Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Genocide of 350.000 Greeks from Pontos

A big part of the Greek world used to live and prosper in Asia Minor, and also in Northern Asia Minor, maily known as Pontos, which is today Northern Turkey. Trapezounta, the capital of Pontos fell to the Ottoman Empire in 1461, 8 years after the fall of the Byzantine Empire, i.e. Constantinople in 1453. However the Greeks of Pontos remained conscience Greeks whilst being the minority in the region. They played a great part in the economic boom of the region. In 1865 there were 265.000 Greeks in Pontos, in 1880 330.000 and in the beginning of the 20th century nearly 700.000. During the last decades of the existence of the Greek minority in Pontos a spiritual and educational renaissance flourished, by having 1401 schools, printers, magazines, newspapers, theatres which emphasized the high spiritual level which existed then and there. 

In 1908 the Young Turks Movement took place in the Ottoman Empire, which showed their strong nationalistic and fundamentalist face, by persisting in persecuting the Christian populations within the Empire and the eventual Turkification of the region. Unfortunately the Hellenic Republic being busy with the Cretan Issue did not have the power to deal and solve the matter concerning the Greeks in Pontos. 

The Ottoman Empire, trying to preserve 'the safety of the country', sent a big part of the male population (especially those who did not go to the army) into the centre of the country in order to work under difficult and brutal conditions. They worked in quarries, mines and road construction under devastating conditions. Most died from starvation, hardship and disease. 

After the Armenian Genocide Kemal Ataturk was free to destroy the Greek population within Turkey. In 1919 Greeks and Armenians tried to make an independent state in the Northern part of Turkey, whilst having the support of Venizelos and Greece. However it was not achieved and on the 19th of May 1919 Mustafa Kemal reaches Samsounta and begins the second phase of the Genocide of the Greeks in Pontos, with the help of German and Soviet advisers. Until the final Asia Minor Catastrophe (1922) over 350.000 Greeks from Pontos were killed, although many historian give different numbers.
Whoever survived fled to Southern Russia, Georgia, the Balkan region, Greece and Cyprus. However many died on the way. Since half my family comes from Pontos I have heard many stories about the Genocide and the difficulties in arriving in Greece. My great great grandmother, a priest wife, left Pontos with 9 children and reach Macedonia, Northern Greece, with 4,  since they walked all the way whilst having no food or water. This is merely one fact from my family's past. The Greek Parliament established in 1994 that the 19th of May is dedicated to the 'Remembrance of the Genocide of the Greeks from Pontos'. 

1 comment:

  1. Ένα πραγματικό και ιστορικό γεγονός, το οποίο αξίζει να αναδειχθεί και να αναγνωρισθεί από όλους, ιδιαίτερα από τους θύτες. Μόνο τότε θα ησυχάσουν οι νεκροί που αναμένουν δικαίωση!