The Asia Minor Holocaust of 1922 - Four articles from the New York Times

For educational, archival and "fair use" purposes only.

Page 1, Col. 1



Ismet, in Lausanne Conference, Gives Those Remaining in Turkey Two Weeks' Grace.


Proceed to Discussion of Means of Evacuation -- Greeks in Constantinople Included.


Leaders, Despairing of Agreement Now, Plan for an Adjournment About Dec. 15


Copyright, 1922 by The New York Times Company.
Special Cable to THE NEW YORK TIMES

LAUSANNE, Dec. 1.--A black page of modern history was written here today. Ismet Pasha stood before the statesmen of the civilized world and admitted that the banishment from Turkish territory of nearly a million Christian Greeks, who were two million only a few short years ago had been decreed. The Turkish Government graciously allows two more weeks for the great exodus.

The statesmen of the civilized powers accepted the Turkish dictum and set about ways to get those thousands of Greeks out of harm's way before they should meet the fate of 800,000 Armenians who were massacred in Anatolia in 1910 and 1917.

New Light on Turkish Massacres.

Here, in the beauty of the Winter sunshine of the Swiss Alps, diplomats have been for ten days talking political problems with the Turks, treating them as equals. Massacre and bloodshed seemed far away. But today a change took place, and a new light was thrown on the situation. The facts are not new: the world knows the Turks' cruelty and massacres. But the way their crimes were presented this afternoon came like a clever stage effect.

As an audience may change from smiles to tears, the diplomats here seem to have had their souls touched today as Lord Curzon unfolded the sinister story of the fate of the Greeks in Asia Minor; and today's events cannot but fail to have an important effect on the final settlement. In all probability no treaty will be written at this session, and in two weeks the conference will be adjourned, it is believed, to meet again in a month or six weeks. In the meanwhile the Turks will have time to think things over and become more reasonable or face the consequences.

Today's meeting was scheduled under the simple heading: "Exchange of Prisoners." The delegates rolled in luxurious automobiles to the old chateau. They left it two hours later with solemn faces. Within the ancient walls the shades of murdered thousands had poured to have their say.

Dr. Nansen Reads His Report.

Dr. Fridtjof Nansen, who had been sent to Anatolia by the League of Nations, read his report on conditions there and made the radical recommendation that all Greeks under Turkish sovereignty be got away quickly to save them from starvation or death by other agencies. It was immediately apparent that something more than the mere discussion of the fate of some few thousands of prisoners of war had been staged.

Ismet Pasha arose and said that the Turks were willing to begin the discussion of means for getting all Greeks out of Turkey and suggested that the conference proceed at once to take up the subject of minorities.

Lord Curzon declared that he felt that many thousands of lives were at stake and said that quick action must be taken. He said that the Turks had decreed that all Greeks in Anatolia must get out by the last day of November and added that they had extended the date to December 13. Immediate steps, Lord Curzon said must be taken to remove the Greeks by that date.

Ismet Admits Decree of Banishment.

Instead of retreating before Lord Curzon's attack, Ismet agreed that the Greeks must leave Anatolia and volunteered the statement the Greeks in Constantinople had better depart also. Lord Curzon protested that this would mean great economic loss for Turkey. Ex-Premiere Venizelos declared that if those hundreds of thousands were sent to Greece the country could not care for them and would have to ask the United States for aid. When Lord Curzon warned Ismet of danger to the Turks in Western Thrace, which remains Greek, Ismet coolly replied that it might be good idea to trade the Greeks in Turkey for the Turks in Greece.

Lord Curzon then said that he wished to give some statistics in order that there might be a clear idea what was at stake. He said that figures from American sources showed that before 1914 there were 1,600,000 Greeks in Anatolia. Between 1914 and 1918 300,000 died, left the country or otherwise disappeared. Between 1919 and 1922 another 200,00 left Anatolia or disappeared. In September and October of this year another reduction of 500,000 took place leaving now 500,000 or 600,000 Greeks in Anatolia, most of whom were males between 15 and 60, to whom the Turks had refused permission to leave.

A Million Greeks Wiped Out.

"In other words" said the British Foreign Minister "a million Greeks have been killed, deported or have died."

Lord Curzon said that there had been 300,000 Greeks in Constantipole, most of whom were still there, 320,000 Greeks in Eastern Thrace, some of whose families had been there for a thousand years and more, all had fled before the dread of the Turks, leaving desert areas behind them.

