Newsletters (Edd: only a few selected portions of newsletters reproduced for benefit of HCS readers.)
Of Special Interest
A statement issued by the U.S. State Department in December ffirms that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is a religious leader of global standing. The statement indicated that the United States of America takes the issue of freedom of religion in Turkey very seriously and has consistently raised concerns regarding thed Patriarchy with Turkish authorities for many years. President Bush met with Prime Minister Erdogan and urged the reopening of Halki Seminary.
We would like to include two personal histories we feel would be of interest to our membership. One is from one of our survivors, Evangeline M. of Ohio [surname and city omitted by HCS editors] and the other from one of our newer members, Dr. Chris K. of Ohio [surname and city omitted by HCS editors].
An article written by Richard McBane of the Akron Beacon Journal on October 2, 1994 includes Evangeline M.'s remembrance of the happenings in September of 1922. She was a young girl of 10, living a comfortable life with her family in Smyrna. Her father, Demetrius V. [name omitted by HCS] was a tailor. He and his wife, Maria were the parents of 6 children. Things changed dramatically after World War I. The oppression of Christian minorities by the Ottoman Empire escalated when the Young Turks created modern Turkey. Evangeline's older brother, George, had suffered a beating by the Turks for singing a song they felt was inappropriate. Sensing the danger, Demetrius sent George and two older daughters to American in 1915. He, his wife and three younger daughters remained. Mrs. M. recalled the events of September 9, 1922 as the port ofr Smyrna filled with ships. There were British, French, Italian and American warships. She stated, "We heard the horses. They chopped down on the people in the street with long, curved swords." For several days, people gathered at the waterfront. The crowd grew to immense proportions. Mrs. M. recalls "There were thousands of poeple to get through. That's where my little sister died." Demetrius quickly dug a shallow grave and buried his daughter. The situation at the waterfront continued to build. People were jumping in the water hoping that the ships would pick them up but unfortunately, the sailors were under orders not to assist. In the meantime, the Turks went about looting and setting fires especially to the Armenian quarter. Mrs. M. recalls "We were waiting. The fire was burning. No one would pick us up. The English boats, the American, no one. The bay was full of bodies floating--there were children. The Japanese didn't question. They picked us up. It was a miracle we got saved."
The V. [surname omitted by HCS] family eventually settled in Ohio [city omitted by HCS editors]. Evangeline married Theodor M. when she was 15. They operated a store in Barberton. Mrs. M. is now 94 years of age and is living in Ohio [city omitted by HCS editors] . The ladies of the Philoptochos Society of the Annunciation Church visit her frequently and find her to be gracious and welcoming as she was all the years she enjoyed the fellowship of the sisterhood. She asked that she be remembered and would welcome visits.
One of our recent new members, Dr. Chris K. [surname omitted by HCS], has written to us with a family history that incisively captures moments of history that will forever remain in his memory. The story is related through an interview that Dr. K.'s daughter wrote for a competition in an Ohio Junior Miss scholarship program. The interview is of his father in Smyrna that begins in Smyrna in 1922. The grandfather was a two year old fleeing in a forced march with his family. Dr. K. relates that his father was from Smyrna and his own father was "shot dead in the street the day his mother and my dad were forced to march to the Aegean Sea."
They were rescued and were able to get to Greece, lived in Athens and suffered through the Italian and German occupations during World War II. His father was eighteen when the Germans came. Following their retreat came the Civil War and his father attended Military School and became an officer and fought heroically against the communists, suffering wounds and receiving many medals for his bravery and leadership. He came to America in the 50's. Dr. and Mrs. K. live in Ohio [surname and city omitted by HCS editors] with their children, Jame and Sarah. Both children are excellent students and are applying for AMHAS scholarships. We wish them well.
We just received this important report from Filitsa A. [surname omitted by HCS editors] of Vancouver, BC: A press release on April 3, 2006 from the Armenian National Committee of Canada states "The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia unanimously adopted a Private Member's Motion 59, recognizing the Armenian Genocide and to designate April 24th of every year as a remembrance day for the 1.5 million Armenians who fell victim to the first genocide of the 20th Century." The executive director of The Armenians National Committee of Canada, Aris Babikian, said: "This is a historic day for our community in Canada and British Columbia. The steadfast support and the unanimous vote of the MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) demonstrates once again that the Turkish Government's denial policy and rewriting of history will not succeed. We call upon the Turkish Government to be constructive, to come to terms with its dark history and to acknowledge it s predecessors' guilt and extend a hand of atonement and reconciliation to the Armenian people."
