Lesvos: Turkish woman Fetna Öztürkler is looking for the descendants of those who helped her family in 1922

10 49

The story is about the strong friendship between a Greek and a Turk, neighbours in Skalochori in Lesvos, before the disaster of 1922

A deep story from the distant 1923 when the Treaty of Lausanne began to be implemented, the story of the Turkish family of Mustafa Darbouka from Skalochori and their neighbour "Giorgos", has been moving Lesvos for a few days when it became known.

A story that could be turned into a motion picture script or the content of a historical short story. It is a story highlighting human relations, a Christian Greek and a Muslim Turks, before the Catastrophe of 1922 and the mandatory exchange of populations in applying the Treaty of Lausanne.

Fetna Öztürkler is from Aivali (Αϊβαλί, Turkish: Ayvalık)  and commutes on weekends from Aivali to Mytilini. Her purpose is to find the family of a man whose legacy has haunted her since childhood and for whom she only knows a first name - Georgios.

The neighbour in Skalochori, western Lesvos, of her great-grandfather Mustafa Darbouka and his wife, her great-grandmother, Hanife, was Georgios, who sold the animals entrusted to him by her great-grandfather a year after the population exchange, turned them into golden pounds, and secretly delivered it to Turkey.

Fetna Öztürkler's testimony contributes to recording this place's true history, which may have been stained by the blood and pain of the 1922 refugees and genocide survivors, but it never lost its true value - that of humanity.

The Turkish woman is a descendant, on her father's side, of those exchanged based on the Treaty of Lausanne in the fall of 1923 - All Muslims in Greece to Turkey and all Christians in Turkey to Greece, with a few exceptions.

Her family, Mustafa Darbouka and his wife Hanife and their children from Skalochori in western Lesvos, left the village and initially settled in Aivali.

However, the urban orientation of the Aivali economy did not allow the agricultural and livestock farming families from the rural Skalochori to survive. He moved early to the neighbouring Altinova (Αλτίνοβα, Turkish: Salihler), and they lived in the house of a Roma who had left as a refugee for Greece.

He worked as a labourer on the estates and a shepherd for the local Turkish landlords. In the evenings, he would return home, his mind returned to his village, house, good estates, and flock that his friend, his neighbour Georgios, had left to guard. This is a Giorgos without any other evidence... Giorgos, the friend.

And Giorgios wished that Mustafa would come back one day. But time passed, and everyone believed that nothing would change after the exchange.

One morning, Hanife Darbouka received an unexpected visit from Giorgos, at the little house in Altinova. He had illegally crossed into Turkey. He tried to find them first in Aivali, and from there, he was informed that he would find them in Altinova.

He left Hanife a heavy coat, "give it to Mustafa," he said to Hanime, along with his greetings and disappeared.

In the evening, Mustafa was surprised to learn about the unexpected visit from his wife. And naturally, he went to see the overcoat that Giorgios had left.

Except it was heavy. Very heavy.

Golden pounds were sewn into the linings. Giorgios had sold Mustafa's estates and flock that he had left with him when he was expelled. He considered it a "debt of honour" to give the money that did not belong to him, even with major risk by crossing over to Aivali, and give it to the one who believed it belonged to him.

These pounds helped Mustafa Darmouka get back on his feet. To buy estates and herds and escape the impoverished labourer's fate at the local landlord's hands.

However, he kept his own "duty of honour" to remember Giorgios, the good and honest man and his neighbour, for what he did throughout his life.

A "debt of honour" passed down from generation to generation to his great-granddaughter Fetma Öztürkler. She is looking for Giorgios' descendants, in Skalochori or wherever else they are, to thank them, even 100 years later, in the name of all those who lived and succeeded thanks to their great-grandfather!

READ MORE: Opposition accuses Erdoğan of abandoning the “Blue Homeland” – The Turkish president responded with references to Barbaros.

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024