Charles Dexter Morris (1883-1954) was a news editor for the Near East Relief from 1921-1924. He has been credited for some of the most recognizable photos depicting the final phase of the Greek Genocide. He was born in Eldred, Pennsylvania and received his early education in Olean, N.Y. He graduated with a B.A at Yale University in 1906 and later took courses in journalism at Columbia University. In 1909 he became city editor of the Associated Press news agency in New York and during the First World War (1914-1918) he was a member of the Associated Press staff in London. For the next three years he was in charge of the news and publicity service of the American Red Cross in London and Paris.
He arrived in Constantinople on Jan 27, 1922 and was the news editor of the Near East Relief Commission in Turkey, Greece and nearby areas up until 1924 when he returned to New York to join the staff of the International New Service. He also wrote articles for The New York Times magazine section, the Saturday Evening Post and other magazines. In 1923, he was awarded the Cross of Saint Xavier by King George of Greece for his work in that country as news director and of the Near East Relief Commission.1 In 1920, he was awarded the order of the third class by King Nicholas of Montenegro for his work in the Red Cross.2
Some of his photos
The photo below originally appeared in the December 1922 issue of the New Near East magazine and has often been used to depict the experience of Greeks during the genocide. The article in question is titled 5,000 Children Trek 500 Miles to Safety and describes the 500 mile pilgrimage of 5,000 children from Near East Relief orphanages in Harput (Turkey) to orphanages in Syria. The same photo also appeared in a November 1925 National Geographic article titled History's Greatest Trek.
Another of his photos depicts a sombre scene following the Smyrna Holocaust in September 1922. The photo shows a group of men being rounded up before being sent to the interior of Turkey. This photo also appeared in the November 1925 issue of National Geographic. It's original cation was: Weeding out Men for Deportation: Smyrna. Beneath the caption, the following text appears: After the fire these unfortunates, being between the age limits of 17 and 45 years, were not permitted to leave Smyrna with their families, but were sent back to the interior of Anatolia.
1. The National cyclopædia of American biography. New York, James T. White and Co, 1962, pp. 269-270.
2. Americans Honored by King Nicholas. The Chickasha daily express., February 20, 1920.
Portrait photo source: Find a Grave, accessed 27 March 2020), memorial page for Charles Dexter Morris (1883–1954), Find a Grave Memorial no. 21179369.
Jackie Coogan (1914-1984) was an American actor who was best known for his role as Uncle Fester in the 1960's US television series The Addams Family. At a very young age Coogan became personally involved with the collection of vital supplies for the survivors of the genocide on behalf of the Near East Relief.
In 1921, at the age of 6, Coogan became one of the first child stars after playing alongside Charlie Chaplin in the 1921 silent comedy The Kid. In that same year, he appeared in the July issue of The New Near East magazine (pictured above) where he was seen holding a bundle of clothing. The article describes how Coogan showed concern for the "...million and half people in the Caucasus [who] have no clothes for next winter."
Boy Scouts and child actor Jackie Coogan helping to fill a "million-dollar milk ship" for the Near East Relief. c. 1924.
Coogan went on to influence many throughout the US to donate to the orphans suffering as a result of the genocide in Ottoman Turkey. In 1922, the Mark Strand Theater in Brooklyn, NY screened the silent comedy drama Trouble starring Jackie Coogan. The price of admission was a bundle of clothing and 3,500 bundles were raised for the Near East Relief.
By 1924, Coogan was touring the US where he was received with an ovation in towns he visited. His campaign was often dubbed the Children's Crusade and the goal was to also collect a shipload of food for the orphans in the Near East. With the help of the Boy Scouts of America, cans of milk were collected, packed and delivered to train stations throughout the US. Jackie Coogan's milk train made its way to train stations where he was greeted by Boy Scouts. He managed to raise millions of dollars (in today's terms) of relief material which he personally delivered in Athens, not before stopping off in Rome where he received the blessing of the reigning Pontiff, Pius XI. Coogan was decorated by the Hellenic Government with the Silver Cross of the Order of St. George, given in recognition of his humanitarian work.
United Nations Treaty Collection, Volume 32, pp. 75-88. Source
Susan Wealthy Orvis (1873-1941) was a U.S missionary who witnessed the persecution of Greeks during the Greek Genocide and provided relief to the survivors. Orvis traveled to Turkey as early as 1902 under the auspices of the American Board of Commissions for Foreign Missions. In 1920, she served as the Director of the Near East Relief Schools in Talas, a district in Caesarea (today Kayseri), a province in the interior of Turkey. In November of 1922, only weeks after the destruction of Smyrna by Kemalist forces, Orvis was coordinating the evacuation of hundreds of orphans from Kayseri to the seacoast when she witnessed native Greeks from Smyrna - mainly women and children - being marched to their death. Orvis said:
I have never in my whole experience in Near East witnessed such human sorrow, distress, death, as caused by this vast flight, which is depopulating one of Turkey's richest provinces. It was like a march of terror.
