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Elefterios Venizelos (cont'd)

The opposition won the election and Venizelos was removed from power.  The monarchist also won the plebiscite which called on the return of the King.   As a result of the removal from power of  Venizelos, and the return of the King Constantine to Greece nations that once supported Greece now turned their back on Greece. 

The opposition did not keep their promise to the Greek people instead they continued the war with Turkey.  The king removed the officers in the army who were loyal to Venizelos, replacing them with officers that were loyal to himself destroying the moral of the army.  What Venizelos had managed to win in two years of war King Constantine managed to lose in only a few months.  The army worn out,  with low morale and ammunitions had no chance against the Turks who were supported by many countries throughout the world.  On the outskirts of Ankara, at Afion Karahisar and Sagaria the Greek army was totally destroyed by the Turkish Army. 

On September 9th, 1922 the Turkish army entered Smyrna and burned the Greek and Armenian sections to the ground.  It is estimated that over 100 000 defenseless civilians were killed at Smyrna by the Turkish army in that three day period that followed.  Allied warships stood idly by as the people were massacred before their eyes in the harbor.  American consular documents from that time period indicate that the Turkish brutality was so barbaric that the surrounding water of Smyrna turned red from the tens of thousands that were slaughtered and thrown into the harbor. 

The result was the greatest disaster ever for the Greek people, "The Asia Minor disaster". The Asia Minor disaster results in the uprooting and forced expulsion of the Greek populations that have lived in Asian Turkey, and Eastern Thrace for over three thousand years. Hundreds of thousands of Greeks are slaughtered during this time period, including 350 000 in the Pontus region, and 1.5 million Greek refugees arrive in Greece.

Elefterios Venizelos is then elected to power once again in Greece replacing the king.  This time he takes on a defeated  nation that is under the huge economic strain of over a million refugees.  Elefterios Venizelos once signing treaties expanding Greek territory now signs the humiliating treaty of Laussane.  Turkish demands are at a maximum, Greece returns all the territory in Asia Minor, Eastern Thrace, and the islands of Imvros and Tenedos.   All the populations that are "Orthodox Christian" are forced to leave Turkey.

Venizelos was prime minister of Greece for a short period after the disaster,  this period was unlike his previous periods as prime minister.  This last time period as prime minister was a time of instability, and constant threat of revolution.

 

Directly Related:

Article on the Asia Minor Disaster (by the New York Times) A great disaster for Hellenism, the forced expulsion and murder of millions of Greeks in Turkey in the early 20th century.
The Balkan Wars During these wars that occurred in the early 20th century Greece managed to double its' territory and population.

 

Other Modern Greeks:

  • Rigas Feraios A national Greek hero and poet during the Ottoman occupation. He is considered the first martyr in the war for Greek independence!
  • Alexandros Ypsilantis A national Greek hero who died fighting for Greece's freedom far from Greece, but whose sacrifice helped to liberate it.
  • Paulos Melas A national Greek hero who fought for the preservation of Hellenism in Macedonia in the early 20th century.
  • Ioannes Capodistrias First Prime Minister and hero of modern Greece.  He managed to do the impossible by bringing a devastated country back into modern Europe in the shortest possible time!  
  • Dimitrios Ypsilantis Hero of the war of Independence, he was the brother of Alexandros Ypsilantis and was chosen by him to lead the uprising in the Greek mainland against the Ottoman Empire.  
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