Occupation of Smyrna

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Zone of Smyrna
Ζώνη Σμύρνης
Dependency of Greece
Ottoman Flag.svg
1919–1922 Flag of Turkey.svg
Kingdom of Greece Flag.svg Flag
Location of Smyrna Ionia within Greece (1919).svg
Location of Smyrna
Capital Smyrna
High Commissioner
  1919–1922 Aristeidis Stergiadis
Historical era Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922)
  Established15 May 1919
  Disestablished9 September 1922
Today part of Turkey

The occupation of Smyrna was the military control by Greek forces of the city of Smyrna (modern-day İzmir) and surrounding areas from 15 May 1919 until 9 September 1922. The Allied Powers authorized the occupation and creation of the Zone of Smyrna (Greek: Ζώνη Σμύρνης) during negotiations regarding the partition of the Ottoman Empire to protect the ethnic Greek population living in and around the city. The Greek landing on 15 May 1919 was celebrated by the substantial local Greek population but quickly resulted in ethnic violence in the area. This violence decreased international support for the occupation and led to a rise of Turkish nationalism. The High Commissioner of Smyrna, Aristeidis Stergiadis, took a firm stance against discrimination against the Turkish population by the administration; however, ethnic tensions and discrimination remained. Stergiadis also began work on projects involving resettlement of Greek refugees, the foundations for a University, and some public health projects. Smyrna was a major base of operations for Greek troops in Anatolia during the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922).

İzmir Metropolitan municipality in Aegean, Turkey

İzmir is a metropolitan city in the western extremity of Anatolia. It is the third most populous city in Turkey, after Istanbul and Ankara, and the second largest metropolitan area on the Aegean Sea after Athens, Greece. In 2018, the city of İzmir had a population of 2,947,000, while İzmir Province had a total population of 4,320,519. İzmir's metropolitan area extends along the outlying waters of the Gulf of İzmir and inland to the north across the Gediz River delta; to the east along an alluvial plain created by several small streams; and to slightly more rugged terrain in the south.

Allies of World War I group of countries that fought against the Central Powers in World War I

The Allies of World War I or Entente Powers is the term commonly used for the coalition that opposed the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria during the First World War (1914–1918).

Partition of the Ottoman Empire

The partition of the Ottoman Empire was a political event that occurred after World War I and the occupation of Constantinople by British, French and Italian troops in November 1918. The partitioning was planned in several agreements made by the Allied Powers early in the course of World War I, notably the Sykes-Picot Agreement. As world war loomed, the Ottoman Empire sought protection but was rejected by Britain, France, and Russia, and finally formed the Ottoman–German Alliance. The huge conglomeration of territories and peoples that formerly comprised the Ottoman Empire was divided into several new states. The Ottoman Empire had been the leading Islamic state in geopolitical, cultural and ideological terms. The partitioning of the Ottoman Empire after the war led to the rise in the Middle East of Western powers such as Britain and France and brought the creation of the modern Arab world and the Republic of Turkey. Resistance to the influence of these powers came from the Turkish national movement but did not become widespread in the post-Ottoman states until after World War II.


The Greek occupation of Smyrna ended on 9 September 1922 with the Turkish capture of Smyrna by troops commanded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. After the Turkish advance on Smyrna, a mob murdered the Orthodox bishop Chrysostomos of Smyrna and a few days later the Great Fire of Smyrna burnt large parts of the city (including most of the Greek and Armenian areas). With the end of the occupation of Smyrna, major combat in Anatolia between Greek and Turkish forces largely ended, and on 24 July 1923, the parties signed the Treaty of Lausanne ending the war.

Turkish capture of Smyrna

The Turkish capture of Smyrna was the final phase of the Great Offensive and last conflict of the Turkish War of Independence. After the Turkish Army inflicted heavy losses on the Greek Army at Dumlupınar, on 30 August 1922, Greek forces were in continual retreat towards Smyrna as the Turkish Army's westward advance continued. On the eve of the Turkish arrival, Greek forces left the city, and on 8 September, at ten o'clock in the morning, the Greek administration ceased to exist in Smyrna. On 9 September 1922, the Turkish Army entered İzmir from the east (Kemalpaşa).

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk Turkish field marshal, revolutionary statesman, and founder of the Republic of Turkey

Kemal Atatürk, commonly referred to as Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, was a Turkish field marshal (Mareşal), revolutionary statesman, author, and founder of the Republic of Turkey, serving as its first President from 1923 until his death in 1938. Ideologically a secularist and nationalist, his policies and theories became known as Kemalism.

