HBO mini series on World War II censored in Turkey

A 10-episode HBO miniseries about World War II will air in Turkey minus a scene featuring dialogue about “Turks torch Smyrna” after recapturing the Aegean city from the Greek Army during the war of independence.
“The Pacific,” a co-production by Hollywood director, Steven Speilberg and Oscar winning actor, Tom Hanks, which focuses on the U.S.-Japanese conflict during World War II, started airing April 18 in Turkey without the deleted scene, the hybrid business/financial and entertainment channel CNBC-e has announced.

According to a statement on the CNBC-e Web site, the controversial scene occurs in the third episode of the series and features a Greek woman from Smyrna, whose family moved to Australia after the Asia Minor catastrophe, talking to an American soldier, telling him the Turks “invaded and torched Smyrna” in 1922.
CBNC-e deleted the scene and notified HBO of its decision. According to CBNC-e Smyrna was not a Greek city at the time but an Ottoman one, occupied by Greek soldiers.
The matter has turned into a dispute in the Turkish press, as Turkish columnists have expressed their agreement with CNBC-e and official Turkish history, saying the fire in Smyrna was the work of the retreating Greek army and the Greek community in the city. Others, however, say the fire started after the recapture of the city by the Ottomans.


2 COMMENTS

  1. THE BLIGHT OF ASIA

    the True Story of the Burning of Smyrna

     

     

     

    By

     

    GEORGE
    HORTON

    For Thirty Years Consul and Consul-General of the

    United States in the Near East

    CHAPTER XVII

    WHERE AND WHEN THE
    FIRES WERE LIGHTED

     

       IT WAS after this complete gutting of the
    Arme­nian portion of the town that the Turkish soldiers applied the torch to
    numerous houses simultaneously. As has already
    been mentioned, they chose a moment when a strong wind was blowing directly
    away from the Mohammedan settlement. They
    started the conflagration directly behind the Inter­collegiate Institute, one
    of the oldest and most thorough American schools in Turkey, in such a way that
    the building would be sure to fall an early prey to the flames. The pupils of
    that school have al­ways been largely Armenian girls, and its buildings were,
    at that time, crowded with refugees. Miss Minnie Mills, its dean, a brave,
    competent and ad­mirable lady, saw Turkish soldiers go into various Armenian
    houses with petroleum tins and in each instance after they came out, flames
    burst forth. In a conversation held with me on the thirtieth of January, 1925,
    on the occasion of the Missionary Convention that took place in the City of
    Washington, Miss Mills confirmed the above statements and added the following
    details:

    “I could plainly see the Turks carrying the tins of
    petroleum into the houses, from which, in each instance, fire burst forth
    immediately afterward. There was not an Armenian in sight, the only per­sons
    visible being Turkish soldiers of the regular army in smart uniforms.”

    On the same occasion Mrs. King Birge, wife of an American missionary to
    Turkey, made the fol­lowing statement:

    “I went up into the tower of the American Col­lege at
    Paradise, and, with a pair of field-glasses, could plainly see Turkish soldiers
    setting fire to houses. I could see Turks lurking in the fields, shooting at
    Christians. When I drove down to Smyrna from Paradise to Athens, there were
    dead bodies all along the road.”

    During the same conversation Miss Mills told me of a great throng of
    Christians crowded into a street the head of which was guarded by Turkish
    soldiers. The flames were approaching and the soldiers were forcing these
    people to go into the houses. An American automobile passed and the poor
    wretches stretched out their hands, crying: “Save
    us! The Turks are going to burn us alive.” Nothing
    could be done, of course, and the car passed on. Later two Catholic priests
    came up and said to the Turks, “This is a fiendish thing you are doing,”
    and they allowed an old woman to come out of one of the houses.

       It will be
    seen that the situation was such that only the Turks were in position to light
    the flames. Now we have the testimony of eye-wit­nesses
    of the highest credibility, who actually saw them commit the act. I remember on various oc­casions in the past talking with
    Miss Mills concern­ing Turkish atrocities, which were continually oc­curring
    and the missionary policy of remaining silent for fear of endangering the lives
    of colleagues working in the interior of Asia Minor. “I believe,” said
    she, “that the time for that policy has passed and not even regard for the
    safety of our workers should prevent us from telling the truth.” She
    was right, of course, for a full understanding of what has been going on in
    Turkey by the civilized world might have caused such a development of Christian
    sentiment as might have led to the taking of meas­ures to prevent the wholesale
    horrors that have been perpetrated.

