Rumblings of the Approaching Storm
The Commission's task was to deal with the Greek refugees from Asia Minor, a people totally unlike their conquerors, the nomadic Turks. These Greeks had a brilliant heritage of their own as direct descendants of the Ionian Greeks who settled the Aegean coast of Asia Minor. It was in their land that Homer, perhaps the greatest poet of all ages, sang their early history. The scene of the Iliad is the plains of Troy, on the Asia Minor coast, south of the Dardanelles. In Homeric times not only the Ionian coast, but also the southern shore of the Black Sea, were populated by Greeks, who engaged in agriculture and carried on a lively commerce by sea.
Soon after Athens had reached the height of its glory under Pericles in the Fifth Century, B. C., and had started on its decline, the rise of Macedon under Philip carried Greek influence into new regions. The glory of Athens had been based upon sea power, but the conquests of Macedon were the work of land armies— Philip invented the invincible phalanx. Upon Philip's death his son, Alexander the Great, set forth to conquer the whole of the then known world, and as that world in his day lay to the east, his marches were in that direction. In a few years he had overrun the fertile plains and opulent cities of Asia Minor, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Persia, and had carried his conquests to the gates of Delhi. In all the cities in the intervening countries he left large garrisons of Greek soldiers. In many of these countries he founded flourishing new cities. In every place his soldiers were followed by large colonies of Greek civilians. The result was that the whole of western Asia, and of what we call the Near East, including Asia Minor Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Babylonia, Mesopotamia, Persia, and northwestern India, was saturated with the Greek influence and with Greek colonies.
The imagination of these conquered peoples was dazzled by the introduction of Greek art, literature, philosophy, and public works. Though the successors of Alexander were unable to maintain the political control of the lands he conquered, and though successive waves of Roman, Arabian, and Tartar conquests swept over these lands in succeeding centuries, none of the later conquerors has been able wholly to eradicate the influence of Greek culture, nor to exterminate that element of population which was of Greek blood.
Thus it becomes clear that when, nearly seven hundred years ago, the night of Turkish oppression began to settle down upon the Near East, the Greeks who were caught beneath the Turkish darkness were not merely the inhabitants of Greece itself, but were also those several million Greeks who had been settled for more than a thousand years in Asia Minor. This fact has played a decisive part in the recent history of both Turkey and Greece.
To understand the modern history of the Greeks, Western readers will have to get one idea clearly in mind—an idea that will probably astonish most of them. This is, that the modern Greek thinks no more about the Greece of the Classical Age than we do. The modern Greek shares our veneration of that golden epoch of the human intellect, but it is just as remote to him, and just as unrelated to the immediate interests of his life, as it is to us. Until six years ago no modern Greek ever dreamed, of reconstituting Athens as the permanent capital of the Greek world. On the contrary, every Greek in the world shared a passionate devotion to the ideal of re-erecting the ancient Byzantine Empire in its prime of glory as of, let us say, the Ninth Century, with Byzantium (Constantinople) as its capital. Not to the Parthenon at Athens, but to the Santa Sofia at Constantinople, did his mingled emotions of religion and political greatness yearn with a burning zeal. If this animating principle be kept firmly in mind the whole course of Greek political aspirations in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries becomes clear.
The Greek War of Independence, which came to a successful conclusion in 1832, affected less than one half of the Greeks in the Turkish Empire. It did not bring freedom to the Greeks of Macedonia and Thrace, of Crete and the Aegean Islands, nor to the more than two million Greeks in Asia Minor and Constantinople. For ninety-five years following the War of Independence, down to the destruction of Smyrna in 1922, the consuming ambition of the Kingdom of Greece, shared by the "unredeemed Greeks" of Asia Minor and the islands, was the liberation of this majority of the Greek race. Along with this ambition went the desire to control the territory over which all these Greeks were scattered.
When I arrived in Constantinople as American Ambassador in 1913 the second Balkan War had just come to a close. My two and one half years at the Embassy there not only gave me an intimate knowledge of Turkey and the Turks, but of the Greeks in Turkey as well. To my astonishment I then learned that the Greeks comprised a considerable percentage of the population of the Turkish Empire. In Constantinople alone there were between three hundred and four hundred thousand permanent Greek residents. They were one of the strongest elements of the population. I learned that, not only in Constantinople, but also throughout Asia Minor, the Greeks largely controlled the banking, the shipping, and the general mercantile business. Some of the Greeks in Constantinople were among the most brilliant and cultivated people I have ever met anywhere in the world. Highly educated, fluent linguists, and very prosperous, they would have adorned any society. Some of them were the only non-diplomatic residents of Constantinople who were admitted into the diplomatic social circles.
