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Literature

Alec Karys Shares His Father’s Diary from the Asia Minor Campaign

April 21, 2024

In recent years, the interest in genealogy has skyrocketed as more and more people are utilizing technology to learn as much as possible about their family history. It is rare for handwritten documents to be passed down through the generations and survive especially over the turbulent decades of the first half of the 20th century, through wars, and when the family has moved half a world away from their homeland.

Alec Peter Karys (Karatasakis) is luckier than most to have his father’s diary which he has published with the title ‘Pantelis C. Karatasakis: Diary of a Soldier in the Asia Minor Campaign 1919-1922,’ edited by Karys and Gregory Kontos, a historian and the founder of Greek Ancestry.

‘Pantelis C. Karatasakis: Diary of a Soldier in the Asia Minor Campaign 1919-1922,’ edited by Alec Karys and Gregory Kontos. Photo: Courtesy of Alec Karys

This unique volume includes the diary entries, in Greek and in English, along with notes on the text, a prologue by Karys and an introduction by Kontos which includes a brief history of the period when Karatasakis was writing his diary. In the prologue, Karys writes: “My father’s diary was kept in plain view in an unlocked top drawer of his bedroom dresser, along with his only other prized possession, his father’s gold Waltham pocket watch. As kids, from time to time, we would maybe write a line, draw squiggles or signatures in the diary, but we never read it – besides, it was written in Greek cursive and was difficult to decipher. In other words, it was just an object in our father’s wardrobe.”

Karys told The National Herald via email that “my father Pantelis C. Karatasakis was  born in Nymphasia, Arcadia, Greece. He fought in the Asia Minor campaign (1919-1922) and left behind a detailed diary about his daily experiences and also many poems in which he shared his deepest emotions.”

“His military travels brought him deep into Turkey and close to Ankara, and to Smyrna where he saw the king in person upon his arrival,” Karys continued, noting that he also “worked with resources in Athens (Greek Ancestry, Gregory Kontos) and Patras to translate his Greek diary into English, and official publication was just recently completed.”

“The publication includes all the diary pages scanned and all the text in Greek and also in English in a unique two-page view,” Karys said, pointing out that the book is available in hard cover, paperback, and e-book.

Alec Karys and historian and founder of Greek Ancestry Gregory Kontos in Athens. Photo: Courtesy of Alec Karys

“All net profits from sales will go to the residents of Nymphasia, Arcadia, to support projects that will benefit all residents,” he noted.

“My father died at a relatively young age, 66, in 1964, when I was 20 years old,” Karys writes in the book’s prologue. “I do not recall my father discussing his experience in the Asia Minor Campaign, nor did my older siblings. It was only after my mother’s passing in 2000 that the diary came to my hands, and I became aware of its content. Now, I feel that I have unlocked parts of my father’s own history, an aspect of his life and character that I was not familiar with.”

Karys told TNH that he was recently in Tripoli and visited the military museum, adding that “I will be donating a copy of the book for their exhibit on the Asia Minor Campaign, and I will be doing the same for the military museum in Athens.”

“I will also donate a copy to the Gennadius Research Library in Athens,” he noted.

Karys participated in an online discussion with Kontos in February about the book and how he decided to publish his father’s diary over a century after it was first written. Video of the discussion is available on the Greek Ancestry YouTube channel: https://shorturl.at/sCMP7.

‘Pantelis C. Karatasakis: Diary of a Soldier in the Asia Minor Campaign 1919-1922,’ edited by Alec Karys and Gregory Kontos, is available online: https://shorturl.at/fxzIV.

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