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AHI Hosts Noon Forum to Commemorate the 87th Anniversary of the Smyrna Catastrophe of 1922
September 30, 2009—No. 66 (202) 785-8430

AHI Hosts Noon Forum to Commemorate the 87th Anniversary of the Smyrna Catastrophe of 1922


WASHINGTON, DC—On September 23, 2009 the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted a Noon Forum at the Hellenic House commemorating the 87th anniversary of the Smyrna catastrophe of 1922. The Noon Forum featured guest speaker Professor Dan Georgakas, Director of the Greek American Studies Project at Queens College-CUNY’s Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, Co-Editor of the Journal of the Hellenic Diaspora, the Journal of Modern Hellenism and AHIF Fellow.

Professor Georgakas began his presentation with the history of events leading up to The Great Catastrophe of 1922. He explained that this unfortunate incident directly affected his family because his mother was one of the many Greek inhabitants to flee the burning city as a refugee. He stated that Smyrna was a unique thriving metropolis inhabited by a Greek majority who lived in harmony with Turks, Armenians, Jews, and Levantines. Of the approximate 1,600,000 Greeks in Asia Minor, 320,000 resided in Smyrna which is said to have been double that of Athens at the time. More than 100,000 Greek and Armenian civilians were killed by the invading Turkish army. Professor Georgakas quoted the U.S. Consul to Smyrna at the time, George Horton, from his book, “The Blight of Asia,” “One of the keenest impressions which I brought away from Smyrna was a feeling of shame that I belong to the human race.” In his book Consul Horton provides a personal eye witness accounts of the human tragedy that unfolded. The presentation was followed by questions from the audience.

Professor Dan Georgakas is the Director of the Greek American Studies Project at the Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies (Queens College-City University of New York) and Adj. Assoc. Professor at the Center for Global Affairs (New York University). He is an interdisciplinary author whose 14 books deal with ethnic identity, mass media, labor history, and poetry. His Detroit: I Do Mind Dying was judged by CounterPunch as one of the hundred best non-fiction books written in the twentieth century. Professor Georgakas has written extensively on Greek America for both general readers and scholars. He has edited special issues on Greek Americans for the Journal of the HellenicDiaspora and the Journal of Modern Hellenism. He has appeared on the Voice of America, the History Channel, the Larry King Show, Greek national television, and other major media. Professor Dan Georgakas was educated in the Detroit public school system, earned a BA at Detroit’s Wayne State University, and did his graduate work at the University of Michigan. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Greece in 1963 and 2001.

“We are honored to have Professor Dan Georgakas be our guest speaker for this Noon Forum. Events like this are important to commemorate because they help to remind us of man’s inhumanity to man and hopefully serve as a deterrent for other such atrocities. But unfortunately, even today we see the continuing abuse of human rights in such places as Darfur. The leading governments of the world have a responsibility to not allow this to happen and not stand idle, as they did in Smyrna Bay in 1922. It was a bad precedent that started earlier with the Armenian genocide, and carried throughout the 20th century with the Pontian genocide, the Jewish Holocaust, the Cambodian genocide by Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot, and the “butcher of Uganda,” Edi Amin, and others. This is a plague that must stop, and you begin with remembering the past, therefore we were pleased to have hosted this event which speaks to a time and place that is short of being forgotten,” said Nick Larigakis.

For Video and Transcript of this event please follow this link:



For additional information, please contact C. Franciscos Economides at (202) 785-8430 or at For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our Web site at