I found that the Greeks, like various other non-Mohammedans, occupied a peculiar legal status in Turkey, for which there is no parallel in any European country. They constituted a separate legal community, and exercised all community rights for themselves. They organized and supported their own schools. This peculiar status arose from the theocratic nature of the Turkish Government. To the Turkish mind, civil government and religious government are inseparably intertwined, the civil government deriving its sanctions and its authority from the Mohammedan religion. Consequently, the Turk has always regarded the non-Mohammedan minorities as being simply other religious communities. The Turkish Government has dealt with them as such. Therefore, the Metropolitan, or chief bishop of the Orthodox Greek Church, was officially recognized by the Turkish Government as the head of the Greek community. He was held responsible for the orderly behavior of his co-religionists, and for their obedience to Turkish laws.
When I came to Constantinople the revolutionary Committee of Union and Progress—better known to the world as the Young Turks—was in control of the government. They had deposed the former Sultan, Abdul Hamidj and had placed upon his throne Abdul's brother, Mohammed. Utterly incompetent and hopelessly weak, Mohammed was ruler merely in name. The real power was exercised by the Young Turks, whose outstanding conspirators were Enver, Talaat, and Djemal. Their men had set up the machinery of a sham constitutional government, including a parliament of two houses, a senate, and an assembly. The Greek community had representatives in this body. It was of no advantage to them, however, as the parliament had no real authority.
As a result of the two Balkan Wars the relations between the Turks and the Greeks were considerably strained in 1913. The first Balkan War (in which an alliance of Greece, Serbia, and Bulgaria had decisively defeated Turkey) had resulted in the lopping off from the Turkish Empire of Albania, Macedonia, and Thrace, leaving Turkey only a few miles of European territory just north of Constantinople. This disaster had followed close upon the almost equally disastrous war between Italy and Turkey in 1911, wherein Italy wrested Tripolitania from Turkey. I could readily understand the bitter feelings harbored by the Turks. They were being pushed out of one after another of their possessions, and were beginning to be fearful of being crowded to complete extinction as a nation. The instinct of self-preservation was aroused within them. They hated with a deadly hatred all Italians, Bulgarians, "Serbs, and Greeks. They yearned for an opportunity to strike back and take vengeance for their losses and humiliations.
The Greeks were the only one of these hated races within striking distance of Turkish vengeance. The Greeks alone had a considerable body of their population living within the Turkish borders. It was-deplorable, but by no means unnatural, that they should speedily become objects of petty persecution where-ever they happened to be living in Turkey.
They became also objects of official suspicion on the part of the Turkish Government. That government was concerned with more than mere revenge. It was fighting for the life of Turkey as an independent nation. Recently deprived of many of its richest territories, Turkey was menaced with other losses at the hands of ambitious neighbors. Its capital, Constantinople (now within sight of enemy guns), had been coveted by Russia since the time of Peter the Great, and by Greece for many centuries before that.
Thus, the Young Turk government had reason enough to be fearful of the future. But the Young Turks had friends who took pains to increase their fears. These friends were the German Ambassador at Constantinople and the German army officers who had been brought in to organize and train the Turkish Army. It developed later that the German Ambassador and the German officers were already feverishly engaged in paving the way for the World War that broke out in the following year. They were scheming for Turkish cooperation in that conflict.
I have explained the German plan at length elsewhere. Briefly, it was to use Turkey and Bulgaria during the impending war for the purpose of wholly segregating Russia from her Western allies. After the war Bulgaria and Turkey were to be made into tributary states, forming the opened corridor of German expansion through to Mesopotamia and India. In working out the details of this scheme Germany had foreseen that the presence of large bodies of recalcitrant Greeks and Armenians within the Turkish Empire would constitute a serious military difficulty. In the excitement and confusion of war, these minorities would be strongly tempted to organize into hostile armies threatening the German-Turkish lines of communication. Even if they did not carry their hostilities so far as this, they would almost certainly use their knowledge of the country to act as spies for the benefit of Turkey's enemies. Especially could they be dangerous along the coasts of Asia Minor, both to the north on the Black Sea, and to the west on the Aegean, where the Germans had planned to establish submarine bases. The majority of the inhabitants in the cities and towns on these coasts were Greeks. For the foregoing reasons, the German agents in Constantinople did everything in their power to heighten the fears of the Turkish Government and to incite it to violence against the Greeks and Armenians.
