Camel 10 of 17

Picture 09 Satellite composite labeled copy

Samsun is an important port on the Black Sea coast, in northern Turkey. It is also the site of the beginning of Turkish Independence after WWI. Allied powers and Greece had already diminished Ottoman power in southern Europe. After the Great War, they attempted also to divide even the seat of the Ottoman Empire, once and for all. In response, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk reentered Turkey through Samsun as symbol of Turkey’s turning the tide against the West and preserving the Ottoman homeland.

Smyrna, as the Greeks called Izmir, is also a port city that lay in a protective harbor on the West coast of Turkey. Many considered this port a paradise. The city was as cosmopolitan as Alexandria, if not more so, being a link for businessmen from many countries to the interior of Anatolia, via a rail system. Greeks were the largest majority in that city. The next largest majority were Armenians. Greeks formed two major neighborhoods in Smyrna: one in central Smyrna, which had the greatest part of the Greek population; the other was a wealthy business section in northern Smyrna.

Like Samsun, Smyrna’s Greeks grew tobacco and exported it. As we know from the on description Camel cigarette pack, some of this tobacco, grown by the Greeks was mixed with tobacco from West Virginia to make the Camel blend. Greeks, Jews and Armenians successfully traded and conducted business operations that made many of them rich, while the Moslem Turks “lived more modest lives as Hodja (priests), civil servants, wardens, farmers, and grocers.” (Koc Holding A.S.,  http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/Koccedil;-Holding-AS-Company-History.html 7/13/2009). This fact alone, drew resentment from the Turks.

Having lost the Ottoman Empire throughout the Balkans, and facing an invasion of Greek forces with their notion of the Megala Idea, the Turks were backed into a corner. This forced them to lash out. Kemal Attaturk worked his way across the country from Samsun in pursuit of all Greeks and Armenians. He concluded his campaign by overrunning the city of Smyrna (Izmir), leading to the wholesale slaughter of thousands of Greek and Armenian citizens and burning their neighborhoods to the ground. Retreating Greeks and Armenians found themselves trapped on the famous shoreline causeway hoping for help from allied ships, including American, who sat in the harbor watching the holocaust. It was a tragedy not only for the invading Greeks embracing the Megala Idea; but also for other Greek citizens, whose homeland was Anatolia for many generations, had the most to lose with Ataturk’s purge. It would not end here.

(NEXT: A Norwegian Way Toward Ending Violence…)

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