Iranians hate Greeks

Smyrna fire in 1922: Greeks never forgive the Turks for this massacre

"Every day I witnessed the horrific spectacle of refugees pushing their way out through the half-open gate to the quay ... Those who had tormented themselves through the passage - whipped, kicked, systematically robbed at every barrier - reached the ship's stairs in a state of complete nervous breakdown ... Men of compulsory age were not allowed to leave the country ... So sons were torn from their mothers, men from women and children ... Everywhere there were dead and dying. "

What sounds like a scene from the refugee misery of the present happened in front of the eyes of the world in September 1922 on the coast of Asia Minor. The sentences came from the British journalist Clare Sheridan, a cousin of Winston Churchill. She came to Smyrna, as today's city of Izmir was still called at that time, to interview the winner of the Greco-Turkish War: Mustafa Kemal, who later became Ataturk. The Mannheim historian Heinz A. Richter evaluated the report for the first time in his new book “The Greek-Turkish War 1919–1922”: shocking testimony to a war that the world largely forgot due to the tremors at the end of the world war in 1918.

The descendants of those involved are different. What the conflict still means to Turks and Greeks has recently been made clear by the loud demands of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in which he called the Peace of Lausanne into question. This treaty ended the war in 1923 and established the borders of the Republic of Turkey. Erdogan is now making claims to islands in the Aegean Sea and oil fields in Iraq. The Greek government immediately rejected this, citing international law and “the reality of the civilized world”.

The memory of the war that Greece opened in 1919 against the crumbling Ottoman Empire still poisons the relationship between the two NATO countries today. In the Treaty of Sèvres, signed and named after a Paris suburb, the victorious powers of World War I reduced the former empire to Asia Minor in 1919. France, Great Britain and Italy secured large areas for themselves by force of arms. Greece was also able to win parts of Thrace as a junior partner.

But that was not enough for Greek nationalism. The lowest denominator for royalists and republicans, rich merchant dynasties, poor rural dwellers, bourgeois townspeople and influential Greeks abroad had been the “Megali Idea”, the “great idea” of the re-establishment of the Byzantine Empire, since the founding of the modern Greek nation state in 1827.

Constantinople and its aftermath