An Article-Message from the HEC


The month of September brings with it the end of summer, the beginning of a new year on the Orthodox calendar, and the anniversaries of dates that have ravaged Hellenic civilization and culture. On September 14, we commemorate the Hellenic Genocide. We remember once again the Hellenes of Asia Minor who were systematically murdered by the governments of the Young Turks and Mustafa Kemal Pasha. The destruction of Asia Minor Hellenism began in 1071 when the Byzantine armies were defeated by the Seljuk Turks. In this historical event lies the origin of the Hellenic Holocaust which continues up to the present day. In 1453, Constantinopoulis fell to the Turks. The great, honorable, and brave Constantinos Palaiologos led 5,000 brave Greek soldiers against 80,000 Ottoman Turkish soldiers. The fall of Constantinopoulis, and the fall of the Empire of Trebizond eight years later extended the Hellenic holocaust to all Hellenic regions. The Ottoman Empire brought with it massacres, torture, slavery, the kidnapping of boys for the Janissaries, the enslavement of women into the harems, and intolerable political and economic pressure that resulted in the further decimation of Hellenism. For even when Hellenes were not massacred, the destruction of Hellenism occurred with the loss of national identity. Conversions to Islam and Turkification contributed to the nightmare of the loss of independence and national sovereignty. In May 1919, the armies of a a free and independent Greece entered the glorious and long suffering city of Smyrna. For a brief time it appeared that the extermination of the Hellenic race had ceased. During the First World War, the Young Turks began to murder the Hellenic populations in Asia Minor, along with the Armenians and the Assyrians. Ultimately, Mustafa Kemal Pasha became an instrument of western imperialism and as such Turkish racism earned the unconditional assistance of the United States, Great Britain, France, and Italy. The murderous psychopath Mustafa Kemal was aided by the western powers while the Greek Army in Asia Minor was cut off by an embargo imposed by the western powers. In September 1922, beautiful Smyrna was conquered by the Kemalists and burned. Over 100,000 Greeks and 30,000 Armenians were slaughtered. Special mention must be made of Metropolitan Chrysostom of Smyrna. This brave and noble Greek Orthodox Cleric supported the Greek liberators in 1919, and was a voice for the aspirations of a nation that had been enslaved, humiliated, massacred, and denigrated for centuries. When the news broke that the Kemalist aggressors would retake Smyrna, it became apparent that the Greeks and the Armenians would not survive. Metropolitan Chrysostom was offered refuge by the French Consulate. This Saint refused the offer of safety and chose to share the fate of his flock. Metropolitan Chrysostom was handed over to a fanatical Muslim mob by the crazed and sadistic Kemalist General Noureddin Pasha. He was humiliated by having his beard cut off, and then his eyes, ears, nose, and hands were cut off. Metropolitan Chyrsostom was canonized as a Saint by the Orthodox Church of Greece in 1992. (He is very much AXIOS and deserves to be remembered and prayed for). When the Kemalist-Young Turks murder machines ceased-over 1,500,000 Armenians, 1,000,000 Greeks, and 800,000 Assyrians had lost their lives. The decimation of Hellenism continued when the west supported Kemal's plan to ethnically cleanse Asia Minor and Eastern Thraki of well over 1,000,000 Hellenes. In this day and age, we are inundated with stories of ethnic cleansing throughout the world, but there is still no recognition of the horrors that have been perpetrated against Hellenism. Over 1,000,000 Hellenes were forced to abandon the land and homes where their ancestors and descendants had lived for over 3,000 years. This ethnic cleansing and Genocide was supported by the "civilized" powers in the west and legitimized by the Treaty of Lausanne. Today the world commemorates Aushwitz and the crimes of Stalin, but there are no memorials for the dead of Smyrna and Pontus in those ancient Hellenic lands. On September 6, 1955 crimes against humanity took place in a country that was a member of the NATO alliance. The Turkish government of Adnan Menderes (of the so called "democratic" party) incited terrorism against the Hellenes of Constantinopoulis and Imbros. First, the Turks bombed their own consulate in Thessaloniki and then blamed the Greeks. Then they organized the fanatics, the criminals, and the parasites, and encouraged them to attack the Greek population, the Churches, homes, and businesses. In Smyrna, Greek Army officers serving with NATO were assaulted and their wives violated. Throughout these terrorist attacks, the police did not interfere. On September 6 we remember the end of Hellenism in Constantinopoulis and Imbros. In the 1960's, the Turkish authorities proceeded to finish the job by ethnically cleansing the last remnants of Hellenism. During these attacks in Constantinopoulis, Imbros, and Smyrna, there were absolutely no condemnations, protests, or sanctions coming from Washington (that universal protector of "human rights" and "democracy"). Following the September 6 pogroms, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles wrote identical letters to Greek Prime Minister Alexander Papagos and Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes urging the "allies" to consider NATO. There was no sympathy for Greece expressed, nor was there any condemnation of Turkey's blatant aggression. Hellenism is today being eradicated in Cyprus. Over 200,000 Greeks have been ethnically cleansed in the occupied territories. In 1996, Turkish death squads murdered Cypriots Tasos Isaac and Solomos Solomou. As in Asia Minor in 1922, and Constantinopoulis in 1955, there is not a single protest emanating from the "civilized powers." Black September, a month to commemorate and recall our losses, and to reevaluate where Hellenism stands today in Cyprus, Macedonia, the Aegean Sea, and Northern Epirus. The losses of Hellenism have been numerous in terms of lives lost, and in terms of territory that has been conquered. Let us remember, commemorate, and mourn all that has been lost in Asia Minor and Constantinopoulis. Remember Smyrna and Pontus, and the victims of the Hellenic Genocide.

