by the presence of Allied officers and men in the city and the fact that the Greek army in Bursa was penned-in, in effect surrounded by Turkish troops. The Greeks knew there was a good possibility that they would become prisoners of war. It is one thing to burn down houses when you can expect to escape, quite another when you can expect soon to be a captive of the owners. Despite this, some Greeks did make an attempt at creating a fire in the city; the Allied representatives discovered the attempt and put the fire out. The bridges in the city were destroyed by Greek soldiers, and they did ultimately burn forty houses and Greek churches, 119 but the damage was minimal when compared to that suffered elsewhere.
    When the Greek army retreated from Bursa the city’s Christians and Christian refugees from elsewhere gathered in buildings belonging to French and Italians. There they were guarded by the thirty Turkish gendarmes who had remained in Bursa. The Greek commander had refused to arm the gendarmes. They nevertheless managed to protect the Greeks and Armenians. Arriving Nationalist troops took up the duty of protection and, according to the Allied commission, sent to observe the events in Bursa, the Turkish regulars permitted no atrocities.
    The Muslim villagers in the neighborhood did not all share in the safety offered Bursa’s Christians:
    The Italian consul, M. Miazzi, reported that he had just visited a Turkish village, where the Greeks had slaughtered some sixty women and children. Most of them had been violated before being killed. Women had their breasts cut off. This was afterwards corroborated by Captain Kocher, the French consul, who also visited the scene of the atrocity. 120
    Along the path of Greek retreat from Mudanya to Bursa and beyond, the Turkish villages were burned to the ground.

Given the proportionately smaller size of their community, the Jews of western Anatolia probably suffered from the Greek invasion as much as the Muslims. Unfortunately, the records on Jews are sparse, because they were neither belligerent nor a group that was of special interest to Allied observers. Only Turkish sources mention the Jews of the period in any detail. They catalogue the murder of Jews by Greeks and the plunder of Jewish shops and homes in Anatolian cities. In Nazilli, for example, the Turks were able to name 11 of the city’s Jews who were murdered (and 5 who were wounded) by the Greeks, out of a larger total number of massacred Jews. 122 However, even Turkish sources seldom mention Jews. The best evidence of Jewish suffering is statistical. Table 24 lists the numbers of Jews in the war zone before and after the war. More than half the Jews in the zone of war in western Anatolia either left Anatolia or died. Due to imprecise or nonexistent statistics of Jewish emigration (which was significant), the exact mortality of western Anatolian Jews cannot be calculated, but the Jewish death toll must, nevertheless, have been staggering.
Province 1912 1927
Hüdavendigâr 5,290 2,011
Aydin 44,206 18,728
Đzmit 512 5
Biga 409 1,092


Attacks by Muslims Against Greeks. As was stated in earlier chapters, it is not the purpose here to describe or comment on atrocities committed by
Turks and other Muslims. These have been considered at great length and in stupefying detail by others. In the process, they have been multiplied at least tenfold and excluded from any historical context. To avoid committing the same error here, some mention must be made of Turkish murders of Greeks, as well as Greek murders of Turks.
The actions of Turkish Muslims against Greeks, both Hellenic and Anatolian, took two forms – official actions by the Nationalist government and personal acts of reprisal.
As had been the case in previous wars in the Balkans and the Caucasus, the invaders of western Anatolia could count on active support of Christians in the local community. The polarization of Christians and Muslims into antagonists was based on age-old identifications as much as on modern nationalism. Although the Greek community had for centuries been a functioning, economically assimilated part of the Ottoman Empire, Greeks in the empire had obviously identified themselves primarily as Greek Orthodox, as Muslims had primarily identified themselves as the People of Islam. It is doubtful if Anatolian Greeks or Muslims ever thought of siding with any but their religious brothers. Those who did not feel willing to fight and die for their group would have been forced to do so, since they would have found no comfort in the other camp. Despite all this, Greek vehemence against Turks is difficult to understand. They had, after all, lived with a great deal of economic benefit in an empire that tolerated their religious, linguistic, and ethnic differences. One must believe that Greeks in Anatolia, like Greeks in Europe, hated Turks largely because of the fact that Turks ruled, and that this was an image that they meant to erase, never mind the fact that the Turkish villagers whom they killed shared no more in the Ottoman government than they did.
A number of reasons can be given for the political difficulties. The millet system was one. One of the best features of the Ottoman tradition of rule was toleration of ethnic and religious diversity, but a Turkified population would have been a safe population, and would have given European nations
fewer pretexts to intervene. Another cause of later unrest was the Ottoman tactic of “divide and rule,” in which few internal governing systems were developed. Instead, the Ottoman government acted to balance different forces. When Ottoman power was withdrawn, especially in time of war, public security in the provinces often disintegrated. With no one to serve as policeman, the millets battled against each other. This was especially true in eastern Anatolia, where Ottoman power was weakest, but it surfaced in the far more civilized milieu of western Anatolia as well.

