Turkey wipes out traces of Greek civilization in Smyrna

Even 97 years later, the Turkish government continues trying to cover up its role in the fire and the slaughter of Greeks and Armenians

On June 21, Turkish media reported that the Saint-Jean Theologos Greek Girls School in Smyrna, now known as Izmir, which has been empty since the extermination of the city’s Greek Christians in 1922, was plundered, its doors and windows removed and its valuables looted. The historic building, now owned by Turkish Undersecretariat of the Treasury, has mostly been used by homeless drug addicts.

Today, the school no longer has Greek students or teachers. For 97 years ago, the 3,000-year Greek presence was erased from the city through what is known as the 1922 Great Fire of Smyrna.

The Greek culture, however, was not a foreign way of life in Asia Minor. The region was predominantly Greek before Turkic people began to invade it in the 11th century.

Asia Minor and Smyrna have enormous importance for Hellenism and Christianity. The Metropolis of Smyrna, an ecclesiastical territory (diocese) of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, retained its ecclesiastical autonomy until 1922. Smyrna was also one of the Seven Churches spoken of by St. John in the biblical book of Revelation. Janene Keeth, a scholar of Christian education, wrote that “Smyrna has been described as the most beautiful of the seven cities. Presumably, this church was founded during Paul’s ministry in Ephesus (Acts 19:10).”

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