Skip to comments.Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a City (Anniversary of the forgotten genocide)
Posted on 08/29/2003 9:10:39 PM PDT by Destro
In September of 1922, Mustapha Kemal (Ataturk), the victorious revolutionary leader of Turkey, led his troops into Smyrna (now Izmir) a predominantly Christian city, as a flotilla of 27 Allied warships -including 3 American destroyers- looked on. The Turks soon proceeded to indulge in an orgy of pillage, rape and slaughter that the western powers anxious to protect their oil and trade interests in Turkey, condoned by their silence and refusal to intervene. Turkish forces then set fire to the legendary city and totally destroyed it. There followed a massive cover-up by tacit agreement of the Western Allies. By 1923 Smyrna's demise was all but expunged from historical memory.
This book reveals the origins of festering current hostilities in Eastern Europe and the Middle East and attitudes towards the United States, whose diplomatic stance during and after the Smyrna Catastrophe set an enduring pattern.
Marjorie Housepian Dobkin has rendered the first account of what took place within the city. She has used as sources diaries, letters and eyewitness reports of the participants themselves. The result as the historian C.M. Woodhouse has written, "is an authoritative piece of research as vivid as a novel, told with restraint and dignity."
"A poignant, meticulously documented chronicle of an all but forgotten tragedy...beautifully recaptures the flavor and richness of Smyrna in it's prime."
The New York Times Sunday Book Review. Selected one of its 100 Notable Books
"A documentary indictment of the inhumanity of religion, the callousness of Powers and the avarice of commerce"
The Sunday Times Selected as Book of the Year 1972
"One of the keenest impressions which I brought away with me from Smyrna was a feeling of shame that I belonged to the human race."
US. Consul at Smyrna, George Horton
"The victims of the massacre-Greeks and Armenians-were estimated at 150,000. What was left of Smyrna was only its Turkish suburb. This very old and extremely beautiful Greek city had been founded in 3000 B.C. and restored by Alexander the Great. It used to be one of the most important economic centers of the Mediterranean. It used to be full of life and activity. It used to be prosperous. And now from one moment to the the next it was turned into a dead city. To a huge pile of ruins which emitted smoke. Those of its inhabitants who escaped the massacre fled, ousted and miserable, to Greece."
US. Consul at Smyrna, George Horton
"To mention the name of Sherman to a southerner of the United States is to fill him with burning indignation. Even the most ignorant yokel knows that the name Attila is associated with untold horrors and vandalism. Yet the Smyrna affair...has been somehow soft-pedaled and almost expunged from the memory of present day man."
Henry Miller The Colossus of Maroussi
"Go! Kill without Mercy! Who today remembers the annihilation of the Armenians?"
Adolf Hitler to his generals
Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a City > Customer Review #1:
A book that is must reading
When archeologists excavate in Greece they discover ancient Greek civilization. Similarly, when they excavate in Turkey they still discover ancient Greek civilization. Also, during my studies in the US and Canada I met young Turkish intellectuals who by searching for their roots they traced an old Greek background. Based on the above and on what I read in the international press about the current situation in Turkey it seems to me that the current Turkish regime, whose backbone is the Turkish military, cannot comply with historical truth for if they did so they would collapse in a blink of an eye not because of any foreign intervention but because of the cry of the Turkish people for the implementation of the fundamental human rights. I just wonder how long a fascist regime can resist progress springing from a world that gradually turns to a global village. Therefore, I really understand the agony and insecurity of the detractors of the author of this book but I feel tempted in a humorous manner to add another "fact" to the ones a reviewer listed above: "The Christian population of Smyrna was not massacred by the Turks of Kemal Ataturk, perhaps they committed mass suicide!"
Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a City > Customer Review #2:
The first thing I want to say about SMYRNA 1922 is that I am of neither Greek nor Turkish descent so I have no vested interest in the "truth". Secondly, I have an Armenian friend who once told me in a sad but offhand way as we were trading confidences over coffee, that her grandparents had been buried in the sand up to their necks and had their heads lopped off by Turkish soldiers. Thirdly, I had an occasion once where I met with a Turkish delegation as part of my job and listened to them for two hours while they talked about "Armenian lies." Two things struck me about this rather bizarre meeting: 1) Why did they care what I or anyone else in my agency thought about something that happened many years ago? 2) Why did they go on for two hours denying something no one had accused them of, at least no one in my office?
Marjorie Dobkins insightful book is about the failure of the Great Powers, including the U.S., to facilitate a peaceful outcome in Anatolia in the period following WWI. SMYRNA covers the subsequent destruction of the city by the forces of Kemal Attaturk (although he apparently lay the blame for the massacre at his predecessors door). Following the destruction of Smyrna, almost two million Greek and Armenian Christian refugees fled what is today Turkey and was then the Ottoman Empire.
