The Genocide and Its Aftermath

The turning point for the Hellenes of Asia Minor was the German-Turkish alliance that arose following the signing of the Treaty of Berlin (1878). Germany regarded Anglo-French ‘protection’ of the Empire’s Christian peoples as an obstacle to its interests. Using the pretext of reform of the Ottoman military, Germany opened the doors of the Berlin Academy to Turkish officers (amongst them Mustapha Kemal Ataturk and Enver Pasha, architects of the Holocaust) and arranged the appointment of General Götz to restructure the Ottoman armed forces along German lines.

Germany convinced the Turkish authorities that the Hellenes were working for the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. (At this time, the Empire’s economic and political life was dominated by Hellenes, Armenians and Jews.) The successful national movements throughout the Aimos Peninsula (Balkans) posed the possibility that similar movements would appear amongst the indigenous populations of Asia Minor (Hellenes, Armenians, Lazes, Assyrians/Chaldeans).

Hence, following the heavy defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkan Wars (1912-13), the Young Turks (a military junta that seized control of the Empire in 1908), decided that Asia Minor would be a homeland for Turks alone: all others were to be eliminated. World War One gave the Young Turks the opportunity to implement their plan.

Germany willingly sacrificed the indigenous Christian peoples of Asia Minor to achieve its goals of direct access to the oil-fields of the Middle East. It is ironic, therefore, that the reports of German and Austro-Hungarian diplomats provide damning evidence that what was to take place was a meticulously-executed plan to depopulate Asia Minor of Christians: in other words, GENOCIDE.

“The Turks have decided upon a war of extermination against their Christian subjects.”

German Ambassador Wangenheim to German Chancellor von Bulow, quoting Turkish Prime Minister Sefker Pasha, July 24, 1909.

“The anti-Greek and anti-Armenian persecutions are two phases of one programme - the extermination of the Christian element from Turkey.”

Father J. Lepsius, German clergyman, July 31, 1915.

“...the entire Greek population of Sinope and the coastal region of the county of Kastanome has been exiled. Exile and extermination in Turkish are the same, for whoever is not murdered, will die from hunger or illness.”

Herr Kuchhoff, German consul in Amissos in a despatch to Berlin, July 16, 1916.

“On 26 November, Rafet Bey told me: ‘We must finish off the Greeks as we did with the Armenians’...On 28 November, Rafet Bey told me: ‘Today, I sent squads to the interior to kill every Greek on sight.’ I fear for the elimination of the entire Greek population and a repeat of what occurred last year.” (referring to the Armenian Genocide)

Herr Kwiatkowski, Austro-Hungarian consul in Amissos to Baron von Burian, Foreign Minister of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, November 30, 1916

“Consuls Bergfeld in Samsun and Schede in Kerasun report of displacement of local population and murders. Prisoners are not kept. Villages reduced to ashes. Greek refugee families consisting mostly of women and children being marched from the coasts to Sebasteia. The need is great.”

German Ambassador Kuhlman to German Chancellor Hollweg, December 13, 1916.

Herr Pallavicini, Ambassador of Austria-Hungary to Turkey, writes to Vienna, listing the villages in the region of Amissos that were being burnt to the ground, their inhabitants raped and either murdered or exiled, December 19, 1916:

“The situation for the displaced is desperate. Death awaits them all. I spoke to the Grand Vizier and told him that it would be sad if the persecution of the Greek element took the same scope and dimension as the Armenian persecution. The Grand Vizier promised that he would influence Talaat Bey and Enver Pasha.”

Austro-Hungarian Ambassador Pallavicini to Vienna, January 20, 1917

“The time is near for Turkey to be finished with the Greeks as we were with the Armenians in 1915.”

Talaat Bey as quoted by an Austro-Hungarian agent, January 31, 1917

“...the indications are that the Turks plan to eliminate the Greek element as enemies of the state, as they did earlier with the Armenians. The strategy implemented by the Turks is of displacing people to the interior, without taking measures for their survival by exposing them to death, hunger and illness. The abandoned homes are then looted and burnt or destroyed. Whatever was done to the Armenians is being repeated with the Greeks.”

Chancellor Hollweg of Germany, February 9, 1917.

Thus, by official government decree, were 353 000 Pontian Hellenes slaughtered. Another 500 000 fled into exile (60% to Hellas, 40% to the Soviet Union). The Christian nations of the world were witnesses to this crime against humanity, but for reasons of political expediency and economic self-interest, by their silence, they pardoned the criminals. The Ottoman and Kemalist Turks denied the Hellenes of Pontus, of Kappadokia, of Ionia and of eastern Thrace the very right to exist.

The Kemalist Turks thought that they had rid themselves of all the Hellenes of Asia Minor. For decades, it was thought that Hellenism had died in Asia Minor. The truth is that eastern Hellenism survives. The Pontian Hellenic dialect continues to be spoken in Pontus by the Muslim inhabitants of the region. Hellenic also continues to be spoken in the Aivalik (Kydonies) region, near the ruins of Troy. Pilgrims regularly gather at the Monastery of Panayia Soumela; these include many nominally Muslim inhabitants of Pontus. They meet pilgrims from Hellas, Australia and around the world. They converse in Pontian Hellenic, dance the same folk-dances to the sounds of the same musical instruments, they worship at the same holy spring, at the heart of the Monastery’s majestic ruins. On July 20, every year, thousands of ‘Muslim’ Pontians gather at the vale of Touyia to celebrate the feast day of the Prophet Elijah (Elias). Pontian Hellenism today thrives throughout the world and survives in its home soil: PONTUS.

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