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Writing all this, is extremely painful. I started to research 10 years ago, but it is now 33 years after my father's death that I can look at this again. Coupled with the emotional baggage that the story and manuscripts carry, I am faced with another difficulty. The Greeks and the Turks (I am not sure who wins this one) have conspired to hide any positive mention of each other in their histories and on the internet presence. Unless of course it apportions blame, or is laden with political sentiments. Looking for information about the Greek presence in Turkey and vice versa involves a considerable amount of digging.
As I write and illustrate this book, I am surrounded by the memories of those that have openly or by living with me transmitted the loss that surrounded the Asian Minor Catastrophe as it is known in Greece. Books, articles and old photographs are strewn over the desk, and my father's manuscripts, with his distinctive script lies lifeless next to me. Childhood whispers, alien-sounding Turkish words and place names, the fear and the loss that my grandparents, aunts, uncles and parents felt are the soundtrack of my early life. We as children were sheltered from all this, until the adults were driven by their grief to talk late into the night, when I could still hear them through the thin bedroom door.
When I was growing up, I had no real sense of what had happened, other than there was a huge loss of some sort. Constantinople, the 'Polis' was a revered word and I knew that it was no longer 'ours'. I had heard of Smyrna in passing too, but the name or that particular part of the story was completely lost on me. I knew quite late in my adolescence that my mother had been born in a resettlement camp on Mitilini, where a real humanitarian disaster ensued as the island struggled to cope with the hundreds of thousands of Greeks fleeing the destruction of Smyrna.
There are numerous books written on the subject of the Greek-Turkish exchange and there are many personal stories written on both sides. My account is one of those, no more or less. I am adding my voice to the voices, past, and present who lament that which was. Perhaps we can now look forward to what good can come of it.

GS 2015

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