Throughout the history of modern Greece, her people have been subject to expulsion from millennia-old native lands, forcing millions to become refugees.
From famine in the early 1900s that dispersed hundreds of thousands to foreign shores, to the numerous wars that forced people to flee, Greeks know the experience of being a refugee.
The Pontians, the Anatolians, the Cypriots in 1974– so many people fleeing to strange and foreign lands, leaving behind homes, towns, businesses and livelihoods.
Furthermore, the entire face of the nation of modern Greece today, as we know it, changed almost overnight because of the influx of refugees in 1922-23.
Greece’s two largest urban centers– Athens and Thessaloniki, doubled in size because of so many destitute refugees arriving from Anatolia. These refugees– once the upper crust of urban society in Smyrna and other cities along the coast of Asia Minor, would forever impact Greece.
Thousands of Greeks fleeing the massacres of Smyrna in 1922
3,000 Greek families became refugees overnight, dispersing throughout the central United States, following riots in Omaha, Nebraska 1909
Dr. Mabel Elliot, an American missionary medical worker treats a Greek refugee boy who escaped Smyrna in September 1922 and arrived on the island of Macronissi
Thousands of Greek refugees in Aleppo, Syria (1922)
Greeks from the Anatolian interior were herded on to trains and sent on death marches in the early 1900s by Turkish officials
Thousands of civilian refugees from Greece begin to arrive in Egypt following the Nazi German invasion. Photo from New York Herald Tribune, April 27, 1941
A theater in Athens turned into a refugee center in the early 1920s following the Asia Minor genocide when hundreds of thousands fled
Pontian refugees in Kerkyra (c1923)
1923, a refugee camp for Pontian Greeks arriving from Anatolia to Thessaloniki.
Following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in July 1974, thousands of Greek Cypriots were forced to flee their towns and villages in the north.
Even the Athens Opera House was transformed into a refugee center in 1922 with each family given a box usually held for high society Greeks attending the show.
One of the first cities to be evacuated when Turkish nationalists began massacres against Greek civilian populations was the ancient Greek settlement of Phocae (Fokies). Images of the carnage and fleeing Greeks were captured by the French photographer Félix Sartiaux in 1914.
Makeshift refugee camps were set up in parks throughout Piraeus in the autumn of 1922 to handle the tens of thousands of refugees arriving by the boatload.