The people you see in this video below, below, shouldn’t be here. They’re not supposed to be alive. Take a moment and watch. And when you’re done watching them dance, read on. Go ahead. Click “play.”
That’s right. As morbid as this sounds, death was intended upon their ancestors more than a century ago when Ataturk began a murderous campaign against their grandparents, great-grandparents.
His goal was to annihilate them so that they wouldn’t have a future on this planet.
The people in this video, shot by my friend Eleftherios Konstans at Cosmos Philly, are second, third— even fourth generation Pontians, a distinct subculture of Greeks— like Cretans, or Macedonians, or Arkadians— whose ancestors lived— and thrived— on the southern shores of the Black Sea in what used to be for thousands of years, part of the greater Greek world.
In 1919 the region was in upheaval as war between Greece and Turkey broke out and Christian subjects living in Asia Minor became targets of a barbaric, ethnic cleansing campaign known as the Greek Genocide.
The Pontians, as other Greeks elsewhere in Asia Minor, were meant to be eradicated, murdered, marched to their deaths, burned alive by invading Turks whose grand plan was to create an “ethnically pure” nation.
May 19 marks the anniversary of what Pontians call the Pontian Genocide. It was the day that Kemal Ataturk landed in Samsun and began rolling out his grand plan— his own “final solution” against those he deemed different and unworthy to be a part of the nation he was creating— a Turkey for the Turks, built on a foundation of blood and bones of millions of Greeks, including the Pontians.
And although part of a broader genocide that targeted ALL Christian Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians in the region, the Pontians have created their own day of remembrance for the estimated 350,000 victims of their own ancestors.
Watch the video again.
These people, young and old, are dancing and celebrating the culture and heritage of those people Ataturk tried to annihilate.
They are participating in a joyous celebration of life, while saying with each and every step of their intricate dances— αιώνια τους η μνήμη— May the memory of their ancestors be eternal, while simultaneously sharing a preverbal middle finger at the murderous man who wanted them dead.
Pontos lives in the hearts, minds and organized communities scattered throughout the world. Neither Atarurk, nor his entire barbaric army was able to eradicate the spirit of these Greeks.
The video was edited from a larger video that covered the celebration in Philadelphia by the local Pontian Association. See the whole presentation here on Cosmos Philly. Special thanks to Eleftherios Kostans for sharing this footage and allowing me to reproduce it.
Will you Support The Pappas Post for as little as the cost of a cup of coffee per month?
Is The Pappas Post worth $5 a month for all of the content you read? On any given month, we publish dozens of articles that educate, inform, entertain, inspire and enrich thousands who read The Pappas Post. I’m asking those who frequent the site to chip in and help keep the quality of our content high — and free. Visit our Patreon page and start your monthly support today.