The Hellenic Genocide 1894-1923 Lecture Presented in Hempstead

Left to right: Vasilis Gournelos, Anastasios Stampolis, Cleanthis Meimaroglou, Lou Katsos, Peter Stavrianidis and Paul Pavlakos. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

HEMPSTEAD, NY – The AHEPA Family of Hempstead in association with The Empire New York State AHEPA Family District 6, The National AHEPA Hellenic Cultural Commission and EMBCA presented The Hellenic Genocide 1894-1923, an AHEPA Seraphim Canoutas Lecture on September 15, in The Hellenic Room at The Greek Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Paul. The event featured moderator/panelist, District 6 Governor, and EMBCA founder/president Louis Katsos on “I Smyrni mana kaigetai/ Mother Smyrna is burning,” panelist Peter Stavrianidis on “Asia Minor – A Journey of Glory, Tradition and Genocide,” and panelist Paul Pavlakos on “Ensuring Never Again – How you can get involved in Hellenic Genocide Recognition Efforts.”

The free event offered insights into the history of the Hellenic Genocide and important information concerning the recognition effort spearheaded by the Sons of Pericles. Anastasios Stampolis, President of the AHEPA Constantine Cassis Chapter No. 170, gave the welcoming remarks and introduced District 6 Governor Katsos who spoke about the Smyrna Catastrophe. Katsos, President of Jekmar Associates, is also the Chair of the AHEPA Hellenic Cultural Commission, Past President of Delphi Chapter #25, and helped found the Canoutas Lecture Series. He also noted the upcoming event to be held at the 3 West Club in Manhattan on September 26 related specifically to the Catastrophe which will feature himself and Dr. Stavrianidis as well as Professor Ismini Lamb of Georgetown University who is currently finishing an impressive biography of the American Consul General in Smyrna at the time, George Horton, best known for The Blight of Asia, his 1926 book about the events, notably the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Christian population, leading up to and during the Smyrna Catastrophe. Katsos pointed out that the Ottomans of that era referred to the city as Infidel Smyrna due to the numerous Hellenes and the large non-Muslim population.

A slide from the presentation on the Smyrna Catastrophe shows the billowing smoke from the fire that destroyed the Greek and Armenian quarters of the city. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Katsos introduced Dr. Stavrianidis who gave a brief history of the Greeks in Asia Minor and the key historical events, including the founding in 330 AD of New Rome, the city Constantine the Great renamed Constantinople after himself, the Great Schism in 1054, the sack of Constantinople in 1204, the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the fall of Trebizond in 1461, and the start of the Greek War of Independence in 1821. Stavrianidis noted the arrival of the Greek Army in Smyrna on May 15, 1919, the 1920 Treaty of Sevres, and the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey, a condition of the Lausanne Treaty.

He pointed out that we have a moral responsibility, an obligation to the 700,000 Hellenes who lost their lives in the systematic ethnic cleansing which fits the UN definition of Genocide, to seek recognition of the Hellenic Genocide since history is doomed to repeat itself if we do not acknowledge the social, historical, and political significance of the Genocide. Stavrianidis, whose roots are from Pontus, also noted that the refugees from Asia Minor were not wanted in Greece because of the fear that they would vote for Venizelos and subsequently were not treated very well in Greece. Slides highlighted the presentation with images of the atrocities committed, maps, and newspaper clippings including a proclamation from King Constantine I against Asia Minor Greeks leaving Asia Minor.

Ahepans and community members from the tri-state area attended the lecture on the Hellenic Genocide at the Cathedral of St. Paul in Hempstead. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Dr. Stavrianidis, a successful entrepreneur and a proud member of AHEPA, has been active in the Hellenic-American Community and has held numerous leadership posts with organizations connected with Hellenic Issues of the Diaspora and the Genocide of Asia Minor. As a passionate political activist and lobbyist for Hellenic and Pontian Issues, he was instrumental in the unanimous passing of the Resolution of the State Legislature of New Jersey, in 2006, urging Turkey to respect the rights and religious freedoms of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. He is the Past President of the Pan-Pontian Federation of U.S. & Canada and in his tenure the first state proclamations in 2002 (New York and New Jersey) – regarding the recognition of the Asia Minor/ Pontian Genocide. He is currently the President of the scientific and cultural organization “The Hellenic Link of New Jersey” and he sits on the Board of Trustees of the State Theatre of New Jersey and the Harvest of Hope. Stavrianidis has a passion for education teaching occasionally and as an adjunct professor taught at the Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY), and currently conducting research on the history of the Greek Jews in conjunction with the Panteion University of Greece. He is an Archon of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle and on the Education Committee of the Metropolis of New Jersey.

Paul Pavlakos spoke about the importance of the effort for state and federal recognition of the Hellenic Genocide. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Paul Pavlakos is the current Supreme President of the Sons of Pericles. He noted that the Hellenic Genocide recognition effort is a serious undertaking since the repercussions of the Genocide continue to affect the world we live in today. Being concise and consistent is the key to increasing awareness of the Hellenic Genocide and encouraged all those present to contact their representatives on the state and federal level to help achieve the goal of recognition.

In his professional life, Pavlakos is a Tax Associate for International Tax Services at KPMG in Manhattan. He obtained an LLM in Taxation from New York University and a Juris Doctor and Bachelor’s in International Affairs from Florida State University. Additionally, he has been active in awareness and recognition efforts since 2017 by writing articles, presenting lectures, and working to draft resolutions in U.S. Congress and several state Senates with many relating to Hellenic Genocide issues.

More information about the Hellenic Genocide recognition effort is available online: https://www.sonsofpericles.org/recognition.

The Smyrna Catastrophe put an end to the Megali Idea, the Great Idea, as envisioned by Eleftherios Venizelos. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
AHEPA District 6 Governor Lou Katsos spoke about the Smyrna Catastrophe and served as moderator for the event on the Hellenic Genocide. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
Peter Stavrianidis, PhD, spoke about the 3,000 year history of the Hellenes of Asia Minor and the Hellenic Genocide. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
A map shows the Greek Zone in blue according to the partitioning of Anatolia in the 1920 Treaty of Sevres. Photo by Eleni Sakellis
A newspaper clipping from 1922 featured a proclamation from King Constantine I forbidding the Greeks of Asia Minor from entering Greece. Photo by Eleni Sakellis

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available