Chrysostomos of Smyrna Greek Orthodox metropolitan bishop of Smyrna

Chrysostomos Kalafatis, known as Saint Chrysostomos of Smyrna, Chrysostomos of Smyrna and Metropolitan Chrysostom, was the Greek Orthodox metropolitan bishop of Smyrna (Izmir) between 1910 and 1914, and again from 1919 until his death in 1922. He was born in Triglia, Turkey in 1867, considerably aided the Greek Invasion of Turkey and was killed by a lynch mob after Turkish troops took back the city at the end of the Greco-Turkish War of 1919–1922. He was declared a martyr and a saint of the Eastern Orthodox Church by the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece on 4 November 1992.


Allied troops marching during the Occupation of Constantinople Occupation of Constantinople 3.jpg
Allied troops marching during the Occupation of Constantinople
Partition of the Ottoman Empire according to the Treaty of Sevres TreatyOfSevres (corrected).PNG
Partition of the Ottoman Empire according to the Treaty of Sèvres

At the end of World War I (1914–1918), attention of the Allied Powers (Entente Powers) focused on the partition of the territory of the Ottoman Empire. As part of the Treaty of London (1915), by which Italy left the Triple Alliance (with Germany and Austria-Hungary) and joined France, Great Britain and Russia in the Triple Entente, Italy was promised the Dodecanese and, if the partition of the Ottoman Empire were to occur, land in Anatolia including Antalya and surrounding provinces presumably including Smyrna. [1] But in later 1915, as an inducement to enter the war, British Foreign Secretary Edward Grey in private discussion with Eleftherios Venizelos, the Greek Prime Minister at the time, promised large parts of the Anatolian coast to Greece, including Smyrna. [1] Venizelos resigned from his position shortly after this communication, but when he had formally returned to power in June 1917, Greece entered the war on the side of the Entente. [2]

Ottoman Empire Former empire in Asia, Europe and Africa

The Ottoman Empire, historically known in Western Europe as the Turkish Empire or simply Turkey, was a state that controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. It was founded at the end of the 13th century in northwestern Anatolia in the town of Söğüt by the Oghuz Turkish tribal leader Osman I. After 1354, the Ottomans crossed into Europe, and with the conquest of the Balkans, the Ottoman beylik was transformed into a transcontinental empire. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople by Mehmed the Conqueror.

London Pact, or more correctly, the Treaty of London, 1915, was a secret pact between the Triple Entente and the Kingdom of Italy. The treaty was signed in London on 26 April 1915 by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, the French Republic, the Russian Empire, and the Kingdom of Italy. Its intent was to gain the alliance of Italy against its former allies, including the German Empire and Austria-Hungary. The main lure was promising large swaths of Austria-Hungary to the north of Italy and to the east across the Adriatic. Britain also promised funding. Italy promised to enter the war the next month. The alliance with Italy's old enemy Austria had been promoted by some politicians as a realpolitik move and had never been popular with the public. Also, the Allies could easily outbid Austria-Hungary and thereby won a military alliance with 36 million Italians. The secret provisions were published by the Bolsheviks when they came to power in Russia in late 1917.

Triple Alliance (1882) 1882 alliance between Germany, Austria–Hungary, Italy, and Romania

The Triple Alliance was an agreement between Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. It was formed on 20 May 1882 and renewed periodically until it expired in 1915 during World War I. Germany and Austria-Hungary had been closely allied since 1879. Italy sought support against France shortly after it lost North African ambitions to the French. Each member promised mutual support in the event of an attack by any other great power. The treaty provided that Germany and Austria-Hungary were to assist Italy if it was attacked by France without provocation. In turn, Italy would assist Germany if attacked by France. In the event of a war between Austria-Hungary and Russia, Italy promised to remain neutral. The existence and membership of the treaty was well known, but its exact provisions were kept secret until 1919.

