HOW many were massacred in Smyrna and its dependent towns and villages! It is impossible to make any estimate at all accurate, but the efforts to minimize the number must at first glance fail of credence.
Official statistics give the Armenian inhabitants of Smyrna as twenty-five thousand and it is certain that the larger part of the men of this community were killed, besides many women and girls, also numerous Greeks. A dispatch to the “London Daily Chronicle” of September 18, 1922, says: “The lowest estimate of lives lost given by the refugees, places the total at one hundred and twenty thousand.”
Reuter’s Agency, in a dispatch of the same date, makes the following statement: “From none of the accounts is it possible to give the exact figures of the victims, but it is feared that in any case they will be over one hundred thousand.”
Mr. Roy Treloar, newspaper correspondent, wired as follows (September 20, 1922): “Nureddin Pasha commenced a systematic hunting down of Armenians, who were gathered in batches of one hundred, taken to the -Konak and murdered.”
The “London Times” correspondent telegraphed:
“The killing was carried out systematically. Turkish regulars and irregulars are described as rounding up likely wealthy people in the streets and, after stripping them, killing them in batches. Many Christians who had taken refuge in the churches were burned to death in the buildings which had been set on fire.”
Mr. Otis Swift, correspondent of the “Chicago Tribune”, visited the Greek islands on which refugees had been dumped by the rescue steamers and saw many of the victims of the tragedy, whose stories and the nature of whose wounds bore additional testimony to the ferocity of the Turks. Here is a short quotation from Mr. Swift’s report:
“Hospitals of the Greek islands are crowded by people who had been beaten and attacked by the Turks. In a hospital at Chios I saw a child who still lived, although shot through the face by a soldier who had killed its father and violated its mother. In the same hospital there was a family of six orphan Armenians. A four-year-old baby of this family had been beaten with rifle butts because no money had been found sewn in its clothes.”
There is no doubt that many thousands of the defenseless inhabitants of Smyrna and the surrounding country were done to death by Turks.
To the number actually killed on the days of the massacre must be added the deported Greeks who perished, the people who died in the flames or were killed by falling walls, those who expired on the quay and those who have since succumbed from want, injuries or grief. The extent of the catastrophe can be realized from the magnitude of the relief work that has been carried on ever since, and from the immense sums which have been raised, principally in America, for the maintenance of the widows and orphans.
The following statement is from Mr. Charles V. Vickery, Secretary of the Near East Relief, 151 Fifth Avenue, New York:
“In regard to the amount of money which has been spent on relief, I would say that so far as the Near East Relief is concerned the total of money and supplies contributed by the American people has amounted to approximately ninety-five million dollars. So far as I know there are no available statistics of the amounts spent by other countries. The largest contributor has of course been Great Britain, but we do not have any figures here in our office.”
“In answer to your second inquiry as to how much is still necessary, would say that it is extremely difficult to make an answer that would be reliable as there are so many uncertain factors in the problem, as you know only too well. So far as the Near East Relief is concerned, our program should very rapidly diminish after another year or two and the Executive Committee has definitely adopted a resolution to the effect that there shall be some sort of coordination or amalgamation of Near East agencies at the end of five years or sooner if practicable. This resolution was adopted approximately nine months ago.”
“Near East Relief will need around four million dollars a year for the next two years if present indications are reliable.”
One of the most important reports connected with the fire is that of the Reverend Charles Dobson, British chaplain of Smyrna, and a committee of prominent Englishmen, all inhabitants of the district, including the British chaplains of Bournabat and Boudja. This report throws the responsibility of the fire upon the Turks, “whose fanatic elements, fed by the license of three-days’ looting, fired the city in the hope of driving out the non-Moslem and non-Jewish elements.” Such a report from such a source, leaves no doubt as to the fact that Smyrna was burned by Turks, although these gentlemen do not take into account the circumstance that the town was in complete control of Khemalist troops at the time and that regular soldiers of the Turkish army, in uniform, were seen by abundant witnesses to set the fires. It is pertinent in this connection in that it relates incidents of greater ferocity than I have yet given, but which I refrain from quoting. (The entire report can be found in the “Gibraltar Diocesan Gazette”, No. 2, vol 6, November, 1922.)