December 10, 2022

50 Questions-Answers about the Asia Minor Campaign and Catastrophe (26 - 50)

 ...continued from part one.

Question 26: Did the Soviets help Kemal?

Answer: The Soviets helped Kemal because, as they claimed, they were against the imperialists (France, Italy, Britain, Greece) and they made agreements with Kemal by sending him gold rubles in gold bars and armaments.

Question 27: What was Britain's attitude towards the Asia Minor campaign after the November 1920 elections?

Answer: The British believed that in order for the Treaty of Sèvres to be implemented, Kemal had to be defeated, and the only power that was called upon to impose the terms of peace was Greece. Britain supported the Greek side, without providing substantial financial and military aid. He believed that security and stability in Europe came first and favored the solution of a peace settlement with the Turks at the expense of the Treaty of Sèvres and at the expense of Greek interests.

Question 28: How much did the National Schism affect the final outcome of the war in 1922?

Answer: The National Schism was a deep crisis, not only political, but also psychological. There was division in the army as well. The two political factions had no communication with each other and did not trust each other.

Question 29: What was the difference in the strategy of Venizelos and the anti-Venizelians regarding the military presence in Asia Minor?

Answer: Venizelos' basic principle was "never alone". The anti-Venizelians were not politically inexperienced and incompetent, but they did not know how the international system works and they went on the campaign "alone", to destroy Kemal's army. Venizelos invited international support, the anti-Venizelians lost it. Venizelos was tough, but realistic and efficient, while the anti-Venizelians were emotional and idealistic and fearful of international developments, they had a dead end strategy.

Question 30: What were Metaxas' views on the Asia Minor campaign?

Answer: Metaxas as a military man at various times was by far the best military planner of the country, he expressed his objections to the military involvement in Asia Minor and the claim of territories there. His arguments were strong. But as a politician he was naive, believing in the withdrawal of the Army from Smyrna with the acquisition of its autonomy in the new Turkish State.

Question 31: Was an option "the City instead of Smyrna" possible in 1922?

Answer: The change of strategy from Ionia to Constantinople in 1922 was not realistic. It was a scenario of desperation rather than a serious practical choice.

Question 32: Why did the Greek front collapse so quickly in August 1922?

Answer: The Greek army, from the 23,000 square kilometers it was at the beginning, reached 80,000 square kilometers. It had entered at a depth of 350 kilometers off the coast of Asia Minor. The front line extended to 713 kilometers, had 220,000 men, of which 80,000 were fighting.

There were many causes of the disaster, namely the lack of a goal, the morale of our army, the great development of the front, the Division among the officers, there was a problem in the supreme military leadership, there were significant military losses, lack of a strong reserve, there were problems in transportation and telecommunications, the road network was substandard, and many other problems.

Later, the Turks had better morale and as the attackers determined the place where they would gather forces, they had young officers with new tactics, and they had a specific goal, which was the reversal of the dissolution of their country, which would happen with the eventual ratification of the Treaty of Sèvres.

Question 33: What position did the KKE take in the Asia Minor campaign?

Answer: The Communist Party of Greece coordinated with the policy of the Soviet Union, that is, they were against the Asia Minor campaign as supposedly imperialist, and they were trying to undermine the campaign, keeping silent about the existence of 2,000,000 Greeks in Eastern Thrace and Asia Minor.

Question 34: Was there a decision by the Greek government to prohibit the arrival of refugees to Greece in the summer of 1922?

Answer: No, but the law that was passed did not concern the Asia Minor refugees, but the Pontians who were refugees in the Caucasus and wanted to come to Greece.

Question 35: What was the role of High Commissioner Aristides Stergiadis?

Answer: Aristides Stergiadis, who was high commissioner of Greece in Smyrna, was unpopular among the Greeks of Asia Minor, and was considered pro-Turkish. He was harsh, but a direct collaborator of Venizelos and tried strictly to adhere to Venizelos' policy of equality between Greeks and Turks. He was a follower of orderly withdrawal and when the front collapsed, he made sure that the entire State archive was sent safely to Greece.

