GREEK GENOCIDE RESOURCE CENTER

 
Between 1914-1923, the Ottoman Empire (today Turkey) under two successive regimes, carried out a systematic and violent campaign of extermination against its native Greek citizens.

Overview

A general overview of the Greek Genocide.

Map of Massacres

Map and List of Massacres

Testimonies

A collection of eye-witness testimonies.

Newspaper reporting of the Greek Genocide.

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The perpetrators of the Greek Genocide.

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An extensive list of reading material.

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Overview

 

Sophia Iakovides (1860-1942) was my maternal great-grandmother. Her husband was Michalis Iakovides (or Iakovou). She is pictured here seated to the right with her two sons Ioannis (left) and James (right) and her daughter Paschalia (seated left). The young boy is Michalis, son of Ioannis. c. 1924. Location?

The following testimony is related to the Iakovides (or Iakovou) and Margelis families, both of which were from Marmara Island (formerly Prokonessus) and was submitted by their great-granddaughter via our online questionnaire.

1. From which region of the Ottoman Empire were your ancestors from?:
    My ancestors were from a village called Proastio on the Island of Marmara (Prokonnesus) which is currently part of Turkey.

2. How did their life change when the Neo-Turks and/or the Kemalists came to power? :
   They were forcibly removed from their island on the 5th of June 1915 and taken across to Bandirma by boat and then forcibly marched to inland Anatolia to a place called Karacabey (Mihalıtsi) where they stayed until the end of WW1. Those who survived then walked back to Bandirma then caught boats back to their beloved island of Marmara.

3. Were they deported during the genocide? If so, when, where to, and describe their experience:
    Yes. Many died along the way and many also died at Karacabey (Mihalıtsi) as they had no shelter and were exposed to disease. On their return they found their homes had been ransacked and robbed, their stock stolen and their boats gone.

My maternal grandparents Plutarchos and Theodosia Iakovides with their three children - George, Photini and baby Sophia. Date? Location?

4. Were they held in a concentration camp or labor camp? If so, where was it located and describe the conditions :
    There was a sort of camp outside Bandirma. At Karacabey (Mihalıtsi) there was a township but no home/shelter for them. They had no money so conditions were tough at both locations.

5. Did they lose family and friends? If so, how did they cope?:
   Yes. Family members died along the way and at their final destination. My maternal-grandparents Plutarchos Iakovides (1881-1942) and his wife Theodosia (1884-1959) lost their infant daughter Diamantoula at Karacabey (Mihalıitsi). Both my paternal grandmother's parents, Evangelos and Afratenia Halvatzis died at Karacabey (Mihalitsi) as did their 14 year old daughter Katerina.

6. Did anyone within Turkey including Turks try to help them during the genocide? :
   There were no Ottoman (Turks?) residents on Marmara so the answer is ‘no’. (I'm sure?)Their eyes saw barbaric acts while they were on mainland Anatolia, acts which they did not speak of.

 

My paternal grandparents Chrysostomos and Eleni Margelis 

7. How did they cope emotionally with their genocide experience? Did it affect the remainder of their life?
    Family members did not speak much of what they went through. Talk was only of their beloved island life on Marmara. That generation generally did not speak about it.

8. Did the denial of the genocide by the perpetrator (the successor state of Turkey) affect their ability to form closure?:
    I'm not sure.

9. How did they feel about Turkey after the genocide? :
    It was never Turkey to them. It was and remained their homeland, their place of birth, their Mikra Asia (Asia Minor), just as they referred to Constantinople as such, and not Istanbul. The comments were always that their interaction with the few Ottomans (Turks?) that they came in contact with were always cordial.

 

Here is our last chance to convince the Ontarian Parliament in Canada to recognize ALL the victims of the Greek Genocide in Bill 97, and not just those from one region. Please cut and paste the following text in an email and send it to:

Jocelyn McCauley, the Committee Clerk of the Standing Committee on Justice Policy of the Ontario Parliament.

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Subject: Bill 97.

Dear Ontario Parliament Standing Committee on Justice Policy,

Please recognize all the victims of the Greek Genocide in Bill 97. By recognising only a fraction of the Greek victims (ie. Pontian Greeks) you are not only distorting the historical record, you are also being hugely inconsiderate and extremely unkind to the descendants of Greek victims from other regions.

Sincerely Yours,
[Insert Your Name Here]

 

 

 

 

In 1994, the Hellenic Parliament passed Law 2193/1994 which designated May 19 as a "day of national mourning for the genocide of the Greeks of Pontus."

It's worth noting that in 1998 the Hellenic Parliament passed Law 2645/1998 which inaugurated September 14 as a day of national mourning for the genocide of all Greeks throughout the entire region of Asia Minor (including Pontus) which in effect was an amendment to the 1994 decision.

Source - Greece's Official Repository of Legislature

 

Alex Sideropoulos (middle) with his two nephews Paul/Pavlos Yfantes (right) and Kyriakos Yfantes (left) some time in the 1920's in the U.S. Alex was from Ordu, Turkey and was the brother of Sofia Sideropoulos. He was widowed at a young age and arrived in the U.S in 1909. 