On 30 October 1918, the Armistice of Mudros was signed between the Entente powers and the Ottoman Empire ending the Ottoman front of World War I. Great Britain, Greece, Italy, France, and the United States began discussing what the treaty provisions regarding the partition of Ottoman territory would be, negotiations which resulted in the Treaty of Sèvres. These negotiations began in February 1919 and each country had distinct negotiating preferences about Smyrna. The French, who had large investments in the region, took a position for territorial integrity of a Turkish state that would include the zone of Smyrna. The British were at a loggerhead over the issue with the War Office and India Office promoting the territorial integrity idea and Prime Minister David Lloyd George and the Foreign Office, headed by Lord Curzon, opposed this suggestion and wanting Smyrna to be under separate administration. [3] The Italian position was that Smyrna was rightfully their possession and so the diplomats would refuse to make any comments when Greek control over the area was discussed. [4] The Greek government, pursuing Venizelos' support for the Megali Idea (to bring areas with a majority Greek population or with historical or religious ties to Greece under control of the Greek state) and supported by Lloyd George, began a large propaganda effort to promote their claim to Smyrna including establishing a mission under the foreign minister in the city. [4] Moreover, the Greek claim over the Smyrna area (which appeared to have a clear Greek majority, although exact percentages varied depending on the source) were supported by Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points which emphasized the right to autonomous development for minorities in Anatolia. [5] In negotiations, despite French and Italian objections, by the middle of February 1919 Lloyd George shifted the discussion to how Greek administration would work and not whether Greek administration would happen. [3] To further this aim, he brought in a set of experts, including Arnold J. Toynbee, to discuss how the zone of Smyrna would operate and what its impacts would be on the population. [4] Following this discussion, in late February 1919, Venezilos appointed Aristeidis Stergiadis, a close political ally, the High Commissioner of Smyrna (appointed over political riser Themistoklis Sofoulis). [4]

Armistice of Mudros peace treaty

The Armistice of Mudros, concluded on 30 October 1918, ended the hostilities, at noon the next day, in the Middle Eastern theatre between the Ottoman Empire and the Allies of World War I. It was signed by the Ottoman Minister of Marine Affairs Rauf Bey and the British Admiral Somerset Arthur Gough-Calthorpe, on board HMS Agamemnon in Moudros harbor on the Greek island of Lemnos.

Middle Eastern theatre of World War I scene of action between 29 October 1914, and 30 October 1918

The Middle Eastern theatre of World War I saw action between 29 October 1914 and 30 October 1918. The combatants were, on one side, the Ottoman Empire, with some assistance from the other Central Powers; and on the other side, the British, the Russians and the French from among the Allied Powers. There were five main campaigns: the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, the Mesopotamian Campaign, the Caucasus Campaign, the Persian Campaign, and the Gallipoli Campaign. There were also several minor campaigns: the Senussi Campaign, Arab Campaign, and South Arabia Campaign.

Treaty of Sèvres

The Treaty of Sèvres was one of a series of treaties that the Central Powers signed after their defeat in World War I. Hostilities had already ended with the Armistice of Mudros. The treaty was signed on 10 August 1920, in an exhibition room at the Manufacture nationale de Sèvres porcelain factory in Sèvres, France.

In April 1919, the Italians landed and took over Antalya and began showing signs of moving troops towards Smyrna. [3] During the negotiations at about the same time, the Italian delegation walked out when it became clear that Fiume (Rijeka) would not be given to them in the peace outcome. [1] Lloyd George saw an opportunity to break the impasse over Smyrna with the absence of the Italian delegation and, according to Jensen, he "concocted a report that an armed uprising of Turkish guerrillas in the Smyrna area was seriously endangering the Greek and other Christian minorities." [1] Both to protect local Christians and also to limit increasing Italian action in Anatolia, French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau and U.S. President Woodrow Wilson supported a Greek military occupation of Smyrna. [1] Although Smyrna would be occupied by Greek troops, authorized by the Allies, the Allies did not agree that Greece would take sovereignty over the territory until further negotiations settled this issue. [1] The Italian delegation acquiesced to this outcome and the Greek occupation was authorized.

Rijeka City in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County, Croatia

Rijeka is the principal seaport and the third-largest city in Croatia. It is located in Primorje-Gorski Kotar County on Kvarner Bay, an inlet of the Adriatic Sea and has a population of 128,624 inhabitants. Historically, because of its strategic position and its excellent deep-water port, the city was fiercely contested, especially among Italy, Hungary, and Croatia, changing hands and demographics many times over centuries. According to the 2011 census data, the overwhelming majority of its citizens (94.52%) are Croats, along with small numbers of Bosniaks, Italians and Serbs. The city has a strong sense of identity and the autochthonous inhabitants of Rijeka are referred to as Fiumans.

Georges Clemenceau French politician

Georges Eugène Benjamin Clemenceau was a French politician who was Prime Minister of France during the First World War. A leading independent Radical, he played a central role in the politics of the French Third Republic.

