On the Quai at Smyrna

The literature in the English language on various long-established communities eradicated by the horrors of the 20th century is largely dominated by the Jewish holocaust.  Accounts of other disappeared communities—of Italians in today’s Croatia, the Poles of Galicia, the Serbs of the former Habsburg Military Border, or Germans everywhere east of the Oder-Neisse line—are available in the languages of the victims, but seldom in reliable English.

Over the past decade competent authors have started to fill the gap.  Pamela Ballinger’s History in Exile: Memory and Identity at the Borders of the Balkans is a scholarly yet readable account of the Istrian-Dalmatian exodus of Italians after 1945.  In A Terrible Revenge: The Ethnic Cleansing of the East European Germans, Alfred-Maurice de Zayas provided a comprehensive treatment of his subject.

The destruction of the Greek and other non-Muslim communities in Smyrna and the rest of Asia Minor in 1922 was the worst exodus in history hitherto, affecting up to two million people.  The event is now largely forgotten outside Greece and Turkey, but good historical sources regarding it have long been available.  U.S. Consul George Horton’s gripping, highly personal eyewitness account, The Blight of Asia, was republished in paperback in 2003.  Marjorie Housepian Dobkin’s The Smyrna Affair and Smyrna 1922: The Destruction...

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