“look back to learn, look forward to progress, not blame”
Today we pay our respects. May 19 is one of 3 days of mourning for the “Greek Genocide“(it is only recognized by Greece, Cyprus, Armenia and Sweden, some American and Canadian states), notably for the region of Pontus.The Pontic Genocide is one of the darkest moments in history .The Genocide saw the end of Pontos in its historic homeland, which held a huge Greek population and culture.
According to the Wikipedia, the Greek genocide, part of which is known as the Pontic genocide, was the systematic genocide of the Christian Ottoman Greek population from its historic homeland in Anatolia during World War I and its aftermath (1914–22). It was instigated by the government of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish national movement against the indigenous Greek population of the Empire and it included massacres, forced deportations involving death marches, summary expulsions, arbitrary execution, and the destruction of Christian Orthodox cultural, historical, and religious monuments.
At the Lausanne conference in 1923, Lord Curzon stated that 1 million Greeks had been slaughtered and 1 million more were exiled (official sources of that period see below only talk about 700000 greeks of pontus). These genocides took place at the same time and place as that of the Armenians: in Turkey between 1914 and 1923.
Rumca, as the Pontian Greek language is known in Turkey, survives today, mostly among older speakers. After the exchange most Pontian Greeks settled in Macedonia and Attica. Pontian Greeks inside the Soviet Union were predominantly settled in the regions bordering the Georgian SSR and Armenian SSR. They also had notable presence in Black Sea ports like Odessa and Sukhumi. About 100,000 Pontian Greeks, including 37,000 in the Caucasus area alone, were deported to Central Asia in 1949 during Stalin’s post-war deportations. Big indigenous communities exist today in former USSR states, while through immigration large numbers can be found in Germany, Australia, and the United States.
The precursor to the Nazi Holocaust was not just the Armenian genocide of 1915-16, but the pogroms, or early stages of what would become a genocide, against the indigenous Greeks of Asia Minor in 1914. According to US Consul General George Horton, Greek businesses were boycotted and Turks were encouraged to kill Greeks and drive them out, reminiscent of Kristallnacht in Nazi Germany 24 years
Historically it is true that the ancient greek communities in Asia minor were destroyed. However it is also true that the Greek Army had invaded the Ottoman Empire at its ends and nearly advanced to Ankara before they were defeated, and that during the retreat they committed numerous atrocities against the Anatolian villagers in their path. My point is that both sides seem to concentrate on the wrongs of the other side and do not accept that criminal acts against innocent people were comitted by both sides. One thing most people seem to not know, is that a big number of Turks have been the victims of humanity crimes committed by some Greeks along with some other groups in the Ottoman Empire during the same war.
According to various sources, several hundred thousand Ottoman Greeks died during this period. Most of the refugees and survivors fled to Greece (amounting to over a quarter of the prior population of Greece). Some, especially those in Eastern provinces, took refuge in the neighbouring Russian Empire.
Thus by the end of the 1919–22 Greco-Turkish War, most of the Greeks of Asia Minor had either fled or had been killed. Those remaining were transferred to Greece under the terms of the later 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey, which formalized the exodus and barred the return of the refugees. Other ethnic groups were similarly attacked by the Ottoman Empire during this period, including Assyrians and Armenians, and some scholars and organizations have recognized these events as part of the same genocidal policy.
The Ottoman regime feared the Pontiac population not only because of their rapidly growing numbers that had reached 700,000 by the early 20th century, but also because of the cultural and economic growth of the minority.
Cities like Samsous, Trapezous and Kerasous displayed a remarkable growth in churches and schools of the greek speaking minority. Nonetheless, the rise of the Young Turks movement, however, would put a brutal end to the thriving Greek community of the area.
The population exchange between Turkey and Greece, agreed in the Swiss lakeside town of Lausanne in January 1923, amounted to one of the greatest population movements of the 20th century. The agreement came as the two states sought to fix their borders after the Turkish War of Independence, and resulted in the obligatory removal of around 1.5 million Greeks from Anatolia and around 500,000 Muslims from Greece.
Despite the rigid and ostensibly unambiguous division that the population exchange imposed, there are a number of paradoxes at its heart. Not the least of these is the fact that the statesmen of Greece and Turkey at the time were trying to build modern and secular nations in which religion would be less important as an organizing principle; but to do this it was seen as necessary to first gather together people of the same religion and expel those who weren’t.
As Clark writes, it was thought that it would be “much easier to create a new, politically and ethnically defined community – a community of Greek citizens, say, or of Turkish citizens – if the ‘raw material’ for each national project was all of the same religion.” Thus, with a few exceptions, orthodox Christians from the Black Sea, the Aegean and across Anatolia – who often didn’t speak a word of the Greek language – were abruptly ordered to leave the lands in which their ancestors had lived for hundreds of years and resettle in their “natural” homeland. The reverse was happening with Turks (apart from those in Western Thrace) in Greece.