Prior to the Greek invasion, the safety and security of the different regions of Anatolia was proportional to the power of the central government in the region. Where the armed might of the Ottoman government was felt, observers invariably noted tranquil conditions and political stability. 124 Indeed, after World War I, the Ottoman government, which had capitulated to the Allies, was actually assisting the return of Greeks and Armenians to western Anatolia. 125 At the time, a strong gendarmerie was needed because of the presence of bandit gangs in parts of Anatolia. In northern and western Anatolia, these gangs were usually made up of either Muslim deserters from the Ottoman army or Christians who had gone to either the mountains or to Greece to avoid conscription or deportation. 126 Both Muslim and Christian bandit gangs had become stronger and more numerous at the end of the war, as deserters, deportees, and emigrants returned and took up a convenient occupation. After the Greek invasion, Greek and Armenian bands were responsible for much of the Turkish mortality in the Greekoccupied territories, as has been seen. Correspondingly, Muslim bands were the main agents of death for western Anatolian Greeks and Armenians.
The worst massacres of Christians were the work of Muslim bands. Some of these avowed the Nationalist cause, others did not; some changed sides as fortune changed (e.g., the bands around Çerkes Ethem). Many of them, like many Christian bands, were simply bandits taking advantage of the political situation. The worst of the atrocities perpetrated by Muslim bands was in the ĐznikĐzmit-Bursa region in the second half of 1920. Hundreds of Christians 127 were killed in Đznik, Ortaköy, and Akhisar and in small towns and villages.
Once the Greek army was routed, the Turkish reconquest of western Anatolia was so rapid that documentary evidence of the final Turkish revenge on the Greeks is very limited. It is obvious that in many places the revenge was terrible. Greeks do not seem to have suffered greatly at the hands of Nationalist troops, who generally kept good discipline, but the vengeance of Turkish villagers was a different matter. 128 It is hard to imagine, given the events of the Greek occupation, that returning Turkish refugees would tolerate a Greek presence in their regions. For that reason, Anatolian Greeks fled to the coasts, ultimately to the Greek islands and mainland Greece. Many more came during the Greek-Turkish Population Exchange following the Anatolian War. In its first census after the Anatolian War, the Greek government counted 1,104,216 refugees from Turkey residing in Greece (Table 25), 802,123 of them from Anatolia.

Origin Migrants
Asia Minor* 626,954
Eastern Thrace 256,635
Pontus 182,169
Constantinople 38,458

