The Turkish Pogrom of 1955 and the Elimination of the Greek Minority of Istanbul

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With an official statement, issued on 7 September 1955, the Menderes government expressed its deepest sorrow for the losses suffered by Greek minority in Istanbul. The Turkish Prime Minister blamed the riots on communists, underlining its commitment to the exemplary punishment of the perpetrators (Xristidis 2000). The interpretation of the pogrom as a conspiracy of international communism was repeated during the extraordinary meeting of the Grand National Assembly, which took place on September 12, 1955. However, under the force of circumstances, Adnan Menderes admitted that the government knew about the demonstration on September 6th, in advance. Also, the Turkish Prime Minister argued that, the riot was a spontaneous expression of national sentiment of the Turkish people who was stimulated by the news about the imminent massacre of Turkish Cypriots on 28 August. Moreover, he stated that the hysteria that gripped the crowd was so strong that immobilized the police forces, which found themselves between their quest to restore order and their commitment to the homeland, thus leaving full freedom of movement to the protesters. The claim of the Turkish government that the country suffered a severe blow because of the Communists was met with scepticism by foreign observers (Guven 2006). First of all, the number of Communists in Turkey was small and secondly, their activities were under the watchful eyes of the Turkish Intelligence Services (MIT). It seems that, only a small percentage of people who were arrested immediately after the episodes were communists. The arrest of those who had communist beliefs, such as the well-known Turkish writer Aziz Nessin, was totally unjustified, since there was no evidence for their participation i...

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...itly the Christian Orthodox and Jews, which were the largest minority groups from Turkey. In addition, according to nationalist elites, these minorities were assimilable thus, were not capable of becoming part of the Turkish nation. Also, they stated that, the Non-Muslim minorities, mainly the Greek, were not composed of loyal citizens but possible traitors to the Turkish state (Guven 2006). Adnan Menderes believed that was national and extremely important responsibility of every Turk to implement the Turkification, in an attempt to establish an independent Turkish state. A corollary of this concept was the effort of assimilation of the Greek minority by force, exercising a policy of discrimination and restrictions against it. In this context, the language, culture and desires of Non-Muslim minorities had to be connected with the history and dignity of Turks.

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