Greek genocide

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The Greek genocide, part of which is known as the Pontic genocide, was the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Christian Ottoman Greek population from its historic homeland in Asia Minor, central Anatolia, Pontus, and the former Russian Caucasus province of Kars Oblast during World War I and its aftermath (1914–23). It was instigated by the government of the Ottoman Empire against the Greek population of the Empire and it included massacres, forced deportations involving death marches, summary expulsions, arbitrary executions, and destruction of Christian Orthodox cultural, historical and religious monuments.


Quotations arranged alphabetically by author
  • The two present threats to Turkish territorial integrity—by the Greeks and the French—and the one potential threat—an Armenian state—reproduced the proximate CUP ‘rationale’ for the 1915–16 genocide, and the forthcoming violence was sometimes of the same order.
    • Donald Bloxham, The Great Game of Genocide: Imperialism, Nationalism, and the Destruction of the Ottoman Armenians, p. 150
  • The nation, beginning with the areas of trade and language, was to be cleansed from “foreign elements” in order to establish a national culture and economy….As noted, the 1914 cleansing was initially attempted through a severe economic boycott and by other intimidating measures.
    • Matthias Bjørnlund (2008) 'The 1914 cleansing of Aegean Greeks as a case of violent Turkification', Journal of Genocide Research, 10:1, 41-58
  • Turkish denialism of the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians is official, riven, driven, constant, rampant and increasing each year since the events of 1915 to 1922. It is state-funded, with special departments and units in overseas missions whose sole purpose is to dilute, counter, minimise, trivialise and relativise every reference to the events which encompassed a genocide of Armenians, Pontian Greeks and Assyrian Christians in Asia Minor.
    • Elizabeth Burns Coleman, Kevin White, Negotiating the Sacred: Blasphemy and Sacrilege in a Multicultural Society, p. 82
  • It is believed that in Turkey between 1913 and 1922, under the successive regimes of the Young Turks and of Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk), more than 3.5 million Armenian, Assyrian and Greek Christians were massacred in a state-organized and state-sponsored campaign of destruction and genocide, aiming at wiping out from the emerging Turkish Republic its native Christian populations. This Christian Holocaust is viewed as the precursor to the Jewish Holocaust in WWII. To this day, the Turkish government ostensibly denies having committed this genocide.
  • Most of the Armenians had already been massacred during the reign of the Sultan, in 1915—1916; Kemal attempted to continue the genocide of Armenians in Transcaucasia, and of Greeks on the coast of the Aegean. Especially heartrending and horribly bloody was the genocide of the Greeks in Smyrna (Turkish Izmir) where they had lived since the tenth century BC.
    • Igor M. Diakonov, Paths of History, p. 276 footnote 60
  • The period of transition from the collapse of the Ottoman Empire to the foundation of the Turkish Republic was characterized by a number of processes largely guided by a narrow elite that aimed to construct a modern, national state. One of these processes was the deliberate and planned elimination, indeed extermination, of the Christian (and certain other) minorities... Much less scholarly work has been done on the genocide of the Greeks of Asia Minor and Thrace.
    • Tessa Hoffman, Matthias Bjornlund, Vasileios Meichanetsidis, 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. Aristide D. Caratzas, 2011.
  • Yet this was only the beginning of a wave of ethnic conflict that would fundamentally transform the social structure of the lands between the Aegean and the Black Sea. The Greek population of western Anatolia and the Black Sea littoral (the Pontus) had numbered around two million on the eve of the First World War. Their communities were very ancient; they had been there for more than two thousand years, a fact to which magnificent edifices like the theatre at Ephesus bore witness. They continued to thrive in the modern world, as any visitor to the busy waterfront of Smyrna could see. Yet as early as October 1915 the German military attaché reported to Berlin that Enver wanted 'to solve the Greek problem during the war . . . in the same way that he believes he solved the Armenian problem'. The process began in Thrace. It was in fact more plausible for the Turks to portray the Greeks as a fifth column, since the Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos strongly favoured Greek intervention on the side of the Entente powers and, although King Constantine resisted until finally driven to abdicate in June 1917, the presence of an Anglo-French force at Salonika from October 1915 cast doubt on the credibility of Greek neutrality. Viewed from Salonika, the First World War was the Third Balkan War, with Bulgaria joining Germany and Austria in the rout of Serbia; indeed, it was to shore up the disintegrating Serbian position that the Entente powers had sent their troops to Salonika.
    • Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006), p. 180
  • To the appalled George Horton, who desperately tried to buy a few Greeks and Armenians safe passage with his own money, the destruction of Smyrna was 'but the closing act in a consistent programme of exterminating Christianity throughout the length and breadth of the old Byzantine Empire; the expatriation of an ancient Christian civilization'. The idea persists that religion was the principal motivation for what happened. Yet the emergent Turkish republic was not an Islamic state; on the contrary, Kemal would later introduce the separation of religion and state and abort moves towards parliamentary democracy precisely in order to stop a nascent Islamist opposition from reversing this. In reality, what happened between 1915 and 1922 was more ethnic cleansing than holy war. As Horton himself noted bitterly: 'The problem of the minorities is here solved for all time.' The New York Times detected the sexual dimension of Turkish policy, reporting that 'the Turks frankly do not understand why they should not get rid of the Greeks and Armenians from their country and take their women into their harems if they are sufficiently good looking.'
    • Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006), pp. 183-184
  • Kemal saw no need to massacre all the Greeks in Smyrna, though a substantial number of able-bodied men were marched inland, suffering assaults by Turkish villagers along the way. He merely gave the Greek government until October i to evacuate them all. By the end of 1923 more than 1.2 million Greeks and 100,000 Armenians had been forced from their ancestral homes. The Greeks responded in kind. In 1915 some 60 per cent of the population of Western Thrace had been Muslims and 29 per cent of the population of Macedonia. By 1924 the figures had plunged to 28 per cent and zero per cent, their places taken by Greeks.
    • Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006), pp. 184
  • The Armenian genocide, the massacres of the Pontic Greeks and the agreed 'exchanges' of Greek and Turkish populations after the sack of Smyrna illustrated with a terrible clarity the truth of the Archbishop of Aleppo's warning: when a multi-ethnic empire mutated into a nation state, the result could only be carnage. It was as if, for the sake of a spuriously modern uniformity, the basest instincts of ordinary men were unleashed in a kind of tribal bloodletting. There was certainly no meaningful economic rationale for what happened. Along the Anatolian coast it is still possible to find ruined villages whose inhabitants were forced to flee in 1922 but which were never subsequently reoccupied. At least five hundred people must once have lived in the village of Sazak, not far from what is now the holiday resort of Karaburun. With its well-built stone houses and its steep cobbled streets, Sazak has the air of vanished peasant prosperity. Now it is a ghost town, visited only by wandering goats and sea mists - a desolate memorial to the death throes of an empire.
    • Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006), pp. 183-184
  • WHEREAS the denial of genocide is widely recognized as the final stage of genocide, enshrining impunity for the perpetrators of genocide, and demonstrably paving the way for future genocides;
    WHEREAS the Ottoman genocide against minority populations during and following the First World War is usually depicted as a genocide against Armenians alone, with little recognition of the qualitatively similar genocides against other Christian minorities of the Ottoman Empire;
    BE IT RESOLVED that it is the conviction of the International Association of Genocide Scholars that the Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities of the Empire between 1914 and 1923 constituted a genocide against Armenians, Assyrians, and Pontian and Anatolian Greeks.
    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Association calls upon the government of Turkey to acknowledge the genocides against these populations, to issue a formal apology, and to take prompt and meaningful steps toward restitution.
  • One begins with (attempted) comprehension of the motives, intent, scale, implementation, and operation of the Holocaust. To understand it is necessary to look at similar phenomena, and so one attempts an unravelling of the Armenian, Pontian Greek, Rwandan, Burundian, and Aboriginal experiences
    • Steven L. Jacobs, Samuel Totten (2002). Pioneers of Genocide Studies (Clt), 213.
  • An estimate of the Pontian Greek death toll at all stages of the anti-Christian genocide is about 350,000; for all the Greeks of the Ottoman empire the toll exceeds half a million, and may approach the figure of 900,000 that a team of US researchers found in the postwar period.
    • Adam Jones, Genocide: A comprehensive introduction, Routledge 2010, pp 163-166 [1].
  • The Turkish army entered Smyrna on September 9. 1922 and soon thereafter the city went up in flames. A fire razed most of the Armenian quarter. It is estimated that 50,000 Christians were killed in the city during this period. No indigenous Christians remained in Smyrna after this holocaust that had deeply stained relations between the two peoples.
