From: (George Baloglou)

Newsgroups: soc.culture.greek,soc.culture.turkish

Subject: Re: "Adventuring With Anatolia College", 36

Date: 17 Apr 1995 03:07:51 -0400

In article <3ml4t9$> (George Baloglou) writes:

[This article is part of a series of 52 largely self-contained passages from George E. White's book, where Anatolia College's second president (1913-1933) narrates the cultural circumstances and historical events related to the college's relocation from Merzifon, Turkey to Thessaloniki, Greece in the early 20's.]


>#36: The final exodus (1921)




Most of us made headquarters in Constantinople during the summer, one and another drifting away as some other opening for usefulness presented itself, while hopes of soon returning to Merzifon faded. Miss Antony and Miss Corning, however, by dint of much patient waiting and many persistent appeals, received permission to return and share in their interrupted service. In July came another sad period of bloodshed, conflagration and spoilation in our old home town, headed by Lame Osman, news being carefully suppressed for the time being. About that time the four Greek teachers and two students arrested and taken from our campus in March were executed."


For one or another reason, Anatolia College was never to return to Turkey; the paragraph quoted above is the last reference to its "Turkish days" in Dr. White's book, and I find it proper to discontinue the postings of the series on soc.culture.turkish. Indeed, except for fleeting references to Turks departing from Thessaloniki, the remaining 16 segments contain very little of Turkish interest; interested readers of soc.culture.turkish can certainly find the remaining segments in soc.culture.greek, posted at the usual time and days :-) The postings to come will be of particular appeal to those interested in post-1923 Greece and, of course, Anatolia College's establishment and early days in Thessaloniki.

For everybody's information, I would like to mention here that a WWW site where all 52 segments will be preserved is in the works. For the time being, I am ready to mail upon anyone's request two files totaling 2090 lines and covering the first 36 segments: one devoted to Anatolia College's "Ottoman" period (1890-1908, #1-#19) and another one devoted to its "Neoturkish" period (1908-1921, #20-#36); a third file covering the "Greek period" (1924-1931, #37-#52), as well as an "introduction file" will be ready to be mailed by late May. Meanwhile, those, if any, who have saved the segments posted so far, might like to add the following paragraph at the beginning of segment #11 ("Turkish introspection"):

"Our Turkish friends during these times were rather confused and unhappy. Business, trade, was developing. There were more travel, talk, education, and all that, but there was much perplexity and some doubt. One day as I was riding with a Turkish wagon driver he turned to me and said, "When a European king wishes to be crowned, he must first get permission from our Sultan and then he may be crowned; is not that the way?" Before I could quite frame a reply that would be neither impolite nor untrue he answered his own question, "Yes, of course that's the way. When a European king wants to be crowned, he must first get permission >from our Sultan and then he may be crowned". That represents the old belief of Islam, with its Koran, tribute or sword alternative, but in these modern days there began to be doubt, and doubts are painful as well as confusing."


I had chosen to omit that paragraph both when I selected the 52 segments in January (while vacationing in Portugal) and on the night #11 was posted; later on I thought that was rather unfortunate: the above paragraph, representing simple people's views, is in dramatic contrast with the rest of #11, where both a mufti and a general seemed to have grave doubts on the future of the Ottoman Empire.

Delving a bit more into #11, we see the contradiction of a Turkish general passing through Merzifon on his way to suppress Balkan revolutionaries and being against the Balkans remaining a part of the empire at the same time; or, the huge irony of the mufti himself dreaming of British rule, something "allowed" only to Armenian dissidents: as we saw in #6, placards calling for British control of Turkey and posted (1893) in the Merzifon region had automatically been blamed on the Armenians ...

On the Armenian issue and the persecutions of 1895 and 1915, "historian-by-accident" Dr. White gives us a very interesting, albeit localized, account: we see, for example (#7), that the "riots" of 1895 took place right after certain attempted pro-Armenian reforms (lesson on Turkish reactionaries' ways not to be missed); even more important, the destruction of the Armenian cemetery in Merzifon, a couple of months after the deportation of its Armenians (#25), is a substantial testimony in favor of characterizing the events of 1915 as a genocide.

War is typically kept in the distant background, but #23 offers a great testimony on the "timely" incitement of the Turkish masses on August 4, 1914 (WW I), as well as the immense tragedy of Greek and Armenian students playing music for the "German-trained general" stationed in Merzifon. Further, #28 gives a very moving, even if "distanced", view of the ill-fated/prepared/conceived Turkish campaign in the Caucasus.

Similarly, very little is written on the Greco-Turkish war of 1919-1922 or even on the reactions of Merzifon Greeks and Turks to it--save of course for the peaceful coexistence of Greek and Turkish students (#32), contrasted by the arrest of some Greek teachers (#35) and the assassination, apparently by his own compatriots, of a Turkish one (#34). Dr. White's understanding of that war seems to be both superficial--when he claims that the Kemalists had plans on "driving the Greek army and all the Greeks of Turkey into the Sea, by, if not before, September 1922!" (p. 105, not posted) and profound ("Its [Smyrna's] military occupation while the Peace Conference was in session was supposed to be due to rivalries among the allied powers, who thought the Turkish Government was down and out"--p. 103, not posted.) In #33, by the way, Ataturk's ride to British officers, one month after his "escape" from British-controlled Constantinople, offers considerable credibility to the theory that he was, in a way, a British wild card. (Unfortunately, Dr. White wrote nothing on those "exceedingly interesting" comments made by the British officers regarding Ataturk and "the whole situation in Turkey" ...)

Of course, there is much more than war in Dr. White's book and the posted segments. Interesting insights are given, for example, on: the poverty, fear and "persistence" of Anatolia's rural Christians in their final years (#5, #12, #14, #20, #26); a Christian missionary's intimate view of Islam (#4, #9, #15); the Alevi Turks and their beliefs, an important issue nowadays (#16); Dervishes' fire-handling (#17), the Hittites' discovery (#10), etc. Above all, we witness a dedicated man's agonizing effort to promote education, peace and Christianity under adverse conditions; despite the heavy toll exerted on him by the death and persecution of his Christian associates, he did not lose his faith in the benign side of human nature and, in particular, in the humanity of the average Turk (lesson to be learned).


"When peace came, Mustapha Kemal Pasha and his associate officers began without delay a most astonishing series of reform measures. Almost more astonishing still was the fact that they confined their efforts to their own country and people and refrained from interfering in the affairs of other countries and governments, once a Turkey for the Turks was agreed to all round. The Turks manifested wonderful wisdom in stopping when they were done. They were ruthless toward the Christians of Asia Minor, but they let alien people go with the provinces which they inhabited."

[From: George E. White's "Adventuring With Anatolia College", p. 187 (Herald-Register Publishing Company, Grinnell, Iowa, March 1940)]

George Baloglou

(broadcasting from the southeastern shores of Lake Ontario)

"thv glwcca mou edwcav Ellhvikh ctis ammoudies tou Omhpou"

(Odysseas Elytis)

Back to "Adventuring with Anatolia College"