My Week in Athens… Apr 18

  • by XpatAthens
  • Thursday, 05 February 2015
My Week in Athens… Apr 18
Here is a great response from a reader to last week’s post about my friends discovering their Greek roots in Smyrna!

"Dear Jack,

I enjoyed your April 11 story of the first houseguests. My grandparents also left Smyrna / Izmir in 1921, before the Catastrophe (Katastrophi) and burning of the city.

As my grandmother was then 26 years old, her diary of life in Smyrna is quite interesting; most importantly, she writes that the Greek-descended population had nothing against the Turkish-descended population. They lived together and worked together. During the 3-year Greek rule (1919-1922) many Greeks helped their Turkish friends.

The same happened after 1922, when many Turks helped their Greek friends. This is not just hearsay; there are specific stories with names.

The great animosity was started by other nations, in order to divide and rule. Mass, unbelievable atrocities did happen. So it is true that on both sides feelings still run high. For myself, my motto is “forgive, not forget” - we all live on a very small planet!

As a member of the Association of people descended from Smyrna I would ask to be put in touch with your friends; we may be able to assist them to find their roots. This Association is a non-profit and our assistance comes at no cost. There are many old books and photographs which families may find very interesting.

The Association of Smyrneans was founded in 1936 by a number of Smyrneans, to preserve all the memories and traditions of the Greek populations of Asia Minor before 1922. The website is Part of the site is in English.

Smyrna was a truly cosmopolitan city, much, much more so than Athens. My great-great mother was British, another branch Venetian, another Syrian!

Regards and best wishes,


P.S. This is a great example of people in the community reaching out to lend a hand and support each other, each in their own way. How great it is to discover one’s history!

Until next week,


In this weekly space, keep up with ‘Jack’ as he navigates daily life in Athens… Anecdotes, stories, hits & misses, the good, the bad and, well, the rest…