At the Cannes film festival this year, "Ararat" has won all sorts of praise. The film by Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) tells the story of the Armenian holocaust in 1922. I dont know if Dobkins book is the basis of the film, but it certainly would make great background reading. I suspect Ararat will become to the Armenians what Schindlers List has become to the Jews. Since Turkey is apparently vowing to fight its distribution (New York Times, Arts, 6/7/02) it remains to be seen whether the film will make it to the states.
Dobkin has assembled a huge amount of information for her book and provides copious footnotes so you can check the sources. However, many of the U.S. sailors and other eyewitnesses have died since the first edition was published about 30 years ago. Following the initial publication, Dobkin became aware of much more material, and she incorporated much of the new material in the book. Dobkin writes well--like an excellent investigative reporter, which she very well may be. Earnest Hemingway covered the disaster as a Toronto news reporter, and Dobkins writing is comparable his, as well as being very scholarly.
Ive spent most of my life reading about genocide and inhumanity in one form or another, but SMYRNA has to be one of the most harrowing tales Ive ever read. Think Dachau. Think Auschwitz. Think the worst. To bad CNN wasnt filming, although believe it or not someone did film the event--and Dobkin obtained a photo of the quay lined with over 200,000 people which is shown on the cover of the book. Smyrna makes Kosovo look like a picnic.
Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a City > Customer Review #3:
This is a book about one of the most tragic yet forgotten moments in the history of the Near East. It gives a good account(based on third party observers as well as direct participants), of the destruction of one of the most diverse cities in that part of the world. The description of the event is very lively and really makes the reader become absorbed in the account of events. It is a must read for students of history as well as those who would like to understand certain aspects the middle east problem, its root causes, and what often dictaes the superpowers foreign policies. I would also like to take this opportunity to comment on the review of the young old reader from Dallas. It illustrates the kind of thinking and selective quoting from history books that modern generations apply to rationalize human tragedies of enormous proportions.
Any student of history can verify the following facts easily:
1. The Greek people have had a continuous historical presence in what is now the Aegean coast of Turkey from about 800 B.C. until 1922 A.D. This civilization, centered around the city of Ephesus had flourished under Persian, Roman, and even Ottoman Turkish rule. It was violently destroyed by the founders of modern day Turkey who decided to punish civilians for the results of a war they did not even cause. 2. The Turks arrived in that part of the world around 1300 A.D. and destroyed an organized, Hellenized, Christian society they found. So no one can say objectively that what is now Turkey is historically pure Turkish land. 3. In 1919, the Greeks were given permission by the WWI allies to land in Smyrna to prevent Turkish massacres of Christian populations, that were already underway.
The church of Taxiarchis turned to a liquor storehouse.
Another photo of the massacres of the Greeks of Asia Minor.
Grandfather and grandson slain together.
Smyrna in flames.
Boats the only hope for salvation.
The inhabitans in panic prefer drowning to slaughter.
August 30 marks the day Turkish troops, under Mustafa Kemal entered the western Aegean city of Smyrna, modern day Izmir, after the final defeat of the Greek forces in 1922. The day, which also serves to commemorate the Turkish Armed Forces will begin with a ceremony at the tomb of Mustafa Kemal, who later founded the modern Turkish Republic and assumed the title Atatürk - Father of the Turks.
Free web book: THE BLIGHT OF ASIA: An Account of the Systematic Extermination of Christian Populations by Mohammedans and of the Culpability of Certain Great Powers; with the True Story of the Burning of Smyrna By GEORGE HORTON For Thirty Years Consul and Consul-General of the United States in the Near East With a Foreword by JAMES W. GERARD Former Ambassador to Germany
The long out of print, well known book "THE BLIGHT OF ASIA" was published in 1926 in the USA and written by the American General Consul in Smyrna in 1922, who was an eye witness of all the perils of that city and of its Christian inhabitants. This testimony comes from a high-ranking American diplomat, who served in this capacity in that part of the world for about 30 years, and was therefore a knowledgeable and impartial source.
What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
At the Cannes film festival this year, "Ararat" has won all sorts of praise. The film by Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) tells the story of the Armenian holocaust in 1922. I suspect Ararat will become to the Armenians what Schindlers List has become to the Jews. Since Turkey is apparently vowing to fight its distribution (New York Times, Arts, 6/7/02) it remains to be seen whether the film will make it to the states.
Seeing the movie makes you want to buy an arsenal.....
Being armenian, I already have....
There is an armenian saying," Your borders are defined by your guns."
It has always rang true, always will.
ps: re the turks, maybe there are some that now have social redeeming qualities, however, the diehard muslim crosses between Gengis Khan's hordes and middle easterners? screw em.
I originally wrote much, much more, but I will bite my tongue.
