The Hellenic Lyceum of Sydney launched its first Book Club meeting over the weekend at “The Grove” at St. Basil’s Randwick where literary enthusiasts had the opportunity to appreciate the analysis of three different works, namely, “Ματωμένα Χωματα”, “The Thread” and “Land of Aeolia”, all commemorating the 100 years of the Asia Minor Catastrophe.
Included in the presentation was historical content, photographs and articles of that period and a Q&A, authentic food from that region and costume presentation.
The most poignant part of the afternoon was having the descendants there, to recount their stories, in particular 95yr old yiayia, Mrs Anna Imvriotis.
In attendance were the Consul General of Greece, Mr. Yiannis Mallikourtis, the Reverend Father Milton Chrissavghis, and other community representatives including local media.
The event started with an address by Mrs Liana Vertzayias, President of the Hellenic Lyceum of Sydney and by the Consul General, Mr Mallikourtis, with presentations by Tina Contos, Eleni Kandylas - Mallios, Antonia Nikolopoulou and Irene Tsenkas.
Tina Contos (Image: Bourdo Photography)
Mrs Liana Vertzayias, President of the Hellenic Lyceum of Sydney (Image: Bourdo Photography)
“We are here today to commemorate the anniversary of the Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922 and also honour the victims that died during that period of time plus honouring their descendants, some of which are here today. I will recall some of their memories told to them by their parents and grandparents and link these memories with historical facts to the novels we are looking at in detail.
“In Greece at the moment, there is a powerful movement towards recognising the 1922 catastrophe or genocide worldwide during this year. Many organisations are presenting in different ways. That’s what I wanted to do too. Not just literature but a combination of novels centred around the theme of 1922, food and traditional costumes from the area, visual displays and, of course, the descendants and their memories. In the Benaki Museum, an exhibition showcases Smyrna cuisine featuring Nena Ismyrnoglou’s recipes.
In Kos, a new statue was erected in October in the plateia, commemorating the Anniversary of 1922, facing the port city of Bodrum ( Alikarnasos ) in Turkey, which wasn’t well received by the Turkish media. First-hand recounts from people like George Horton – US Consul at the time, Dr Lovejoy, Ernest Hemingway and others have helped us get a clearer picture of the tragedy that occurred in Anatolia.” noted Tina Contos in her opening address.