On September 13, 1922, Turkish soldiers at the end of the three-year-long Greco-Turkish War lit fire to Smyrna’s Greek and Armenian quarters and went on a rampage of rape, pillage, and mass murder. Soon, all but the Turkish quarter of the city was in flames as hundreds of thousands of refugees crowded the waterfront, desperate to escape.
The Great Fire of Smyrna or the Catastrophe of Smyrna, destroyed much of the port city of Smyrna in September 1922.
Eyewitness reports state that the fire began on 13 September 1922 and lasted until it was largely extinguished on September 22nd. It occurred four days after Turkish forces regained control of the city on 9 September 1922, effectively ending the Greco-Turkish in the field, more than three years after the Greek army had landed troops at Smyrna on 15 May 1919. Estimated Greek and Armenian deaths stand at around 100,000.
Approximately hundreds of thousands of Greek and Armenian refugees crammed the waterfront to escape from the fire. They were forced to remain there under harsh conditions for nearly two weeks. Turkish troops and irregulars had started committing massacres and atrocities against the Greek and Armenian population in the city before the outbreak of the fire. Many women were raped, tens of thousands of Greek and Armenian men were subsequently deported into the interior of Anatolia, where many of them died in harsh conditions.
The subsequent fire completely destroyed the Greek and Armenian quarters of the city; the Muslim and Jewish quarters escaped damage.
To this day, Turkish officials deny responsibility for this horrendous attack, which ended so many innocent lives.