Total 1,104,216

Migration and Deportation of Greeks and Armenians. An unknown
number of Greeks died as the result of Greek emigration from Anatolia immediately after the Balkan Wars. Although the Ottoman government did not actually attack Anatolian Greeks at the time, it did foster a climate of fear among them. 129 The Committee of Union and Progress, in charge of the Ottoman government, organized a boycott of Greek business in the southwestern coastal region. 130 Greeks in the coastal area feared reprisals for the actions of Greeks in Europe during the Balkan Wars. This was especially true after Turkish refugees were settled in the area. There was also a desire by young male Greeks not to be conscripted into the Ottoman army. As a result, perhaps more than 100,000 Greeks fled western Anatolia for Greece. A further number was deported to the interior of Anatolia as potential enemy partisans during World War I. 131 Most of these seem to have survived World War I and returned to their homes between 1918 and 1919.
The main official Nationalist policy directed against Greeks during the Anatolian War was the deportation of Greeks from the Black Sea region to east central Anatolia. This was avowedly done to keep local Greeks from aiding a Hellenic invasion in the Black Sea region the way local Greeks had aided the invasion of western Anatolia. Unfortunately, deportation of Christians was and is such an emotional issue that it is difficult to find the truth about the Greeks who were forcibly moved. The Greeks contended that the Turks were forcing the entire Greek population of the Pontus region (Black Sea), 132 men, women, and children, into the interior of Anatolia in order to kill them. The Turks contended that they were deporting only those young men who would ally themselves with an invading Greek army and were potential or actual guerrillas and bandits. (Demographic evidence supports the Turkish claim, as the Greek young, old, and women were still present in the Black Sea region at the later date of the population exchange.) The Turks responded to British and American queries about the Black Sea deportations by asking why the Allies were not equally concerned about the fate of the Turks under Greek rule. 133
The Turkish Nationalists did not ever deny that the deportations were taking
place. They justified them on military grounds. As such, there was indeed justification. Local conditions and past experience had put the Turks on notice that Anatolian Greeks were to be considered as potential enemies. Also, Greek guerrilla bands had been operating in the Black Sea area, attacking Turkish villages and defying the government. 134 Officials of the Greek Orthodox Church in Trabzon made it plain that they wished the creation of a Greek Pontic Republic, 135 and all sides agreed that there was in existence an active rebel movement called “Pontos.” Most of all, the Turks had the experience of the Greek invasion of western Anatolia before their eyes, and they feared the experience would be repeated on the Black Sea coast. They knew that the Turks of the Black Sea could expect the same treatment at the hands of invading Greeks as their brothers had experienced in Đzmir, Aydin, or Menemen.
Deportation was a classic Middle Eastern and Balkan method to neutralize one’s enemies. It had been practiced by Ottomans and by Byzantines before them. Most recently, the Ottoman government had deported hundreds of thousands of Greek and Armenian Christians from war zones and potential war zones between 1914 and 1915. It was an effective military tactic, especially against guerrillas, because it robbed chetté bands and invaders of indigenous support. The tactic has in fact become a stable element of antiguerrilla campaigns in the later twentieth century, although now it is usually described as “relocation” rather than deportation. However, for the Turkish Nationalists in 1920, deporting the Black Sea Greeks was an error.
With all the benefit of hindsight, we now know that the Greeks were incapable of landing in force on the Black Sea coast. There was no real danger of local Greeks participating in a Greek invasion. The “Pontus Republic” revolutionaries were never a potent political or military force and would have been better dealt with by police than by deportation. The one real threat to the Turks of the Black Sea was local Greek support for Greek guerrilla/bandit bands, and this was indeed a threat. 136 Nevertheless, it is doubtful whether the expenditure of time, money, and men (who would have been better used as fighters or rural gendarmes) in the deportations balanced the small gain against Greek bandits. Politically,
the deportations were a clear loss. They played into the hands of the Turks’ enemies, allowing them to drag up once again the mixture of half-truths and lies that had been spread concerning the Armenians in 1915. Western newspapers did not print the Nationalist justifications for the deportation, only lurid stories of long lines of Greeks, half-starved and dying on the roads.
Deportation is an act of desperation. In war, it can only be justified in the most perilous circumstances, because it punishes so many of the innocent to get so few of the enemy. Whether for moral, military, or propagandistic reasons, the Nationalists should not have begun mass deportations of the Pontic Greeks.
The events concerning the Black Sea deportations were intensely debated at the time. Then and now, the main difficulty in discovering the truth is that so little objective evidence exists. In fact, all of the negative reports were based on accounts sent by American missionaries. Like most of their earlier reports on Muslims, missionary accounts from 1919 to 1922 were more informed by prejudice than observation. The missionaries did not even agree among themselves as to what they had seen. 137
The mortality of the deportees from Samsun was caused by lack of attention to their needs. They often went without food and water and were sometimes unprotected against robbers, who occasionally included those who were supposed to protect them. As a result, an unknown but relatively large number died. The final destination of the Greeks was Harput, in the eastern Anatolian vilâyet of Mamuretülaziz. According to the highest figures offered by American Near East Relief workers, notoriously anti-Turkish in their evaluations, 30,000 were deported, of whom 8,000 died on the road to Harput, and more later. However, American missionaries could have had no way to count the dead, and their estimates of both deportees and dead were probably exaggerated. 138
In evaluating the Black Sea deportations, as well as earlier forced migrations, one fact is often overlooked – if the Turkish Nationalists
had intended to kill the Greeks or force them to flee, there was no need to formally deport them. The flight and deaths of western Anatolian Muslims, never deported but forced to either flee or die, proved just that. The claims that Turks intended to “exterminate by deportation” are thus obviously false. Between the Greek method of forced migration and the Turkish, the Turkish would probably have been preferable. Nevertheless, the deportations of Greeks resulted in much inhumanity and mortality.
These deportations seem to have been the only examples of such organized activities on Greek civilians during the war. Most Turkish actions against Greeks were acts of individuals and chetté bands. Many of these actions were the result of long-standing hatreds and greed for plunder; collectively they can be styled reprisals, because they arose after prior Greek actions and probably would not have taken place had the Greeks not invaded. It is probably more accurate, however, to consider them as reactions to the long series of forced migrations and deportations that began with the exile and deaths of the Muslims of Old Greece in the Greek War of Independence. In that context, the question of who killed first in 1919 has little meaning.
It must be noted that the districts that were to become the scene of the Anatolian War were uniformly calm and in good order until the Greeks attacked. This is attested to by neutral observers, including the Allied Smyrna Investigation Commission. In fact, even after the Đzmir invasion, Greek villagers in Turkish-held areas were safe until the Greeks actually occupied the area. 139 The Christians’ time of peril came during the Greek occupation, especially during and after the Greek retreat, when the Muslims took their revenge. In areas such as the Yalova-Gemlik Peninsula, Nationalist chettés did not even appear during the Greek Occupation; the only bands were Greek and Armenian. 140 In the Aydin area in 1919, even after Greek atrocities on Turks were well known, Turkish soldiers were extremely restrained. Commenting on one area in which massacres of Christians had been alleged, British representative Morgan stated: “Despite persistent rumours to the contrary, no Armenian was killed at Bergama and indeed no case of killing [by Turkish soldiers] of any of the inhabitants, Armenian, Jew, or Greek, took place.” 141 Even as late as May of 1921, Turkish officials were still keeping the peace wherever possible and Christians were protected. The Allied “Commission to Investigate the Ismidt Peninsula” reported: “There is evidence that adjacent villages of different creeds exist side by side in the same districts without trouble when the Greeks are in a minority and the administration Turkish.” (The “same districts” were those in which the Greeks had, according to the commission, destroyed civil order and persecuted the Turks.) 142
Undoubtedly a number of Greek and Armenian refugees in Anatolia died from lack of proper care. When Christian refugees were under Turkish control in cities such as Eskișehir, what extra bread and housing was available first went to Muslim refugees, and there was little if anything left for Christian refugees. For example, Christian refugees were sent (or allowed to return) to their old homes in Eskișehir by the Allies. The local Turkish government refused to expel the Muslim refugees from Thrace who had been put into the former homes of Christians. 143 Only in areas in which the Allies had firm control, such as the Marmara Islands (before Greek occupation), were Christian refugees easily settled. In such cases, Muslim refugees were evicted so that Christian refugees might have homes. 144
The greatest breakdown of discipline of the Nationalist troops came in the city where the Greek invasion had begun, Đzmir. When the Turkish troops arrived they found a city abandoned by the Greek army. The army and many civilians had passed from the piers of Đzmir to Greek and Allied ships. In the months that followed, they were followed by hundreds of thousands 145 of Anatolian Greek and Armenian emigrants. The Anatolian Christians were never to return. 146 At first, the Nationalist army kept good order in the city. 147 Troops were delegated to guard foreign consulates and other buildings that might have been in danger. The Turkish citizens of Đzmir, smarting from years of Greek rule, were held in check by Turkish troops. Then this changed. A few days after the Nationalist army had taken the city, the lives and property of Christians were at risk. The looting of Christian property in the city began, and many Greeks and Armenians remaining in Đzmir were killed by local Muslims, with some aid from Turkish soldiers. Given the fact that military discipline was in force for days before the looting began, it is probable that military authorities had knowledge of what was transpiring.
The final act of Đzmir’s drama was a great fire that obliterated Ottoman Đzmir. The fire was started in the Armenian district, either by local Armenians, local Turks, or Nationalist troops – the historical record is extremely confused. One can easily theorize that there was in fact not one fire, but many – fires set in revenge by Christians who did not wish Turks to have the city and by undisciplined soldiers and civilians who simply wished to see buildings burn (in war such things are far from unknown). 148 The often-stated idea of the Turkish Nationalist government deliberately burning down their second greatest city immediately after it had once again become theirs is a prima facie absurdity.
Between the years 1912 and 1922, approximately 300,000 Anatolian Greeks were lost – primarily Greeks from the Black Sea coast and western Anatolia. 149 They died, as did the Turks, from starvation, disease, and murder. Because of the lack of specific mortality statistics, it is impossible to tell how many died in a specific year. Most died in the Anatolian War, but many must have died as a result of the poor conditions during World War I. The Greek invasion of Anatolia was ultimately as great a disaster for Anatolian Greeks as for Anatolian Turks.