    • David J. Jonsson, The Clash of Ideologies - The Making of the Christian and Islamic Worlds, The Genocide of the Eastern Christians of Smyrna (1922), p. 248
  • ... the massacre of Armenians and other Christians in eastern Anatolia in the 1890s; ...and then the organized killing and deportation of Armenians, Greeks, and others in the Ottoman empire from 1915 to the early 1920s.
  • …carefully planned atrocities aimed at the Greeks' complete destruction
    • Marianna Koromila, The Greeks and the Black Sea
  • Historians, perhaps concerned not to magnify these events by comparison with those of 1915-16, tend to avoid the term genocide to describe them. In my formulation, however, these events would constitute partial genocide..."

"...In the last hundred years, four Eastern Anatolian groups—Armenians, Kurds, Assyrians, and Greeks—have fallen victim to state-sponsored attempts by the Ottoman authorities or their Turkish or Iraqi successors to eradicate them""By ridding themselves of the Armenians, Greeks, or any other group that stood in their way, Turkish nationalists were attempting to prove how they could clarify, purify, and ultimately unify a polity and society so that it could succeed on its own, albeit Western-orientated terms. This, of course, was the ultimate paradox: the CUP committed genocide in order to transform the residual empire into a streamlined, homogeneous nation-state on the European model..."

  • Unlike the Armenian case, in each of these other instances the scope, scale and intensity of the killings was limited, though this does not rule out comparison...The persistence of genocide or near-genocidal incidents from the 1890s through the 1990s, committed by Ottoman and successor Turkish and Iraqi states against Armenian, Kurdish, Assyrian, and Pontic Greek communities in Eastern Anatolia, is striking.... I have concentrated here on the genocidal sequence affecting Armenians and Kurds only, though my approach would be pertinent to the Pontic Greek and Assyrian cases.
    • Creating a Modern "Zone of Genocide": The Impact of Nation- and State-Formation on Eastern Anatolia, 1878–1923, by Mark Levene, University of Warwick, © 1998 by United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • In the genocide of various minority nationalities that followed, the Turks massacred over 350,000 Greeks.
    • David Levinson, Encyclopaedia of World Cultures-Ethnology, p. 141
  • For CUP's leaders, attacking the country's Greeks was a means to purify the core regions of Turkey. Talaat Pasha made clear that this was his intent … As the war continued, the Turkish campaign against the Greek civilians expanded to include the Pontic Greeks who lived on the Black Sea. The road to persecution here was quite similar to that elsewhere on the war's eastern fronts. Military threats and setbacks - in this case defeats by Russia - convinced Turkey's leaders to begin a campaign against a civilian population accused of treason … Subject to state-sponsored terror despite their status as Ottoman subjects, during World War I Turkey's Greeks experienced persecution just short of full-scale ethnic cleansing
    • Benjamin David Lieberman, Terrible Fate: Ethnic Cleansing in the Making of Modern Europe ISBN 1566636469**David Levinson, Encyclopaedia of World Cultures-Ethnology, p. 141
  • Then, in a “Report on the preparation of a volume on genocide,” dated March–May 1948, a less ambitious project comprising ten chapters, two of which covered extra-European colonial cases: “2.The Indians in Latin America” and “10. The Indians in North America (in part).” The Holocaust, a term Lemkin never used, was not included, although the Armenians and Greeks in Turkey were, as well as the Early Christians, and the Jews of the Middle Ages and Tsarist Russia.14 To continue to deny, as many “founders of genocide studies” deny, that he regarded colonialism as an integral part of a world history of genocide is to ignore the written record.
    • M. A. Mcdonnell, A. D. Moses, Raphael Lemkin as historian of genocide in the Americas, Journal of Genocide Research, Volume 7, Issue 4, December 2005 , pp. 501-529
  • … Given these political and cultural ties, wholesale attacks on the Ottoman Greeks would have profoundly angered not only the Entente Powers, but Germany and Austria-Hungary as well, the allies upon whom the Ottomans were deeply dependent. Under these conditions, genocide of the Ottoman Greeks simply was not a viable option. (...) Massacres most likely did take place at Amisos and other villages in the Pontus. Yet given the large numbers of surviving Greeks, especially relative to the small number of Armenian survivors, the massacres were apparently restricted to the Pontus, Smyrna, and selected other "sensitive" regions.
