Fire of Manisa

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The Fire of Manisa refers to the burning of the city of Manisa in Turkey by the Greek army.[1] It happened during the Greco Turkish War of 1919-1922. The town was burned between 5 and 8 September 1922. More than 10,000 buildings were destroyed.[2] This was about 90 percent of the town.[2] Thousands of people died in the flames or were shot dead by the Greeks. Turkish sources claim 4,355 died and 300 girls were raped.[3]

The events[change | change source]

General view of the town before the fire.

The town of Manisa was part of the Ottoman Empire. Turks and Greeks were living there together. The Greeks wanted Manisa to become part of Greece. In May 1919 a Greek army occupied the town. Then there was war between Greeks and Turks for three years. In the summer of 1922 Turks defeated the Greeks. The Greeks fled to the Aegean Sea to be transferred to Greece. During their retreat the Greeks burned towns and villages of Turks.[4] Manisa too was burned down. The local Turks fled to the mountains. Most of the town was destroyed and later rebuilt. Some Turkish authors wrote about their experiences in Turkish literature.

References[change | change source]

  1. Freely, John (2010). Children of Achilles: The Greeks in Asia Minor Since the Days of Troy. .B.Tauris. p. 212. ISBN 9781845119416. Manisa, which was burned to the ground by the Greeks when they evacuated the town.
  2. 2.0 2.1 U.S. Vice-Consul James Loder Park to Secretary of State, Smyrna, 11 April 1923. US archives US767.68116/34

    Consul Park concluded:
    "1. The destruction of the interior cities visited by our party was carried out by Greeks."
    "2. The percentages of buildings destroyed in each of the last four cities referred to were: Manisa 90 percent, Cassaba (Turgutlu) 90 percent, Alaşehir 70 percent, Salihli 65 percent."
    "3. The burning of these cities was not desultory, nor intermittent, nor accidental, but well planned and thoroughly organized."
    "4. There were many instances of physical violence, most of which was deliberate and wanton. Without complete figures, which were impossible to obtain, it may safely be surmised that 'atrocities' committed by retiring Greeks numbered well into thousands in the four cities under consideration. These consisted of all three of the usual type of such atrocities, namely murder, torture and rape."
    "Cassaba (present day Turgutlu) was a town of 40,000 souls, 3,000 of whom were non-Muslims. Of these 37,000 Turks only 6,000 could be accounted for among the living, while 1,000 Turks were known to have been shot or burned to death."
  3. Ergül, Teoman (1991). Kurtuluş Savaşında Manisa, 1919-1922. Manisa Kültür Sanat Kurumu. p. 337. Daha acısı 3500 kişi ateşte yakılmak ve 855 kişi kurşunlanmak suretiyle öldürülmüştü. Üç yüz kızın ırzına geçilmişti. Sadece bir mahalleden 500 kişi götürülmüştü. Ölü veya diri oldukları hakkında bir bilgi alınamamiştır. (English) "The more painful, that 3500 people were burned to death and 855 people were shot dead. Three hundred girls were raped. From only one district, 500 people were taken away. Their fate was unknown."
  4. Chenoweth, Erica (2010). Rethinking Violence: States and Non-state Actors in Conflict. MIT Press. p. 49. ISBN 9780262014205. The Turkish counter-offensive, which began in August 1922, routed the Greeks and within two weeks led to the evacuation of what remained of the Greek Army from Smyrna. The retreating Greeks left a trail of scorched earth behind them as they torched Turkish towns and villages along their line of retreat, killing thousands in the process. Christian civilians (Greeks and Armenians) fled before the advancing Turks.