In early 1914, the German Military Mission to the Ottoman Empire expressed the view that, in the event of the country’s involvement in a war against the West, the Greek Orthodox population of Asia Minor could not inspire confidence in its security. beaches.
The head of the mission, German Army officer Liman von Sanders, who had primarily praised the Turkish Army’s training and modernization work, was of the opinion that “in every country, the strength of the nation is brought about by the homogeneity of the population”.
With this in mind, when World War I broke out, the Turks, as allies of the Germans, engaged in relentless persecution, in inhuman persecution of the Greek Orthodox population of the Empire.
In this context, they recruited the flower of the Greek Orthodox youth, dressed it in Turkish uniforms and sent it to fight on the front lines.
They also imprisoned senior Greek Orthodox workers and displaced all other Greek Orthodox males in Asia Minor, far from the elderly, the seriously ill, and young children, to camps outside their homes.
There they were forced to break stones for countless hours, build military roads, sleep in the countryside, and feed on the surplus food intended for animals.
Liman von Saunders assured the Neo-Turks that “the frosts and cold of winter, the rains and the high humidity, the sun and the terrible heat of summer, the rash and cholera, the hardships and starvation will have the same effect. that you are counting on your own plan, that is, to exterminate them with massacres. With the system I suggest, their death is certain. But before they die, they will offer us their valuable services to the nation. In addition, their wives will not give birth, and so your demographic problem will be solved, while this hated and dishonourable breed will be wiped out and lost forever in a generation, and you will acquire a Turkish homogeneity, which will give to the nation. you a new power. And don’t forget, of course, the properties and estates that the Yunans will leave after their loss, that will be passed on to the public, that is, to all of you “.
The Turks fully accepted and implemented the directives of Sanders, the inspirer of the genocide plan of the Christian populations of Asia Minor.
The Sanders’ “system”, which no doubt brings to mind the later applied Nazi methods, proved to be particularly effective in “settling” the internal problem of the Ottoman Empire.
From the innumerable martyrdoms, humiliations and humiliations suffered by the Christian populations of Asia Minor, especially the Greeks of Pontus, it is enough to mention three characteristic cases:
In Simikli (Simikli), Chaldea, the Turks arrested all the women and girls who failed to leave with the men in the woods and the surrounding mountains. They gathered them in a house and began to prepare a night of orgies. An impatient Turk grabbed a young woman by the hair and pulled her out of the house. Immediately, her gang rape began. The other women, hearing the screams of the girl and the laughter of the rapists, immediately understood what their fate would be. In their attempt to escape, they arrived chased on the bank of the nearby rushing river. There they were to die a tragic death, as they were drowned or killed by the bullets of their torturers, all but three.
At St. George’s Church in Patlasma, near Kerasounta, dozens were slaughtered one winter night in 1916. The children of displaced people passing by the city heading deep into the East were arrested and gathered on the beach. There they put them in boats and, after going out in the open, threw them into the sea and drowned them.
In the community of Poulantzakis, 3,000 residents are being driven into exile and 1,200 Greek homes are being handed over to the Turks who came down from the surrounding areas. During the course of the Poulantzakins, a mother loses consciousness and collapses on the street exhausted. The escorts want to let her die. A 15-year-old boy is thrown. “I’ll carry it,” she says, “it’s my mother.” The heavy load quickly becomes unbearable for the skinny boy. This is also collapsing. The escorts whip it. That cries. They force him to drag his mother 100 meters off the road and let her die there. Then they lead it back to the phalanx. At night the little boy burst out. Did he go back to his mother? Did they die together? Did the wolves eat them? Nobody knows…
* For the compilation of this article, I once again drew valuable information from the two-volume authorial work of Christos Nerantzis “The Epic of Asia Minor 1919-1922” (Jiabiris / Pyramid Publications).