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AHI Commemorates The 80th Anniversary Of The Destruction Of Smyrna By Ataturk
September 12, 2002 No. 45/02 (202) 785-8430

AHI Commemorates The 80th Anniversary Of The Destruction Of Smyrna By Ataturk

WASHINGTON, DC—On September 9, 2002, the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted a noon forum featuring author and scholar Marjorie Housepian Dobkin who spoke on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the destruction of Smyrna by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the killing of over 100,000 Greeks and Armenians.

Dr. Dobkin is the author of the Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a City (Faber & Faber, London, 1972, previously published in 1971 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York, as The Smyrna Affair), which provides the first in-depth investigative account of the horrific events of September 1922 and the subsequent cover-up by Turkey and by the Western Allies, who had defeated Turkey and Germany during World War I. Smyrna 1922 was on the New York Times list of its "100 Notable Books" of 1971, and in 1972 was considered the "Book of the Year" by the Sunday Times of London. Lord Kinross, the author of Ataturk has, in a review, called the book definitive.

Dr. Dobkin recounted that, "Within hours of Ataturk's victorious entry into the beautiful, thriving and predominantly Greek city of Smyrna (now Izmir), Turkish soldiers began the killing and raping of Greeks and Armenians, and the looting and pillaging of their homes and shops. Over 100,000 Greek and Armenian civilians were killed by the Turks.

"After breaking down the doors and entering Armenian and Greek homes house by house (the Greek and Armenian quarters overlapped), Ataturk's soldiers killed and raped the inhabitants, and emptied the furnishings into waiting trucks. This was the finale of the Armenian Genocide of the First World War when close to two million Armenian men, women and children had in 1915-1916 been dispatched to their deaths by the Young Turks from all points in Turkey -- except Smyrna.

"In the harbor of Smyrna stood a flotilla of twenty-one warships: French cruisers and destroyers, British destroyers and a battleship, an Italian battleship and three American destroyers. All were on orders from their respective foreign offices and military commanders to refrain from giving aid and comfort to the Greeks and Armenians who were considered enemies of the Turks. The ships were on hand to 'protect their own interests only.' Allen Dulles, head of the near-East division at the U.S. State Department, gave the order, which had been passed down from the Secretary of State, to the American ships through Admiral Bristol in Constantinople.

"Days later, when the wind turned and began blowing toward the sea in the record heat of that September, the stench was so strong on the streets and in the victims' homes from the remains of those massacred in that part of Smyrna, that even the large battleships had to move back 80 yards. It was at this point that Ataturk's soldiers, led by their officers, set the city to the torch.

"Thus, one of the most magnificent cities on earth as attested to by travelers over the millennia, the city where Homer was born and whose magnificent harbor the Romans treasured so much that 'they treated the Smyrneans kindly so as to preserve to themselves the finest port in Asia,' was totally destroyed, its churches and mansions burned to the ground. The Greek and Armenians citizens, all well-to-do, were killed and those remaining were pauperized, and the large, immensely wealthy European population was gotten rid of by Ataturk, the new leader of Turkey who had said 'Turkey for the Turks.' He was aided by the very nations who had shortly before been enemies of Turkey and were now, evidently betraying Greece in a monumental turnaround, owing to the oil of the Mosul (now Iraq) that Ataturk had inherited from the Ottoman Empire, 'déjà vue' all over again."

For additional information regarding AHI's noon forum featuring Marjorie Housepian Dobkin, including ordering a copy of the publication, please contact Chrysoula Economopoulos at (202) 785-8430 or at For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website at