    • Manus I. Midlarsky, The Killing Trap: Genocide in the Twentieth Century, p. 342-3
  • The Turkish state which emerged at the collapse of the Ottoman Empire contained several minorities within its interior, in an attempt to move towards a homogeneous population the Turkish state, which has passed through varying phases of dictatorship and democracy, has used any means possible, including genocide and deportation, to eliminate the Armenians, Greeks and Kurds remaining within Anatolia
    • Panikos Panayi, Outsiders: A History of European Minorities, p. 111
  • …had been its Greek populace, the Turks massacred as many Greeks there as possible, to so1ve that ethnological problem by genocide, a term a later and more delicate…
    • Clarence Pendleton Lee, Athenian Adventure: With Alarums & Excursions, p. 110
  • The genocide against the Pontic Greeks occurred as part of a larger pattern of genocide also targeting the Armenians and Assyrians...It has been estimated that the loss of life among Anatolian Greeks in World War I and its aftermath was more than 735,000, among Pontian Greeks about 350,000.
    • Paul G. Pierpaoli Jr., Pontic Greek Genocide, In: Modern Genocide, The Definitive Resource and Document Collection, Paul R. Bartrop and Steven L. Jacobs, eds. ABC-CLIO 2014, pp. 96-97 [2].
  • …the killing of the 275,000 Pontian souls who where slaughtered outright or were victims of the 'white death' of disease and starvation - a result of the routine process of deportations, slave labor, and the killings and death marches.
    • Harry Psomiades, professor emeritus of political science at Queens College the City University of New York
  • These genocides not only involved the Holocaust and the killing of the Armenians, the best known of this century's genocides, but also the lesser known genocide of Gypsies by the Nazis and of Greeks by the Turks
    • R. J. Rummel, The Holocaust in Comparative and Historical Perspective, 1998, Idea Journal of Social Issues, Vol.3 no.2
  • However, the Treaty of Sevres was never ratified, As Kay Holloway wrote, the failure of the signatories to bring the treaty into force ‘resulted in the abandonment of thousands of defenceless peoples Armenians and Greeks — to the fury of their persecutors, by engendering subsequent holocausts in which the few survivors of the 1915 Armenian massacres perished.” The Treaty of Sevres was replaced by the Treaty of Lausanne of 24 July 1923 that included a ‘Declaration of Amnesty’ for all offences committed between 1 August 1914 and 20 November 1922.
    • William Schabas, Genocide in International Law: The Crimes of Crimes, p. 22
  • The genocidal quality of the murderous campaigns against Greeks and Assyrians is obvious. Historians who realize that the Young Turks’ population and extermination policies have to be analysed together and understood as an entity are therefore often tempted to speak of a “Christian genocide.” This approach, however, is insofar inadequate as it ignores the Young Turks’ massive violence against non-Christians.
  • The Young Turks’ overall aim was a demographic reorganization of the Ottoman Empire. All deportations were planned and supervised by the “Directorate for the Settlement of Tribes and Immigrants” that belonged to the Ottoman Ministry of the Interior. A relatively small number of government administrators were thus chiefly involved in the coordination of the murder and expulsion of Armenians, Greeks, Assyrians and other minority groups.29 Therefore, the isolated study and emphasis of a single group’s victimhood during the collapse of the Ottoman Empire fails to really understand Young Turks’ motives and aims or its grand design.
    • Dominik J. Schaller and Jürgen Zimmerer, Late Ottoman genocides: the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and Young Turkish population and extermination policies - introduction, Journal of Genocide Research, 10:1, 7 - 14
  • "The forgotten genocide" is how many scholars, journalists, and filmmakers refer to the Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek genocides under the Ottoman Turks during and after World War I.
    • Colin Tatz, Winton Higgins, The Magnitude of Genocide, ABC-CLIO, Mar 31, 2016. p. 64 [3].