Isaac Yfantes/Yfantides (b. 1886 - d. Boston 1967) and Sofia Yfantes (nee Sideropoulos b. 1885 - d. Boston 1960's) were from Şebinkarahisar, Turkey. The following testimony was submitted by their great-granddaughter through our online questionnaire.

 

1. From which region of the Ottoman Empire were your ancestors from?:
    My great-grandfather Issac Yfantes was from Şebinkarahisar (formerly Kolonia) in the Ottoman Empire (today Turkey). My great-grandmother Sofia Yfantes (nee Sideropoulos) also lived ithere however I believe they both may have originally been from the seaside town of Ordu or had some connection to it.

2. How did their life change when the Neo-Turks and/or the Kemalists came to power? :
    My maternal grandfather's family was financially well-off but when the Neo-Turks came to power they were reduced to poverty. My grandfather's brother George starved to death around this time. My great-grandfather came to America in October 1913 ahead of the rest of the family to help get the family established there. My grandfather Paul Yfantes/Yphantes (b. 1908 Şebinkarahisar  - d. 1981 Boston) immigrated to New York with his mother Sofia and his younger brother Kyriakos and older sister Simela (b. 1904 Şebinkarahisar - d. 1980's) in June 1920.

3. Were they deported during the genocide? If so, when, where to, and describe their experience:
    I don't know the exact details but my great-grandmother and her children were marched all the way from Şebinkarahisar to Istanbul. From there they ended up in France and then America.

4. Were they held in a concentration camp or labor camp? If so, where was it located and describe the conditions :
    Not that I know of. My grandfather and his two siblings didn't speak much about their early years in Turkey. I can only assume it was difficult to talk about.

5. Did they lose family and friends? If so, how did they cope?:
    Yes, relatives of ours starved to death. Also, as mentioned, one of my grandfather's brothers, George passed away during the march my great-grandmother and her children were forced on. I was told my great-grandmother buried one of her children on this trek. I assume this was George although I also heard that my great-grandmother was pregnant at the time and may have lost another child. 

A landscape photo of Şebinkarahisar brought by the family to the U.S when they immigrated in 1920.

6. Did anyone within Turkey including Turks try to help them during the genocide? :
    Apparently at some stage my great-grandmother tried to hide some Armenians and as a result she was beaten up by Turkish soldiers.

7. How did they cope emotionally with their genocide experience? Did it affect the remainder of their life? :
    My grandfather and his siblings barely talked about it. I imagine it was quite a scary and difficult experience to live through.

8. Did the denial of the genocide by the perpetrator (the successor state of Turkey) affect their ability to form closure?:
    I'm not sure, but as a descendant yes it affects me.

9. How did they feel about Turkey after the genocide? :
    My grandfather would spit on the floor whenever he heard the word "Turkey" even if it was in reference to the animal. When my grandfather was a young immigrant boy in elementary school learning English, a teacher asked the class if they were going to have Turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.  At that stage my grandfather didn't know about Thanksgiving, so when he heard the word "Turkey" he spat on the classroom floor.

Addendum: Although most of my family were lucky enough to escape Ottoman Turkey during the genocide, the unfortunate thing is that we lost contact with some of our relatives. For instance I believe that my great grandfather had one or two brothers who also fled to the US during that time but I cannot locate them. I think they may have ended up in Ohio but I am not sure. I recall hearing that my great grandmother used to visit Ohio by bus many years ago to visit relatives. I've tried locating these relatives but I have had no luck.

 

BODIES IN CITY OF DEATH LIE AS TURKS LEFT THEM
No Tombstones Mark Spots Where Hundreds of Greeks and Armenians Fell in Aidin in Appalling Massacre of 1919.

The New York Herald, 29 August 1921, p.3.

For the Associated Press.
AIDIN, Asia Minor, Aug. 10 (Delayed).
-One of the saddest and most tragic of all war memorials in the Near East is the ruined city of Aidin, sixty miles southeast of Smyrna. It is literally a vast sepulchre of the dead. Here hundreds of innocent Greek and Armenian women, children and priests lie in nameless graves, victims of massacres by Turks in the summer of 1919.

The broken columns of a thousand shattered homes are the mute witnesses of the martyrdom of the population. Although two years have passed since they were sacrificed, no tombstone, no cross, no wreath marks the place where they fell. Their whitening bones form a part of the crumbling masonry and earth. The silence of the place is oppressive.

The town presents an appalling spectacle of desolation and destruction, which has its counterpart only in the ruined cities of France. However, the people of Aidin were vouchsafed no chance of escape. They were brutally slain by the Turks when the Greek army had withdrawn. Many of the victims were burned to death.

Through the dark and debris-strewn alleys sombre women and girls in mourning move like spectres. All have lost relatives in the fearful massacre. Their faces tell a story of poignant suffering and anguish. Some of them have lost their reason. 

