My Relatives are Missing

An image from the Catastrophe of Smyrna 1922. Photo: Museum of Asia Minor Hellenism "Filio Hademenou" in Nea Filadelfeia, Eurokinissi/Tatiana Bollari

Greece and Turkey signed an agreement “respecting the reciprocal restitution of interned civilians and the exchange of prisoners of war”’ at Lausanne, on January 30, 1923. This agreement was designed to speed up the exchange of prisoners of war and interned civilians between them. The Greeks made every effort to return Turkish prisoners of war and interned civilians as quickly as possible whereas the Turks released Greeks in small numbers. Articles 119-123 of the Treaty of Lausanne signed on July …

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  1. There is enough blame to go around.. . National interests always trump alliances.
    “The Italians and the Americans rejected the Greek claims on Smyrna; but the British and the French were sympathetic. The landing in Smyrna took place on May 15, 1919. The next day, Kemal Ataturk slipped out of Constantinople on an Italian pass. Then, the Italians began secretly to negotiate with Ataturk, and the French followed suit. The Turks advanced westwards and they encountered British troops. The British drove them off and called for reinforcements. Since were no British reserves, it had to be Greek ones. At first, the Greeks did well. But the alarmed Allies sent their forces to separate the Greeks from the Turks. The Great Powers saved Kemal’s panic-stricken army at the eleventh hour. In October, 1920, the French signed a treaty with Ataturk, which enabled them to withdraw their troops. The Turks were now receiving supplies from the Italians, the French and the Soviets, and began to regroup in the center of the country. In November, the newly elected Greek government purged of the seasoned army officers, which weakened the army at a critical time. Finally, on August 26, 1922, the Turks began a general offensive. The Greek army was routed.
    In September, 1922, the Turks entered Smyrna and the city was deliberately set on fire.
    The Allies did nothing: allied ships in Smyrna were ordered to observe strict “neutrality”, and the Greek government failed to send any of its own.
    It took the heroic efforts of a Methodist minister, Asa Jennings, to shock the Greeks and the Allies into action, and a massive evacuation began.”

    1. “In November, the newly elected Greek government purged of the seasoned army officers, which weakened the army at a critical time.”
      That was the crux of the issue. The Armed Forces were surrendering their political opponents left and right.
      Not Greece’e proudest moment.

    2. “By turning their guns against the Greeks – their own allies – the Great Powers saved Kemal’s panic-stricken newly-conscripted army at the eleventh hour from final destruction.”
      – Sir Harold Nicolson

      “Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends”
      – The Beatles

      -Homer Simpson

  2. Livid , you summed up the Asia Minor Catastrophe very accurately. My heart breaks every time I read about this. Don’t think for a minute if Turks were to attack Greece that anyone will be on our side. Not the Russians , not the EU, and not the US. We will be going at it alone again. We only have ourselves to blame for losing in Asia Minor. Had the new Greek government not removed seasoned officers and replaced them with their own inexperienced political allies we would’ve taken back all of Asia Minor and driven the Turks back to Central Asia. The Tsipras government today has done the same thing with the Greek military and Panos Kammenos is exactly what the Turks called him.

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