Sophia Iakovides (1860-1942) seated right. Her husband was Michalis Iakovides (or Iakovou). She is pictured here with her two sons Ioannis (left) and James (right) and her daughter Paschalia (seated left). The young boy is Michalis, son of Ioannis. Constantinople, c. 1922.
The following testimony describes the experience of the Iakovides (or Iakovou) and Margelis (Stratigakis) families who were both from Marmara Island (formerly Proikonnisos or Proconessus). It 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 Proasteio (today Gündoğdu) on the Island of Marmara 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 (formerly Mihalich) where they stayed until the end of WW1. Those who survived then walked back to Bandirma and 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 (Mihalich) 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.
Plutarchos and Theodosia Iakovides with their three children - George, Photini and baby Sophia. Chalkida, Euboea, 1924.
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 (Mihalich) 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 (Mihalıch). Both my paternal grandmother's parents, Evangelos and Afratenia Halvatzis died at Karacabey 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 Turk residents in Proasteio so the answer is ‘no’. Based on what we've read through the years their eyes must have seen barbaric and inhuman acts while they were on mainland Anatolia, acts which they did not speak of.
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 they came in contact with were always cordial.