The Turks invaded Asia Minor in two waves : The Seljuks were first at the end of the 11th century and the Ottomans came later, at the beginning of the l3th century.
Using indiscriminately force, murder, genocide, and turcification they managed to hold on to a foreign land expelling or exterminating its natural residents : Greeks, Armenians, Kurds, and Arabs.
In the 8th century, the Oguz Turks, a semi-savage nomadic people moved westward from their homeland in Mongolia, and settled in what is today West Turkestan.
The Seljuks, a sect of the Oguz Turks, moved further in the direction of Persia and today’s Iraq, where they served as mercenaries for the caliphs of Baghdad.
From this encounter with the advanced Persian and Arab civilisations, they enriched their poor vocabulary, adopted the Arabic script and became muslims retaining simultaneously their warring nomad characteristics.
Their king, Alp Arslan (1063-1072), unified the various Seljuk factions, invaded Armenia, and sacked its capital of Ani in 1064. After that he and his armies invaded Byzantium and following the critical battle at Manzikert (1071) where the Byzantines were defeated, the Seljuks occupied a large part of the Asia Minor provinces of Byzantium. Previous to the invasion, there was not a single Turk living in these provinces.
In this foreign, for the Turks land there were thus established a number of Seljuk controlled emirates.
After a short period of time the Byzantines and the Crusaders dissolved nearly all of these emirates, except one whose capital was Iconium. This had been named as the Sultanate of Roum in other words the land of the Romans, as was the official title of the Greek Byzantine Empire, which was a continuation and succession of the Eastern Roman Empire.
The raids by Genghis Khan’s (1167-1227) Mongols forced another Turkish tribe, led by Suleyman-Shah, to abandon Turkistan and to head towards the west. This group tried to settle in Eastern Asia Minor, but the Armenians and Kurds ousted them. In an attempt to cross the Euphrates river, their leader was drowned and buried there, which ever since has been known as <<Turk-mezari>>, or the <<tomb of the Turk>> A title which is indicative of how alien the Turks were in these areas.
The tribe then moved toward the Sultanate of Roum where it settled often assuming the role of border-guards. Suleyman’s grandson, Osman, (1259-1326), took over the title of Sultan from the Seljuks and he gave his name to the Turkish people : The Ottomans.
The leaders of the Osmanlis quickly realized that since they comprised a minority of conquerors it would be difficult for them to control the occupied lands, and simultaneously to pursue further conquests without taking certain <<special measures>>.
Thus, they decided to adopt and apply harsh methods previously unknown to the whole world. Methods which were never repeated again by another nation on earth. The primary measures taken were as follows :
- They declared their state a warrior or <<Gazi>> state. In other words, a state that was bound to declare holy war (Jihad) against the non-believers. This way, they were able to bring together all kinds of adventurers, who were willing to fight either for ideological reasons, or for just the spoils of the war.
- They adopted the inhumane measure of forcibly recruiting young Christian children. In other words, they forcibly took male children of the enslaved Christian families (mainly Greeks. and later also Armenians Bulgarians, Albanians and Serbs), and brought them up in special camps. They conditioned them to become fanatic Turks and relentless killers to their own people. These children would grow up to believe that their father was the Sultan and that if they were to die in battle they would go to heaven. Thus, because of this New Army, or Janissaries, (Yeni-ceri in turkish) the Turks continued to pursue their conquests.
- They slaughtered systematically millions of Asia Minor’s inhabitants, in order to change the ethnic character of the land. It has been estimated that during the seven centuries of Turkish presence in Asia Minor several millions of Greeks, at least two-three million Armenians and hundreds of thousands of Kurds, Syrians, but also Serbs, and Bulgarians in Europe, were systematically massacred. In the 20th century alone, it has been estimated that approximately 1,5 million Armenians and more than 1 million Greeks were extrerminated.
In this manner, the Turks managed to hold on to Asia Minor, a foreign land for them, where Greek civilisation had flourished for 2.000 years before the appearance of the Turks.
The Turks just destroyed this civilisation and unfortunately did not even try to take advantage of its accomplishments.
In two previous occassions the Greek people contributed in civilising their conquerors as was the case with the Romans and the Franks. One must possess a cultural identity to be able to absorb what is creative and good from other civilisations. Unfortunately, the conquering Turks lacked such an identity.
The Turks also failed to administer their subject peoples within the Ottoman Empire. There were no <<laws>> in the civilised sense of the word. The Sultan’s word was the law in the capital and arbitrary rule of local representatives was the law in the provinces. The property, honor, and life of the conquered was completely at the mercy of the occasional Turkish official.
The only bond that kept the multiethnic empire together was the crude use of force-ultimately the butchery-of the rulers. Slaughter was the rule without concern for innocence or guilt.
Under these conditions the Turkish administration was truly detestable to all the subject people who suffered and patiently waited for each opportunity to throw off the Ottoman yoke.
The Turks failed to assimilate the various nationalities within their empire. They could not also administer them efficiently, not even control the economy because commerce and industry was left in the hands of the Greeks, Armenians and Jews, while the Turks kept busy with governing and simultaneously exploiting the profits while terrorizing the inhabitants.
For the enslaved people to be finally liberated from their rulers there took place a series of revolutions, which led to the establishment of independent states. In 1908 the Young Turk revolution forced the Sultan to grant a constitution to the remnants of the Ottoman Empire.
In spite of the apparent liberalism of the formally bourgeois revolution which was spearheaded by the military without the participation of the people, there continued to develop additional centrifugal tendencies as they did in the times of the Sultan’s despotism. For those nations still within the Empire whose fellow nationals had established independent states, e. g. the Greeks- it was natural for them to seek union with their free compatriots. Those peoples still within the Empire that had not attained separate statehood, e.g. the Armenians, and the Kurds, focused all their energies towards the attainment of self-determination and the establishment of autonomous national homelands.
