06 September 2005

A bitter anniversary

Fifty years ago tonight the Greek Orthodox community in Istanbul, which had lived there since ancient times, was subject to an orchestrated series of attacks by Turkish mobs, who vandalized Greek-owned homes, stores, schools, churches and cemeteries. The event has been likened to the infamous and better known Kristallnacht, which saw nazi thugs loot Jewish-owned establishments in Germany in 1938. The 1955 attacks led to the mass emigration of ethnic Greeks from Istanbul, where they then numbered close to 100,000 but now number fewer than two thousand, mostly elderly persons. Read the story here: Turkey's Forgotten Islamist Pogrom.


Patriarch Athenagoras
in the rubble of the
Church of Sts. Constantine and Helen,
September 1955

The events of 6-7 September 1955 spilled over from the Cyprus crisis, which had broken out five months earlier as a guerrilla war and had poisoned relations between the two ethnic communities in the island and elsewhere. What if, as a condition for membership in the European Union, Turkey were made to agree to take back and compensate its Constantinopolitan Greeks, much as Croatia is being encouraged to allow its ethnic Serbs to return to that country after ten years?

Later: Here's an article from Wikipedia on the Istanbul Pogrom.

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