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Greek refugees from Symrna, 1923
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Greek-Turkish populations transfer after 1923

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Greek refugees, 1923
@ Private Property

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Greek-Turkish forced migration


The history of forced migration in Europe began with the Balkan wars in 1912/13, when for the first time in the 20th century huge numbers of people were displaced.  

Initially, this applied above all to the Muslims in the region. The First World War (1914–1918) and the Greek-Turkish war 1920–1922 led to a territorial restructuring of the entire region and to systematic compulsory movements of population.
This policy was based on the Treaty of Lausanne signed in 1923, an agreement between Greece and the 350,000–400,000 Turks in Greece. The Treaty of Lausanne served as a model for many later resettlements and stopping regional ethnic mix.  

This policy of stopping the ethnic mix had dramatic consequences for the persons, cities and regions affected. It made a huge impact on the biographies of the people. The colourful mosaic of areas in which people of different ethnic origin lived together was destroyed in the long term and the principle of ethnic cleansing prevailed. People had to give up homes in which their ancestors had lived for centuries. In the case of Greece and Turkey, there are numerous examples of this: The Greek community of Smyrnas was destroyed in 1922/23, and Smyrna became the Turkish Izmir. Saloniki, which had a significant Muslim minority until 1923, became the Greek Thessaloniki, without the Muslims.


Rainer Ohliger, Netzwerk Migration in Europa e.V.