The loss of Muslim property was a matter of theft by individual Anatolian Greeks and by Greek officers, enlisted men, and officials. Some theft was to be expected, as it has always been a part of war. To this normal taking of booty, however, was added the deliberate destruction of Turkish property as a political act. In this, as in many things, the Greek invasion of Anatolia reflected the wars of 1877-78 and 1912-13.
Much of the theft took place in abandoned Turkish villages. The inhabitants had fled at the rumor of the arrival of Greek troops, leaving too quickly to take anything but a bit of food and a few clothes, glad to be alive. For example, when Greek soldiers advanced a short distance from Ödemiș, ostensibly in order to shorten their battle lines, 4,000 Turks became
immediately homeless. Everything was left behind, and it was all taken by Greek soldiers. The soldiers drove animals and loaded sacks of grain and tobacco onto carts for transport. Houses were even torn down for building materials. Everything moveable was shipped to Greek regional headquarters at ÖdemiÖ. 150 Speaking of this robbery, British High Commissioner de Robeck commented
The small rectification in the Greek line which was necessary to improve their tactical position has resulted in rendering a further 4,000 people homeless and destitute at the beginning of winter.
One cannot help but reflect, as report after report of this nature is received, how entirely opposed these proceedings in Western Asia Minor are to the principles and ideals for which the Allies fought during the war. 151
As de Robeck indicated, many Turkish villages in the ÖdemiÖTire region had been destroyed. Of the 100 houses in Sevikli, for example, only one was left habitable after the Greeks had passed through. 152 James Morgan, representative in Đzmir of the British High Commissioner, collected examples of the type of pillage that was occurring in the region and forwarded the findings to M. Sterghiades, the Greek High Commissioner in Đzmir. He detailed pillage, murder, the abduction of women, and destruction of Turkish villages, requesting an explanation. 153 Mr. Sterghiades did not reply.
The Ottoman government listed by name seventy-six villages in the Meander Valley that had been destroyed by Greeks in their initial invasion of the region (i.e., by 1919). 154 There is no reason to believe that their list was not accurate, because the village names were substantiated in Allied sources and in other Turkish reports. Indeed, because those seventy-six were the villages whose names were known to the government, there must have been many smaller and lesser known settlements also destroyed. As Greek soldiers advanced on Ayvali, all the Turkish villages in their path were plundered. In Ayazmend alone the plundering took three days. Most of the spoils were “ferried to Mitylene by boats.” 155 Cities such as Aydin and ÖdemiÖ became collection points for plundered goods to be sold in bazaars
or sent off to Greece. 156
The houses and effects of Ottoman officials, especially members of the military and the gendarmerie, were singled out for plundering by the Greeks. The thoroughness with which Ottoman officers were robbed leaves little doubt that they were deliberately selected and that the thefts were allowed by the Greek authorities, perhaps encouraged by them. For most areas, the extent of the despoliation of the Ottoman military cannot be quantified. However, the record of the plunder of the Ottoman military in Đzmir was clear and the Ottoman government was able to give very precise numbers of officers from the garrison of Aydin who had been robbed, along with their losses. They listed by name 310 officers who had been robbed of their arms, personal effects, horses, baggage, and even furniture, in the Aydin garrison alone. 157
Terrible as it was, the destruction of houses and buildings did not have the long-lasting effect of the plunder and destruction of livestock. Over time, housing could be replaced. (The worst loss was the loss of timber used in building; in deforested Anatolia, burnt wood was often irreplaceable.) However, many generations of importing and breeding stock would be needed before the numbers of horses, donkeys, or sheep would once again be sufficient. While not as precise as the seeming accuracy of the figures would indicate, statistics on the loss of livestock in the war region (Table 26), presented at the Lausanne Conference by the Turkish representative, Đsmet Pașa, do indicate the magnitude of the problem. Turkish postwar statements such as “there are no more beasts of burden in the devastated region” 158 ring true. Any beast capable of carrying food or military hardware had been requisitioned by the armies or wantonly slaughtered in the Greek retreat. 159
In the end, statistics and contemporary descriptions indicate a terrible fate for the Muslim peasants of western Anatolia. After years of privations in World War I, the Muslim peasants were made refugees when their land was invaded by the Greeks. Those who survived returned to find houses destroyed and little timber left for rebuilding, crops a burnt stubble and little
seed for new planting. If the peasants did find seed, they had few plows. What few digging and cultivating tools remained were pulled by human beings; the plow animals were gone. For the peasants of western Anatolia the effects of the war went on long after the final victory of the Turkish armies.
The theft of Ottoman government property and money by Greek troops and officials had the dual purpose of enriching the Greek government and destroying Ottoman government functions in the occupied territories. Despite the fact that such exactions were in direct contradiction to the terms of the Armistice and the Allied charge to the Greeks, little Ottoman governmental property escaped the Greeks. In Đzmir, Bursa, Bandirma, Edremid, Karasi, and elsewhere, government funds, even including all supplies of postage stamps, were seized. In Đzmir, the Ottoman government lost, according to its own reckoning, 17,332,961.95 piastres in gold, silver, and notes, more in “effects.” 161 Equipment, tools, machines, animals, and raw materials were also taken from Ottoman government sawmills, agricultural schools, and military factories. The property of the Ottoman Agricultural Bank was seized and removed. In fact, the only difference between these acts of theft and those visited on the Turkish citizenry was their official character, with Greek soldiers often presenting official orders before seizing the property.

