The Smyrna Catastrophe (in the Hellenic – Καταστροφή της Σμύρνης) refers to the deliberately set fire four days after Turkish forces entered and captured the port city of cosmopolitan Smyrna in Asia Minor and which completely destroyed its Hellenic and Armenian quarters. Its Muslim quarters escaped damage. The fire was started September 13 and extinguished September 22 in 1922. Turkish troops per eyewitnesses systematically cordoned off the Quay to contain the Hellenes and Armenians within their fire zone quarters and prevented them from fleeing. The estimated Hellenic and Armenian deaths resulting from the fire range up to 100,000 and approximately up to 400,000 Hellenic and Armenian refugees in the city from other parts of Asia Minor to escape the Turkish Troops and irregulars cramming its waterfront and quays to escape from the horrific flames. Eyewitness reports describe panic-stricken refugees diving into the water to escape the flames and that their terrified screaming could be heard miles away.[ They were forced to remain there under harsh conditions and were periodically robbed for two weeks and after having had massacres and atrocities committed on them before the outbreak of the fire. Women were raped and tens of thousands of Hellenic and Armenian men were subsequently deported into the interior of Anatolia, where many died in harsh and brutal conditions. After the Smyrna Catastrophe the Hellenic city founded 3,000 years before , a jewel of the Eastern Mediterranean, ceased to have Hellenic residents.
EMBCA’s “Burnt Offerings and Whispering Voices: The Smyrna Catastrophe, a Historical Remembrance” will include presentations by EMBCA’s President Lou Katsos , Peter Stavrianidis, PHD Educator/Community Leader in Hellenic Genocide Issues, and Professor Ismini Lamb the Director of The Modern Greek Program in the Department of Classics at Georgetown University.
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