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Literature

Further Reading for the Centennial of the Catastrophe

October 31, 2022

In this centennial year of the Asia Minor Catastrophe, there have been many events online and in-person offering insights into the tragic events that shaped the course of history. The events often remind us that there are many more voices to be heard on the subject and for those interested in learning more, many books are available online and in bookstores.

American Accounts Documenting the Destruction of Smyrna by the Kemalist Turkish Forces, September 1922, Edited by Dr. Constantine G. Hatzidimitriou includes official U.S. State Department documents, press and other eyewitness accounts that testify to the details of ethnic persecution. On Sunday, November 13, Hatzidimitriou is scheduled to present a lecture, titled ‘Understanding Two Important Commemorations: America’s Involvement in the Greek Revolution of 1821 and the Smyrna Catastrophe of 1922,’ at the Archdiocesan Hellenic Cultural Center, 27-09 Crescent Street in Astoria.

Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a City by Marjorie Housepian Dobkin recounts the events of September 1922 as, according to the book’s description, “Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk), the victorious revolutionary ruler of Turkey, led his troops into Smyrna (now Izmir) a predominantly Christian city, as a flotilla of 27 Allied warships, including three American destroyers, looked on.”

Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a City by Marjorie Housepian Dobkin. (Photo: Amazon)

“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,” the description continues. “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 who had defeated Turkey and Germany during World War I. By 1923, Smyrna’s demise was all but expunged from historical memory.”

A Houseful of Love by Marjorie Housepian Dobkin. (Photo: Amazon)

Marjorie Housepian Dobkin was born in 1922 to Dr. Moses Housepian and his wife Makrouhie Housepian (née Ashjian), Armenian immigrants in New York City, two and a half months after her grandfather was killed by a Turkish soldier during the burning of Smyrna from which her grandmother fled as a refugee. Her younger brother was the neurosurgeon Edgar Housepian. She attended Barnard College, graduating in 1944, and was a professor of literature and writing from 1957 to 1993, as well as associate dean of studies at Barnard from 1976 until 1993.

Armenian Smyrna/Izmir: The Aegean Communities by Richard G. Hovannisian. (Photo: Amazon)

Besides writing history, Housepian Dobkin also wrote the novel A Houseful of Love, published in 1957 by Random House. A New York Times and New York Herald Tribune bestseller, translated into several languages, the book tells the story of an extended family of Armenian-Americans in 1929. Like the author, the book’s narrator is the daughter of Armenian immigrants who had fled Ottoman persecution, and her father, like Housepian Dobkin’s, is the Armenian community in New York’s primary physician at that time.

Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a City by Marjorie Housepian Dobkin is available online: https://bit.ly/3FsVsO7.

The book is also available in Greek: https://bit.ly/3U9xLyh.

Armenian Smyrna/Izmir: The Aegean Communities by Richard G. Hovannisian presents the multifaceted city and the Armenian community that thrived there from the 19th century until the Catastrophe in 1922. The book is also available online: https://bit.ly/3Nl3qus.

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