Donkeys & Mules Cows Buffalo Camels Goats Sheep
Đzmir Sancaği
40,774 13,962 24,105 32,971 5,464 192,739 156,031
Saruhan 24,502 13,170 12,997 20,254 1,988 44,034 86,137
Aydin 7,126 4,830 7,543 11,115 30 25,471 29,581
Denizli 1,832 3,314 3,061 1,759 38 34,321 28,249
Bursa 3,730 630 38,820 29,058 – 1,251 39,916
Ertukrul 504 258 36,364 27,181 – 403 29,640
Đzmit 5,702 2,790 28,437 34,113 – 12,100 161,109
Eskişehir 28,202 15,796 82,347 34,374 748 297,614 1,120,009
Karasi 4,862 1,122 4,281 6,973 164 6,066 40,203
Afyon 528 954 1,860 2,859 – 4,164 28,260
Kiitahya 13,222 2,850 17,500 18,618 – 99,922 33,752
Haymana Kazasi
3,086 3,710 7,665 8,955 72 103,254 17,370

Total 134,040 63,926 264,980 228,230 8,504 821,339 1,770,316
SOURCE: Đsmet Paşa at the Lausanne Conference 160 ; addition errors are in the original.

Buildings Destroyed
Buildings Present Before the War
Manisa 13,633 14,773
Alaşehir 4,350 4,500
Salihli 2,000 2,200
Kasaba 6,126 6,326
Gemdens 431 Completely Destroyed
Aydin 6,243 Completely Destroyed
Nazili 2,121 Completely Destroyed
Senhe 1,731 Mostly Destroyed
Mihaliççik 1,965 Completely Destroyed
Pazow Keuy 408 Completely Destroyed
Bilecik 2,245 Completely Destroyed
Soğut 948 Completely Destroyed
Yenişehir 1,187 Half Destroyed
Bozüyük 748 Completely Destroyed
Pazarcik 644 Completely Destroyed
Đznik 615 648
Karamürsel 830 847
Yalova 232 286
Eskişehir 1,867 Partially Destroyed
Mihalişik 905 Completely Destroyed
Suşak 1,971 Mostly Destroyed

Kedos 694 Completely Destroyed
Çevril 405 Completely Destroyed
Eşme 307 Completely Destroyed
Pandirma 1,305 Mostly Destroyed
Afyon Kara Hisar 394 Partially Destroyed

Total 54,205*
SOURCE:Turkish Delegation at Lausanne. 163

  • Total as in original; actual total is 54,305.
    TABLE 28.
    Sancak or Kaza
    Buildings Destroyed
    Đzmir Sancaği 13,599
    Saruhan Sancaği 9,084
    Aydin Sancaği 8,326
    Denizli Sancaği 634
    Bursa Sancaği 13,668
    Ertuğrul Sancaği 3,235
    Đzmit Sancaği 17,728
    Eskişehir Sancaği 21,711
    Karasi Sancaği 6,385
    Afyon Kara Hisar Sancaği 278
    Kütahya Sancaği 894
    Haymana Kazasi 1,127

Total 87,669*
Total, Cities Included 141,874

  • Destruction in cities not included.
    SOURCE: Turkish Delegation at Lausanne. 164
    The worst destruction of houses, villages, and government, religious, and communal property obviously came during the final Greek retreat. Much of what lay on the Greek line of march was totally destroyed, and there can be no doubt of the fact. Effective use was made of photography by both the Nationalists and Western photographers in documenting the destruction. Cities such as Afyon, Ușak, Eșme, Alașehir, Söke, and many others were shown in photographs to have been almost completely destroyed. 165

One of the foremost Greek activities in the occupied territories was the destruction of the Ottoman system of civil government. This had a dual purpose: First, the Greeks could not allow the presence of a standing and functioning non-Greek government in a region they planned to make part of Greece. The only governors, bureaucrats, judges, and policemen were to be Greek. By destroying Ottoman civil government in favor of their own, the Greeks actually could claim to rule in Anatolia, not simply to be an army in temporary occupation. If the Greeks were the only government, to whom but the Greeks could the Allies turn when they looked for a stabilized postwar state in western Anatolia? Second, by removing the Ottoman
government, especially the gendarmerie, the Greeks left the Muslim population defenseless, completely at the mercy of the local Greeks, Greek bands, and Greek regular soldiers. The Turkish villagers were themselves disarmed by the Greek soldiers. To whom could they turn when attacked? Their only recourse was flight, exactly as the Greeks intended. 166
The rules of the Occupation, as set forth by the Allies, and the terms of the Mudros Armistice both mandated the continued ordinary function of Ottoman civil administration in the occupied territories. The Greeks did all in their power to ensure that this was not the case. While they were forced to accept at least a semblance of Ottoman civil administration in areas close to Allied observation, such as the Marmara region, the Greeks in general did not allow Ottoman officials to serve even in name only. Governors appointed by the Istanbul government were not allowed to take up their duties. Those officials who were already in place were driven from their posts. In fact, those who were driven back to Istanbul were the lucky ones. Many other Ottoman officials were forcibly deported to Greece, often never to be seen again, or simply killed. Some were arrested and summarily shot. 167
The general anarchy in the region occupied by the Greeks was partially due to the absence of any policing power in the region. Both the Ottoman government and the Allies complained that, in addition to the obvious crimes of the invading army and its partisans, ordinary crime was also unstoppable. 168 This too worked in favor of the Greek invaders, who contended that the lack of order showed the need for a strong Greek force.

