Greek administration of Smyrna (1919-1922)

Greek administration of Smyrna (1919-1922)

The Greek administration of Smyrna (Izmir) was the rule in the Smyrna district by Greek forces under High Commissioner Aristidis Stergiadis, aligned with the Allied partitioning of the Ottoman Empire after the Armistice of Mudros. Before this there had been no military hostilities between Greece and the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The occupation was considered by some Turkish sources as the catalyst for the Turkish national movement. The occupation was very controversial, as the main intention of the Allies of World War I was to balance the Italian expansion in Anatolia prior to Italians landing on the southern coast. However, the Greek expansion in this province was consistent with Megali Idea, and activities under the terms of concession resulted in the establishment of Turkish national movement and alignment between Italia and Grand National Assembly of Turkey. The Greek occupation of İzmir (Smyrna) was a significant event beyond its military importance. During this time Greek concession over Greek Christians of Turkey, and on the other hand the Great Fire of Smyrna, was pointed to as the main motivation for the provision in the Treaty of Lausanne for population exchange between Greece and Turkey to create ethnically homogeneous states.

Activities of administration

During the occupation of the city, the Greeks established a number of institutions in the city. For example, the first University in Smyrna was founded by the Phanariot Greek Mathematician Constantin Carathéodory. This was the first university to be established in Smyrna.

Several programs were instituted to better the lives of all inhabitants of the city, regardless of race or creed, including:

  • Gratuitous bacteriological, hygienic and industrial examinations for all classes of the community.
  • The preparation and gratuitous distribution of all healing and diagnostic inoculations, serums, antitoxins, antigonococcus, etc.
  • The sanitation of the town on an extensive scale, sewerage, water-supply, streets, etc.
  • Sanitary works for the combating of malaria, the draining of marshes, etc.
  • The combating of trachoma.
  • The combating of phthisis on a large scale, (dispensaries, asylums, convalescent homes, special hospitals, sanitation of houses, etc.)
  • For infants: dispensaries, gouttes de lait, creches, foundling homes, etc.
  • For children: various philanthropic institutions. For mothers: pre-natal pre-culture.
  • Education and training of doctors to compose the service of public health.
  • Training for midwives and nurses.
  • Organization of a registry office of births and deaths.
  • Organization of special medical statistical service

The account of George Horton

George Horton, US Consul, reported that one of the first acts of Mr. Sterghiades after his arrival was to “suppress the disorderly houses located in the central portions of the town”. Horton also reported that Sterghiades “suppressed gambling in the clubs, and private houses”.

Horton reported that the Greek Administration under Sterghiades strongly supported educational institutions.. He noted, in particular, that the administration “paid for out of the Greek Treasury, for the maintenance and improvement of Turkish schools. It continued the Moslem secondary schools at its own expense. …It kept in vigor the Turkish system of primary education, appointing prominent Mussulmans in the various villages to superintend the same. It maintained a Polytechnic school at Smyrna.”

Horton confirmed the account of Marjorie Dobkin regarding the establishment of "a sanitary service for the compiling of statistics, the betterment of sanitary conditions and the suppression of epidemics and contagious diseases, such as malaria, syphilis, etc." Horton reported that, as a result of these measures, “plague, exanthematic fever and smallpox were got so under control that they disappeared as epidemic diseases in the occupied zone.” In addition, the Greek administration waged a systematic war against lice and rats.

Horton reported that the Greek administration provided financial assistance to refugees fleeing from Khemalist raids in the interior and the destruction of the cities of Aidin and Nazli in 1919.

See also


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