A comprehensive study of the victim toll of Greeks during the Greek Genocide has never been conducted. 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 as a result of the genocide, it is possible 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
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
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
The Ecumenical Patriarchate based in Constantinople estimated that between 1913-1918, 774,235 Greeks were deported from Thrace and Asia Minor including Pontus.5
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
Estimates by scholars
Carlyle Aylmer Macartney
British scholar Carlyle A. Macartney, estimated the death toll only in Ionia (Asia Minor) was about 1,000,000. In 1931 he wrote: "The Greek population in Ionia in 1914 was estimated at about 2,000,000. Of these, it was calculated that about half perished."8
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.”9
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.”10
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.11
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. Macartney, C.A, Refugees: The Work of the League. League of Nations Union, 1931, p. 81.
9. Adam Jones, Genocide: A Comprehensive Introduction, 2nd ed. (Routledge, 2006), 166.
10. Constantine G. Hatzidimitriou ed, American Accounts Documenting the Destruction of Smyrna by the Kemalist Turkish Forces, September 1922, (Caratzas, 2005), 3.
11. Harry Tsirkinidis, A Synoptic History of the Genocide of the Greeks of the East: Documents of Foreign Diplomatic Archives, (Kyriakidis, 2009), 198-199.