I brought out the fifteenth and last caravan of orphans from Caesarea, 250 miles inland. First half of journey made in wagons. I traveled on horseback in order better to watch over column. We set out from Caesarea at five, morning. An hour later were in foothills of Mount Argaeus, thirteen thousand feet high, where snow impeded progress. We were marching through historic gates of Cilicia in Taurus mountains when I saw a sight I shall never forget. It was a long thin column of people coming towards us. As they came closer I saw there were a thousand in the line. Ninety-five percent were women, children; remainder old men. Solitary mounted Turkish soldier rode in middle of column.
In answer to my questions my Turkish guide almost startled me with information that they were from Smyrna and were being deported to Caesarea. 'They are being punished', he said, 'for excesses committed by Greek soldiers against our people.'
I knew from their clothing that they had come from another region than the one we were in. Questions revealed awful truth – they had walked from Smyrna, 500 miles away. They had been on road two months, a column of agony. There were three thousands in column when they started. Groups had at intervals been diverted to other roads and many weaker ones had died by roadside. I now recalled village gossip of wholesale deportations after Smyrna disaster. Here it was in its awful reality. Every face bore deathlike pallor. Women carried babies in arms and were stooped from weight of all their possessions on their backs. Majority were barefooted. All were unutterably miserable but bore themselves with remarkable fortitude.
After they passed on I noticed some garments at roadside. No one throws away clothing in the desolate country. Lifting garments I uncovered two little girls about twelve years old. They were white, staring skeletons, so close to death they could not move. They were left for dead by column of agony. We succeeded in reviving them and obtained permission from authorities to place them in our orphan caravan.
After four and a half days we reached Ouloukishla [Ulukışla] on Baghdad railway, where we paid full fare for our children to ride in six inches of snow in open freight cars to Mersine. My last moments in Ouloukishla were devoted to making strongest representations to authorities for protection against soldiers who tried carry off our oldest girls.
An approximate route taken by Susan Wealthy Orvis (in red) during her evacuation of orphans from Kayseri (Gr: Caesarea) to the seacoast, and the deportation route taken by Greeks from Smyrna (in blue).
- They Are Being Punished, The New Near East, Feb 1923, p 12.
- Remembering Susan Wealthy Orvis, Kamo Mailyan, Wendy Elliott, accessed 2/3/2017.
Emily Petty was an American nurse who provided relief to victims and survivors of the Greek Genocide. Petty graduated from the Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City then later served in the US Army in France and Germany, the American Red Cross in Serbia and did child welfare work in Poland.1 In 1922 she was assigned to the medical department of the Near East Relief unit in Harput, Turkey.2 Petty was also the director of the American Women's Hospitals (AWH) service on the island of Chios and Mitylene. As more and more Greek refugees from Turkey arrived on the islands she helped with the passage of the hospital's equipment and followed the refugees to Thrace. At the request of the local government she opened an American Women's Hospital at Xanthi and established clinics and coordinated child welfare work at Giannitsa and other villages in Greece.3
In January 1923, Petty was involved in the evacuation of Greek orphans from Harput in Turkey. She arrived at the Aleppo railway station in Syria after shepherding 210 Greek and Armenian orphans through freezing conditions over 500 miles crossing long stretches of desert and mountains infested with bandits. The small children traveled in panniers fixed on the backs of donkeys. They slept in blanket rolls in barns. In all, 20,000 Greeks had been evacuated from Harput and Petty's group was the last group to make it out. The convoy of orphans was accompanied by 800 Greek adults who felt there was a lesser chance of being robbed with Americans in charge. Despite this, the Greek men were attacked by brigands along the way at Suruç and stripped of their shoes and clothing. The scantily clad women gave up an article of clothing to the naked men who later limped into Aleppo in women's attire.4
On the road from Haput. Source: The New Near East, April 1923, p.17.
