Nikolaos Daldavanis (standing, far right) and his family.
The following testimony relating to Nikolaos Daldavanis (1907-1990) of Smyrna (today İzmir) was submitted via our online questionnaire by his daughter.
1. From which region of the Ottoman Empire were your ancestors from?:
My father was from Smyrna (today İzmir).
2. How did their life change when the Neo-Turks and/or the Kemalists came to power? :
In September 1922, he and his family were forced to the burning waterfront of Smyrna and were forced to flee.
3. Were they deported during the genocide? If so, when, where to, and describe their experience:
No. The only way they could survive was to escape into the sea, or die.
4. Were they held in a concentration camp or labor camp? If so, where was it located and describe the conditions :
No camp, but an Italian ship sailed them to Athens. My father was about 15. He lost his family at the time, only to be reunited much later in Samos.
5. Did they lose family and friends? If so, how did they cope?:
Yes, they lost friends and neighbors. But they remained stoic. My grandfather died of a heart attack on the island of Samos as a result of stress related to this horrendous experience. They held a funeral for him there on Samos.
6. Did anyone within Turkey including Turks try to help them during the genocide? :
My father fell unconscious and a Greek neighbor took my dad by skiff to the Italian steamer the Constantinopoli.
7. How did they cope emotionally with their genocide experience? Did it affect the remainder of their life? :
They never ever talked about it in front of us, or in our presence.
8. Did the denial of the genocide by the perpetrator (the successor state of Turkey) affect their ability to form closure?:
Nothing was said.
9. How did they feel about Turkey after the genocide? :
Horrible, but visited Kuşadası many times from Samos, not knowing the horrific story until I read Lou Ureneck's book The Great Fire.