More important than the number of Armenians subjected to the Ottoman Empire was the status and conditions under which they lived. The Ottoman Turks ruled by means of the millet system, which recognized the rights of non-Muslims to practice their religion, use their language, and preserve their culture, but which also stratified society along confessional lines. All Christians were second-class citizens, inferior in status, discriminated against, and deprived of critical rights, especially the right to bear arms even for the purpose of self-defense. While those barriers could be crossed, the price of acceptance into the legitimate fold was the shedding of one's former identifications.
The possibility of inclusion presented a serious dilemma to those who would not join the Muslim community. By continuing to adhere to their institutions, to their culture, language, and religion, the Armenians, who lived more interspersed among the Muslims than other Christian peoples in the Ottoman Empire, became the object of a specific type of contempt. By choosing to maintain their separate identity, in the eyes of the Turks the Armenians appeared to refuse normative conformity with the dominant class. They were thought of as rejectionists whose presence was an affront to the legitimate social order.
The inferiority of the Armenians was further underlined by their exposure to another brand of stigmatization. The Armenians had been absorbed into the Ottoman Empire as a subservient people. They had waged no war of resistance and had made no attempt to defend themselves from further conquest. As a stateless people, they had not even earned for themselves the badge of defeat in the eyes of the Ottomans. No one would entertain striking a bargain with them. In the hierarchy of the Ottoman system, where the Turks concentrated all power into their hands, the Armenians could never be awarded a function other than servility. Moreover, in a society governed by military might, the servility of the Armenians was regarded as irredeemable.
So, you propose a time limit on atrocities to your kin?
Tell me, do you remember the people jumping out of the towers as they burned, after throwing their babies out the window?
Well, what do you figure is a reasonable time to forget that and grow up...10 years, 50 years, 88 years?....so, in 91 years you wish your offspring to forgive the perps, especially though they and their governments have not denounced the previous actions, and wish to grow up and move on??
Musa Dagh (Musa Ler in Armenian) was the site of the famed resistance during the Armenian Genocide. Of the hundreds of villages, towns, and cities across the Ottoman Empire whose Armenian population was ordered removed to the Syrian desert, Musa Dagh was one of only four sites where Armenians organized a defense of their community against the deportation edicts issued by the Young Turk regime beginning in April 1915. By the time the Armenians of the six villages at the base of Musa Dagh were instructed to evict their homes, the inhabitants had grown suspicious of the government's ultimate intentions and chose instead to retreat up the mountain and to defy the evacuation order. Musa Dagh, or the Mountain of Moses, stood on the Mediterranean Sea south of the coastal town of Alexandretta (modern-day Iskenderun) and west of ancient Antioch.
With a few hundred rifles and the entire store of provisions from their villages, the Armenians on Musa Dagh put up a fierce resistance against a number of attempts by the regular Turkish army to flush them out. Outnumbered and outgunned, the Armenians had little expectations of surviving the siege of the mountain when food stocks were depleted after a month. Their only hope was a chance rescue by an Allied vessel that might be patrolling the Mediterranean coast. When two large banners hoisted by the Armenians were sighted by a passing French warship, swimmers went out to meet it. Eventually five Allied ships moved in to transport the entire population of men, women, and children, more than four thousand in all. The Armenians of Musa Dagh had endured for fifty three days from July 21 to September 12, 1915. They were disembarked at Port Said in Egypt and remained in Allied refugee camps until the end of World War I when they returned to their homes. As part of the district of Alexandretta, or Hatay, Musa Dagh remained under French Mandate until 1939. The Musa Dagh Armenians abandoned their villages for a second, and final, time when the area was annexed by Turkey.
In the face of the complete decimation of the Armenian communities of the Ottoman Empire, Musa Dagh became a symbol of the Armenian will to survive. Of the three other sites where Armenians defied the deportation orders, Shabin Karahissar, Urfa, and Van, only the Armenians of Van were rescued when the siege of their city was lifted by an advancing Russian army. The Armenians of Urfa and Shabin Karahissar were either massacred or deported. Musa Dagh stood as the sole instance where the Western Allies at war with the Ottomans averted the death of a community during the Armenian Genocide.
That story inspired the Prague-born Austrian writer, Franz Werfel, to write a novelized version of the events as The Forty Days of Musa Dagh. Published in 1933, the book became an instant bestseller, but with the rise of Hitler, Werfel, himself a Jew, fled Vienna that same year. The Forty Days of Musa Dagh was eventually translated into eighteen languages, while Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the Hollywood film company, announced plans for the production of a movie version of the novel. The Turkish ambassador's protestations to the Department of State resulted in the intervention of the United States government in the matter. In response to a veiled threat to ban American-made films from Turkey, MGM studios permanently shelved plans to produce the movie.
In Eastern Europe many Jews read Werfel's The Forty Days of Musa Dagh as a warning about their fate. During the Holocaust years, copies of the novel are reported to have been circulated as a source of inspiration and a call to arms in some of the ghettos to which the Nazis confined the Jews.
September 11, 2001 happened less than two years ago and some people seem to have forgotten. NEVER FORGET!!!