Woodrow Wilson 28th president of the United States

Thomas Woodrow Wilson was an American statesman, lawyer, and academic who served as the 28th president of the United States from 1913 to 1921. A member of the Democratic Party, Wilson served as the president of Princeton University and as the 34th governor of New Jersey before winning the 1912 presidential election. As president, he oversaw the passage of progressive legislative policies unparalleled until the New Deal in 1933. He also led the United States during World War I, establishing an activist foreign policy known as "Wilsonianism."

Greek landing at Smyrna

Greek troops marching on Izmir's coastal street, May 1919. Greek army Smyrne 1919.jpg
Greek troops marching on İzmir's coastal street, May 1919.
Greek soldiers taking their posts, May 1919. Izmir15Mayis1919.jpg
Greek soldiers taking their posts, May 1919.

On 14 May 1919, the Greek mission in Smyrna read a statement announcing that Greek troops would be arriving the next day in the city. Smith reports that this news was "received with great emotion" by the Greek population of the city while thousands of Turkish residents gathered in the hill that night lighting fires and beating drums in protest. [4] The same night, thousands of Turkish prisoners were released from a prison with the complicity of the Ottoman and Italian commanders in charge of the prison. [4]

Greek occupation of Smyrna started on 15 May 1919 where a large crowd gathered waving the Greek kingdom flags on the docks where the Greek troops were expected to arrive. The Metropolitan of Smyrna, Chrysostomos, blessed the first troops as they arrived. [4] An inexperienced colonel was in charge of the operation and neither the appointed high commissioner nor high-ranking military individuals were there for the landing, resulting in miscommunication and a breakdown of discipline. [4] Most significantly, this resulted in the 1/38 Evzone Regiment landing north of where they were to take up their post. They had to march south, passing a large part of the Greek celebratory crowds, the Ottoman governor's konak and the barracks of Ottoman troops. Someone fired a shot (Smith indicates that no one knows who) and chaos resulted, with the Greek troops firing multiple shots into the konak and the barracks. [4] The Ottoman troops surrendered and the Greek regiment began marching them up the coast to a ship to serve as a temporary prison. A British subject at the scene claimed he witnessed the shooting deaths of thirty unarmed prisoners during this march, by both Greeks in the crowd and Greek troops. British officers in the harbor reported seeing Greek troops bayoneting multiple Turkish prisoners during the march and then saw them thrown into the sea. [4] In the chaos, looting of Turkish houses began, and by the end of the day three to four hundred Turks had been killed. One hundred Greeks were also killed, including two soldiers. Violence continued the next day and for the next months as Greek troops took over towns and villages in the region and atrocities were committed by both ethnic groups, notably the Battle of Aydın on 27 June 1919. [4]

Reactions to the landing

Turks demonstrate in Constantinople for national unity. SultanahmetMitingi.jpg
Turks demonstrate in Constantinople for national unity.

The landing and reports of the violence had a large impact on many parties. The landing helped bring together the various groups of Turkish resistance into an organized movement (further assisted by the landing of Mustafa Kemal in Samsun on 19 May 1919). [1] Several demonstrations were held by Turkish people in Constantinople condemning the occupation of Smyrna. Between 100,000 and 150,000 people gathered in a meeting at Sultanahmet square organized by the Karakol society and Türk Ocağı. [6] [7] In Great Britain and France, the reports of violence increased opposition in the governments to a permanent Greek control over the area. [8]

As a response to the claims of violence, the French Prime Minister Clemenceau suggested an Interallied Commission of Inquiry to Smyrna: the commission was made up of Admiral Mark Lambert Bristol for the United States, General Bunoust for France, General Hare for England, General Dall'olio for Italy and, as a non-voting observer, Colonel Mazarakis for Greece. It began work in August 1919 and interviewed 175 witnesses and visited multiple sites of alleged atrocities. The decision reached was that when a Greek witness and Turkish witness disagreed, a European witness would be used to provide the conclusions for the report. This system was dismissed by Venizelos because he claimed that the Europeans living in Smyrna benefited from privileges given to them under the Ottoman rule and were thus opposed to Greek rule. [4] The report was released to negotiators in October and generally found Greeks responsible for the bloodshed related to the landing and the violence throughout the Smyrna zone after the landing. In addition, the conclusions questioned the fundamental justification for the Greek occupation and suggested Greek troops be replaced by an allied force. Eyre Crowe, a main British diplomat, dismissed the larger conclusion by saying the Commission had overstepped its mandate. [4] In the negotiations after the report, Clemenceau reminded Venizelos that the occupation of Smyrna was not permanent and merely a political solution. Venizelos responded angrily and the negotiators moved on. [4]