The Young Turks sought to rid themselves of troublesome non Turkish ethnic groups so that they could build a homogeneous Turkish state and so they could avoid iurther mutilation of Turkish controlled territorv in areas where non-Turks were in the majority, such as Eastern Thrace,
Western Asia Minor and Pontos, where the Greeks were in the majority, Eastern Asia Minor where the Armenians were in the majority and, Southeastern Asia Minor where the Kurds were in the majority.
Thus, the supposedly liberal and constitutionally oriented Young Turks returned to the usual Sultanic abrasiveness and brutality, which now became much more organised and sylstematic and assumed genocidal proportions.
The massacres were premeditated : It was decided that <<the Ottomanisation of all Turkish citizens, which never succeeded through persuasion, had to be done by the force of arms>>,
This was stated in the L o n d o n T i m e s on the 3rd of October 1911 summarizing the proceedings of the Council of Union and Progress (The Young Turks).
At first, the persecutions took place against the Greeks, made under the pretext of the Balkan Wars (1912-1913). Persecution took the form of lootings, expulsions and murders. After the wars, persecution continued even more intensively, to the point where on the 25 of May 1914 the Ecumenical Patriarchate was forced to declare that the Orthodox Church was <<under attack>>.
The Patriarchate, further, in a show of protest and mourning, suspended the activities of Greek churches and Greek schools throughout Turkey.
After the declaration of World War I, the Turks found the perfect opportunity to organize more effectively the massacres against ethnic minorities, so that they could finally transform their empire into a homogeneous·nation-state.
Prominent officers of the Young Turks movement, while serving as members of the government, organized the expulsion of the inhabitants as well as the lootings and massacres that were perpetrated against them. Specifically, Talat Pasha, minister of the interior, was prominent as the master mind of the pogroms. However, the entire Turkish state administration participated in the organization and the execution of the extermination programme.
They began with the genocide of the Armenians, who did not possess a state which would rush to their aid and followed it up with mass expulsions and massacres of the Greeks. The victims of this period are over 2.5 million people of which 1.5 million were Armenians. In the chronological Index one can see detailed figures regarding the persecution of the Greeks of Asia Minor, Thrace and Pontos.
Topal Osman was the butcher of Pontos. He and his «Tsetes: Turks warriors» organized the genocide of the Christians of Pontos. The populations were forced in the interior of the country, in concetration camps and prisons were they found death.
After the end of World War I, the Allies recognized that the property, honor and life of the Greeks in the Ottoman Empire could not be protected by the Turkish government.
They assigned to Greece the responsibility to administer Eastern Thrace and the Smyrna district. This arrangenment was contained in the Treaty of Sevres. Simultaneously, there was established a separate and independent Pontian state.
In 1920, Alexander Millerand, president of the Supreme Allied Council stated : <<The Turkish government not only failed in its duty to protect its non-Turkish citizens from the looting, violence and murders, but there are many indications that the Turkish government itself was responsible for directing and organizing the most cruel attacks against the populations, which it was supposed to protect. For these reasons, the Allied powers have decided to liberate from the Turkish yoke all the lands where the majority of the people were non-Turks>>.
The Treaty of Sevres was signed by the Turkish government but Mustafa Kemal refused to recognize it.
After 40 long months of war, duringiwhich Kemal’s forces secured considerable foreign assistance, the Greek military front in Anatolia collapsed.
The Turks reoccupied Asia Minor and entered Smyrna on September 8, 1922. In Smyrna, in the meantime, there was an influx of refugees from various parts of Asia Minor. And the conquering Turks set the city on fire and unleashed the last phase of the genocide against the Greeks and Armenians.
These were moments of unbelievable horror. The pier turned red by the blood of tlhe victims. The bishop of Smyrna Chrysostomos was publicly ridiculed and then slaughtered. Events were too horrible to even describe. The American Consul in Smyrna, George Horton, gives a detailed and objective picture of the chilling Turkish crimes in his book T h e B l i g h t o f A s i a ( Indianapolis : Bobb and Merryl, 1925).
The Treaty of Lausanne ended the Greek-Turkish war and imposed the unjust and mandatory exchange of 300,000 Turks from Greece for the 1,400,000 Greeks that survived the holocaust.
The Greek refugees of Asia Minor, without being consulted had to give up their ancestral homes to the Turks, after almost 4,000 years of glorious and productive history.
Through the unjust actions of massacre and persecution of Greeks and Armenians, the contemporary Turkish state was thus created. It was a state founded on crime, the state about which French prime minister George Clemanceau said on the 25th of June, 1919 : <<We do not find even one example in Europe, Asia, or Africa, where the imposition of Turkislh sovereignty had not been followed by a decline in material prosperity, and by the impoverishment of its culture. Also there does not exist one example where liberation from Turkish control was not followed by the advancement of material prosperity and an improvement of the cultural level. Whether dealing with Christians or Muslims, the Turk has managed to bring destruction whereever he conquered. The Turk has never been able to develop in peace that which he won through conquest>>.
On the 26th of November 1979, the New York Times wrote quite characteristically : <<According to the most recent statistics, the Christian population in Turkey was diminished from ( 4.500.000 ) at the beginning of this century to just about 150,000. Of those, the Greeks are no more than 7,000 Yet, in 1923 they were as many as 1, 2 million>>. (After the massacres of many hundreds of thousands ).
In the pages which follow you will find photographs of the cultural presence of Greeks in Asia Minor and irrefutable photographic evidence of a small sample of the Turkish atrocities which managed to destroy this splendid civilisation and to persecute millions of people.
Even though the Turks have not yet been punished by human justice, we believe that there is a Divine Justice to which the Turks will sooner or later be answerable.