The following testimony relating to Apostolos Anagnostou (b. Urla 1910 - d. Melbourne 1990) was submitted through our online questionnaire by Katy Anagnostou. Apostolos was the last of 9 children of Dimitri and Eikaterina Anagnostou.
1. From which region of the Ottoman Empire were your ancestors from?:
My father was from Vourla (today Urla), near İzmir in Asia Minor.
2. How did their life change when the Neo-Turks and/or the Kemalists came to power? :
My father and his sister were smuggled by boat to Greece first. He was 12 and his sister 14. The family of 9 were separated, an older brother died in the massacres. This was around the time of the Smyrna fires. The family reunited eventually in Athens. They left with the clothes on their backs. Life in Athens and where they were housed was very basic and hard. They faced a lot of discrimination from the mainland Greeks who regarded them as Turks.
3. Were they deported during the genocide? If so, when, where to, and describe their experience:
4. Were they held in a concentration camp or labor camp? If so, where was it located and describe the conditions :
5. Did they lose family and friends? If so, how did they cope?:
6. Did anyone within Turkey including Turks try to help them during the genocide? :
Dad said there were never any quarrels with his Turkish neighbours, and they got on well. Greeks even respecting their fasting hours during Ramadam.
7. How did they cope emotionally with their genocide experience? Did it affect the remainder of their life? :
Oh, yes he carried this upheaval with him for the rest of his life.
8. Did the denial of the genocide by the perpetrator (the successor state of Turkey) affect their ability to form closure?:
They were young and did not understand.
9. How did they feel about Turkey after the genocide? :
My father always reminisced about the beauty and fertility of his village. He always spoke about the size and sweetness of the figs grown there.
The stories and scars of my grandparents were left in part in me. That Genocide and aftermath, affected both sides of my family and I have very, very few tangible materials from that time, except that photo and their oral stories.