At about the same time, British Field Marshal George Milne was tasked by the allies with devising a solution to Italian and Greek tension in the Menderes River Valley. Milne warned in his report that Turkish guerrilla action would continue as long as the Greeks continued to occupy Smyrna and questioned the justification for Greek occupation. Most importantly, his report developed a border that would separate the Smyrna zone from the rest of Anatolia. The council of Great Britain, France, U.S. and Italy approved the Milne line beyond which Greek troops were not to cross, except to pursue attackers but not more than 3 km beyond the line. [4]

Administration of the Smyrna Zone (1919–1922)

The Greek leadership in October 1920: High Commissioner Aristeidis Stergiadis, Lt. Gen. Leonidas Paraskevopoulos and his chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Theodoros Pangalos Stergiadis, Paraskevopoulos and Pangalos, Smyrna October 1920.jpg
The Greek leadership in October 1920: High Commissioner Aristeidis Stergiadis, Lt. Gen. Leonidas Paraskevopoulos and his chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Theodoros Pangalos

High Commissioner

Aristeidis Stergiadis was appointed the High Commissioner of Smyrna in February and arrived in the city four days after the 15 May landing. Stergiadis immediately went to work in setting up an administration, easing ethnic violence, and making way for permanent annexation of Smyrna. Stergiadis immediately punished the Greek soldiers responsible for violence on 15–16 May with court martial and created a commission to decide on payment for victims (made up of representatives from Great Britain, France, Italy and other allies). [4] Stergiadis took a strict stance against discrimination of the Turkish population and opposed church leaders and the local Greek population on a number of occasions. Historians disagree about whether this was a genuine stance against discrimination [9] or whether it was an attempt to present a positive vision of the occupation to the allies. [4]

This stance against discrimination of the Turkish population often pitted Stergiadis against the local Greek population, the church and the army. He reportedly would carry a stick through the town with which he would beat Greeks that were being abusive of Turkish citizens. At one point, Stergiadis interrupted and ended a sermon by the bishop Chrysostomos that he believed to be incendiary. Troops would disobey his orders to not abuse the Turkish population often putting him in conflict with the military. On 14 July 1919, the acting foreign secretary sent a long critical telegraph to Venizelos suggesting that Stergiadis be removed and writing that "His sick neuroticism has reached a climax." [4] Venizelos continued to support Stergiadis despite this opposition, while the latter oversaw a number of projects planning for a permanent Greek administration of Smyrna. [4]

Evzones in front of the headquarters of the High Commissioner. Evzones in front of the headquarters in Smyrna.jpg
Evzones in front of the headquarters of the High Commissioner.

Structure of the administration

The Greek consulate building became the center of government. Since Ottoman sovereignty was not replaced with the occupation, their administrative structure continued to exist but Stergiadis simply replaced senior positions with Greeks (except for the post for Muslim Affairs) while Turkish functionaries remained in low positions. [4] Urgent steps were required for the organization of a local administration as soon as the Greek army secured control of the region. [10] A significant obstacle during the first period of the Greek administration was the absence of a clear definition of the Greek mandate. In this context the coexistence of interallied authorities whose functions often overlapped with that of the Greek authorities resulted in a series of misunderstandings and friction between the two sides. This situation resulted after a decision by the Supreme Allied Council that all movements of the Greek army had to be approved by Field Marshal George Milne. [11]

The administration of the Smyrna zone was organized in units largely based on the former Ottoman system. Apart from the kaza of Smyrna and the adjacent area of Ayasoluk which were under the direct control of the Smyrna High Commission, the remaining zone was divided into one province (Greek : ΝομαρχίαNomarchia): that of Manisa, as well as the following counties (Greek : ΥποδιοικήσειςYpodioikiseis): Ödemiş, Tire (Thira), Bayındır (Vaindirion), Nympheon, Krini, Karaburna, Sivrihisar, Vryula, Palea Phocaea, Menemen, Kasaba, Bergama and Ayvali. [12]

Repatriation of refugees

The repatriation of the Asia Minor Greeks who had sought refuge in the Greek Kingdom as a result of the deportations and persecutions by the Ottoman authorities, assumed top priority, already from May 1919. The Greek authorities wanted to avoid a situation where refugees would return without the necessary supervision and planning. For this purpose, a special department was created within the High Commission. [13]

