The photo presents panorama of Smyrna during the Great fire of 1922, September 13 - 22. Smyrna known among the Turks as “Giavur Izmir” (infidel Izmir) turned into ashes and ruins in a few days. Dozens of Christian temples and institutions, the Greek and Armenian districts with their beautiful buildings were destroyed.
Massacres of Christians began on September 9, after the Kemalists’ army entered Smyrna. The Kemalists who sought to establish a new state on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire intended to totally destroy the remnants of the Christian presence in the city and exclude their return even in case of peace.
On September 13, a fire broke out in the Greek and Armenian districts of the city. It went on unhindered for a few days, accompanied with the slaughter of unarmed civilians: women, children and elderly. The survived Christians were forced to leave their native city forever.
The majority of the Greek and Armenian residents gathered in the coastal areas. The Turkish soldiers surrounded the harbor leaving the refugees without food and water. Many died of hunger and thirst, others committed suicide by throwing themselves into the sea.
All these happened in front of the Allies whose warships were in the harbor but did not interfere. Around 100.000 to 150.000 Armenians and Greeks fall victims of the Smyrna disaster.
The photo was taken from the deck of one of those ships.
“When I arrived at Smyrna there was massed on the quays 250,000 people--wretched, suffering and screaming, with women beaten and with their clothes torn off them, families separated and everybody robbed.”
Worker of the American “Red Cross”
Photo: Collection of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute