January 13, 2005

Relocation remembered

North Sea Diaries -- a wonderfully engaging blog devoted to events in Europe, points to a disturbing story from Le Monde (he says, the link just goes to Le Figaro's page) about the persecution of the last few thousand Orthodox Christians living in Turkey:

The most recent incident was on 6 January, the Orthodox Christmas. It is celebrated every year on the waters of the Golden Horn, in a tradition dating back to the Byzantine era. The ceremony was disturbed this year by 60 protestors. “You are in Turkey! Like it or leave!", they shouted, waving flags bearing the acronym of the extreme nationalist party MHP.

North Sea Diaries cites, presumably from the orignal article, a figure of a half million people as the population of Orthodox Christians living in Turkey at the end of the 19th century, compared with some 3,000 now. That probably doesn't seem so dramatic if one recalls that part of the post World War One/post-Greco-Turkish War Treaty of Lausanne (there's a good summary of it here, but scroll way way down) called for a massive population trade. Ethnic Turks (all Muslim, I believe) living in Greece (many of whom spoke Greek as a first language) were relocated to Turkey, and ethnic Greek Christians living in Turkey (many of whom spoke Turkish) were moved to Greece. This episode largely accounts for the drastic decline of the number of Orthodox Christians in Turkey since the end of the 19th century.

Posted by Ideofact at January 13, 2005 10:43 PM

I think it was more like ethnic cleansing than a simple population transfer. I remember reading an horrific account of the burning of Smyrna in a book that was generally pro-Turkish. Still, what happened to the Armenians was even worse.

Posted by: J.Cassian at January 14, 2005 05:00 AM

Does anyone know the numbers for Protestants in the 26 counties of The Irish Free State/Eire/Irish Republic?

I take it that quite a few must have been "encouraged" to flee?

Posted by: dearieme at January 14, 2005 07:44 AM

Many thanks for pointing out the broken link; the original seems to have vanished off the face of the internet. And thanks for the background you offer here - very enlightening.


Posted by: DaveVH at January 14, 2005 07:46 PM