Documentation of the Hellenic Genocide

Let us remember and honor the memories of those who worked to protect Hellenes, Armenians, and Assyrians from the Turkish aggressors. Let us honor prominent American officials such as George Horton and Henry Morgenthau who worked tirelessly to assist the refugees that fled from Asia Minor. Let us honor them also because their important work remains alive in their important writings and texts. George Horton documented the Hellenic Genocide in "The Blight of Asia", and Henry Morgenthau documented the ethnic cleansing of Hellenes in his important, "I was sent to Athens". Further documentation and texts on the Hellenic Genocide include Edward Hale Bierstadt's "The Great Betrayal" which was published in 1924, and which Turkish supporters in America worked to discredit. This is a powerful and moving document describing the agony of Asia Minor Hellenism. Journalist Edward Herbert Gibbons has left behind accounts of Turkish Genocide against Hellenism in his 1920 biography of Prime Minister Venizelos. The American Hellenic Society, an early version of the Greek lobby in America has left behind an important document, "Persecution of the Greeks in Turkey" which describes in great detail the atrocities of the Greeks in Asia Minor during the First World War. Specific atrocities, statistics of the dead in various regions, numbers of victims deported and ethnically cleansed, and the names of Hellenic villages where the Turkish exterminations took place during the First World War are all recounted here. The American Hellenic Society has also left behind a document submitted by Prime Minister Venizelos, "Greece Before the Peace Congress of 1919", which was submitted to the victorious powers of the First World War. The Prime Minister makes frequent references to the exterminations of Greeks and Armenians in the case he put forward for the rights of Greece in Asia Minor and Constantinopoulis. Marjorie Housepian Dobkin's, "Smyrna 1922 the Destruction of a City" is a briliantly researched account of the events that led to the final extermination of Asia Minor Hellenism. Thea Halo's "Not Even my Name" is a memoir recalling the Genocide that affected Hellenism in Pontus. "The Miracle" by Leonidas Koumakis is an invaluable contribution to the documentation of the destruction of Hellenism in Constantinopoulis and Asia Minor. The author recounts the conspiracy against Hellenism during the 1950's and 1960's, and describes the ethnic cleansing of Hellenes by the Turkish state. "The Crucifixion of Christianity" by Dimitrios Kaloumenos is a recounting of the September 1955 pogroms in Constantinopoulis and contains numerous photographs of the destruction that serve as an indictment against the Turkish state. "In 1992, Helsinki Watch published, "Denying Human Rights and Ethnic Identity, The Greeks of Turkey". The document refers to specific harassment against the Greeks of Constantinopoulis, and Imbros and Tenedos". The document is further evidence of the ethnic cleansing of Hellenism by the Turkish authorities. Up to our own day, Hellenism remains under assault. The State Department's "Country Reports on Human Rights" has documented the terrorist bombings against the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the discriminatory closing of the Halki Seminary. Cypriot Hellenism suffers under the Turks today. The plight of the Cypriots is recounted in the Documentary film, "Attila 74 the Rape of Cyprus" by film director Michael Cacoyannis. Furthermore, the destruction of Cypriot culture is described in the text, "The Occupied Churches of Cyprus" by a Greek Cypriot priest, Rev. D. Demosthenous. You can find most of the above books at HEC bookstore Let us remember the agony of Hellenism. HEC-Hellenic Electronic Center * * * If we lose the forest, we lose more than an aesthetical dimension of life; we lose an essential quality of life. We lose our imagination and inspiration; we lose the mystery of nature and life; we lose our sensitivity and soul. The most endangered species is not the whale or the forest; it is the earth that we share. That is our home (the meaning of oikos in the term ecology), where all of us – whales, trees and people alike – live and die. Such is the cry of the heart. The world is not hungry simply for bread (Matt. 6.10); it is hungry for a sense of holiness and mystery, for a spiritual vision that does not lose sight of the trees, the poor, and the sacred. This in turn endows us with a sense of integrity for life and the natural environment. It bequeaths on us an understanding of the reconciliation of all people and all things. It implies a covenant between heaven and earth, that God’s will may be “done on earth as in heaven” (Matt. 6.10). That is the gift we have received, the promise of new life we have been assured: “God said to Noah: ‘This is a sign of the covenant that I am making between you and me and every living creature … between me and the earth … for all future generations’” (Gen. 9.12-13). That is the treasure I am called to keep. Finally, that is the most precious gift I have to offer my children, and my children’s children. It is, thankfully, far greater than any disgrace or destruction that I have caused. It is the symbol of grace and life.


* Address during the Costas Consultation in Global Mission organized by the Boston Institute at Harvard Divinity School, February 28-March 1, 2003. The Reverend Professor John Chryssavgis is Director of the Environment Office, Hellenic College/Holy Cross, Brookline, MA.