  • Pontic Greeks, Genocide of. The Pontic (sometimes Pontian) Greek genocide is the term applied to the massacres and deportations perpetrated against ethnic Greeks living Ottoman Empire at the hands ot the Young Turk government between 1914 and 1923. The name of people derives from the Greek word pontus , meaning “sea coast,” refers to the Greek population that had lived on the south—eastern coast of the Black that is, in northern Turkey, for three millennia. In a campaign reminiscent of the Armenian genocide that was being perpetrated at roughly the same time, the Pontic Greeks endured inumerable cruelties at the hands of the Turks. An estimated three hundred fifty-three thousand Pontic Grccks died,, many on forced marches through Anatolia and the Desert just Like the Armenians. Those who survived were exiled from Turkey. The surviving Greek community. centered in the city of Sinyrna (lzmir). was literally thrown into the sea in 1922, with the city razed anand thousands killed by the advancing Nationalist army. The destruction of the Pontic Greeks, and the forcible deportation that followed, had but a single planned outcome: the removal of all Greeks from Turkey. a successful campaign in that it destroyed this ancient Greek community forever, creating a diaspora that is never likely to be reestablished in its ancestral homeland. In parallel with the Armenian situation, successive Turkish governments have denied the Pontic genocide ever occurred; the most frequent official explanations given are the Greeks died as casualties of war, by famine brought about by the Russian invasion of Turkey, or a a result of civil disturbances.
    • Dictionary of Genocide: M-Z, Samuel Totten.PauI Robert Bartrop.Steven L Jacobs, 0313346445 978-0313346446 Greenwood (November 30, 2007) p. 337
  • Turning to the scale of the anti-Greek genocide, it may well have equaled or exceeded the genocide of the Armenians...
    • Hannibal Travis, Constructing the Armenian Genocide. In: Hidden Genocides: Power, Knowledge, Memory, Alexander L. Hinton, Thomas La Pointe, Douglas Irvin-Erickson, eds. Rutgers University Press, Dec 18, 2013, p. 180 [4].
  • Hilmar Kaiser deepened this notion and demonstrated in purely historical yet extremely detailed research that the treatment of the Armenians and Syriacs, nothing short of genocide, and the deportation of Kurds and Greeks were integral parts of the CUP scheme of social engineering. Arguing that this scheme envisioned the cultural assimilation of Muslims and exclusion of non-Muslims, he drew a parallel with wartime Nazi policies in Eastern Europe by aptly characterizing the project as "Generalplan Ost 1915".
  • During these meetings, the weaknesses of the Ottoman Empire were equated with the presence of clusters of non-Turkish people in strategic areas, such as in the Aegean area with its hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Greeks, or in the eastern provinces with its hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Armenians and Kurds. CUP loyalists decided that these “internal tumours” had to be removed, once and for all.41 Party ideologue Ziyaˆ Go¨kalp wrote extensively about the necessity of “Turkifying” the empire by instilling Turkish nationalism into the Ottoman Muslims, who according to him were oblivious of their national identity.
  • In 1914, most businesses on the Aegean littoral were owned by Ottoman Greeks. When persuasion didn’t cause the desired effect, the CUP took recourse to more violent methods of Turkification of the economy. It sent emissaries such as Special Organization agent Kara Kemal to assist Responsible Secretary Celal Bayar (1883–1986) in Turkifying the economy of Smyrna/I˙zmir.51 In the summer of 1914 this political and nationalist persecution gained momentum as boycotts and expropriations escalated into kidnappings and assassinations of Greek businessmen and community leaders, and even wholesale deportations of villages.52 The fact that after this terror campaign many Ottoman Greeks opted to emigrate to Chios or Greece, abandoning their territory to the benefit of Ottoman Muslims, was celebrated by the CUP as an administrative success. Turkification was beginning to yield its fruits at a time when the outbreak of the war foreshadowed bad times for the population of the eastern provinces.
  • The Turks had used genocide against the Greeks and Armenians but did not have enough time to finish them off completely. The Kurds revolted in 1925, demanding independence or autonomy.
    • E. G. Vallianatos - The Mechanism of Catastrophe: The Turkish Pogrom of September 6-7, 1955, and the Destruction of the Greek Community of Istanbul (review) - Mediterranean Quarterly 17:1 (2006) 133-140
  • First of all, the Ottoman Empire itself, now ruled by the nationalist Young Turks Committee, began to implement a deadly policy, which aimed at wiping out the non-Turkish elements in the Empire and culminated in the genocide of the Armenians and Greeks, particularly those living in the Pontos region
    • A Xanthopoulou-Kyriakou – The Diaspora of the Greeks of the Pontos: Historical Background Journal of Refugee Studies- Oxford Univ Press, 1991 4(4):357-363
  • The Genocide Convention of 1948 and other United Nations Conventions strengthen the claims of genocide victims, including the Greeks, Assyrians and Armenians of Asia Minor.
    • Alfred de Zayas, JD, PhD, Human Rights - International Law - and the Armenian Genocide, 2005

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