On September 20, 1922, a single American named Asa Jennings set in motion a series of astonishing events that would lead to one of the most dramatic rescues in history.
A Methodist minister doing missionary work in Smyrna, Jennings boarded an Italian freighter named the Constantinopli, which had once carried immigrants from Italy to the United States but now was employed in the Mediterranean cargo and passenger trade.
The minister not only bribed the ship’s captain to remove 2,000 refugees from the city, but also he traveled with them in the middle of the night to the island of Lesvos, thus starting one of the largest humanitarian evacuations in history.
The complete story of Jennings and how he single-handedly saved thousands of Greek refugees is told masterfully in The Great Fire, published in 2015 by Boston University Professor Lou Ureneck.
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