World War I 1924-1935

The Graeco-Turkish War and its Aftermath, 1918-1924

With the war being won, the Venizelos administration now could focus on territorial expansion - the Ottoman Empire was in dissolution and there were areas with large Greek population, especially around Smyrna (the city had a larger ethnically Greek population than Athens itself), on the northern Aegaean islands etc. For strategic reasons, Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos also eyed at the acquisition of Western Thrace and Eastern Thrace. Southern Albania (Northern Epirus) had already been occupied by the Greeks during World War I.
On May 15th Greek forces landed in Asia Minor and occupied Smyrna. Atrocities committed against the Turkish population caused an outrage and increased the support the Turks gave to Mustafa Kemal, called Atatürk, who organized a Turkish Republic at his stronghold in Ankara. Greek forces proceeded to occupy much of the coastland of the eastern Aegaean.
On Nov. 27th 1919 Bulgaria signed the Treaty of Neuilly, ceding Western Thrace to Greece. The Treaty of Sevres (Aug. 1920) foresaw that Greek troops would continue to occupy the Smyrna region for 5 years, after which the regional government could request a plebiscite. Turkey did not sign the treaty; the war continued.
The Greek population was weary of years of continued war. King Alexander had died in October 1920, and the royalists won the election. King Constantine returned; the Entente dropped their support for the Greek campaign in Anatolia. The Greek forces meanwhile had penetrated far into the interior; they were defeated by the Turks in the Battle of Sakarya (March 1921). In 1922 the Greek forces were expelled from the eastern coast of the Aegaean; Smyrna was burnt down and ca. 30,000 christian inhabitants of the city - Armenians and Greeks - fell victim to Turkish atrocities. Many of their compatriots fled.
King Constantine abdicated, now succeeded by his son George. In 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne was signed now ending the war. There was to be an exchange of populations; within Turkey, ethnic Greeks were permitted to live only in Istanbul and on the Aegaean islands of Imbros and Tenedos. As a result, about 1,100,000 ethnic Greeks from Anatolia immigrated into the Greek kingdom. About 380,000 Muslims emigrated from Greece, looking for a new home in Turkey. The population exchange was of such a scope that the League of Nations established a Commission for Refugees, Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen becoming it's first secretary.

The Expansion of the Hellenic State, 1897-1922, from chronos
The Settlement of the Refugees in Greece (1920-1930), from Anistoriton
DOCUMENTS List of Greek Prime Ministers etc., from World Statesmen by Ben Cahoon
Historical Population Statistics : Greece, from Population Statistics, Univ. Utrecht
Letter by Venizelos to Greek People, Paris, July 28th 1920, from chronos
Register of Russian Diplomatic Documents, Greece Mission 1874-1924, from Hoover Institution
REFERENCE G.F. Abbott, Greece and the Allies 1914-1922, (London 1922), posted by Gutenberg Library Online
Richard Clogg, A Concise History of Greece, Cambridge : UP 1992, KMLA Lib.Sign. 949.5 C643a
Article : Greece, in : Encyclopaedia Britannica, Macropaedia, 15th edition, vol.20 pp.178-205, KMLA Lib.Sign. R 032 B862n v.20
Article : Greece, in : New International Year Book, 1919 pp.317-319, 1920 pp.308-312, 1921 pp.304-306, 1923 pp.309-313 [G]
Time/Life : Time Capsule 1923. A History of the Year Condensed from then Pages of Time, NY : Time 1967, pp.105-107 [G]
Article : Greece, in : Statesman's Year Book 1919 pp.955-967, 1924 pp.981-994 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on September 15th 2008

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