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Forum Commemorates 88th Anniversary of Smyrna Catastrophe

Press Releases

October 27, 2010—No. 68 (202) 785-8430

Forum Commemorates 88th Anniversary of Smyrna Catastrophe

Book Presentation Provides Answers to Who Rescued the Greeks at Smyrna

WASHINGTON, DC —The American Hellenic Institute (AHI) hosted a book presentation on “The Ships of Mercy: The True Story of the Rescue of the Greeks, Smyrna, September 1922” authored by Christos Papoutsy at Hellenic House.  The book presentation was held October 14, 2010 in commemoration of the 88th anniversary of the Smyrna Catastrophe of 1922.

“We were pleased to host such an important presentation and discussion about a book that chronicles the valiant actions that led to the rescue of three-hundred thousand Greek refugees on the Smyrna quay,” said Executive Director Nick Larigakis.  “We commend the book’s author, Christos Papoutsy, and his wife, Mary, for their ten years of extensive research that took them to several countries in order to provide an accurate historical account of the dramatic rescue of the Greek refugees at Smyrna.”

In their presentation, the Papoutsys provided the historical pretext to the Smyrna Catastrophe, specifically post World War I conflict in the region, and described the horrible conditions the Greek refugees were facing at Smyrna amid record-breaking hot temperatures (120 degrees) with little food or water, and looting and raping.

However, the essence of their presentation focused on their research that documents the heroism and sacrifice that went into the rescue of the Greek refugees, including the valiant actions of an unexpected hero, Asa Jennings, who was appalled at the plight of the refugees.  “The Ships of Mercy” provides vintage photographs, naval war diaries, and captains’ logs that corroborate what happened at Smyrna, all of which help to definitely answer the age-old mystery of “Who rescued the Greeks of Smyrna in September 1922?”

Also in their presentation, the Papoutsys discussed the roles, if any, of the Japanese and American Navies, and the Greek government, in the rescue; and presented a profile of Jennings, an American working at a Y.M.C.A. in Turkey at the time of the crisis, who was eventually honored by the Greek government for his heroic actions that included securing a large number of cargo ships to rescue the refugees.

To view the book presentation via video stream, please click here.

Copies of “The Ships of Mercy” are available for sale from AHI.

The American Hellenic Institute is a non-profit Greek American think-tank and public policy center that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.

Christos Papoutsy details the rescue of Greek refugees as his wife, Mary, looks on.


For additional information, please contact Nick Larigakis at (202) 785-8430 or at For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our website at