On this day in 1955, the Constantinople riots begin
The Constantinople pogrom, also known as the Constantinople riots, Septemvriana and September events, was an organised mob attack directed at the city’s Greek minority on 6-7 September 1955.
The events were triggered by the false news that the Turkish consulate in Thessaloniki, located at the house where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern-day Turkey had been born in 1881, had been bombed the day before by Greeks. A bomb planted by a Turkish usher at the consulate was later arrested and confessed to instigating the riots.
More than 5,300 properties, the vast majority of them Greek-owned, were badly damaged or destroyed that night. Among these were houses, businesses, churches, monasteries, schools.
A Turkish mob, most of which had been trucked into the city in advance, assaulted Constantinople’s Greek community for over nine hours. Although the mob did not explicitly call for Greeks to be killed, over a dozen people died during or after the attacks as a result of the attacks. Armenians were also harmed.
The police didn’t react, and the violence continued until the government declared martial law in Constantinople and called in the army to put down the riots.
The pogrom greatly accelerated the emigration of ethnic Greeks from the Constantinople area, decreasing from 65,000 to 49,000 between 1955 and 1960.
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