Already in the early spring of 1914 the Young Turks were scheming and preparing to go to war with Greece. They were not going to submit calmly to the dissection of their nation. To defend themselves, they were determined to take the offensive. It soon became evident that they had been advised that, in anticipation of their entering the Great War, it was essential to remove the Greeks from the seashores. Consequently, they began a systematic petty persecution of the Greeks in the coast towns, with the purpose of so frightening and discommoding them as to induce them to move out. The results of their reign of terror were apparent, to those of us who lived in Constantinople. Whenever we passed the Greek Consulate we could see a throng of excited Greeks besieging its doors in an effort to get passports to leave the country. Our friends among the wealthy Greeks told me they were removing their valuables from the country; and they repeated to me endless stories of the persecutions and hardships of their less fortunate brethren. The Greek Metropolitan told us something of his difficulties. The poor man was in a truly tragic position. Appeals to him, as the head of the Greek community, poured in by the thousands from every part of Turkey. He had attempted to obtain redress from the Turkish Government, but had been met with rebuffs and insults. Only too plainly he perceived that the sufferings of his followers were more than the result of sporadic outbursts of local patriotism: they were the result of a systematic policy emanating from the government at Constantinople itself.
Intolerable as the government was making it for the Greeks in the coast towns, the Greeks were not leaving their homes fast enough to suit the Turks. More strenuous measures were therefore adopted, and the atrocious murder of fifty Greeks at Phocaea followed. The Phocaea incident brought the designs of the Turks out into the open, and made it evident to all that a war between Turkey and Greece was practically inevitable. The Young Turks realized that in such a war they could not attack Greece by way of the traditional route through Thrace and Macedonia. Both Bulgaria and Serbia might join Greece to bar the way. To succeed, the attack would have to be launched by sea. The Turkish Navy and the Greek Navy were so evenly matched that the Turks had no assurance of victory on the water.
My office at the American Embassy now became the local scene of a strange and subterranean battle for the control of the Aegean Sea. I have once before told this incident in print, and I cannot do better than quote it here from my Ambassador Morgenthau's Story:
... early in June, I received a most agitated visitor. This was Djemal Pasha, the Turkish Minister of Marine and one of the three men who then dominated the Turkish Empire. I have hardly ever seen a man who appeared more utterly worried than was Djemal on this occasion. As he began talking excitedly to my interpreter in French, his whiskers trembling with his emotions and his hands wildly gesticulating, he seemed to be almost beside himself. I knew enough French to understand what he was saying, and, the news which he brought—this was the first I had heard of it— sufficiently explained his agitation. The American Government, he said, was negotiating with Greece for the sale of two battleships, the Idaho and the Mississippi. He urged that I should immediately move to prevent any such sale. His attitude was that of a suppliant; he begged, he implored that I should intervene. All along, he said, the Turks regarded the United States as their best friend; I had frequently expressed my desire to help them; well, here was the chance to show our good feeling. The fact that Greece and Turkey were practically on the verge of war, said Djemal, really made the sale of the ships an un-neutral act. Still, if the transaction were purely a commercial one, Turkey would like a chance to bid. "We will pay more than Greece," he added. He ended with a powerful plea that I should at once cable my government about the matter, and this I promised to do.
Evidently the clever Greeks had turned the tables on their enemy. Turkey had rather too baldly advertised her intention of attacking Greece as soon as she had received her dreadnaughts. Both the ships for which Greece was now negotiating were immediately available for battle! The Idaho and Mississippi were not indispensable ships for the American Navy; they could not take their place in the first line of battle; they were powerful enough, however, to drive the whole Turkish Navy from the Aegian. Evidently the Greeks did not intend politely to postpone the impending war until the Turkish dreadnaughts had been finished. Djemal's point, of course, had no legal validity. However great the threat of war might be, Turkey and Greece were still actually at peace. Clearly Greece had just as much right to purchase warships in the United States as Turkey had to purchase them in Brazil or England. . . .