Turning to the issue of the prisoners of war, Lord Curzon said that the Greeks held 10,000 Turkish soldiers and about 3,800 Turkish civilians. The Turks hold about 30,000 Greek soldiers. He further pointed out that there were in Greece proper, in the Greek islands and Western Thrace 480,000 Moslems. He further mentioned 120,000 Greeks who have been deported by the Turks into inner Anatolia. He recommended that immediate steps be taken to solve the tragic problem.

Ismet demanded that the Greeks free at once the Turkish civilians whom they held, whom he called hostages. He said that some of Lord Curzon's figures were too high, but he did not deny that the Turks had decreed that all Greeks must leave their territory. The outcome of the discussion was the appointment of a subcommittee to consider means for getting the Greeks out of Turkish territory.

This story of the fate of 2,000,000 Greeks who were in Turkey takes no account of the wiping out of an almost equal number of Armenians of whom the Turks wished to be rid. After the massacres of war times only about 300,000 Armenians remain in Turkey. There is almost an equal number in Constantinople and Thrace. They must go somewhere else or be killed, in all probability.

The Turks have been invited by the Allies to become members of the League of Nations. They have replied that they will join when their friends, the Reds of Moscow, are admitted.

Recess From About December 15 Planned.

Facing a situation which seems almost impossible, the leaders of the Lausanne Conference have about decided to try to arrange a temporary settlement of the most pressing issues between the Turks and the Greeks and take a recess from about December 15 until the middle of January or the first of February. It is reported that meanwhile Ismet Pasha will go to Angora to explain the allied position on the larger questions.

On the issues of the exchange of prisoners, the protection of minorities, the capitulations, the customs and the Ottoman debt, the diplomats believe that an agreement can be reached with the Turks. But on the issues of the European frontier of Turkey, the future of the Straits and the Anatolian boundary line, it appears unlikely that as long as Ismet Pasha sticks to his instructions, any agreement can be reached.

According to present plans, Ismet will take to Angora the proposals of the Allies relating to these questions and endeavor to bring back new instructions.

This proposal originated with Ismet Pasha and was tentatively approved by Lord Curzon, who today communicated the suggestion to the *** *** *** including the Americans *** *** *** would be taken to allow Ismet to confer with the Angora Government in person, conversations with the Turkish delegates reveal another idea, namely, that the Brussels conference may produce a change in the complexion of the allied negotiations with the Turks. The Turks feel that the allied unity at Lausanne which they did not expect, is due to a bargain between England and France by which England has promised France aid in the solution of the latter's economic problems, including reparations.

The Turks reason that after the Brussels Conference the French will either have the fruits of their bargain or will be ready to act against Germany without British help. In either eventuality they calculate that France may be ready to stand less firmly by the side of England against themselves.

It seems scarcely believable that the Poincare Government could have given the Turks any encouragement in such hopes, but nevertheless the Turks seem confidential that they will lose nothing by waiting.

Turks Working With Russians.

On the issue of the Straits the Russians, whose chief delegate, George Tchitcherin, arrived tonight, are ready to fight to the end the British claims, whatever they may be. The Turks so far are working closely with the Russians and are denying the British demands for the demilitarization of the Straits. Coached by the Russians, they now refuse to listen to the proposal to have the League of Nations guard the Straits, although three weeks ago in Paris, Ismet said that the solution would be acceptable. While the British demand the right to send their warships through the Straits into the Black Sea, the Russians demand that the Straits be closed to all warships, as before the World War.

With respect to the European frontier the Turks demand a bridgehead on the western side of the Maritsa River, on the ground that it contains the railroad station of Adrianople. The Allies refuse to allow the Turks to cross the Maritsa, on the ground that it gives them an excellent bridgehead for offensive operations in Europe.

The Anatolian frontier issue hinges on the Mosul oil fields, which the British intend to keep within the borders of the Mesopotamian mandate, but which the Turks claim for themselves.

On none of these three issues has the slightest progress been made toward a settlement.

It is true the Turks maintain stoutly that the British have made them proposals by which the Turks would get sovereignty over the district in return for an assurance of oil concessions, the British giving assurances that they could dispose of the French, Italian and American claims. Lord Curzon himself authorized a denial that any such proposal has been made.

The basic trouble here is that the Turks present themselves as conquerors having whipped the Greeks in 1922, while the Allies present themselves as conquerors, having whipped the Turks in 1918. Ismet Pasha, leading one side, acts on the basis of the Mudania armistice which marked the halt of the victorious Turkish troops while Curzon, leading the other side, acts on the basis of the Mudros armistice, which marked the halt of the victorious Allied troops. Russian intervention on the one hand and *** intervention on the other, serve to muddy the waters with the result of a confusion which is almost complete.

M. Tchitcherin on his arrival went into a three-hour conference with Ismet Pasha, head of the Turkish delegation. Tomorrow the Turks will entertain the Russian delegation at luncheon.

