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The Turkish Pogrom Of 1955 And The Elimination Of The Greek Minority Of Istanbul

2738 words - 11 pages

The Reconstitution of Turkish Pogrom

The chronology of the pogrom falls in a hard period, when the Cyprus issue had caused difficulties in the political relations of Greece, Turkey and England. It is considered that Hikmet Bill the owner of the Turkish journal Hurriyet and Ahmet Emin Yalmas the owner of Vatan received a large amount of money in order to create the political atmosphere of the pogrom from British sources. By July 1955, the Turkish press and some organizations such as The‘Cyprus is Turkish’, the National Federation of Turkish Students and the National Union of Turkish Students organized mass demonstrations against the Greek minority of Istanbul and the Ecumenical Patriarchate (Vryonis 2005). Nowadays, most Greeks and Turks are unaware of the fact that on the night of September 6, until the early hours of September 7, 1955 the Adnan Menderes’ government and the Turkish Intelligence Service carried out the most destructive pogrom in Europe since the well-known Krystallnacht on the eve of the Second World War. In addition, they do not know that this pogrom damaged, and in many cases destroyed several houses, businesses, churches and institutions and that this had as a result, the elimination of the Greek minority, the oldest historical community of Turkey (Vryonis 2005).
On the afternoon of September 6th 1955, a radio station in Ankara reported that a bomb exploded under mysterious circumstances in the courtyard of Kemal Atatürk’s house in Thessaloniki, causing minor damages. The reports did not produce any reaction at first. However, a few hours later the Turkish journal Istanbul Express circulated an extra edition. According to the newspaper, the birthplace of Kemal Atatürk in Thessaloniki had been bombed. Also, some photographs accompanied the newspaper article purporting to show extensive damage (Alexandris 1992). This unconfirmed article sparked off nonviolent demonstrations in the biggest Turkey’s cities against the Greek minority and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In the investigation that followed it was clarified that the guard and a Turkish student of the University of Thesaloniki, which called Oktai Egin, placed the explosives there, which had brought from Turkey few days ago (Sondern 1956). The street demonstration was organized by various nationalist student organizations, and Hikmet Bil’s association Cyprus is Turkish (Kibris Türktür Cemiyeti). Hikmet Bil was a journalist in Hurriyet well known for his anti Hellenic articles, and the head of the political organization Cyprus is Turkish. Out of the blue a passionate crowd appeared to cross the main streets of Istanbul, while distributing posters depicting Cyprus in the Turkish flag, statues and portraits of Kemal Atatürk and Celar Bayar, Turkey’s third President and shouting abusive slogans against the Greeks and in favour of Turkish claims over Cyprus. Furthermore, city residents urged to hold Turkish flags outside their houses and shops in order to keep them...

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