To Djemal and the other Turkish officials who kept pressing me I suggested that their ambassador in Washington should take up the matter directly with the President. They acted on this advice, but the Greeks again got ahead of them. At two o'clock, June 2ad, the Greek charge d'affaires at Washington and Commander Tsouklas, of the Greek Navy, called upon the President and arranged the sale. As they left the President's office, the Turkish Ambassador entered— just fifteen minutes too late!
Djemal treated his failure in the negotiations for the American battleships as a personal defeat and humiliation. His anger could not, of course, find any outlet upon me. It could, however, be turned upon the Greeks who lived in Turkey. Djemal was the most relentless of the group of desperate leaders of the Young Turks. Realizing that the Turkish Navy was now outmatched, and that Turkey would have to give up the idea of open war with the Greeks to recover the Aegean Islands, Djemal's implacable hatred took a new direction. At his insistence the Turkish Government began the deliberate effort to remove all Greeks from, the seashores of Asia Minor;—that I have mentioned above—and to molest them in other ways.
These Greeks were completely at the mercy of the Turks. The Greek Government was impotent to help them. Whole settlements of Greeks in Asia Minor were rounded up by the Turkish troops, were loaded like cattle on to ships and deported from the country. On shipboard these Greeks were treated with the greatest brutality. They were given neither food nor water—in some cases for such long periods of time that their tongues clove to the roofs of their mouths. En route to Greece the ships called at the Island of Prinkipo, in the Sea of Marmora. Notwithstanding the terrible sufferings of the refugees on board, the Greek residents of Prinkipo were not permitted to do anything to help their brethren on these ships, which were anchored within sight and sound of the shore.
I came into intimate contact with this whole problem through the Greek Metropolitan at Constantinople. Powerless to be of any assistance to his fellow countrymen, he appealed to me for help for them. I sent a boat to Prinkipo with barrels of water and boxes of crackers, with instructions to distribute them to the distressed refugees.
The Prinkipo incident was so flagrant and was so obviously approved by the Turkish authorities that it dispelled any lingering doubts I might have had that an organized effort was being made to frighten the Greeks out of Turkey. This incident had the same effect upon the minds of the Greeks themselves, and many of the leading Greek bankers and merchants of Constantinople left Turkey with their families, many of them removing to Athens and Paris.
The World War broke out shortly after the Prinkipo incident. The Greeks in Turkey were now more alarmed than ever. The Greek Government was a traditional friend of Great Britain's, and Great Britain was now at war with Turkey's military advisers, the Germans. The Greek inhabitants of the Turkish Empire were therefore more than ever under the suspicion of the Turkish rulers. The stream of Greeks besieging the consulate with applications for passports to leave the country now became a veritable deluge.
The Greek inhabitants of Turkey were, of course, citizens of the empire, and, as such, were liable to military duty. Not unnaturally, they were regarded by the Turks as unreliable soldiers in the Turkish Army. Consequently, they were not permitted to bear arms. Those who had the means to do so were coerced into buying exemption from military service at the rate of about forty English pounds per capita. The less affluent Greeks—who, of course, comprised the great majority—being unable to purchase exemption, were enrolled in so-called "labor battalions" and were put to work at menial tasks under the direction of Turkish officers. They built military roads, erected barracks, and performed other tasks of manual labor behind the lines. They were subjected to iron discipline, as the Turks regarded every Greek as a potential traitor, insurrectionist, and spy.
I would be the last person to condone the Turkish brutality toward the Greek labor battalions—for the Turks, undoubtedly with deliberate intention, so overworked and underfed these men as to cause the death of several hundred thousand of them. Nevertheless, it is only fair to the Turks to say that they were largely justified in their fears that the Greeks would have availed themselves of any opportunity to hamper Turkish military efficiency.
After the World War had been in progress for two years Venizelos took Greece into the war on the side of the Allies. From that moment onward the Turks no longer treated their Greek citizens as merely potential traitors, but began to treat them as avowed enemies, and to make their lives miserable in every possible way. I was besought upon scores of occasions to use my influence with the Turkish Government to help Greek individuals and Greek communities out of critical difficulties with the Turks. Happily, I was able on a good many occasions to be of real service to these distressed people.