A survey conducted by the refugees department indicated that more than 150 towns and villages along the coastal area (from Edremit to Söke) had been destroyed during World War I. Especially from the 45,000 households belonging to local Greeks, 18,000 were partially damaged, while 23,000 completely destroyed. [14]

In general the period of the Greek administration experienced a continuous movement of refugee populations aided by charitable institutions such as the Red Cross and the Greek “Patriotic Institution” (Greek : Πατριωτικό Ίδρυμα). [15] In total, 100,000 Greeks who had lost their land during World War I, many a result of Ottoman discrimination, were resettled under Stergiadis, given generous credit, and access to farm tools. [4]

Arrival of Crown Prince George, 1921 Greek occupation troops landing on Smyrna.jpg
Arrival of Crown Prince George, 1921

Muslim affairs

Following the Treaty of Sèvres, all sections of the Ottoman administration that dealt with issues pertaining to Muslim religion, education and family affairs were organized by the High Commission. [16] Under this context a special polytechnic school was established in Smyrna which soon operated with 210 Muslim students and with costs covered by the Greek administration. [17]

However, nationalist sentiments and suspicion continued to limit the impacts of Stergiadis' administration. The resettlement of Greeks and harsh treatment by the army and local Greek population led many Turkish residents to leave which created a refugee problem. Discrimination by junior Greek administrators and military members further contributed to Turkish hostility in the Smyrna zone. [4]

The Ionian University of Smyrna, was established in December 1920 and organized by Constantin Caratheodory Ionian University of Smyrna.jpg
The Ionian University of Smyrna, was established in December 1920 and organized by Constantin Carathéodory

Archaeological excavations

Archaeological missions in Asia Minor were of significant importance for the High Commission. Excavations were focused on ancient Greek settlements in the area, mainly found in the surroundings of the urban areas, as well as along the coastal zone. [18] The most important excavation were conducted during 1921–1922, where important findings were unearthed in the Ionian sites of Klazomenai, Ephesus and Nysa. [18] Apart from ancient Greek antiquities, Byzantine monuments were also unearthed, such as the 6th century Basilica of St. John the Theologian in Ephesus. In general, the excavations undertaken by the Greek administration provided interesting material concerning the history of Ancient Greek and Byzantine Art. [18]


Another important project undertaken during the Greek administration was the institution and organization of the Ionian University of Smyrna. Originally conceived by the Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos and entrusted to Professor German-Greek mathematician Constantin Carathéodory of Göttingen University, as head of the new university. [4] [19] In the summer of 1922, its facilities were completed at a cost of 110,000 Turkish liras. The latter included 70 lecture rooms, a large amphitheatre, a number of laboratories and separate smaller structures for the University personnel. [20] Its various schools and departments of the University were to start operating gradually. [21] Moreover, a microbiology laboratory, the local Pasteur institute and the department of health became the first fields of instruction at the new university. [4]

Developments in the Greco-Turkish War

Greek soldiers and civilians at the Smyrna clock tower, summer 1920. Greek soldiers in Smyrna 1920.jpg
Greek soldiers and civilians at the Smyrna clock tower, summer 1920.

In 1920, the Smyrna zone became a key base for the Greek summer offensive in the Greco-Turkish War. Early in July 1920, the allies approved operations by the Greeks to take over Eastern Thrace and territory around Smyrna as part of ongoing hostilities with the Turkish Nationalist movement. On 22 July 1920, Greek military divisions crossed the Milne line around the Smyrna zone and began military operations in the rest of Anatolia. [1]

Greek soldiers retreating, 1922 Greek soldiers retreat, 1922.jpeg
Greek soldiers retreating, 1922

International negotiations between the allies and the Ottoman administration largely ignored the increasing conflict. [3] In early 1920, Lloyd George was able to convince the new French Prime Minister, Alexandre Millerand to accept Greek control of Smyrna, but under Turkish suzerainty. Negotiations were further refined in April 1920 at a meeting of the parties in Sanremo which was designed to discuss mostly issues of Germany, but because of increasing power of the nationalist forces under Kemal, the discussion shifted to focus on Smyrna. French pressure and divisions within the British government resulted in Lloyd George accepting a time frame of 5 years for Greek control over Smyrna with the issue to be decided by the League of Nations at that point. [3] These decisions, i.e. regarding a Greek administration but with limited Turkish sovereignty and a 5-year limit, were included in the text of the Treaty of Sèvres agreed to on 10 August 1920. Because the treaty largely ignored the rise of nationalist forces and the ethnic tension in the Smyrna zone, Montgomery has described the Treaty of Sèvres as "stillborn". [3] However, with the signing of the Treaty of Sèvres, the Ottoman Vali Izzet Bey handed over authority over Smyrna to Stergiadis.