1. Near East Relief, Volume 4, No, 15, 16. April 15, 23 1922.
2. Near East Relief, May 13,1922, p. 4.
3. Certain Samaritans, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1927, p.296.
4. The New Near East, April 1923, p.17.
In April 2019, three months before the national elections in Greece, then opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis met with members of the Pontic Greek lobby in Greece. Since that meeting, the now Greek Prime Minister Mr Mitsotakis as well as Greece's President Mr Prokopis Pavlopoulos have consistently stated they will support the worldwide recognition of the genocide of Pontic Greeks. However, Greeks from Pontus weren't the only victims of the Greek Genocide. Greeks from many other regions were also victims. Seeking the partial recognition of a genocide, let alone the Greek Genocide, is absurd and sends the wrong message. Please read our letter below. If you agree with the sentiments, email the letter to the President and Prime Minister of Greece using the emails provided. Please also consider sending it to the Pan-Pontian Federation of Greece, ekathimerini newspaper and any other parties you feel appropriate.
Copy and Paste our letter below and send it to:
also cc it to your local Greek community and Greek newspaper to raise awareness.
Note: Due to the hacking of various Greek Government websites, emails to the President and PM may return undelivered.
Subject: Mr President and Mr Prime Minister - All the Victims of the Greek Genocide Deserve Recognition
Dear Mr President and Mr Prime Minister,
I am writing to express my frustration with your stance on the Greek Genocide. Over the last 9 months, both of you have publicly stated that Greece will support the worldwide recognition of the genocide of the Greeks from the region of Pontus. However, the Greeks of Pontus weren't the only victims of the Greek Genocide. There were Greeks from many other regions who were also victims. Why then, are you only seeking worldwide recognition for the genocide of the Pontic Greeks? Not only is this illogical and ahistorical, it's also divisive and unfair on all the other Greek victims.
Mr President and Mr Prime Minister, between 1914-1923, large numbers of native Greeks in the Ottoman Empire were subjected to a state sponsored plan of eradication that many historians and modern genocide scholars have affirmed as an act of genocide. In 1998, the Hellenic Parliament passed Law Number 2645/1998 which recognizes that Greeks throughout ALL OF ASIA MINOR were victims of genocide. Why then, do you only support the worldwide recognition for the Greeks from the region of Pontus?
I wish to remind you that genocide is a heinous act perpetrated on an ethnic group. In the case of the Greek Genocide, all the victims were Greek, regardless of which region they lived. Seeking worldwide recognition only for the Greeks from one region sends the wrong message, a message of division. The Pontic Greeks were no more and no less Greek than any of the other Greek victims. I realize that the Pontic lobby met with Mr Mitsotakis in April 2019, three months before the Greek national elections, but I'd like to think that your decision to only seek recognition for the Pontic Greeks is not a result of this meeting. Genocide recognition should go to ALL THE VICTIMS OF THE GREEK GENOCIDE, not just the group that lobbies more vigorously.
May I also remind you that genocide is the ultimate act of exclusion, therefore remembrance and recognition should be done in an inclusive manner. We rely on our leaders to be strong and lead by example, for ALL GREEKS. We rely on our leaders to unite Greeks and not divide them into groups worthy of genocide recognition, and those not worthy.
I politely ask that you respect the historical record and reconsider your policy on the recognition of the Greek Genocide. All the Greek victims deserve recognition. Anything less is offensive, divisive and unacceptable.
[Insert your name here].
The perpetrators of the Greek Genocide were responsible for planning and executing the destruction of Greek communities during the genocide. They include members of the Committee of Union and Progress Party, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and his nationalist supporters (Kemalists) as well as German military personnel.
A focus on some of the regions affected and other documentary evidence.
Many individuals and organizations provided relief to the victims and survivors of the Greek Genocide. The following are some of the individuals who sometimes risked their lives to provide such care. Please note that this is a new section of the website and is currently being updated.
8,000 Greek refugees from Anatolia sheltered in caves near Aleppo, Syria.
Greek civilians mourn their dead. Smyrna 1922.
A woman and 3 children gaze at the camera as they are taken away in a freight train with a soldier above them. Edirne (Adrianople),
Greek refugees at Aleppo, Syria.
Massacred Greeks in western Anatolia laid out on stretchers.
Anatolian refugees at Aleppo, Syria, circa 1915-1916.
Nearly a thousand children in Constantinople found in cellars and hovels in a doped condition, having been given native narcotics to keep them quiet.
Turkish troups standing beside their hanged victim, a decapitated and mutilated body of a Greek woman in Nazilli, Aydin province.
Refugees after the Smyrna fire, 1922.
A group of Greek children who had dropped out exhausted from the weary lines of deportees were picked up by the NER from the Harput region and taken to Beirut some 750 miles away.