Question 36: What position did the Ecumenical Patriarchate take during the Asia Minor Campaign and Catastrophe?

Answer: Since 1913, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has seen its flock facing persecution from the Ottoman State and in all these tragic events it was drawn into actions that exposed it. It is characteristic that, in September 1922, when Patriarch Meletios Metaxakis learned of the martyrdom of his friend the Metropolitan of Smyrna Chrysostomos, he grabbed his head in shock and said: "We have all sinned, holy brothers".

Question 37: What was the "National Defense of Constantinople" and the "Asia Minor Defense"?

Answer: Their goals were not clear. The "National Defense of Constantinople" was intended to repeat what happened in Thessaloniki in 1917. The "Asia Minor Defense" was intended to create an autonomous "Ionian State" in Smyrna, which would be under the rule of the Sultan. It was supported by the Patriarch of Constantinople Meletios Metaxakis and the Metropolitan of Smyrna Chrysostomos. The politicians, both Venizelos and the Government of Athens, considered this utopian, i.e. not realistic, with the evolution of events. Britain decided that it would not have its support.

Question 38: Was there genocide or ethnic cleansing against the Muslim civilian population by the Greek army during the Asia Minor campaign?

Answer: War crimes were committed by Greek soldiers, but no organized ethnic cleansing took place. And the crimes that were committed were not committed after official decisions, they were reprisals that, unfortunately, accompany the brutality of war. On the contrary, the official leadership condemned them.

Question 39: Who burned Smyrna and why?

Answer: Smyrna was burned by Turkish soldiers. It was a crime of genocide. 55,000 houses were destroyed, of which 43,000 were Greek, 10,000 Armenian and 2,000 foreign nationals. The Turks closed the quay all around with chains to prevent people from leaving and poured kerosene on the streets to burn them.

Question 40: Are there any foreigners whom we should mention for the help they offered to the Greeks during the Asia Minor Catastrophe?

Answer: Many Organizations helped, but also the American Consul of the USA in Smyrna George Horton. Important help was provided by the American Methodist Pastor Asa Jennings and the Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen, who also received an award for his contribution.

Question 41: How did the war conflicts end?

Answer: The French and Italians had supported Kemal's army with supplies since 1921, while Britain was the only ally to confront Kemal with hostility. With the resistance of the people of Mudanya, the hostilities between Greek and Turkish armies would end, the Greeks would withdraw from Eastern Thrace, and would withdraw to the western bank of the river Evros and the allied troops would intervene between the two armies.

Question 42: Why did we cede Eastern Thrace, while the war had not yet reached there?

Answer: The Allies kept what they wanted, namely the military occupation of the Straits. The Greeks, as defeated, could not resist the agreement, because otherwise they would have to pay dizzying war reparations that the Turks claimed, together with the surrender of the Greek fleet.

Venizelos was one of the most important politicians of modern Greece, he had advantages and disadvantages, he had an autocratic character, but he was called upon to take serious decisions with the excellent diplomatic skills he had and the international prestige he acquired.

Question 43: Was the Asia Minor Catastrophe the fatal consequence of a war or genocide?

Answer: The Asia Minor Catastrophe was a fatal consequence of a genocide, as the term genocide was later established by the UN Convention in 1998. It is called the "Asia Minor Catastrophe", but it is a genocide, just as the Jewish "holocaust" is called a holocaust, but it is a genocide. This can be seen in the mass arrests and deportations of Armenians, in the ethnic cleansing, in the forced labor, in the burning of Smyrna, in the mass massacres of Greek populations, in the mass exodus. All this was not a fatal consequence of the bloody Greek-Turkish war, since genocide is prohibited in times of war and peace.

Question 44: What were the human losses of the Asia Minor Catastrophe?