In a statement to the press M. Tchitcherin said:

"Two principles will guide the Russian delegation at the Lausanne conference.

"One is the principle of self-determination and the other is the need for peace in the world. The first obviously applies to Turkey as well as to other nations and, therefore, the Russians will demand an independent Turkey. As for the second principle, we consider one of the essential conditions for peace in the Near East is that the Straits shall be effectively closed to all foreign warships."

Bulgaria Threatens to Fight Greece.

Premier Stambouliwaki of Bulgaria, in an interview tonight, declared that he had quitted the Balkan League and was going to work with the Turks. Furthermore, he said if the conference did not give Bulgaria the port of Dedeaghatch and a corridor to the Aegean, the Bulgars would "go and get it."

"It is foolish to talk about the Balkan bloc," he said. "There is no such thing. If this conference does not give us Dedeaghatch as demanded, we will fight the Greeks for it."

"The Bulgarian Government is in complete accord with Turkey and ready to support all her claims in return for Turkish support for our demand for an outlet to the Aegean, which has been promised us and which we mean to have."

M. Stambouliwaki said that as for the proportion of the Ottoman debt owed by the parts of Bulgaria won from Turkey. Bulgaria would not pay one cent.


[Key to above article:
*** = indecipherable word in the original
*** *** *** = indecipherable phrase or sentence in the original]

Sunday, December 3, 1922
New York Times Editorial
Page 6, Col. 2, Section 2,


There have been many Black Fridays in recent history. Most of them have been days of financial panic. There has been none of blacker foreboding than last Friday. And the blackness is not loss or fear of loss in stocks and bonds. It is the blackness of loss of home, the blackness of exile and suffering and the peril of death. But that which deepens the darkness that has come upon the earth in the broad daylight of the twentieth century is civilization's prompt acceptance of the Turks' decree of banishment not only of a million Greeks, but incidentally of all Christian minorities within the Turkish realm beyond the Hellespont, which the Aryan crossed over three thousand years ago. Light blackens such a blot. Lord Curzon but urged that the Greeks be gotten out as quickly as possible in order to escape massacre. For the rest there was, so far as reported, only quiet acquiescence.

Meanwhile, the dispatches from Washington of the same date report that the Administration believes that the United States "is not without influence at Lausanne," that not only the Allies but the Turkish representatives appear to be "wholly satisfied" with the part that the United States is playing at Lausanne, and that the very latest reports from Ambassador Child enable the Department of State to draw the conclusion that the work of the "gathering" at Lausanne is "proceeding satisfactorily." Let us assume that the "very latest reports" do not include the happenings of Friday. If the government were knowingly "wholly satisfied" with that day's record, then black were white. It is inconceivable that the American people can be as "wholly satisfied" with our part as the Turks are reported to be.

Is this to be the end of the Christian minorities in Asia Minor--that land where, thirteen centuries and more before the Turk came first to rule it, Paul had journeyed as a missionary through its length and breadth, and where the first "seven churches that are in Asia stood," to which the messages written in the Book of Revelation were sent?

December 4, 1922
The New York Times
Page 16, Col. 3


What The Times thinks about the morality of the Turkish plan to drive every Greek and Armenian out of Turkey--which means that a great many of them will die or be murdered on the way, and that others will fall victims to famine or pestilence in their places of refuge--has already been said. It has been pointed out, too, that the serious thing is not so much the morality of the Turk, which has been fairly well known to the world for several centuries but that of the so-called Christian Powers which stood by and were consenting.

The British Government protested in the name of humanity when the Greek revolutionaries shot a group of ex-Ministers and Generals. But when the Turks announce that a million Greeks are to be expelled from the country where they have lived since two thousand years before the Turks were heard of, and driven out to die, Lord Curzon's moral scruples are satisfied with a request for two weeks delay. Politicians it seems can be knocked by killings only when the victims are other politicians.

Even granting that this eviction on a grand scale will be successful--as apparently it will--what is to become of Turkey? What will become of the deported Greeks and Armenians is, unhappily plain enough. What of the Turks who will be left to undisturbed enjoyment of the country which has been somewhat inexactly called their homeland? Their friends make much of their "racial vitality" which has been demonstrated by the national revival. But racial vitality which exhausts itself in a capacity for fighting diplomatic intrigue and a low grade of agriculture is poor equipment for a nation in the twentieth century, especially for a nation occupying a country of enormous strategic and military importance. Already there is trouble in Smyrna. The expulsion of the Greeks and Armenians has ruined the town. What has happened in Smyrna will happen in Constantinople if the Christian population is expelled. Turkey will be left a nation of peasants, and the business which was formerly done by Greeks and Armenians will have to be done by somebody other than the Turks.

