December 9, 2023

The Violent Istanbul Pogrom Against Greeks

5 min read

istanbul pogrom greeks
Turkish persons destroying Greek corporations throughout the Istanbul pogrom. Credit: General public domain

In 1955, the substantial Greek population of the Turkish city of Istanbul were being the victims of a heinous pogrom that resulted in the struggling and demise of numerous, and the destruction of countless properties and corporations.

The Greeks in Istanbul were being a longstanding, flourishing neighborhood comprised primarily of families of retailers. In 1955 their inhabitants was about 100,000 and they were being a outstanding course in the metropolis.

At the time, Turkish Key Minister Adnan Menderes (1950-1960) sought to enchantment to the conservative religious faction of the Turkish populace, leading to discomfort in the country’s secular Kemalist establishment. The 1000’s of mosques created during his time as PM are proof of that.

At the time Istanbul, and Turkey as a total, was not as prosperous as the Greeks.

Additionally, nationalist fever in the country was soaring, as the Greek Cypriots demanded their union with Greece. The rich Greeks of Istanbul ended up the excellent scapegoat.

It was a fantastic celebration for the Turkish leaders to distract the community from its complications, turning it against the affluent Greek minority. On August 28, 1955, Menderes publicly, and falsely, claimed that the Greek Cypriots were organizing massacres towards the Turkish Cypriots.

istanbul pogrom greeks
Credit history: Public area

Pogrom end result of resentment, discrimination

In essence, Prime Minister Adnan Menderes made the decision to turn his men and women versus the prosperous Greeks, blaming them for all the woes of the Turks, substantially like Hitler had turned most Germans in opposition to the prosperous Jewish communities in Germany in the mid-1930s.

The terror unleashed against the Greek local community of Istanbul on September 6 and 7, 1955 is very substantially like Nazi Germany’s Kristalnacht.

The Pogrom, or violent riot aimed at a specific ethnic team, against the Greeks of Istanbul broke out on September 6, 1955 just after stories circulated that Greeks planted a bomb at the Turkish Consulate in Thessaloniki, which is housed in the home wherever Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the fashionable Turkish state, was born.

The perpetrator of the bomb was a Turkish usher at the consulate named Oktay Engin, who was arrested by Greek authorities.

Turkish media was silent about the arrest and continued to thrust the idea that it was a Greek who set off the bomb.

Engin later became a hero in Turkey. He was honored in Turkey and appointed provincial governor.

Years later, in an job interview with Eleftherotypia newspaper, Engin denied any link with the incident and deemed himself a sufferer of the Greek authorities.

istanbul pogrom greeks
Credit score: Community area

The blast at Ataturk’s property brought on only small damage to the building’s windows, but Turkish newspapers took edge of the condition.

Subsequent governing administration instructions, they magnified and distorted the party. Headlines this kind of as “Greek terrorists wrecked Ataturk’s paternal home” of the Istanbul Categorical and the publication of a sequence of pretend pics of the incident sparked “spontaneous” demonstrations in Taksim Square in the afternoon of the similar day.

The brutality and destruction

At 5 o’clock in the afternoon, a raging crowd of 50,000 men and women turned towards the Greek attributes in the Pera district.

The looting lasted until eventually the early morning several hours of September 7, when the military intervened, as the predicament was in threat of spiraling out of regulate.

Until eventually then, the authorities remained apathetic. Menderes’ Democratic Social gathering, which managed the unions, played a catalytic position in the rioting.

istnabul pogrom greeks
Credit history:Community area

Large figures of protesters have been transported to Istanbul from West Asia Minimal for free to acquire part in the pogrom in opposition to the Greek local community.

Four thousand taxis transported them to the scene of the riots, when trucks of the Municipality of Istanbul ended up deployed in components of the city, loaded with axes, shovels, bats, pickaxes, hammers, iron crowbars, and petrol cans, required instruments for the mob who attacked the Greek shops.

They shouted slogans like “Death to the giaourides (faithless),” “Break it, tear it down, he is giaouris”, “Slaughter the Greek traitors,” “Down with Europe,” and “Let’s march towards Athens and Thessaloniki.”

While the rage was directed against the Greeks, the anger of the mob did not spare retailers owned by Armenians and Jews either.

Males and females have been raped and in accordance to the testimony of the renowned Turkish writer Aziz Nesin, and lots of clergymen ended up compelled to be circumcised, with a person of the victims staying an Armenian priest. Sixteen Greeks lost their life and 32 had been poorly hurt.

Credit rating:Public domain

Violence from the Greeks took area not only in Istanbul but also in Izmir, or Smyrna. On the early morning of September 7, Turkish nationalists established hearth to the Greek pavilion at the Izmir Global Good.

They then wrecked the recently constructed church of Agia Fotini, when looting the homes of Greek soldiers serving at NATO Headquarters.

the globe remained silent about Istanbul pogrom from the Greeks

The Papagos federal government experimented with to make the problem recognised internationally, but without having any sizeable outcomes.

The Us residents and the British had been unwilling to set strain on Turkey, a valuable ally during the Chilly War. NATO allies recommended Greece to overlook about the incident.

Only the World Council of Church buildings from international companies demanded an explanation from Turkey for the destruction of 90 p.c of the Orthodox churches in Istanbul.

Having said that, in August 1995, the U.S. Senate referred to as on President Clinton to declare September 6 Pogrom Remembrance Day.

The Pogrom against the Hellenism of Istanbul resulted in the demise of 16 Greeks and the injuries of 32, the loss of life of a person Armenian, the rape of 12 Greek women of all ages, and the rape of an unspecified number of males, but the authentic numbers could be much increased.

Also, the rioting brought on the destruction of 4,348 service provider shops, 110 inns, 27 pharmacies, 23 educational institutions, 21 factories, 73 church buildings, about 1,000 houses owned by Greeks.

Credit rating: Public domain

The monetary expense of the damages amounted to $150 million, in accordance to international corporations, while the Greek federal government estimated it at $500 million.

Financial destruction and anxiety pressured thousands of expatriates to emigrate to Greece. Of the 100,000 Greeks in 1955, only 2,000 are in Istanbul nowadays.

Afterwards, the Turkish condition, as a result of President Celal Bayar, promised compensation for the destruction of Greek property. At very best, reparations did not exceed 20 p.c of the promises, given that assets experienced depreciated substantially.

A lot of details about the September riots arrived to gentle in 1961, for the duration of the trial for the final betrayal of ousted military services Key Minister Adnan Menderes, who did not escape the gallows.

The book of eminent Greek-American Byzantine scholar Spyros Vryonis “The Mechanism of Disaster: The Turkish Pogrom of September 6-7, 1955 and the Destruction of the Greek Local community of Istanbul” (, New York, 2005) also supplies worthwhile information and facts.