-The Trial of the Six: Our own Nuremberg Trial
As such, any attempt to aquit those who were found guilty, will be a major injustice to all the Greek refugees involved.
Till now, the honour of the Greek refugees has been safeguarded by the Federation of Pontic Greeks of USA-Canada, the Union of Smyrniotes, as well as a few other refugee organisations that have sent letters of protest and have asked the Supreme Court to reject the application.
However, let’s take a look at the facts of the event, based on an old article of mine which was published in the Greek newspaper ‘Eleutherotipia’.
Why we lost
«The Greeks were first class fighters and certainly, several steps ahead of Kemal’s Army… the fighters would have occupied Ankara – and they would have finished the war if they had not been betrayed.
When Constantine came to power, all the Greek officers that were in important positions, were downgraded immediately to lower posts. Many of them had received their high ranking as a result of their achievements on the battlefield.
They were excellent warriors and important leaders. This did not prevent Constantine’s party from sacking them and replacing them with officers who had never even heard the sound of a gun firing. This had the final result of breaking the entire battle-front.»
(Ernest Hemingway, 1922)
Seated in the front row are the eight defendants.
We have grown used to calling the Asia Minor catastrophe our biggest national tragedy, a tragedy which led to the eventual exit of Greeks from their homelands in Ionia, Pontus, Bithynia, Cappadocia and Eastern Thrace. In our time, our understanding of the events seems to exist without the complete awareness, that during those times, due to the anti Asia Minor philosophy, the practice of the Popular (Laiko) Party and the monarchy, it allowed Turkish nationalism to achieve all its plans of exterminating the Christian inhabitants (the Greeks of Anatolia, the Armenians, and the Chaldo-Assyrian Aramaens) and the transformation of the multi-ethnic Ottoman Empire into a Turkish nation-state. And all this, at a time when Greeks (in Greece and Asia Minor) amounted to roughly 7 million, and the Ottoman Muslims 10 million.
The criminal behaviour of the then pro-monarchist leadership toward the Greeks of the East was such, that even after the collapse of the front in August 1922, they prohibited the evacuation of Smyrna and the remainder of Ionia, thus delivering the Greek and Armenian population to the troops of Mustafa Kemal who were soon to arrive.
In a letter of protest aimed at those persons in charge of the catastrophe, a relief/refugee organisation wrote the following: «D. Gounaris is responsible for all the crimes against Hellenism.» A large part of his responsibility was revealed during the Trial of The Six. The trial in question may have been partial and others may have in fact escaped punishment for their role in the catastrophe. However the main administrators of the crisis which was in its last phase – those that led the Greek army to its defeat – were judged, were condemned and were executed.
Apart from those particular crimes that were recorded at the Trial, there were also many other crimes that implicated Gounaris and his team. Some of these included:
– The undermining of the effectiveness of the Asia Minor defence and the creation of a local Asia Minor army, which could have resisted the Kemalists,
– The absolute abandonment of the Greeks of Pontus, by ignoring their political demands and not sending military help to the dynamic Pontian Freedom Movement (Antartiko) that was active in the north of Asia Minor,
– The passing of Law 2870/1922 which the Gounaris government used to prevent the Greek population of Ionia from leaving, at the time that they were discussing their abandonment of Asia Minor.
The policies of the Gounaris government and the pro-monarchist Laiko Party led to the victory of the Turkish nationalists and the slaughter of the Greek population of the Ionian coast. The total cost of Greek lives, from the moment the Genocide of the Greek population started, is at least 800.000 lives based on the work of historians Kitromilides – Alexandridis. What was also terrible was the cost to the Greek survivors who – for the first time – found themselves torn away from their ancient Greek homelands, of Pontus, Ionia, Cappadocia, and Eastern Thrace, as well as the 1.5 million refugees…»
The demands of the descendants of those found guilty of the Asia Minor catastrophe to free them of the stain of ‘betrayal’ is comprehensible on a human level. The descendants of Tsolakoglou and others involved in the occupation of Asia Minor who were also executed, would surely feel the same way
However the Trial of the Six has deeper moral and political meaning. It is without doubt our own Nuremberg Trial. In other words, the trial of those guilty of the biggest national tragedy that we have ever encountered.
The demand for the restoration of those guilty via a revision of the Trial wasn’t even submitted by the far right, when they were in opposition. Ioannis Metaxas and the Junta of colonels honoured the memory of their old friends by naming roads after them. But they didn’t dare go any further than that.
This recent attempt via democratic means, brings back the old scars of history. One thing that’s certain is that 87 years after the big catastrophe, the Greek refugees are once again feeling their demons and nightmares once again resurfacing.
Translated from Greek by Pontosworld.com