Eyewitness Report by Metropolitan of Ephesos Chrysostomos Hagistavrou to Patriarch Meletios Metaxakis IV.
Continuing his report the Metropolitan describing the tragic end of the Metropolitan of Smyrna, cries out in anguish "This great Archpriest ended his life in virtue and holiness. . . .and so most Holy Bishop, Saturday and Sunday the bells of the churches were silent and only the lamentations and cries of grief of the hapless victims of Turkish atrocities could be heard."
Metropolitan Hagistavrou himself was being actively pursued by the Turkish soldiers and irregulars. He was able to evade capture to a great extent through the aid of the Catholic clergy of the city. He singled them out for their heroism and self sacrifice. He particularly marveled at the nun order, the Sisters of Mary, who patrolled the streets for ill and wounded Christians and helped transport them to hospitals.
Early Monday morning, the regular Armey led by Nurreddin Pasha arrived. Any hope of alleviation of the butchery was sadly and quickly erased. There was no relief. "The savage scenes repeated themselves. . . .under cover of darkness the unimaginable ferocity and cruelty unfolded." After looting and pillaging the Turkish hordes proceeded to rape young girls. Some were brutally assaulted in front of their families. Girls committed suicide to escapte. In the neighborhood of Vairakli hundred of virgins threw themselves into the sea and drowned. Others stabbed themselves with bayonets somehow taken from soldiers who stood over them. No household escaped the pillaging and brutality. The nightnmare defied description.
Ed note: Many of us here in America need to be made more award of the extent of the tragedy of Smyrna. It is our hope that this very brief recounting of the report accomplishes this in a small way and stimulates further reading and personal research.
Acclaimed novelist Dido Sotiriou, died October 25, 2005 at the age of 95. She was born in Aidini, Asia MInor and was best known for writing about the Greeks fleeing asia Minor and the Civil War in Greece. Published in 1962 was her novel Matomena Homata or Farewell Anatolia which has been translated into six languages.
Of Special Interest
British author, Louis de Bernieres, who wrote the best seller Captain Corelli's Mandolin has writen a new novel Birds Without Wings. It is his verison of a story first told by author, Dido Sotiriou in her novel, Farewell Anatolia, of the friendship of two young boys, one Christian and one Muslim, who are later divided bhy war. This new book depicts the intertwining of relationships where Muslims pray in Arabic, Christians in Greek, but where Turkish is the only accepted language under the Ottoman Empire. The break-up of the Ottoman stronghold is a story well told.
Professor Constantine Fotiades, authored a 15-volume work entitled The Genocide of the Greeks of Pontos. This project chronicles the events of the Genocide from 1916 to 1923. It was published by the Hellenic Parliament and is the first Greek source about the Genocide of some 300,000 Pontians. The Parliament voted in 1994 to pursue the historic research and political recognition of the tragecy internationally. In 1996, the Parliament also commemorated Pontian Genocide Remembrance Day to the May 19th.
Websites pertaining to the history of Asia Minor and Contantinople:
The Hellenic Genocide Petition--http://www.greece.org/genocide/
The Hellenic Genocide. Quotes from historical documents--http://www.greece.org/genocide/quotes
Pontian and Asia Minor Holocaust Researche Unit--http://www.hellenicholocaust.com/pontus/ResearchHome.html
Memories from Smyrni 1918-1922--http://smyrni.s5.com/memories.htm
THe Greeks of Constnatinople. People without rights of succession--http://w4u.eexi.gr/~ippotis/alaen.html
Other links are found on and include books for downloading--http://www.greece.org/genocide/links.html
Katherine and Donna Vassos Reporting on Koutalis
In the southern part of Propontis is the island of Koutalis, one of many in a group of islands int he Sea of Marmara. Most probably, Koutalis was inhabited since ancient times but from the findings of pre-Christian art, it is certain the island was populated in the Pre-Christian era.
The name Koutalis, according to the historian Katacuzenos was derived from the name of hte Metropolitan of Thessaloniki, Gregory Koutalis, who was a native of the island. Others assert that the name comes from the unique shape of the island which resembles a spoon ("koutali"). Today the island is a part of Turkey and has been renamed EKLLINLIK.
Koutalis, by the mid-18th century has made great progress both socially and economically. By 1870, an association was established with the name "Evangelismos." The members of the board of governors were nodel citizens, pious men who demonstrated love of country and love of learning. They took over the management of the island's affairs with special attention to education. They built schools, big beautiful buildings. with separate facilities for boys and girls. The Koutalianoi taught Homer in the elementary schools along with foreign languages, especially French. I remember my father reciting Homer and French poems that he had learned in school. The level of the educational system was very high with teachers form Constantinople commonly present. They also built churches decorated with precious icons and beautiful chandeliers, built with the offerings of the people of the island who were Greek Orthodox Christians.
There were three main reasons for the flourishing economy during the 19th century: commercial fishing, sponge-diving and the merchant marine. The resulting profits were huge and the standard of living was high. The shipping trade was of primary importance. The Koutalis ship owners transported goods to the ports of the Black Sea, the Aegean and the Mediterranean. They possessed the business experience and skills that directly contributed to the economic prosperity of the island. As a result, the coastal mansions were decorated with European and Mediterranean furnishings and the Koutalis women were familiar with and adopted many of the European styles and fashion trends.
Then, in the early 20th century, came the Asia Minor catastrophe. With the Treaty of Lausanne and the exchange of populations, the Koutalianoi with pain in their hearts and deep regreat, were forced to abandon their beautiful island and were scattered to the four corners of the earth. Many went to Greece and a large number established residence on the island of Lemnos where, with the assistance of the Greek government, they created the community which is known today as Nea Koutalis. Others were welcomed by the city of Thessaloniki. Many came to America to stay with relatives who had emigrated earlier to avoid being drafted into the Turkish army at the start of World War I. Illinois, Indiana, Florida and Ohio were the main states where they settled.
Cleveland welcomed many immigrants. With their skills and diligence they established their own businesses. Near every movie theater, was a candy store with a Koutaliano proprietor. In order to strengthen their ties and friendships, Cleveland's Koutalianoi formed an association with 50 members in November 1927 with the name KOUTALIS. The last three of the founding members, Christ Mitchell, John Zaharoff, and Jerry Vassos (our beloved husband and father) passed away within the last four years. THe club continues to thrive and is maintained by the descendants of the original members and Koutalianoi from Nea Koutalis.
Koutalis produced many distinguished men: Patriarch Anthimos VI of Constantinople, director and stage artist Klonis of Athens, Gregory Pantazoglou, former ambassador to Uruguay, the Kondiordos brothers whosesale business men in Thessaloniki, and last but not least, Panagis Koutalianos, the famous wrestler, strongman and weightlifter.
On October 1, 2002, there was apparently a meeting in Athens, Greece commemorating the 1922 disaster. Several distinguished personalities were present including Patriarch Bartholomew. The event was sponsored by Apoghevmatini newspaper whose chief editor, . . . Titos Athanasiadis is a son of Alatsata. Titos introduced at the meeting a new book (in Greek) on the 1922 events titled Epic Beginnings to Disaster--Asia Minor 1919-1922. Titos, . . . is a descendent of the Athanasiadis' and Kacoyanis' of Alatsata and has distinguished himself in the Greek press. . . . This may be of interest as there are manay here in the USA whose roots trace back to Alatsata.
"Pontus" is a hellenic word for "sea." It refers to the shores of the Euxinos Pontus (the Friendly Sea), or in English, the Balck Sea. In particular, "Pontus" is a reference to its southeastern shores, the Black Sea coast of Asia Minor.
Hellenic ties tso this region go back to prehistoric times; to the days of Jason and the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece. (Mountain tribes in the Caucusus have, for centuries, used sheep skins, stretched across riverbeds, to catch tiny particules of alluvial gold.)
In historic times, Sinope was the first city founded by colonists from Miletus (one of the Ionian cities) in 785 BC. Later, colonists from Sinope founded Trapezous (Trapezounta/Trebizond/Trabzon) in 756 BC and many other cities including Amissos (Sampsounta), Kotyora (Ordu), Kerasus (Giresun) and Diskourias (Sukhumi, Georgia). Hellenic cities mushroomed all around the Black and Azov Seas. After settling the coastline, the hinterland, too, became complete[ly] Hellenised, a process completed with the conquest of Asia Minor by Alexander the Grat in the late 4th century BC.
Diogenes (Famous for wandering the streets of Athens with his lamp, looking for an honest man) was from Sinope. Strabo, the great historian and geographer, was from Amaseia. It was at Trapezous that Xenophon and his 10,000 soldiers found safe haven in 400 BC, follwoing their nearly eighteen-month retrat from Mesopotamia.
Following the death of Alexander th Great in June 323 BC, his generals began fighting amonst themselves over the emprie he had crated. Mithridates the Builder exploited this infighting to establish Pontus as an independent kingdom in 301 BC. Under the dynasty Mithridates founded, Pontus flourished as a great commercial and educational centre. Mithridates was the last Hellenic ruler to succumb to Roman rule in 1 BC.