Except in the far northeast of Anatolia and Cilicia, there was no effective Ottoman army when the Greeks invaded. What gendarmerie remained after World War I was restricted to a few areas and often was poorly armed. The limited power of the state was sufficient to protect only essential, usually urban, services. Rural areas were often unpoliced. In a letter intercepted by British Military Intelligence, the mutasarrif (chief official of a sancak) of the Black Sea sancak of Canik, Ethem Bey, complained to the Porte in April of 1919 that he barely had enough gendarmes to protect the prisons and the post, much less pursue bandits and insurgents. As a result, he stated, in the kazas of Canik Sancaǧi there were “439 chettes, of which 58 are Moslems
and the rest Greeks.” 169 The British High Commissioner, Horace Rumbold, reported that the disarming of the gendarmerie had left the Turks helpless and thus “terrorized by Greek and Armenian bands.” 170
All regular organs of the Ottoman government in the occupied territories ceased to function. Sometimes they were replaced by Greek government officials, but usually were not. Ottoman administrators and civil servants were at best ignored, at worst killed. The mayor of Șile was murdered and his body quickly buried without religious rites. At Alașehir, the kaymakam (district officer) made repeated complaints to Greek authorities. Their response was to deport the kaymakam, along with 27 other religious and civil notables of the town. They were not seen again. 171 The 28 leading notables of Sivrihisar, including all the municipal council, were deported to Đzmir. 172
Such deportations as were seen in Alașehir were a normal, and probably effective, Greek tactic for destroying Turkish authority. Those who were deported were governors, religious leaders, landlords, village headmen – in general, those who were respected and whose authority could potentially challenge that of the Greeks. As mentioned previously, the deportees seldom survived. 173 Those taken from Alașehir, Aydin, Nazilli, and other cities were not heard from again. (The tactic may not have had the effect desired by the Greek command. They removed the older, more conservative Turks who were likely to be shown respect in a traditional Muslim society as well as Ottoman officials who were likely to be primarily loyal to the Istanbul government. This left the Nationalists as the only symbol of Turkish authority.)


A certain number of refugees are a part of any war; no intelligent person remains on a battlefield, except perhaps those who are fighting. When their villages and homes become a battlefield, the people of an area become refugees. However, the Anatolian War created excessive numbers of Turkish refugees. This was due to the deliberate expulsion of the Turks of western
Anatolia in order to create a majority Greek state, the same refugee tactic successfully used by Greeks, Bulgarians, Serbs, and Russians in earlier wars. The Greek occupation of Anatolia also had forms of administrative coercion that were specific to it: High taxes were levied and crops confiscated; Ottoman currency was not allowed to circulate and could only be exchanged for Greek currency at an artificially low official rate, destroying both the economy of Turkish villagers and of the Ottoman state; leading men of villages and cities were deported, leaving the Turks without traditional leaders, and regular citizens were deported from their villages for forced labor projects; travel by Turks was greatly curtailed, unless they planned to leave Greek territory completely, when it was facilitated. In short, the Greek government did all it could to insure that the Muslims would become as much a minority in the occupied territory of Anatolia as they had become in the Balkans. 174
Turkish refugees often fled a number of times. Their sufferings from multiple migrations were reminiscent of the sufferings of the refugees in the Balkan Wars. Indeed, a number of the Turkish refugees of Aydin Vilâyeti had come there as refugees of the Balkan Wars. When word of the Smyrna landing reached the rest of Aydin Vilâyeti, local Turks began to fear and local Greeks to threaten. Both sides knew what would be the result of a Greek occupation of the Turkish villages. Many of the Turks fled from the dangerous countryside to cities such as Manisa. 175 This provided no safety, as later events in Manisa were to prove, and the survivors became refugees once more.
[General Harrington at Istanbul] I have paid a visit to many of the Turkish refugee camps. Of the 65,000 refugees about 23,000 are in real distress. On my last visit I saw 7,000 composed of old men, almost beyond work, women and children. Their condition is deplorable. One bowl of soup every second day and a bit of bread on alternate days is all that I saw are getting. Excellent work is being done by British Relief Committee, under Sir Adam Block, and they are deserving of every support. They are working up to one bowl every day. Their clothing is mere rags.
Their state is worse than that of the Russians. 176
The city of Aydin changed hands three times in 1919 – first held by Turks, then taken by Greeks, retaken by Turks, then taken again by Greeks. Perhaps 2,000 Turks and 400 Greeks died in the fighting and attendant massacres, but the number of refugees makes the disparity in suffering between the Greeks and Turks even more obvious than the mortality. After the second loss of the now almost destroyed city to the Greeks, 3,000 Greeks were homeless, as were 25,000 Turks. Unlike the Turks, the Greeks had somewhere to go. The Greek army was in charge and Turkish houses and villages were available. The number of Turkish refugees from the city of Aydin was thus swelled further by Turks from villages around Aydin whose villages were occupied or burned down by Greeks. 177
Refugees did not flee solely from the troops of the other side. Many, perhaps the majority of the refugees, Muslim and Christian, fled because of the danger of being in a war zone. In fact, danger was most likely to come to Muslim refugees from Christian soldiers and chetté bands, but that would have made little difference to refugees. It was enough to know that danger existed. Thus, in areas such as the Adapazari-Geyve region of northwestern Anatolia, Greeks, Armenians, and Turks all fled from battles and chetté bands. It was estimated that, in November of 1920, the city of Đzmit and its surroundings held 12,000 Greek, 6,000 Armenian, and 10,000 Turkish refugees. 178
Corresponding to the Turkish refugees from the territories held by the Greeks during the war were the Greek and Armenian refugees in western Anatolia, refugees from areas held by the Turkish Nationalists. In most regions, their numbers were relatively small. The Athens government, known to exaggerate numbers, estimated only 1,800 Christian refugees (supported by the Greek administration, which would not have included some) in the Manisa-AydinNazilli region. 179 The only large groups of Christian refugees were gathered at Đzmit, at Bursa (Greek estimate 16,000), and on Kios (Greek estimate approximately 7,500). 180 The latter seem to have been made up primarily of refugees of the World War I period, not the more recent Turco-Greek conflict.
The comparative suffering of the Greek and Turkish refugee populations is difficult to measure, and assessing the differences would normally be a profitless exercise. It should be enough to consider starving and ill-housed refugees as human beings who suffered. However, from the time of the population exchange until today, only the sufferings of the Greeks have been noted in the West. Ignoring and obfuscating the suffering of Muslim Turks sent from Greece to Turkey began almost as soon as the Lausanne Agreement was signed. After admitting that he had not gone to Asia Minor to see for himself the conditions of Turkish refugees, Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, the League of Nations High Commissioner of Refugees, wrote:
Nevertheless, it is clear from the evidence which I have received that the situation of the population in this area of Asia Minor, although undoubtedly serious, is one with which the Turkish authorities are in a position to deal without great assistance from outside, and I do not think that the problem there is comparable in gravity to that of the refugees in Greece. 181
One seemingly rational explanation for the supposedly greater suffering of Greek refugees was simply the fact that more Greeks left Anatolia during and after the war than Turks left Greece. (The Turks who left Europe during the Balkan Wars were left out of the equation.) This was a true, but in terms of suffering, a meaningless statistic. The proper question was not which country had a larger population or which had taken in more refugees, but whether the country could care for the refugees that arrived. If that question is asked, it is obvious that Turkey was much less prepared than Greece to support the immigrants. The Turkish refugees came to a country that had been ravaged by war. In the regions of the Greek retreat, especially, there were few houses for the surviving Anatolian Turks, much less the immigrants. Much of the manufacturing power of the state had been lost in the wars, so there were no industrial jobs. Terrible though the sufferings of the Greek refugees were, Greece was at least a settled state that had not suffered such destruction. Her houses were intact, her industries still there; yet it was the Greeks who received the international aid. American aid organizations such as the American Red Cross and Near East Relief contributed millions to house and feed Greek refugees. The Bank of England advanced £2,000,000 to Greece for refugee aid and two major loans added up to almost £20,000,000 for Greece from 1924 to 1938. 182 While the Greeks would have preferred, and needed, grants rather than loans, the Turks, who needed the loans more, received nothing.

