Petros Tatanis: Concerns for the "Patrida"

By Stavros T. Stavridis

Petros P. Tatanis, the publisher of the Greek American newspaper National Herald (Ethnikos Kyrix), sent an interesting telegram to US President Warren Harding on October 7, 1922 regarding the plight of the Christian population in Eastern Thrace. This telegram is best understood within the context of the Mudania conference taking place in early October 1922 between Allied Generals and Kemalists establishing armistice terms between the Greek and Turkish armies. The Mudania convention eventually paved the way for the Lausanne peace conference held in late November 1922 – February 1923 and resuming again in April – July 1923.

Some comments are in order regarding Tatanis’s telegram. Tatanis understood that the armistice conditions would mean the Allied powers-Britain, France and Italy- handing Eastern Thrace from Greek administration over to the Kemalists. This would eventually result in the flight of thousands of Christians taking whatever movable property they could physically carry with them onto Greek soil. It must be remembered that Greece was already facing a monumental refugee problem with the influx of many thousands of refugees from Asia Minor. The American Red Cross and Near East Relief faced the herculean task of feeding, clothing and sheltering these poor destitute refugees over the coming months. These American organisations fulfilled their humanitarian task with dedication and compassion in assisting the Greek State and the refugees of Asia Minor and Eastern Thrace during the troubled years of 1922-23.

Tatanis also mentioned an appeal made by Eleftherios Venizelos that was published in the New York Times. The press article titled “ Venizelos Seeks Our Intercession" asks Harvey to cable Washington urging the Allies to occupy Thrace. "Sends Athens His Terms. Won’t represent New Government unless it yields Greek claim to Eastern Thrace” appeared on the front page of the New York Times on October 5, 1922. According to this news item, it quoted Venizelos as stating that “ he was [trying] to enlist the moral support of America in the work of saving the minorities about to come under Turkish rule. He did not expect America to take military action, but he urged that she could do much to help by other methods.”

Venizelos was an astute politician who understood clearly the Turkish nationalists pressing home their military advantage in wanting to occupy Eastern Thrace. He did not want to see the Christian populations of Eastern Thrace suffering the same terrible fate as had befallen the Greeks of Asia Minor. Venizelos wanted the Allies to occupy Eastern Thrace for a sufficient period of time to allow the Christians of Eastern Thrace to withdraw with some dignity. The former Greek premier was negotiating from a political and military disadvantage knowing full well that he was helpless to assist his Greek compatriots. He could exercise his diplomatic skills to get the Allies and Americans to restrain the Turks from taking reprisals against the Christians of Eastern Thrace. The Allied powers along with the Americans were not interested in fighting the Kemalists.

Tatanis possibly used the information from the New York Times article to tell Harding that “ as an American citizen of Greek origin” that there was “ an army of 75,000 trained soldiers including myself loyal American citizens who fought in the last world war under our flag ” who were prepared to fight the Kemalists, if the latter mistreated the Christians of Eastern Thrace. Such a proposal would have horrified Harding at a time when the interested stakeholders were concluding an armistice to stop the fighting between the Greek and Turkish forces. Moreover the US Congress would not have approved or supported such a military adventure.

It should also be noted that the New York Times published another front page news story in its October 5th edition titled “ Turks Conciliatory Accept Allied Note Terms in Principle. Agreement on all but one of Kemal’s proposals is now expected. Keeping Peace at Straits. Line of demarcation between opposing forces is agreed upon at Mudania. Turks in Thrace in 30 Days. Allies have promised to turn over the territory to the nationalist army.” This news item would have worried Tatanis too.

As a publisher, he could use the columns of the National Herald to appeal to his countrymen, even if they were American citizens, to go to the aid of the old homeland (Ellinikh Patrida) to assist their Greek compatriots.

In conclusion Tatanis was sincere in his desire to fight the Kemalists, if they ill-treated the Christians of Eastern Thrace. His telegram also reveals the close links that still existed between the old and New World.

(Source: National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the Department of State relating to political relations between Turkey and other States 1910-1929, M363)

Stavros T.Stavridis, Historian/Researcher, National Center for Hellenic Studies and Research, Latrobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia email

(Posted originally October 2005; reformatted March 2007)

About the Author

Stavros Terry Stavridis was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1949 of Greek parents. He migrated to Australia with his parents in September 1952. Stavros has a Bachelor of Arts (B.A) in Political Science/Economic History and B.A (Hons) in European History from Deakin University and M.A in Greek/Australian History from RMIT University. His MA thesis is titled "The Greek-Turkish War 1919-23: an Australian Press Perspective."

Stavros has nearly 20 years of teaching experience, lecturing at University and TAFE (Technical and Further Education, the equivalent of Community College in the US) levels. He has presented papers at international conferences in Australia and USA and has also given public lectures both in Australia and on the West Coast of the US. Many of his articles have appeared in the Greek-American press. He currently works as a historical researcher at the National Center for Hellenic Studies and Research, Latrobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia.

Stavros' research interests are the Asia Minor campaign and disaster, Middle Eastern history, the Assyrian and Armenian genocides, Greece in the Balkan Wars 1912-13 and the First World War and history in general.

Readers interested in the works of Stavridies may read more of his fine articles posted on HCS at the URL

Read More About the Greeks of Asia Minor

HCS maintains a permanent, extensive archives of articles which readers are invited to browse. For more information about Smyrna or Asia Minor Greeks, see the webpage located at the URL

2000 © Hellenic Communication Service, L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.