It was in Roman times that the Apostle Andreas (Andrew) brought Christianity to Pontus in 35 AD. WIth the division of the Roman Emprie in 395 AD, Pontus became [art of the Eastern Roman Empire, later to become known as the Byzantine Empire. When Constnatinople fell to the knights of the Fourth Crusade in 1203, Alexius the Great Comnenus established the Trapezounta Empire, a bastion of Hellenism that lasted for 257 years. The deposed Byzantine Imperioal Court move dto Nicaea and waited for the opportunity to return ot Constantinople, which they did ni 1204. The dynasty Alexius founded (amonst them Manuel A' and Anna Komneni), were great patrons of the arts and of commerce for centuries. The centre of Pontian Chrisanity, the Monastery of Panayia Soumela (Our Lady of Mount Melas), in the mounstains of Trapezounta district. Foudned in 386 AD, it reached its peak under the Komnenus Dynasty in the 1200s. The still magnificent ruins of the Monastery remain a place of pilgrimage to this day ofr Christian and Moslem Pontians alike.
Cardinal Bessarion (Vissarion 1403-1472), who created a scandal by defecting from the Orthodox Church to the Roman Catholic Church, also hailed from Pontus, as did the Hypsilandis family (centuries later to become ruler of the Danubian Provinces of Wallachia and Moldavia.) Bessarion saw the union of the Eastern and Western churches as the only hope of preventing the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the Turks. In 1439, he was made a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, abandoning the post he had held since 1437, that of Metropolitan of Nicaea. He did in Ravenna, Italy.
The Seljuk Turks attempted to invade Pontus, following their sweep through the Caucasus Mountains, and they defeated the Byzantine Army in 1071 at Manzikert, near Lake Van.
The Genocide and its Aftermath
The turning point for the Hellenes of Asia Minor was sthe German-Turkish alliance that arose following the signing of the Traty of Berlin (1878). Germany regarded Anglo-French "protection" of the Empire's Christian peoples as an obstacle to its interests. So Germany opened the doors of the Berlin Academy to Turkish officers (amongst them Mustapha Kemal Ataturk and Enver Pasha, architects of the Holocaust) and arranged the appointment of General Gotz to restructure the Ottoman armed forces along German lines.
Germany convinced the Turkish authorities that the Hellenes were workiong for the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. (At this time, the empire's economic and political life was dominated by Hellenes, Armenians and Jews.) THe successful national movements throughout the Aimos Peninsula (Balkans) posed the possibility that similar movements would appear among the indigenous populations of Asia MInor (Hellenes, Armenians, Lazes, Assyrians/.Chaldeans).
Hence, following the heavy defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkan Wars (1912-1913), the Young Turks (a military junta that seized control of the Empire in 1908), decided taht Asia Minor would be a homeland for Turks alone: all others were to be eliminated. World War One gave the Young Turks the opportunity to implement their plan.
Germany willingly sacrificed the indigenous Christian peoples of Asia Minor to achieve its goals of direct access to the oil fields of the Middle East. It is ironic, therefore, that the reports of German and Austro-Hungarian diplomats provide damning evidence that what was to take palce was a meticulously executed plan to depopulate Asia Minor of Christians, in other words, [a] Genocide.
Demetrios the Survivor based on a story by Jasmine Panos Andrews is available: www.xlibris.com/bookstore or by calling 1-888-795-4274 or Amazon.com or Borders.com or your local library or bookstore.
Asia Minor Hellenic American Society
3962 Wood Thrush Road,
Akron, OH 44333;
web http://www.amhas.org/ (does not contain up-to-date contact information, but does merita visit for historical and reference materials)
Officers of Organization
Vice President--Bill Javaras
Treasurer--George P. Manos LTC (ret)
Newsletter Co-editors--Mary Saviolis, Dr. John Janas
(Posting date 21 January 2007)
For more information about the society, contact it directly: 3962 Wood Thrush Road, Akron, OH 44333; tel. 330-666-4374; email firstname.lastname@example.org (email address of President Nick Topougis); web http://www.amhas.org/ . Co-editors of the society's newsletter are Mary Saviolis and Dr. John Janas: 985 Carol Lane, Tallmadge, OH 44278, (tel.) 330-633-4706.
HCS encourages readers to view other articles and releases in our permanent, extensive archives at the URL http://www.helleniccomserve.com/contents.html, especially in the section titled Smyrna and Asia Minor at the URL http://www.helleniccomserve.com/smyrnaopenerb.html
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