Numbers of Refugees. The numbers of refugees from the Greek invasion can never be known exactly. With the virtual collapse of the Ottoman government, the only agency that had effectively aided, and counted, Muslim refugees, the Ottoman Refugee Commission, ceased most of its field operations. European observers were astounded by the magnitude of the Muslim migration, but they could only estimate the refugee numbers. British reports often spoke of large numbers of Turkish refugees from areas such as Đzmir, Aydin, or Yalova, using phrases such as “there must be 100,000 refugees” 183 in that area alone. The Ottoman Refugee Commission estimated that there were between 200,000 and 350,000 Turkish refugees in the spring of 1921. 184
What estimates were made in the midst of the first Greek actions in Aydin Vilâyeti indicate a great number of Muslim refugees. The Senior Italian Naval Officer, G. Giovannini, reported that by the middle of July 1919, 20,00 Muslim refugees were already camped on the south side of the Meander River, the victims of Greek soldiers and civilians who had taken their beasts of burden and their wheat and burned their villages. 185 By August 1919, there were already from 40,000 to 50,000 Muslim refugees from the Bergama district camped at Soma. 186 By September 1919, at least 60,000 Muslim Turks from Aydin were refugees. 187 The Ottoman Interior Ministry estimated that in 1920 there were almost 800,000 refugees “in the interior” (i.e., central Anatolia) – 200,000 refugees from “Roumelie” who wished to return; 407,000 Muslim refugees from the eastern vilâyets; and 150,000 from the “recent events in Smyrna.” 188 As in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78 and the Balkan Wars, many Muslim refugees were forced to move a number of times. For example, when the Greek army occupied Foça and the kazas of Koçhisar, Soma, and Kirkaǧaç (of Aydin) in June of 1919, the Turks of these areas fled to Karasi. 189 When Karasi fell to the Greeks, they were forced to flee again. It is particularly distressing to realize that many of these migrants had originally been forced from their homes in Europe during the Balkan Wars.
Of all the estimates of the number of Muslim refugees, the figures offered by Đsmet Pașa (Đnönü) at the Lausanne Peace Conference seem most accurate. He estimated that 1.5 million Anatolian Turks had been exiled or had died in the area of Greek occupation. 190 This estimate may appear high, but it fits well with estimates made by contemporary European observers. Moreover,
Đsmet Pașa’s figures on refugees were presented to the Conference accompanied by detailed statistics of destruction in the occupied region, and these statistics make the estimate seem probable. Đsmet Pașa, quoting from a census made after the war, demonstrated that 160,739 buildings had been destroyed in the occupied region. The destroyed homes alone would account for many hundreds of thousands of refugees, 191 and not all the homes of refugees were destroyed.
European accounts of refugee numbers were necessarily fragmented, but when compiled they support Đsmet Pașa’s estimate. The British agent at Aydin, Blair Fish, reported 177,000 Turkish refugees in Aydin Vilâyeti by 30 September 1919, 192 only four months after the Greek landing. The Italian High Commissioner at Istanbul accepted an Ottoman estimate that there were 457,000 refugees by September of 1920, 193 and this figure did not include the new refugees in the fall and winter of 1920 to 1921. Dr. Nansen stated that 75,000 Turks had come to the Istanbul area alone 194 since November of 1920. Such figures make Đsmet Pașa’s estimate all the more credible. Since approximately 640,000 Muslims died in the region of occupation during the war, one can estimate that approximately 860,000 were refugees who survived the war. Of course many, if not most, of those who died were refugees, as well. If one estimates that half the Muslims who died were refugees, it would be roughly accurate to say that 1.2 million Anatolian Muslim refugees fled from the Greeks, and about one-third died. 195
A number of Muslims left eastern Thrace during the Greek occupation of 1918 to 1923. It is known that more than 9,000 of these escaped into Bulgaria. 196 The Greek government took a census of eastern Thrace in 1920, 197 but only counted total population, not religion or ethnic group. In 1920, the Ottomans estimated that 200,000 refugees from “Rumelia” 198 were in the Istanbul area. Of these, at least 30,000 came from eastern Thrace. 199 Muslim refugees who went from eastern Thrace to Anatolia remain uncounted.
Postwar migration into the western Anatolian provinces makes it difficult to estimate the exact number of Muslims who died during World War I and the Anatolian War. The only way to count deaths is to take the population before the war and subtract the population after the war; Muslims who moved from one province to another confuse the statistics. The land in western Anatolia was the best
in Turkey, and many probably came there before the first Turkish Census (upon which the 1922 figures in Table 29 are based) was taken in 1927. Obviously, many moved from Konya to nearby Aydin, artificially increasing the loss numbers for Konya and decreasing those in Aydin.
Ottoman Provinces Prewar* 1922 Loss
Aydin 1,887,673 1,400,949 486,724
Hüdavendigâr 1,643,491 1,437,971 205,520
Đzmit 271,751 259,712 12,039
Ankara 1,273,207 1,158,376 114,831
Konya 1,550,843 1,123,889 426,954
Total Loss 1,246,068