The ending of the World War, with the incidental complete defeat of the Turks, by no means ended the troubles of the Greeks. The Kingdom of Greece, to be sure, would inevitably gain great advantages when the terms of the peace settlement were finally written. The Greek inhabitants of Turkey, however, were left in little better state than they had been before. Indeed, as will appear shortly, the extraordinary success of Venizelos at the Paris Peace Conference, in securing for Greece exceptional advantages in the peace terms there, eventually operated indirectly to bring overwhelming disaster upon the Greeks in Turkey.
The conference at Paris did not include the Turkish problem in the peace settlement. The Allies, themselves, had too many conflicting interests involved in the Near East to permit an immediate agreement. Consequently, that whole subject was laid aside for separate treatment after the Versailles Treaty should be out of the way.
Even during the peace conference, however, the Turkish problem could not be kept submerged. The Italians were determined to gain special advantage from the dismemberment of the Turkish Empire, and Greece was only little less anxious to do so. Italy announced her claims and proceeded to overt acts. Italian troops seized the port of Adalia, the key to southwestern Asia Minor, which Italy coveted. The Greeks protested that this move was intended solely to anticipate their "own claim in Asia Minor. President Wilson attacked the Italian move so vigorously that Premier Orlando for a time withdrew from the conference. President Wilson now announced his support of the long-debated claim of Greece to the possession of Smyrna, Aidin, and the Ionian coast. Partly to block further the Italian aggression, and partly to protect the Greek inhabitants of Asia Minor from the fury of the vanquished Turks, President Wilson now consented that the Greeks be invited to send an army of occupation to police this region until the Powers could finally agree on its ultimate disposition,
Apparently, President Wilson's theory in proposing this move was that the nearest friendly troops were the Greek divisions in Macedonia, and that prompt action was necessary to protect the Christians of the Smyrna district. Winston Churchill has only recently asserted that the American missionaries in Smyrna added their warnings against this move to the warnings of the British Foreign Office and British General Staff, declaring that it was fraught with the gravest dangers, not only to the Greek Army itself, but to the Christian population of Ionia as well. In any event, Lloyd George cordially approved President Wilson's proposal, Clemenceau offered no objections, and the occupation was ordered and quickly accomplished. Greek troops landed at Smyrna under the protecting fire of Greek battleships, killed a number of Turkish soldiers retreating from the city, and quickly occupied advanced positions in the hinterland.
Churchill has described vividly the bewilderment and alarm with which he heard the news of this action. He had made a special study of the Turkish problem in both its military and political aspects. He was convinced that the Greek Army would eventually meet with disaster in the exceedingly difficult mountainous interior of Asia Minor. But he was even more alarmed, he declares, at the political complications that would be engendered. The defeated Turks were growing restive. Constantinople was strongly held by the Allies with their fleets in the Bosphorus, but the dwindling Allied armies retained only a few precarious footholds in Asia Minor, where most of the Turks lived. This half-savage warrior race was already angry enough at its military defeat, but to have a part of its very homeland occupied by Greeks, whom it regarded with age-long hatred and contempt, fanned resentment to active fury.
The results that Churchill foresaw actually came to pass. The Turks felt that their very existence was now threatened, and they resorted to desperate measures. Mustapha Kemal, the ablest officer the Turks had had during the war, now emerged as the political and military leader of an organized movement to defy the whole world, if necessary, to preserve a Turkish nation in Asia Minor. Withdrawing from Constantinople, and setting up headquarters in the mountain fastnesses at Angora, a group of determined Turkish leaders issued a manifesto to the world, in which they declared that Turkey would fight to the death of her last man to preserve Turkish nationality.
This was the beginning of the Turkish Nationalist State, which has persisted to the present day. Kemal rapidly organized an efficient army and proceeded to recapture the ammunition "dumps" of arms laid down when Turkey had capitulated the year before. The Greek Army in Ionia was soon confronted with the menace of a well-equipped Turkish army waiting only for a favorable opportunity to join battle.
Meanwhile, in 1920, the Allies gathered at the Conference of Sevres to thresh out the peace settlement for Turkey.
