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 European Witness


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The European Prospect

THE complete and documentary account of the ferocious persecutions of the Christian population of the Smyrna region, which occurred in 1914, is not difficult to obtain; but it will suffice, by way of illustration, to give only some extracts from a report by the French eye-witness, Manciet, concerning the massacre and pillage of Phocea, a town of eight thousand Greek inhabitants and about four hundred Turks, situated on the sea a short distance from Smyrna. The destruction of Phocea excited great interest in Marseilles, as colonists of the very ancient Greek town founded the French city. Phocea is the mother of Marseilles. Monsieur Manciet was present at the massacre and pillage of Phocea, and, together with three other Frenchman, Messieurs Sartiaux, Carlier and Dandria, saved hundreds of lives by courage and presence of mind.

    The report begins with the appearance on the hills behind the town of armed bands and the firing of shots, causing a panic. Those four gentlemen were living together, but when the panic commenced they separated and each installed himself in a house. They demanded of the Kaimakam gendarmes for their protection, and each obtained one. They kept the doors open and gave refuge to all who came. They improvised four French flags out of cloth and flew one from each house. But, to continue the recital in Monsieur Manciet’s own words, translated from the French:

    "During the night the organized bands continued the pillage of the town. At the break of dawn there was continual "tres nourrie" firing before the houses. Going out immediately, we four, we saw the most atrocious spectacle of which it is possible to dream. This horde, which had entered the town, was armed with Gras rifles and cavalry muskets. A house was in flames. From all directions the Christians were rushing to the quays seeking boats to get away in, but since the night there were none left. Cries of terror mingled with the sound of firing. The panic was so great that a woman with her child was drowned in sixty centimeters of water."

    "Mr. Carlier saw an atrocious spectacle. A Christian stood at his door, which the bandits wished to enter, as his wife and daughter were in the house. He stretched out his arms to bar the way. This motion cost him his life for they shot him in the stomach. As he was staggering toward the sea, they gave him a second shot in the back, and the corpse lay there for two days."

    "Fortunately there were two steamers in port, and we managed to embark the unfortunate Christians in small groups. Despite all our efforts, these wretched people were in such haste to depart that they upset the small boats. An odious detail proved the cynicism of this horde, which, under pretext of disarming those leaving, shamefully robbed these poor, terrified people of their last belongings. They tore away from old women packages and bedding by force. Anger seized me and I blushed to see these abominations and I told an officer of the gendarmerie that if this did not stop, I would take a gun myself and fire on the robbers. This produced the desired effect, and these unfortunates were enabled to embark with what they had saved from the disaster, which proves that the whole movement could have been easily controlled."

    "But the plundering was stopped only in our immediate neighborhood. Farther away we saw doors broken in and horses and asses laden with booty. This continued all day. Toward evening I mounted a little hill and saw a hundred camels laden with the pillage of the city. That night we passed in agony, but nothing happened."

    "The following day the methodical pillage of the city recommenced. And now the wounded began to arrive. There being no doctor, I took upon myself the first aid before embarking them for Mitylene. I affirm that with two or three exceptions, all these wounded were more than sixty years of age. There were among them aged women, more than ninety years of age, who had received gunshots, and it is difficult to imagine that they had been wounded while defending their possessions. It was simply and purely a question of massacre."

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