Turkish capture of Smyrna

The Turkish Capture of Smyrna, or the Liberation of İzmir (Turkish: İzmir'in Kurtuluşu) marked the end of the 1919–1922 Greco-Turkish War, and the culmination of the Turkish War of Independence. On 8 September 1922, following the headlong retreat of the Greek army after its defeat at the Battle of Dumlupınar and its evacuation from western Anatolia, the Turkish nationalist forces under the command of Mustafa Kemal Pasha marched into the city of Smyrna (modern İzmir), bringing three years of Greek occupation to an end.[2]

Liberation of İzmir
Part of the Greco-Turkish War (1919–22)
The Turkish Army's entry into Izmir.jpg
Painting of the Turkish Army's entry into Smyrna (located at Anıtkabir)
Date9 September 1922
Location
İzmir, Turkey
Result

Turkish victory

Territorial
changes
Greek withdrawal from Anatolia
Belligerents
Ankara Government Kingdom of Greece Greece
Commanders and leaders
Fahrettin Pasha Aristeidis Stergiadis
Strength
Unknown 40,000 (4 divisions)[1]

Accounts of captureEdit

Accounts of the Turkish entry vary in sources. According to Giles Milton, the first Turkish unit to enter the city on 9 September was a cavalry troop that was met by Captain Thesiger of HMS King George V. Though a tense stand off ensued and a grenade, which failed to explode, was tossed at the feet of the Turkish cavalry officer, the city was quietly delivered to the Nationalist forces (The grenade thrower is also mentioned by George Horton as "some fool threw a bomb", and that the commander of the unit "received bloody cuts about the head."[3]) Grace Williamson, of the city's English Nursing Home, remarked, "What a week we have spent!! I believe there was hardly a bit of trouble, only one silly fellow fired at the officers . . . No shooting in the streets!"[4]

Post-war accounts paint a different picture of the city's capture. General of the Fifth Cavalry Side army Fahrettin Altay claims that on 10 September Turkish forces belonging to the 2nd and the 3rd Cavalry Divisions detained 3,000 Greek soldiers, 50 Greek Officers, and a brigadier commander in the south of the city centre, who were retreating from Aydın.[5] Greek soldier Vasilis Diamantopoulos, who in 1922 was among the units that retreated from Aydın, after the local Greeks and other Christians left the city without their belongings and also burnt their own homes so the Turks wouldn't find them intact,[6] was captured on the 10th of September by the Turkish regular cavalry and revealed that his units' brigadier commander was Zenginis.[7]

Lieutenant Ali Rıza Akıncı, the first Turkish officer to hoist the Turkish flag in Smyrna (present day Izmir) on the 9th of September, claims in his memoirs that his unit of thirteen cavalrymen was ambushed by a volley fire by 30-40 rifles from the Tuzakoğlu factory after being saluted and congratulated by a French Marine platoon in the Halkapınar bridge. This volley of fire killed 3 cavalrymen instantly and fatally wounded another. They were relieved by Captain Şerafettin and his 2 units, which encircled the factory. Moreover, Captain Şerafettin, as well as Lieutenant Ali Rıza Akıncı, were wounded by a grenade thrown by a Greek soldier in front of the Pasaport building. The lieutenant was wounded lightly from his nose and his leg, and his horse from its belly.[8] A monument was later erected on the spot where these cavalrymen were fallen.

 
The Monument of Homeland and Honour and the Tuzakoğlu Flour Factory

Fire in the cityEdit

Just a few days after its capture, a massive fire broke out, consuming the city's Armenian and Greek neighbourhoods. Most scholars believe that the fire was deliberately started by Mustafa Kemal's men, in an effort to accelerate the ethnic cleansing of the last remaining urban Christian community in the Ottoman Empire outside Constantinople. Turkish soldiers carried out atrocities against the local population even as the fire raged, in full view of Allied warships at anchor in the harbour and a number of Western diplomats and journalists. Thousands were killed and many more escaped in the aftermath, as the centuries-long presence of the Greek and Armenian communities was extinguished. The Jewish and Muslim quarters were not damaged in the fire.[9]

