The Greek genocide (Greek: Γενοκτονία των Ελλήνων, Genoktonia ton Ellinon), including the Pontic genocide, was the systematic killing of the Christian Ottoman Greek population of Anatolia which was carried out during World War I and its aftermath (1914–1922) on the basis of their religion and ethnicity. It was instigated by the government of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish national movement against the indigenous Greek population of the Empire and included massacres, forced conversion to Islam, forced deportations involving death marches[where?], expulsions, summary execution, and the destruction of Eastern Orthodox cultural, historical, and religious monuments. Several hundred thousand Ottoman Greeks died during this period. Most of the refugees and survivors fled to Greece (adding over a quarter to the prior population of Greece). Some, especially those in Eastern provinces, took refuge in the neighbouring Russian Empire.

By late 1922, most of the Greeks of Asia Minor had either fled or had been killed. Those remaining were transferred to Greece under the terms of the later 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey, which formalized the exodus and barred the return of the refugees. Other ethnic groups were similarly attacked by the Ottoman Empire during this period, including Assyrians and Armenians, and some scholars and organizations have recognized these events as part of the same genocidal policy.

The Allies of World War I condemned the Ottoman government–sponsored massacres. In 2007, the International Association of Genocide Scholars passed a resolution recognising the Ottoman campaign against its Christian minorities, including the Greeks, as genocide. Some other organisations have also passed resolutions recognising the Ottoman campaign against these Christian minorities as genocide, as have the national legislatures of Greece, Cyprus, the United States, Sweden, Armenia, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.

Many victims

The question of the number of victims of persecution during the decade that lasted until the Asia Minor Catastrophe concerns scholars and activists seeking the recognition of the events as genocide and is related to the question of the multitude of Greeks living in Asia Minor at the beginning of World War II. In the case of Pontus, the scholar and refugee Georgios Valavanis himself established in 1925 the number of 353 thousand victims, which was then reproduced by the activists of the Pontian genocide, as a result of which it was officially accepted and repeated in all relevant commemorative ceremonies. Political scientist Rudolf Rammel estimates that it cost the lives of approximately 326,000-382,000 Greeks. The number of 350,000 dead in the Pontus during the period of the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1923, is repeated by the genocide scholars Samuel Totten and Paul Bartrop. As the journalist Tassos Costopoulos proved, however, this number of Valavanis came with the arbitrary addition of 50,000 to the number of 303,238 displaced mentioned in a 1922 pamphlet, who were presented not as displaced but as exterminated. Costopoulos estimates that about 100-150,000 were exterminated in the period 1912-1924 in Pontos.

Global recognition

On February 24, 1994, the Greek Parliament unanimously voted to declare May 19 a “Day of Remembrance for the Greek Genocide in Asia Minor,” the day Mustafa Kemal landed in Samsun. Also in 1998, Parliament unanimously voted to declare “September 14th as a day of national remembrance of the genocide of the Greeks of Asia Minor by the Turkish State.”

In December 2007, the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) officially recognized the Greek genocide, along with the Assyrian genocide, and issued the following resolution:

"CONSIDERING that the denial of a genocide is universally recognized as the final stage of genocide, ensuring impunity for the perpetrators of genocide, and well-prepared the ground for future genocides,
CONSIDERING that the Ottoman genocide against the minority populations during and after the First World War is usually presented as genocide against the Armenians only, with little recognition of the qualitatively similar genocides against other Christian minorities,
DECIDES that it is the belief of the International Union of Genocide Scholars that the Ottoman campaign against the Christian minorities of the empire, between 1914 and 1923, constituted genocide against the Armenians, Assyrians, Pontians and Greeks.
"THE UNION DECIDES to ask the Turkish Government to recognize the genocides against these populations, to formally apologize, and to take appropriate and important steps towards restoration (non-repetition)."

Commemorative plaque of the Pontian Brotherhood of South Australia for the exterminated Pontians in Adelaide, Australia.

The Pontian genocide is officially recognized as such by four states, Greece by law of 1994 (N. 2193/1994), Sweden by a vote in the Swedish parliament on March 11, 2010, Armenia by March 2015, along with the genocide of the Assyrians and the Netherlands, together with the genocide of the Armenians and Assyrians, on April 9, 2015.

Turkey does not acknowledge that there was genocide and attributes the deaths to war losses, plague and disease and does not admit that there was genocide. Most modern Turks are partially or completely ignorant of these events. However, Turkish historians have publicly described the events as genocide.


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