Fake News and History Books - The Istanbul Pogrom

On September 7, I published a text on my Facebook page about a historical event in Turkey that was devastating to its Christian and Jewish population, especially those with Greek origin. It was a massacre from September 6-7 1955.

It didn’t take long before a Turkish writer I had gotten to know a few years back reached out. I’ve always had respect for her work towards helping minorities, women and disabled people. She wrote with capital letters and exclamation marks that she had now lost her respect for me because she thought I was damaging my birth country’s reputation. After texting back and forth for about 15 minutes, she finally agreed with me, i.e., that we have to stick to the facts and that these facts aren’t always accurately described or even included at all in the history books, like in the case of the Istanbul pogrom.

When Adnan Menderes became prime minister in 1950, he wanted to Islamise Turkey. On September 3, 1955, Turkish students were ordered to bomb the Turkish embassy in Greece and the birthplace of Turkey’s founder, Kemal Atatürk. Then, they were supposed to blame it on the Greeks.

The bomb never detonated but Turkish media still published the event and encouraged Jihad against non-Muslims. The Istanbul pogrom, therefor, was carried out based on the fake news that Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s birthplace in Thessaloniki, Greece had been bombed. This caused fury and a complete loss of sense amongst people.

In just a few hours a mob in Istanbul managed to destroy over 4,000 stores, 110 hotels, 27 pharmacies, 23 schools, 21 factories, and 3 monasteries, all owned by Greeks, and even 78 of the city’s 81 Greek-Orthodox Churches.

Greek women were raped and Greek men (many of them priests) were tortured and stabbed on the streets. 16 priests were killed.

One of the witnesses to this brutality was James Bond-writer, Ian Flemming, who at the time was a journalist with London Sunday Times. His and other journalists’ articles describe a horrific brutality. They tell of a 75-year-old priest who was stripped naked, tied to the back of a car and dragged through the streets of Istanbul while aggressive Islamic phrases were yelled at him. Another priest was tortured by having his hair and his beard ripped out.

As a result, 100,000 Greeks either escaped or were deported.

My father was a young 17-year-old at the time and was the one who ended up telling me this story. I later did my own research. The Istanbul massacre didn’t happen long after my maternal grandfather was dragged by a horse for 80 km, being falsely accused of separatism. This was shortly after the 1915 genocide that almost eliminated my whole family.

We have seen this scapegoat-trick used during modern times in Iraq, Nigeria, Egypt and Syria. You fake a story, slaughter Christians, and gain power and money. It gets hidden from public knowledge too often in the form of freshly designed manipulation of the truth and history-revised history books.

*Joseph Celebioglu also contributed to this report

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