LegacyEdit

9 September is a local holiday commemorating the Turkish capture of Smyrna.[10] Dokuz Eylül University (9 September University) is named in honour of it.[11] Mustafa Kemal (later Atatürk), who founded the Republican People's Party, chose 9 September 1923 as the official date of establishment of his party to commemorate the capture.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Greeks surrender Smyrna to Turks after shell fire, New York Times, published September 10, 1922.
  2. ^ Michael Llewellyn Smith, Ionian Vision: Greece in Asia Minor, 1919–1922 (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1973), pp. 293-300.
  3. ^ Horton, George (1926). The Blight of Asia, An Account of the Systematic Extermination of Christian Populations by Mohammedans and of the Culpability of Certain Great Powers; with the True Story of the Burning of Smyrna. Indianapolis, United States of America: Bobbs-Merrill. p. 127.
  4. ^ Milton, Giles. Paradise Lost: Smyrna 1922: the Destruction of Islam's City of Tolerance (London: John Murray Press, 2008), pp. 254-55.
  5. ^ Altay, Fahrettin (1970). Görüb Geçirdiklerim-10 YIL SAVAŞ 1912-1922 VE, SONRASI (in Turkish). İstanbul, Turkey: İnsel Yayınları. pp. 363–364. Bu güzel hayal alemi betti kumandanlıktan acele olarak çağırmaları ile son buldu gittiğimde Mustafa Kemal ile Cephe Kumandanı İsmet Paşa oturuyorlardı bana şu emri verdiler : «— Aydın cihetinden çekilen bir düşman kuvveti Izmire yaklaşarak Kadifekalesine top ateşi açtı. Hazır olan kuvvetleri oraya gönderdik. Diğer kuvvetleri de al oraya git bu DÜŞMANI TEPELE...» Vakit geçirmeden emrin tatbikine geçtim, kurmaylarımı alarak Eşrefpaşa mahallesinin üstüne çıktım. Buradan birliklerime lâzım gelen emirleri gönderdim. 2. Süvari Tümeni KIZILÇULLU zeytinlikleri içinde bu düşmanla çarpışıyordu, getirdiğim kuvvetleri ileri sürdüm düşman bozuldu, bunların karşısından gelen DENİZLİ ÇOLAK İBRAHİM BEY kumandasındaki 3. Süvari Tümenimizle de irtibat hasıl ettikten sonra yaptığımız şiddetli saldırışa karşı dayanamayan düşman teslim bayrağını çekmek zorunda kaldı. Atlara binip ÇEŞME ye doğru kaçanların dışında BİR TUGAY KOMUTANI ile ELLİYE YAKIN SUBAY ve ÜÇ BİN KADAR ASKER esir edildi dört top ile bazı eşya ele geçirildi. Bunlar İzmir e doğru yola çıkarılırken topların başında yazdiğım raporu da gönderdim.
  6. ^ Διαμαντόπουλος, Βασίλης (1977). ΑΙΧΜΑΛΩΤΟΣ ΤΩΝ ΤΟΥΡΚΩΝ (1922-1923) (in Greek). Athens, Greece: Private. pp. 13–14. Άπό την έπομένη, ένώ άκόμη δέν είχε δοθεί καμιά διαταγή γιά σύμπτυξη καί ύποχώρηση, οί έλληνες κάτοικοι της πόλης Άϊδίνι ώς καί άλλοι χριστιανοί, άνέβαιναν στους σιδηροδρομικούς συρμούς πού άναχωρούσαν γιά τή Σμύρνη, παρατώντας στό χώρο του σταθμού τα υπάρχοντά τους καί το χειρότερο βάζοντας φωτιά στα σπίτια των για να μή τα βρουν άκέραια οί τουρκοι. Προσπάθειες στρατιωτικών τμημάτων να σβύσουν τίς πυρκαγιές δεν έφερναν κανένα άποτέλεσμα.
  7. ^ Διαμαντόπουλος, Βασίλης (1977). ΑΙΧΜΑΛΩΤΟΣ ΤΩΝ ΤΟΥΡΚΩΝ (1922-1923) (in Greek). Athens, Greece: Private. p. 38. Ό Ζεγκίνης και οί άλλοι άξιωματικοί που άκουσαν τους πυροβολισμούς καί είδαν τους νεκρους αρχισαν να φωνάζουν. «Παιδιά μή το κάνετε αυτό, μη στενοχωριέστε, ή αιχμαλωσία μας θα είναι λιγοήμερη, θά πάμε στην πατρίδα μας». Πλησίασαν οί τούρκοι καβαλλάρηδες και ή παράδοση σ' αύτούς έγινε κατά ώρα 5 άπογευματινή τής 28ης Αϋγουστου ήμέρα Κυριακή.
  8. ^ Aksoy, Yaşar (2021). İstiklal Süvarisi - İzmir'in Kurtuluşu: Teğmen Ali Riza Akıncı'nın Hatıratı (in Turkish). İstanbul, Turkey: Kırmızı Kedi Yayınevi. pp. 103–109. ISBN 9786052988022.
  9. ^ See Marjorie Housepian Dobkin, Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a City (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971; 2nd ed. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1988); Giles Milton, Paradise Lost: Smyrna, 1922 (New York: Basic Books, 2008).
  10. ^ [1] Turkey’s Izmir marks 97th anniversary of Liberation Day
  11. ^ [2] ABOUT DOKUZ EYLÜL UNIVERSITY