In October 1920, Venizelos lost his position as Prime Minister of Greece. French and Italians used this opportunity to remove their support and financial obligations to the Smyrna occupation and this left the British as the only force supporting the Greek occupation. [1] Smyrna remained a key base of operations for the ongoing war through the rest of 1920 and 1921, particularly under General Georgios Hatzianestis. [1]

A significant loss at the Battle of Sakarya in September 1921 resulted in a retreat of Greek forces to the 1920 lines. The ensuing retreat resulted in massive civilian casualties and atrocities committed by Greek and Turkish troops. Jensen summarizes the violence writing that "The Turkish population was subjected to horrible atrocities by the retreating troops and accompanying civilian Christian mobs. The pursuing Turkish cavalry did not hesitate in kind on the Christian populace; the road from Uşak to Smyrna lay littered with corpses." [1]

Greek troops evacuated Smyrna on 9 September 1922 and a small allied force of British entered the city to prevent looting and violence. The next day, Mustafa Kemal, leading a number of troops, entered the city and was greeted by enthusiastic Turkish crowds. [1] On the Turkish side - but not among Greeks - this event is known as the "Liberation of İzmir".


Photo of the Great fire of Smyrna (1922) Great Fire of Smyrna.jpg
Photo of the Great fire of Smyrna (1922)

Atrocities by Turkish troops and irregulars against the Greek and Armenian population occurred immediately after the takeover. [22] [23] Most notably, Chrysostomos, the Orthodox Bishop, was lynched by a mob of Turkish citizens. A few days afterward, a fire destroyed the Greek and Armenian quarters of the city, while the Turkish and Jewish quarters remained undamaged. [24] Culpability for the fire is blamed on all ethnic groups and clear blame remains elusive. [1]

The evacuation of Smyrna by Greek troops ended most of the large scale fighting in the Greco-Turkish war which was formally ended with an Armistice and a final treaty on 24 July 1923 with the Treaty of Lausanne. Much of the Greek population was included in the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey resulting in migration to Greece and elsewhere. [4]

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The Megali Idea was an irredentist concept of Greek nationalism that expressed the goal of establishing a Greek state that would encompass all historically ethnic Greek-inhabited areas, including the large Greek populations that were still under Ottoman rule after the end of the Greek War of Independence (1821–1828) and all the regions that traditionally belonged to Greeks in ancient times.


Enosis is the movement of various Greek communities that live outside Greece, for incorporation of the regions they inhabit into the Greek state. Widely known is the case of the Greek-Cypriots for union of Cyprus into Greece. The idea of enosis is related to the Megali Idea, an irredentist concept of a Greek state which dominated Greek politics following the creation of the modern Greek state in 1830. The Megali Idea was a project which called for the annexation of all ethnic Greek lands, parts of which had participated in the Greek War of Independence in the 1820s but which were unsuccessful and remained under foreign rule.

The year 1922 was the most calamitous in the whole history of modern Greece. It witnessed the shattering of hopes and aspirations nourished by Hellenism ever since the first days of its struggle for independence and the realization of the dream of a free Hellas, the centenary of which had just been celebrated; more particularly of the idea of a greater Greece with which the name of Eleftherios Venizelos has been so closely associated ever since his first call to power in 1910. From a Balkan power of dominant magnitude Greece was thrown back into the unenviable position she occupied after the disastrous Greco-Turkish War of 1897.

Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922) war lasting from 1919 to 1922 during the Turkish War of Independence

The Greco-Turkish War of 1919–1922 was fought between Greece and the Turkish National Movement during the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire after World War I between May 1919 and October 1922. It is known as the Western Front of the Turkish War of Independence in Turkey and the Asia Minor Campaign or the Asia Minor Catastrophe in Greece.

Turkish War of Independence war fought between the Turkish National Movement and the proxies of the Allies

The Turkish War of Independence was fought between the Turkish National Movement and the proxies of the Allies – namely Greece on the Western Front, Armenia on the Eastern, France on the Southern, the royalists and the separatists in various cities, and with them, the United Kingdom and Italy in Constantinople – after parts of the Ottoman Empire were occupied and partitioned following the Ottomans' defeat in World War I. Few of the occupying British, French, and Italian troops had been deployed or engaged in combat.

