Throughout the history of modern Greece, her people have been subject to expulsion from millennia-old native lands, forcing millions to become refugees.
From famine in the early 1900s that dispersed hundreds of thousands to foreign shores, to the numerous wars that forced others to flee, Greeks know the experience of being refugees.
The Pontians, Anatolians, Cypriots in 1974 — so many people fleeing to strange and foreign lands, leaving behind homes, towns, businesses and livelihoods.
Furthermore, the entire face of the nation of modern Greece changed almost overnight because of an influx of refugees in 1922-23.
Greece’s two largest urban centers — Athens and Thessaloniki, doubled in size because of so many destitute refugees arriving from Anatolia.
These refugees — once the upper crust of urban society in Smyrna and other cities along the coast of Asia Minor, would impact Greek society forever.
See our photo compilation of moments throughout history when Greeks became refugees
Thousands of Greeks fleeing the massacres of Smyrna in 1922.
On February 21, 1909, 3,000 Greek families became refugees overnight, dispersing throughout the central United States, following riots in Omaha, Nebraska.
Dr. Mabel Elliot, an American missionary medical worker, treats a Greek refugee boy who escaped Smyrna in September 1922 and arrived on the island of Macronissi. Her work was part of a massive American effort to help the Greek people
Thousands of Greek refugees in Aleppo, Syria (1922).
Greeks from the Anatolian interior were herded onto trains and sent on death marches in the early 1900s by Turkish officials.
Thousands of civilian refugees from Greece begin to arrive in Egypt following the Nazi German invasion. Photo from New York Herald Tribune, April 27, 1941.
A theater in Athens turned into a refugee center in the early 1920s following the Asia Minor genocide when hundreds of thousands fled.
Pontian refugees in Kerkyra circa 1923.
1923, a refugee camp for Pontian Greeks arriving from Anatolia to Thessaloniki.
Following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus on July 20, 1974, thousands of Greek Cypriots were forced to flee their towns and villages in the north.
Even the Athens Opera House was transformed into a refugee center in 1922 with each family given a box usually held for high society Greeks attending the show.
One of the first cities to be evacuated when Turkish nationalists began massacres against Greek civilian populations was the ancient Greek settlement of Phocae (Fokies). Images of the carnage and fleeing Greeks were captured by the French photographer Félix Sartiaux in 1914.
Makeshift refugee camps were set up in parks throughout Piraeus in the autumn of 1922 to handle the tens of thousands of refugees arriving by the boatload.
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Thank you for posting. My Yia Yia watched her parents be murdered by the Turks in Pergamon. Her and her sister ended up in Symrna where they were thrown into the sea to drown and ended up being saved by Russian Sailors. They made it out, settled in Michigan and my Yia Yia passed away at age 97 in 2004. Christie Prappas Collins.
my father saw his two pregnant sisters bellies being ripped open by the Turkish soldier semitar knives murdered them both taking the babies and throwing their bodies in the drinking water wells. my grandfather and grandmother led away to be murdered he and his sister were able to escape on a Japanese ship and come to America my father George Miller Moularakis he was nine years old at that time.
There were no Russian or Japanes ships in Smyrna. Read Ships of Mercy by Christos Papoutsy who wrote to the Japanese government. The navy saving people was the US Navy. See http://www.RaoulWallenbergFoundation.net and search Asa K. Jennings for the truth.
No not Russian. The navy saving people was the US Navy.
Numbing to read this
I am Greek American…why is this post needed. If you know your history u know this…just a pathetic excuse to post family pictures..
We should all know about the Greek genocide..and maybe learn from it. It is not an excuse to post family pictures. I am also an Greek American and I want to learn about it since my Yiayia was from Asia Minor…and was a refugee…still trying to find her family and history..
Nicolas if you know it all. Don t read the posts
I too am looking for my Yiayia’s family who were Pontic.
I don’t think it’s pathetic, many people don’t know what happened and need to hear this! This should not be swept under the carpet !!! It should be known ! And story retold for those who don’t know !! Well done pappaspost
I have interviewed a lot of people in Greece, and only Admiral “Dannys” Theofanidis knew the truth. See video I recorded in his house in Athens. Go to Vimeo.com/83516431 and 83517902.. Also, https://youtu.be/NWLEptrDwhQ. If you do not understand or read Greek, fast forward to the English. This video was recorded in Volos that accepted a lot of refugees.
I still am amazed at such negative and useless comments such as the one posted about this information being “pathetic excuse.” Ignorance, no doubt..
This article isn’t pathetic, rather , it is important because of the fact that so few people know about this part of history is. While many Greeks know the history, most outside of our culture do not. My hope is that people will share this information so other may learn from it,
Helen: I have thousands of original records of the Smyrna tragedy,. My Grandfather went to Ataturk and got his permission to remove the Greeks, Armenians and Jews to safety outside Turkey. The Greek Government refused to send ships until my Grandfather working for the YMCA with the help of a
Greek Navy Captain blackmailed the Greek Government. I am working on a 5 video educational course that will show original documents. This will be posted on Udemy. This is a lot of work, and I struggle with iMovie to record it all.
Such an unnecessary comment. Wow.
Smirna was greek we lost it after war to Turks the people from one place of Greece they went to another place that does not make them refuge constantinopole smirna was Greece before we lost them to Turks ,if some one live I USA and you go back to Greece that does not make you refuge ,,or the people live in Athens and go to live in iperos do not make them refuge they are Greeks
People fleeing genicide most certainly qualify as refugees. I am not sure what definition you are using. Also, they were ethnic Greeks and weren’t Greek citizens;they were citizens of Turkey.
Sorry my dear Glyka, but there was a genocide, back in 1922…. It wasn’t an iternal migration, like the one you describe…. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_genocide
My grandparents also watched as their parents and others were killed by the Turks. My grandparents and a few of their relatives were lucky enough to survive this genocide and were re-settled on Corfu after WWI. Canakkale had been their home. My grandfather would talk about the small boat his father had to ferry people across the Dardanelles. He also described the massacre of his family and march to the beach. Where they were told that if the Greek navy didn’t pick them up in three days they would all be killed.
Loved this article. Just a side note. Us fellow Pontian are Anatolian as well. We are also of Asia Minor. But sadly the southern Asia Minor like to keep the AM title for themselves.
You should be ashamed of yourself! There many that do not know all of this history and it should be repeated endlessly to remind everyone of the atrocities that were committed against our people. perhaps one day Greeks in Greece will wake up and look to build a strong country economically, militarily and demographically in order to assure that in the future Greeks will not be victims.
“Greeks from the Anatolian interior were herded onto trains and sent on death marches in the early 1900s by Turkish officials”
I woudn’t be sure about the date (such horrors did happen, but mostly in wartime, e.g. during the failed British invasion of Gallipoli or the Russian invasion of NE Turkey), but in any case the train car shown is Greek (clearly marked ΣΕΚ / CEH = Chemins de fer de l’Etat Hellénique).
My mother and her family the were refugees from smirna turkey that came to grease 1922.
I am reading this post because I am trying to research my Mother’s family. Anna Moularakis my grandmother was born in Smyrna in 1897. Her 2 sisters were murdered by the Turks while living in Smyrna. One sister & her husband went to church and the Turks set the church on fire. They could either stay in the church or come out & the Turks would machete them. I just found out yesterday that her father’s real name was Efthemiou but he had to change it because he killed a Turk & they were looking for him so he changed it to Moularakis. When the family came to the USA they changed the name to Miller.