    The following extract from a letter written by a lady connected with the
    American missions in Turkey has recently fallen into my hands. It is dated
    September 21, 1922, and was sent to a friend in the United States:

    “Our Murray house across the street was locked up and protected only by
    an American flag hung from an upper window, but we had several Marines from the
    American destroyers with us who behaved splendidly all through and were a great
    comfort to us. Of course we had many trying things during the time we were
    there together, from Saturday, Sep­tember ninth, until Wednesday, thirteenth,
    when we left, because the place was on fire. Most of the people who had fled to
    us for refuge behaved wonderfully patiently under the lack of bread and many
    difficulties. We had eighty small babies and one born there. We organized a
    hospital, etc., and had gotten the commissariat running with the diffi­culty
    overcome, as we supposed, of lack of bread.”

    “All ovens in the Christian quarters, where we were, at least, and
    probably everywhere, had been ordered closed from Sunday until Wednesday, when
    the city burned. It looks now to me like a definite
    attempt to starve the population out.”

    “The Red Cross insisted on ovens being opened for them
    and the people were then burned out.”

    “The looting and murder went on steadily under
    our eyes—a murdered man lay before our Murray house door for days, under the
    American flag, his blood spattered over our steps, etc. There were dead and
    dying every where. The silence of death finally reigned over us and was broken
    during the last three days only by the fierce Chetas breaking in doors of
    houses, shooting the poor cowering in­habitants, looting, etc., and at
    night the howling of homeless dogs and the feet of wandering horses clanging
    over the rough stones of the street. After the third
    day of the occupation of Khemal’s army, fires began to break out in the
    Christian quarter of the city. Miss Mills and some of our teachers saw soldiers
    preparing fires. I myself saw a Cheta carrying a load of firewood on his back
    up an alley, from which later on the fire that caught our build­ing came.”

    “It is quite clear in my mind that there was a definite
    plan to burn out the Christian quarter after it had been looted. The time for
    starting the great fire was when the wind was blowing away from the Turkish
    quarter. I remarked when the fires began.”

    “I am sure the Turkish authorities will say one of two
    things, either that the retreating Greek army set the city onfire, or the
    Armenians.”

    “Exactly this has been published in Italian and
    French papers. Do not believe a word of it! We were in the Christian quarter
    where the fires began. Almost all Armenians except those we were sheltering had
    been looted and killed a day or two—even longer— before any fires began. The
    Greek soldiers had passed quietly through the suburbs about three or four days
    before.”

    “The whole city had been completely under mil­itary
    control since Saturday afternoon and the fires began on Wednesday, which
    finally destroyed the city. The Turks, Chetas or regulars, or both, burned the
    city to dispose of the dead after having carried away their loot.”

    The writer of this letter is neither Armenian nor Greek and is a person
    of the highest repute. I do not agree with the reason stated in it for the
    burning of Smyrna.

    The torch was applied to that ill-fated city
    and it was all systematically burned by the soldiers of Mustapha Khemal in
    order to exterminate Chris­tianity in Asia Minor and to render it impossible
    for the Christians to return.

    By the time the Turkish soldiers had set fire
    to Smyrna, September 13, 1922, I had succeeded in getting hold of practically
    all of my colony (about three hundred in number) most of them naturalized
    citizens. These, together with
    their families and relatives were huddled in the Theatre de Smyrne, on the quay, owned by a naturalized American
    citizen. Just across the road was the harbor where the American cruiser, the Simpson, was moored, ready to take them
    off. There was a guard of bluejackets with a machine-gun inside the theater.

    Soon after the conflagration took on serious
    pro­portions, I went up on the terrace of the Consulate to look. The spectacle
    was one of vast dark clouds of smoke, arising from a wide area, for the fire
    had been started simultaneously in many places.

    As it was evident that the time was fast ap­proaching
    when it would be necessary to evacuate the colony, I was kept very busy during
    those few remaining lurid hours in signing passes for such as were entitled to
    American protection and trans­portation to Piraeus.

    The flames consumed the Armenian quarter with
    such appalling rapidity as to make it certain that the Turks were augmenting
    them with inflammable fluids. Bluejackets sent to the scene reported that they
    saw Turkish soldiers throwing rags soaked in petroleum into Armenian houses.

    The buildings of Smyrna were much more in­flammable than they
    appeared at a casual glance. The city had suffered in times past from earth­quakes
    and the stone and plaster walls contained a skeleton of wooden beams and
    timbers to prevent their being easily shaken down. When a wall became very hot
    from a contiguous fire these wooden timbers caught inside the plaster and the
    masonry crumbled. As the conflagration spread and swept on down toward the quay
    where were the beautiful and well-built offices and warehouses of the great
    foreign merchants and the residences of the rich Levantines, Greeks and
    Armenians, the people poured in a rapidly increasing flood to the water­front,
    old, young, women, children, sick and well. Those who were unable to walk were
    carried on stretchers, or on the shoulders of relatives.

    The aged Doctor Arghyropolos, long a well-known figure on
    the streets of Smyrna, being ill, was brought down on a stretcher to the quay
    where he died.

