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The Occupation of Izmir (Smyrna) by Greek army, part of the War in Asia Minor, and (in Turkey) a part of the Turkish War of Independence, was a conflict between Greece and Turkey fought in the aftermath of World War I.



Background

After the defeat of the Central Powers in World War I, the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 allocated Smyrna and its hinterland, as well as parts of Eastern Thrace, to the Kingdom of Greece, as formalized by the Treaty of Sèvres.

Active Stage

The city was occupied on May 15th 1919 by Greece. The Greek army then pushed east into Anatolia (Greco-Turkish War), believing that the Turks were weak and leaderless, and expecting support from the Allies. But the Allies did not support them, and under the leadship of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Turks drove them back to the sea. In September, 1922, Smyrna was recaptured by the Turks.

Results

Many Armenians and Greeks were killed when the Turkish army reoccupied Smyrna. Kinross's biography of Kemal Atatürk (1964) refers to the deaths as individual and sporadic and places the total at 2,000; Dobkin's more recent (1972) and more comprehensive study cites the estimate of the U.S. Consul at Smyrna whereby up to 100,000 people may have perished.

Following the Turkish capture of the city, a fire destroyed much of the city. Many Turkish nationalists claim that the withdrawing Greek army started fire as they did in all other cities and villages in western Anatolia, where they passed during the withdrawal. The fact that the Greek army had fully withdrawn from the city two days before the fire started makes this hypothesis unlikely.

The more generally accepted account proposed by most Western scholars, however, is that the Turks burned the Armenian and Greek quarters, and Nur-ed-Din Pasha is accused of having started the fire deliberately in an act of retribution. Some Turkish scholars of the time also appear to maintain that position. Suleyman Kulce, in his book, Maresal Fevzi Cakmak, accuses Nur-ed-Din and writes that he "..was responsible for the massacres and the fire." Falih Rifki Atay, who was also a close confidant of Atatürk, was more direct when he wrote: "Why were we burning Izmir? Were we afraid that we would not be delivering ourselves from the (sway) of the minorities in case the mansions, hotels, and cafes were left to remain? Driven by the same fear we put to the torch all the inhabitable quarters and neighborhoods of the Anatolian cities and towns during the World War I Armenian deportations." He also blamed Nur-ed-Din.

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