The end of 1921 with the death of the King of Greece, Alexander, the fall of Eleftherios Venizelos and the dramatic return of King Constantine I to the throne, brought Greece once more to the fore in international politics. Although "unrecognized" by the great Allied Powers, King Constantine I resumed his interrupted reign amidst frantic acclamations of the population, a wave of anti-Venizelist reprisals, and dark war clouds in Anatolia where the Turkish Nationalist leader, Mustafa Kemal Pasha, was daily increasing his following.

Population exchange between Greece and Turkey

The 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey stemmed from the "Convention Concerning the Exchange of Greek and Turkish Populations" signed at Lausanne, Switzerland, on 30 January 1923, by the governments of Greece and Turkey. It involved at least 1.6 million people, most of whom were forcibly made refugees and de jure denaturalized from their homelands.

Wilsonian Armenia

Wilsonian Armenia refers to the boundary configuration of the First Republic of Armenia in the Treaty of Sèvres, as drawn by U.S. President Woodrow Wilson's Department of State. The Treaty of Sèvres was a peace treaty that had been drafted and signed between the Western Allied Powers and the defeated government of the Ottoman Empire in August 1920. The treaty was never signed by the United States of America. The treaty was signed but never ratified by the Ottoman Empire.

Franco-Turkish War War lasting from 1918 to 1921 during the Turkish War of Independence

The Franco-Turkish War, known as the Cilicia Campaign in France and as the Southern Front of the Turkish War of Independence in Turkey, was a series of conflicts fought between France and the Turkish National Forces from December 1918 to October 1921 in the aftermath of World War I. French interest in the region resulted from the Sykes-Picot Agreement and returning Armenian refugees of the Armenian Genocide back to their homes.

Republic of Pontus proposed Pontic Greek state on the southern coast of the Black Sea

The Republic of Pontus was a proposed Pontic Greek state on the southern coast of the Black Sea. Its territory would have encompassed much of historical Pontus and today forms part of Turkey's Black Sea Region. The proposed state was discussed at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, but the Greek government of Eleftherios Venizelos feared the precarious position of such a state and so it was included instead in the larger proposed state of Wilsonian Armenia. Ultimately, however, neither state came into existence and the Pontic Greek population was expelled from Turkey after 1922 and resettled in the Soviet Union or in Greek Macedonia. This state of affairs was later formally recognized as part of the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in 1923. In modern Greek right wing political circles, the exchange is seen as inextricable from the contemporaneous Greek genocide.

Aristeidis Stergiadis Greek politician

Aristeidis Stergiadis was the Greek high commissioner, or governor-general, of Smyrna during the Greek occupation of the city from 1919 to 1922.

Battle of Aydın

The Battle of Aydın, was a series of wide-scale armed conflicts during the initial stage of the Greco-Turkish War (1919-1922) in and around the city of Aydın in western Turkey. The battle resulted in the burning of several quarters of the city and massacres which resulted in the deaths of several thousand Turkish and Greek soldiers and civilians.

Occupation of Constantinople

The occupation of Constantinople, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, by British, French and Italian forces, took place in accordance with the Armistice of Mudros, which ended Ottoman participation in the First World War. The first French troops entered the city on November 12, 1918, followed by British troops the next day. The Italian troops landed in Galata on February 7, 1919.

Kuva-yi Milliye

Kuva-yi Milliye refers to the irregular Turkish militia forces in the early period of the Turkish War of Independence. These irregular forces emerged after the occupation of the parts of Turkey by the Allied forces in accordance with the Armistice of Mudros. Later, Kuva-yi Milliye was integrated to the regular army of the Grand National Assembly. Some historians call this period (1918–20) of the Turkish War of Independence the "Kuva-yi Milliye phase".

Greek landing at Smyrna

The Greek landing at Smyrna was a military operation by Greek forces starting on May 15, 1919 which involved landing troops in the city of Smyrna and surrounding areas. The Allied powers sanctioned and oversaw the planning of the operation and assisted by directing their forces to take over some key locations and moving warships to the Smyrna harbor. During the landing, a shot was fired on the Greek 1/38 Evzone Regiment and significant violence ensued with Greek troops and Greek citizens of Smyrna participating. The event became important for creating the three-year-long Greek Occupation of Smyrna and was a major spark for the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922).

The Venizelos–Tittoni agreement was a secret non-binding agreement between the Prime Minister of Greece, Eleftherios Venizelos, and the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tommaso Tittoni, in July 1919, during the Paris Peace Conference.


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Further reading