Source

 

Further Reading:

The Aydin Massacre, June 1919

 

A comprehensive study of the victim toll of Greeks during the Greek Genocide has never been conducted. However, based on a prewar population of 2.5 - 3 million Ottoman Greeks and taking into account the 1.2 million Ottoman Greeks that arrived in Greece after 1922, it is likely that the victim toll of the Greek Genocide was somewhere in the vicinity of 1 - 1.5 million.  

Below are figures published in various sources at the time of the genocide as well as estimates by scholars. It’s worth noting that there is no generally agreed definition of a victim when it comes to genocide. While some only include death from massacres and other atrocities in estimates others may include death from other methods such as death marches, famine, starvation and epidemics which Greeks were deliberately exposed to. In regards to death resulting from deportation it is worth considering a report by the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief dated June 8, 1918 which stated that half of the deportees perished from torture and illness.1 

 

Reports

1917 Report.

- In 1917, the Evening Independent reported on a declaration made by Frank W. Jackson, chairman of the Relief Committee for the Greeks of Asia Minor. Jackson stated that there were some 2-3 million Greeks living under Turkish rule at the outset of WW1, and that by October 1917, “...some seven to eight hundred thousand have been deported, mainly from the coast regions into the interior of Asia Minor.2

1918 Reports.

- On November 4, 1918 the Deputy of Aydin who was also a Member of the Ottoman Parliament, Emmanuel Emmanuelidis stated that 550,000 Greeks, “...were killed in the coastal regions of the Black Sea, Canakalle, Marmara and the Aegean Islands and other areas, and their property was seized and looted.”3

- According to estimates made by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “...1,500,000 Greeks of the Turkish Empire have been deported from their homes, usually under conditions which made probable death from starvation, disease, or exposure. Hundreds of thousands have died thus or have been massacred by Turkish soldier...”4

1919 Report.

- The Ecumenical Patriarchate based in Constantinople estimated that between 1913-1918, 774,235 Greeks were deported from Thrace and Asia Minor including Pontus.5

1922 Reports.

- In a memorandum dated March 20, 1922 British diplomat George W. Rendel stated that during the course of WW1, “...over 500,000 Greeks were deported, of whom comparatively few survived.”6

- On December 1, 1922, Britain's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs stated that between 1914-1922: "...a million Greeks have been killed, deported or have died."7

Scholar Estimates

Adam Jones

- According to genocide scholar and author Adam Jones; “...for all the Greeks of the Ottoman realm taken together, the toll surely exceeded half a million, and may approach the 900,000 that a team of US researchers found in the early postwar period.”8

Constantine Hatzidmitriou 

- According to Professor Hatzidimitriou who holds a Ph.D. in Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek history, based on Greek Patriarchate figures of 1910-1912 and Greek census figures of 1928, “the loss of life among Anatolian Greeks during the WW1 period and its aftermath was approximately 735,370.”9 

Harry Tsirkinidis

- According to author and former military Attaché at the Greek Embassy in France HarryTsirkinidis, the death toll of Greeks was 1,574,235 based on Ecumenical Patriarchate figures and his own estimates. However Tsirkinidis argues that the death toll is probably higher if one takes into account the population of Greeks in the Ottoman Empire prior to the genocide which he estimates to be 3 million, and subtracts the figure of 1,221,000 which is the total number of Greeks that arrived in Greece post-genocide. In other words, a death toll of 1,779,000 or more.10

 



1. Tessa Hofmann, “Γενοκτονία εν Ροή – Cumulative Genocide,” in The Genocide of the Ottoman Greeks: Studies on the State-Sponsored Campaign of Extermination of the Christians of Asia Minor (1912-1922) and Its Aftermath: History, Law, Memory,” ed Tessa Hofmann et al. (Caratzas, 2011), 102.

2. “Turks Turned Against Greek: 700,000 Suffer.” The Evening Independent, October 17, 1917, 6.
3. Taner Akcam. A Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility (Henry Holt and Company, 2006), 107.
4. “Turkish Cruelty Bred by Greeks.” New York Times, June 16, 1918, 42.
5. Ecumenical Patriarchate, Mavri Vivlos, Diogmon ke Martirion tou en Turkia Ellinismou: 1914-1918, (Constantinople, 1919), 409-413.
6. George William Rendel, "Memorandum by Mr. Rendel on Turkish Massacres and Persecutions of Minorities Since the Armistice," in British Documents on Foreign Affairs: Reports and Papers from the Foreign Office Confidential Print, Part II, Series B, Turkey, Iran and the Middle East, 1918-1939, Volume 3, The Turkish Revival 1921-1923, ed. Kenneth Bourne et al. (University Publications of America, 1985), 54.
7. “Turks Proclaim Banishment Edict to 1,00,000 Greeks,” New York Times, December 2, 1922, 1.
8. Adam Jones, Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction, 2nd ed. (Routledge, 2006), 166.
9. Constantine G. Hatzidimitriou ed, American Accounts Documenting the Destruction of Smyrna by the Kemalist Turkish Forces, September 1922, (Caratzas, 2005), 3.
10. Harry Tsirkinidis, A Synoptic History of the Genocide of the Greeks of the East: Documents of Foreign Diplomatic Archives, (Kyriakidis, 2009), 198-199.

 

Subcategories

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.

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