Before discussing the Sevres Conference, however, I should go back a moment to the decision at the Paris Conference to have the Greek Army occupy Ionia. Quite independently of Churchill, I came to the same conclusion he had reached, for I, too, was intimately familiar with the Turkish problem from my residence in Constantinople in the first years of the war. I told Henry White, one of the American peace commissioners, my views on the subject. I once before described this incident and| quote what I then printed:
"When discussing with Henry White the Greek invasion of Smyrna, I told him that the Greeks were making a mistake and that they would be drawn into a tedious struggle with the Turks. They would have to draw-heavily on their resources and on their people's patience, which would be severely strained if, as I feared, the war lasted for years. White was deeply impressed.
"I want you to tell that to Venizelos," he said.
He knew everybody, and his bringing people together was not the least of his services to our Commission. He invited the Greek Premier to his rooms in the Crillon, and there I repeated my opinion.
"I told him in great detail the changes that had taken place in Turkey since the beginning of the war, and described to him the characters of the men that were now in power. I also explained to him the great importance they put on retaining possession of the Port of Smyrna, now that they had lost most of their other ports on the Mediterranean, I felt certain that they would draw the Grecian Army back into their hinterland, and away from their base of supplies, and then would continue to fight them by legitimate, or even guerrilla, methods, until they exhausted them. I reminded him how the Turks not only forbade their own people to employ Greeks, but even insisted that the American firms could not use Grecian workmen to collect the licorice root, or the Singer Manufacturing Company continue to have Greeks in charge of their Turkish agencies. I also alluded to the difficulties of governing Smyrna from Athens, as Constantinople would divide their country, and the cost of administration would be beyond the present and prospective resources of Greece, and, finally, I reminded him that they would antagonize Italy and said: "You know better than I do what that means for Greece." Venizelos listened patiently to my elaboration of this theme.
"Perhaps we have acted too hastily," he said, "and if all you say is true, it may have been unwise for us to send an army into Smyrna, but now that the army is there, it would be more unwise to withdraw it—to do so would admit military and court political defeat. The Monarchists are plotting constantly against me in Athens, and they are backed by the merchants and shipping men who are over-ambitious and want new territory for their operations."
The conference at Sevres finally worked out a treaty of peace, which everybody signed. It satisfied nobody. Turkey was to be dismembered and left with no territory to call her own except the interior of Asia Minor and the city of Constantinople. The independent Republic of Armenia was erected to the east; Mesopotamia and Palestine were put under British mandate, Syria and Cilicia under French mandate, and to Italy was assigned Adalia and its hinterland. Smyrna and Ionia were held by the Greeks, pending further discussion of their eventual disposition.
The relations between Turkey and Greece now moved rapidly toward a tragic conclusion. The Turkish Nationalists announced they would never accept the Treaty of Sevres, and bent all their energies toward getting their army into condition to defend their country. They were also determined to seize the first opportunity to drive the Greeks out of Ionia.
At this juncture, when Greece had the greatest need of the genius of Venizelos, that far-sighted statesman was overwhelmingly defeated in the Greek general election in the fall of 1920. His Royalist enemies in Greece were almost as much astonished at the result of this election as Venizelos himself. Immediately, however, they hastened to take vengeance on his adherents. Their first act upon organizing their government was to repeal the decree of exile against Constantine, and to recall him to Athens to resume his throne.
Reinstated in power, Constantine pursued his advantage by removing from command all the officers of the Greek Army who owed their positions to Venizelos. It so happened that these officers were by far the most experienced commanders amongst the Greeks. They were replaced by favorites of Constantine. The most grotesque example of this favoritism was his appointment of General Hadjanestes to the supreme command of the army of occupation in Ionia. This was the most important command in the army at the moment. The Greek troops in Ionia were operating in a most difficult country in the presence of a skilful and implacable enemy. General Hadjanestes, upon whom was placed the terrific responsibility of guiding this army in its precarious situation, was notoriously a nervous wreck at the time Constantine appointed him.
Early in 1921 representatives of the British, French, and Italian governments met in London to reconsider and revise the impossible Treaty of Sevres. The London Conference worked out a set of tentative proposals for a revision of that treaty. These proposals were indignantly rejected by the Greeks. Constantine now thought he saw an opportunity to eclipse the glory that Venizelos had gained by his acquisition of Ionia. He thought he saw an opportunity to drive the Turks out of Asia Minor and to assert Greek sovereignty over the whole of that country. He accordingly committed the supreme folly of ordering a general offensive against the Turkish Nationalist position. The Greeks were defeated in this attack, and Constantine left Athens and took personal command of the army in Asia Minor on June nth. He left Greece hailed by the government-inspired press as Emperor-Designate of Constantinople, thus vaingloriously appealing to the traditional ambition of the Greek nation to reconstruct the Byzantine Empire.