  • Population in 1912 plus refugees from the Balkan Wars. 200
    SOURCE: McCarthy, Muslims and Minorities.
    At the end of the Greco-Turkish War, much of western Anatolia was in ruins. Whether it was the Greeks or the Turks who suffered the greatest hardships is an immaterial question. Losses were so great on both sides that to consider the disaster of one group or the other as more important is to ignore the true dimensions of a human disaster. The sufferings of the Turks have been singled out here not because they were somehow worse, but because they have been so little known.
    In terms of the long history of Muslim mortality and forced migration from the western Ottoman Empire, the war in western Anatolia was a climax. All the tactics of ethnic and religious eradication previously used in the Morea, in the Bulgarian War, and in the Balkan Wars appeared once acould be pushed no farther. Previously they had depended on the Ottoman Empire to defend them and their homes, and had lost. Now they defended themselves, without the sultan who had guided them for six centuries, and survived. gain in Anatolia. The distinction is that in Anatolia the Turks had their backs to the wall – they could be pushed no farther. Previously they had depended on the Ottoman Empire to defend them and their homes, and had lost. Now they defended themselves, without the sultan who had guided them for six centuries, and survived.


You don’t need to read it all, there are names of the parts with Capital letters, so you can pick up what you need. McCarthy’s sources are mainly reports of allies and few Turkish accounts, I can send his sources as well, if you need. Still, bear in mind that he is pro-Turkish and some of his thoughts can be biased. Also, read the account of Izmir massacre, that this guy has recommended. Again, sorry that didn’t manage to write the summary


Thank you all for your contributions to this! We shot the episode this week and without the contributions in this thread it would never have been as good as we feel it became! Special thanks to @avalantis and @anicisuper for contributing essential numbers for both sides of the conflict.


@obiwanbul because of the script already being 4000 words long when dealing with the primary part often war and the immediately related Genocides we’re not able to go into much detail about Bulgaria and the Balkans in this episode, but we will use it for other coverage of the events related to the Balkans.


Is there still time to put it in the 1925 range? I’m thinking something like 1925 03 - Red Terror in the Balkans where you talk about communist attempts to seize power through terror attacks (which is always relevant in this day and age). It can be a shorter episode but you can go in on a whole bunch of stuff like the biggest terrorist attack on European soil for the 20th century (which didn’t even get the man they were after).

If it’s not then, the only other good date I can think of is the 1934 coup, but when you compare it to the insanity of 1923-1925 that is going to be a little underwhelming. There is the assassination of the Yugoslav King in 1934, but I figure its better to talk about the IMRO and what they’ve been up to in that episode rather socialist terrorist acts.


Good ideas all - I have to make a summary of where we stand, before we can say definitely which episodes we still want to do. We’re always revising the episode list based on how the scripts turn out. Once you start writing the scripts sort of take on life of their own and we end ups covering it based on what additional stuff we learn form the research and how that angles toward WWII. In any case, we’re done shooting halfway into 1924, so 25 is still an option.


I like the 1925 idea best as it allows much more detail and much more clearer explanations of a time in history that hasn’t really been covered… well anywhere outside of Bulgarian text books. Should I start gathering research or wait a bit more?

I should also mention that 1925 is when the Petrich Incident took place which can also be used as a way to give an update on Greece following the Greco-Turkish war.