On This Day May 19, 1919: Ataturk Begins Onslaught Against Pontian Greeks


353,000 victims of the Pontian Genocide are remembered every year on May 19— designated by the Greek parliament as an official holiday in the country.

On this day in 1919, Kemal Ataturk landed in the Black Sea coastal city of Samsounda and began a devastating massacre against the ethnic Greeks who had been living in the region known as Pontos for thousands of years.

The Pontian Genocide, although commemorated and remembered separately, was part of the mass annihilation of Asia Minor’s Christian presence that included millions of Armenians, Assyrians and Anatolian Greeks that took place between 1914 and 1922, ending with the burning in Smyrna in 1922.

Hundreds of thousands of Pontians that survived fled to mainland Greece as refugees and established cities and communities throughout the country.

Despite this near-annihilation, the Pontian refugees flourished and maintained their dialect, culture and traditions, including in large diaspora communities outside of Greece’s borders.


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