The Turkish military commanders in Asia Minor now followed the strategy that I had foreseen in Paris three years before. The Turks retired before the Greek advance, permitting the Greek Army to capture difficult mountain passes with only feeble resistance. Thus the Turks lured the Greeks farther and farther into the difficult mountains just west of Angora. The Greek line of communications was thus extended until Greece's army was barely able to maintain its supplies from the coast. Then, one day in August, the Turkish Army, in accordance with its long-meditated plan of action, attacked the Greek Army on the banks of the Sakkaria River. The Greek Army was compelled to withdraw westward until it could reform its lines on a continuous front about four days' march east of Smyrna.
Then followed a year of international negotiation. The conflicting ambitions of the Allied Powers regarding the future of Asia Minor resulted in some of the most disgusting intrigues in modern history. Of these, two were especially disgraceful. The first was the so-called Franklin-Bouillon Agreement, arrived at between France and the Turkish Nationalist Government. This agreement was signed on October 20, 1921, at Angora, by Kemal for the Turks and by Franklin-Bouillon for the French. It was dictated by the greed of French capitalists seeking concessions from the Turks for railways and commercial privileges. In exchange, the French shamefully deserted their support of the Greeks, whom in 1919 they (along with Great Britain and the United States) had invited to take over the military occupation of Asia Minor. Not only did the French withdraw their moral support from the Greeks and transfer their friendship to the Turks, but they "abandoned" great quantities of French ammunition in Asia Minor—practically making a present to the Turks of munitions of war with which to destroy their former allies, the Greeks.
Italy, like France, deserted her Greek ally. During the Paris Conference the Italians had entered the southern coast of Asia Minor at Adalia, and were still in possession there whilst the Greeks were operating against the Turks from Smyrna as a base. While this Greek campaign was in progress it soon became notorious to military observers of all nations that the Turks were being continually supplied with ammunition "bootlegged" to them from the Italian base at Adalia. Italy's ambitions with regard to Asia Minor were stronger than her sense of duty to an ally. Italy already occupied the Dodecanese Islands off the coast of Asia Minor, and the peninsula itself has long been an object of Italy's scheme of colonial expansion. To have remained faithful to the Greek alliance would have been to help Greece eventually to become the owner of Asia Minor. On the other hand, to have helped Turkey to repel the Greeks was to weaken both of Italy's rivals. The temptation was too strong for Italy to withstand it.
Greece was almost hopelessly weakened, not only by the active betrayal of France and Italy, but as well by the inactivity and indifference of Great Britain, her third ally. The United States likewise shared in this disgrace. The request that Greece should occupy Smyrna and police the Ionian shore was initiated by President Wilson. It implied the assistance of all four of the Great Powers, including the United States. But in 1926, following the victory of the Republican Party in our national election, the United States rejected practically all the commitments of the Wilson Administration. They gave not the slightest regard to the fulfillment of our arrangement with Greece, which was part of the general scheme of ending the war. We precipitately retired from the scene, and so far as we were concerned left Greece to her fate.
This fate speedily descended upon the Greeks in the most terrible form. Following the year of futile negotiations among the European Powers, the Turks attacked the Greek Army in Asia Minor, defeated it decisively, and put it to ignominious rout. Two weeks later, on September 9, 1922, the Turks entered Smyrna. Then followed the orgy of looting, outrage, massacre, and burning, which desolated the city. The Turks segregated all the able-bodied Greek men of mature age and drove them into the interior of Asia Minor, where practically every one of them died of starvation, forced labor, or assassination. The old men, the women, and the children were herded upon any kind of craft that was available and without more ado were shipped (to the number of several hundred thousand) to the mainland of Greece and to the Aegean Islands under Greek sovereignty. The sudden enforced exodus of this vast number of people, all unexpectedly uprooted from their ties of home and occupation, all of them completely impoverished, and all of them thrown chaotically upon Greek soil without any regard to their future welfare, marks the beginning of the refugee problem in its most acute stage.