This is the second in a series of articles and items commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Smyrna holocaust in Asia Minor. In the 70s, Demetrios I. Archigenes compiled a series of eyewitness accounts of the tragedy, oral accounts which had been collected in prior decades. The result is a collection of stunningly vivid recollections of the terrible experiences of Greeks in Asia Minor during the "catastrophia" or holocaust. Published privately in Athens in 1973, "Martyries apo te Mikrasiatike katastrophe," or "Eyewitness Accounts of the Asia Minor Catastrophe," is not widely available in the U.S., nor have we located any English translation. In honor of the memory of those who have perished, we offer an English translation and adaptation of one of these eyewitness accounts by Mr. George Tsoubariotis. Comments in parentheses represent explanatory notes of the original editor. Notes in brackets are those of the translator, Mary Papoutsy, who assumes responsibility for any errors.

Second Witness

George Tsoubariotis

George Tsoubariotis, born in 1911 in Smyrna, the parish of St. Nicholas. In 1971 when he was 60 years old and a resident of the Nicaea district of Piraeus, he reported to us certain facts.

We didn't have enough time to flee Smyrna because the Tsetses appeared

In the middle of August (old calendar) 1922, the affairs of Smyrna took a turn for the worse. People were afraid and fled with boats and caiques for free Greece, to places where they had friends and relatives. So, my father, too, decided to flee with us to Rhodes, because my mother was from there.

On Tuesday, the 22nd of August (4th September, new calendar) 1922, my mother left first, on a boat of an Italian line, "Lloyd-Triestino," to go see with which of her relatives we could stay. We others, in other words, my father, my sister, and I, we would leave on Saturday, the 24th of August (9 September, new calendar) 1922, because they told us that on that day a ship from the same line would come and then head for Rhodes.

Saturday arrived and we prepared for the trip. Our house was located in the district of St. Nicholas, next to the Karakoli (police station). It's the furthest precinct of Smyrna. In order for us to descend to the quay, we had to walk nearly one hour on foot.

As soon as we reached the quay, where the "Pasaporti" was (the office for passports on the pier), we didn't see any boat docked. Certain houses had red flags. And in front of Cafe Photi we saw that a cavalry unit with more red flags was stopped. Then we understood that the evil which we had feared, had occurred, and that we didn't have time to flee. Why the cavalry unit had stopped in front of Cafe Photi, we learned later:

an officer had wanted them to serve him a Turkish coffee. He had vowed that when he reached Smyrna, he would drink it in front of that famous "cafeneion" [Greek for "coffee house"] of the Birindji Kordon (as the Turks call [one of the principal streets along] the quay).

The cavalry unit didn't stir to depart. Out of fear, we huddled close to a building on the quay. A few Romioi [Greeks and westerners, but chiefly referring to Greeks] did the same thing, those who didn't anticipate such evil befalling the city. But when the unit had passed in front of us and headed for the Konaki [Turkish administrative center], we saw that the riders were Tsetses, poorly dressed with pigskin coverings on their feet and swords in their hands. And they were shouting "Korkmayin, Korkmayin!' ("Don't be afraid!") They were indicating that we should show ourselves, because they weren't going to kill anyone. After they had passed, my father took us by hand and, almost at a run, we advanced street by street until we reached our house. Other people had also run with us and were shouting, "the Tsetses, the Tsetes, lock up your houses!"

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