    The last Miltonic touch was now added to a
    scene of vast, unparalleled horror and human suffering. These thousands were crowded on a nar­row street between
    the burning city and the deep waters of the bay.

    The question has been frequently asked, “What
    efforts were made to put out the fire at Smyrna?” I did not see any such
    efforts. If the Turks did any­thing along this line it was merely the sporadic
    at­tempt of some petty officer, who had not been in­formed. What measures they took for saving the American consular
    building have already been described.

    Great clouds of smoke were by this time be­ginning to
    pour down upon the Consulate. The crowd in the street before this building, as
    well as that upon the quay, was now so dense that the com­manding naval officer
    told me that in ten minutes more I should not be able to get through. The hour
    had struck for me to evacuate my colony, to find some refuge for it in a
    Christian country, and to find means for its temporary sustenance.

    I was profoundly stirred by the plight of these people
    and was determined that they should get the kindest, most generous and patient
    treatment pos­sible. I therefore loaded a few trunks into a wait­ing
    automobile, as well as a few bundles of my fine collection of rugs, which
    fortunately were lying packed up, waiting to be taken out of their casings for
    winter use, grabbed whatever was dearest to me that happened to be in sight,
    and with my wife and a Greek servant started for the quay and the wait­ing
    destroyer.

    The naval officers and men acted with the great­est
    efficiency and both myself and wife were treated with extreme courtesy. In the
    somewhat diffi­cult task of getting us through the frantic crowds and on to the
    launch, the young native-born Ameri­cans were also cool-headed and capable.
    There was great danger of the launch being rushed and swamped by the desperate,
    terrified people swarm­ing the wharf. One frightened man who jumped into it,
    was thrown into the sea by a young Ameri­can. He was promptly fished out again
    and went away ashamed and very wet. It was this incident, happening at a
    psychological moment, and the de­termined guard kept by bluejackets and a few
    native-born Americans, which enabled us to embark and get away.

    The last view of the ill-fated town by daylight was one
    of vast enveloping clouds rolling up to heaven, a narrow water-front covered
    with a great throng of people—an ever-increasing throng, with the fire behind
    and the sea before, and a powerful fleet of inter-allied battle-ships, among
    which were two American destroyers, moored a short distance from the quay and
    looking on.

    As the destroyer moved away from the fearful scene and
    darkness descended, the flames, raging now over a vast area, grew brighter and
    brighter, presenting a scene of awful and sinister beauty. Historians and archeologists have declared that they know of but
    one event in the annals of the world which can equal in savagery, extent and
    all the elements of horror, cruelty and human suffer­ing, the destruction of
    Smyrna and its Christian population by the Turks, and this was the demoli­tion
    of Carthage by the Romans.

    Certainly at Smyrna, nothing was lacking in the
    way of atrocity, lust, cruelty and all that fury of human passion which, given
    their full play, degrade the human race to a level lower than the vilest and
    cruelest of beasts. For during all this diabolical drama the Turks robbed and
    raped. Even the rap­ing can be understood as an impulse of nature, irresistible
    perhaps, when passions are running wild among a people of low mentality and
    less civiliza­tion, but the repeated robbing of women and girls can be
    attributed neither to religious frenzy nor to animal passions. One of the
    keenest impressions, which I brought away with me from Smyrna was a feeling of
    shame that I belonged to the human race.

    At the destruction of Smyrna there was one fea­ture
    for which Carthage presents no parallel. There was no fleet of Christian
    battle-ships at Carthage looking on at a situation for which their govern­ments
    were responsible. There were no American cruisers at Carthage.

    The Turks were glutting freely their racial and
    religious lust for slaughter, rape and plunder with­in a stone’s throw of the
    Allied and American battle-ships because they had been systematically led to
    believe that they would not be interfered with. A united order from the
    commanders or from any two of them—one harmless shell thrown across the Turkish
    quarter—would have brought the Turks to their senses.

    And this, the presence of those battle-ships in
    Smyrna harbor, in the year of our Lord 1922, im­potently watching the last
    great scene in the tragedy of the Christians of Turkey, was the saddest and
    most significant feature of the whole picture.

  2. In 1922 the Neo-Turks burned Smyrna and several other Greek cities to the ground in their ongoing ethnic cleansing. It happened again in 1952 in Constantinople (renamed since to Instanbul). And it is still happening as you reading this, this time against the Kurdish population that comprises 1/3 of the population of Turkey (more than 20,000,000 people)

    For centuries the Ottoman Turks coexisted harmonically with Greeks, Armenians, Kurds, Alevites and so on. But the German banker’s-inspired movement to “modernize” Turkey under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk encouraged the ethnic cleansing of the Asia Minor from anyone who could threaten the stability of their new satellite rogue state.

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