It is too much to suppose that the world will leave the Turks to till their fields and enjoy the pleasant spectacle of deserted and ruined cities undisturbed by the complications of modern business. Somebody is going after the iron and the oil. The great cultured nations of Western Europe which watch calmly the annihilation of some of the oldest stocks of European culture may be calm because they think they will get a bigger share of the business with resident business men out of the way. But business there must be: even the Turks will need it. And the killing off of the races that have done the business hitherto will merely widen the field for that foreign intrigue which the Near East has known for centuries and will continue to know so long as weak or incompetent States lie in the zone between Asia and Europe.

There is some justice in the Turkish complaint that the Christian minorities were used as pawns in foreign diplomatic games: but the games will go on with other pawns. The Turks will not be let alone, nor will the Near East cease to be a breeding ground of European wars. The Turks have found themselves unable to get along with races whose collaboration was essential if Turkey was to continue to exist under modern conditions. They knew no way to solve that problem but the extermination of the minorities. Yet this murder of hundreds of thousands of men, women and children will in the long run bring no profit either to the Turks who do it or to the European Powers which are apparently going to allow it.

December 9, 1922
The New York Times
Letter to the Editor



Turkey's Defiance of All the Laws of Civilization.

To the Editor of The New York Times:

The last decree of the Angora government that 300,000 Greeks who were living peaceably in Turkey should leave that country at once and the refusal of the same Government to allow Greek ships to take them away was a gross breach action by the American Government. It is true that a nation may require individuals who are unfriendly and suspected of crime to leave the country. But that is a very different thing from compelling immediate deportation of 300,000 men, women and children with the warning that if they do not go at once, they will be carried off to the interior. This means, as experience with the Angora Government shows, that the men will be killed and the women enslaved. These people were living in their homes, earning an honest living,, quite independent of the charity of foreign nations. The President of the United States had called upon the American people to relieve the distress of the multitudes who had been already driven out of Turkey and many of whose friends had been murdered by the Turks. The Times has given us pictures of these Christian refugees who are temporarily sheltered in tents and are being cared for by the American Near East Relief and by the Red Cross. Now the Turk is proposing to put upon us the burden of over 300,000 more. It is a most unfriendly act and one that we should resent and defeat by every means in our power.

The rule which should govern civilized nations was well stated by Daniel Webster, when he was Secretary of State in 1842, in a dispatch to our Minister in Mexico. Referring to American citizens who had been captured when they were alleged to be members of a large Texan force acting in hostility to Mexico, he said, "It is still the duty of this Government to take so far a concern in their welfare as to see that as prisoners of war, they are treated according to the usage of modern times and civilized States. Indeed although the rights of the safety of none of their own citizens were concerned, yet if in a war waged between two neighboring States, the killing, enslaving, or cruelty treating of prisoners should be indulged in, the United States would feel it to be their duty, as well as their right, to remonstrate and to interfere against such a departure from the principles of humanity and civilization. These principles are common principles, essential alike to the welfare of all nations, and in the preservation of which all nations have, therefore, rights and interests."

The extreme cruelty with which the Turks carried on their previous deportations is described in the report of the American Military Mission to Armenia, dated October 16, 1919. It sums up the slaughter thus: "The dead from this wholesale attempt on the race are variously estimated at from 500,000 to more than a million, the usual figure being about 800,000."

We hear much about the new Turk. As far as appears, the new Turk of the Angora Government is only new in that he has revived the fanaticism and cruelty of the Turks when first they conquered Asia Minor and captured Constantinople. The Sultan, whom they dethroned, had at least some moderation in his crimes. Henry Morgenthau, in his article recently published in The Times, states the case very clearly:

"Only the Turks are ready and eager at this moment for a strong offensive movement against civilization. In the light of recent events this constitutes a very grave danger to the whole world. Other nations, worn and weary, ask only for peace. The Turks have no commerce, no manufactures, no merchant marine. They have nothing to lose. They have no culture. They have no training save in bearing arms, no science save the science of war, no art save the lethal art. They are mere marauders."

The questions for America now to consider are these: Will Congress support the recommendations of the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy and authorize an army and navy of sufficient force to protect civilization, of which America is still a part, from these marauders, and will the President use the force he now has as a police to do our part in the struggle? And will he notify the Angora Government that it must revoke at once this order for deportation, or have we become a new America--cowardly, selfish and short-sighted--forgetful of the principles of our great statesmen and the action of our Government in previous administrations, and mindful only of our own immediate ease? God forbid.

New York, December 6, 1922.

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