On September 14 each year, Greek communities worldwide commemorate the Greeks of Asia Minor who were murdered by the governments of the Young Turks and Mustafa Kemal Pasha.
This commemoration is part of the wider Greek Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman authorities and the Young Turks that targeted not only Asia Minor Greeks, but also Greeks in the Pontus region of the Black Sea and in Eastern Thrace on the European continent.
The destruction of Asia Minor Hellenism first began in 1071 when the Byzantine armies were defeated by the Seljuk Turks. In this historical event lies the origin of the Hellenic Holocaust.
In 1453, Constantinopole fell to the Turks. Emperor Constantinos Palaiologos led 5,000 soldiers against 80,000 Ottoman soldiers. The Fall of Constantinople 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 Janissarie elite fighting unit, 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 free and independent Greece entered the long-suffering city of Smyrna. For a brief time, it appeared that the extermination of the Hellenic race had ceased.
Beginning with the First World War in 1914, the Young Turks began to murder the Hellenic populations in Asia Minor, along with the Armenians and the Assyrians, in their mad drive to create a “Turkey for the Turks.”
In September 1922, Smyrna was conquered by the Kemalist forces and burned. Over 100,000 Greeks and 30,000 Armenians were slaughtered. When the news broke that the Kemalist aggressors would retake Smyrna, it became apparent that the Greeks and the Armenians would not survive.
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 Thrace of well over 1,000,000 Hellenes.
Over 1,000,000 Greeks were forced to abandon the land and homes where their ancestors and descendants had lived for over 3,000 years.
Lest we forget.