Answer: The exact number of Greeks who perished in the Asia Minor Catastrophe remains unknown. It is estimated that it ranges around 500,000 people.

Question 45: Was there a confrontation between the British and the Turks during the Asia Minor Catastrophe?

Answer: The French and the Italians helped Kemal from time to time. The British (Lloyd George) helped, the Prime Minister himself was a friend of Venizelos and wanted to help, but he met a reaction from his MPs, he was never re-elected Prime Minister, and the Asia Minor Catastrophe also destroyed his political career.

Question 46: What political developments took place in Greece after the Asia Minor Catastrophe?

Answer: After the Asia Minor Catastrophe, the first dictatorship was established in Greece by Nikolaos Plastiras, the anti-Venizelian resistance collapsed, and King Constantine announced his abdication. The new Regime put forward the position that the army "was not defeated, but betrayed" and conducted the peace negotiations in Lausanne, entrusting them to Venizelos. Also, the Regime handed over power to a political Government after the elections in December 1923, which elections were one-sided, because the anti-Venizelan people stayed away, and the political developments in Greece for many years after that were not smooth.

Question 47: Were those who were tried and executed at the Trial of the Six really guilty of high treason?

Answer: This is a mock trial that resulted in a "judicial murder." They did not intend to lose the war nor did they allow the entry of foreign soldiers into the National Territory, as was the indictment. It was a decision to appease the people.

Question 48: What did the Treaty of Lausanne foresee?

Answer: As mentioned above, the Treaty of Sèvres was signed by the victors of World War I, but was never ratified. The Treaty of Lausanne (November 1923) annulled the Treaty of Sèvres. With the Treaty of Lausanne, the Allies tried to secure their interests, and the borders and the economic and other outstanding issues were defined. With these decisions there was an exchange of populations. On the subject of the exchange of populations, the Treaty was "an immoral contract and therefore invalid from the point of view of international law". In essence, the Treaty was a forced Greek adaptation to defeat and not a choice.

Question 49: Could the defeat of the Greek army in 1922 and the subsequent Asia Minor Catastrophe have been prevented?

Answer: These questions cannot be answered, because if they are answered, other questions will arise. What is certain is that with the National Schism we became the cause of the Catastrophe, since "the Greeks really did everything we could to lead things to defeat and Catastrophe".

Question 50: What did the Asia Minor Catastrophe mean for Greece? What did the Asia Minor Catastrophe change in the goals of Greek politics?

Answer: With the Asia Minor Catastrophe, the Great Idea was lost and the Greek State was limited by defining its borders. The Greeks accepted the existing territorial regime and international legitimacy. The positive achievement is that the Greek State, exhausted as it was, with a population of four million, absorbed one and a half million refugees. This is considered a greater achievement than the previous wars won by Greece, and greater than the integration of Greece into Europe.

We are descendants of the Asia Minor Catastrophe and we replaced the Great Idea with economic development in United Europe, we are European Greeks as a whole, natives and refugees. Our grandparents had the strength to overcome the Asia Minor Catastrophe "to develop the Country and move forward".

* * *

This is the conclusion of the authors of the book, Angelos Syrigos and Evanthi Hatzivasiliou. The assessments of the whole problem impressed me.

However, upon finishing the reading, it fully justified Fr. John Romanides, that both the Greek Revolution of 1821 and the Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922 were the pursuit of the European Franks to limit the Greek State to the borders of Greece, to annihilate the Roman population from Asia Minor, Pontus, Cappadocia and Thrace and to orient the Greek State to the West, detached from its Roman ancestors, and simply connected them with the ancient Greeks.

It was a deliberate ruse and not simply a betrayal of the Europeans at the expense of Greece. Thus, the Great Idea of Romanism became a small idea for a European State, for the so-called economic development and absolute dependence with detachment from the recent past.

I am led to this conclusion by all the facts, which the modern Greeks do not want to see, because they see history through western glasses that do not want to see Christian Romania.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.
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