QUOTE (pipvh @ Dec 13 2008, 09:12 AM)
Fantastic story, Bob - thanks for sharing it. Yes, of course I'm on the other side! :-) My grandparents were Ottoman subjects until 1912 (in Macedonia) and so from their point of view Constantinople, Trabzond and Smyrna were as Greek as Thessaloniki - Greeks were there first! And they were furious about the Armenian situation. But yes, you could certainly accuse Venizelos of hubris, and the Turks, fighting for their heartland, were an entirely different proposition from the demoralized armies the Greeks had recently driven out of Macedonia and Thessaly. My grandmother told me that her brother had suffered dreadfully and told her stories about men and horses reduced to living skeletons.
Funnily enough, while her father and most of her relatives had been busily fighting the Ottomans in the Macedonian resistance, my granny liked Turks quite a lot, which seemed to be the contradictory but prevailing sentiment. She remembered them as being kind and polite, and after the Greek army came through her town in 1912, after she'd tell us of the euphoria of liberation, she always added, rather bitterly, that the Greek soldiers left their homes full of fleas and lice... My grandfather, who had escaped onto a boat from Smyrna while the city burned and the Turkish armies were killing the stragglers, probably had less fond memories of the Turks, but alas, I can't remember his stories. It really was a ghastly time and no-one comes away from it with clean hands, Greeks or Turks. It really is good that the two countries get on somewhat these days.
What most people do not or chose not to understand is that, for centuries, the recognized minorities in Turkey (the Greeks, Armenians, Genoese, Jews; perhaps others) were accorded a special status and rights and duties that in balance allowed them to often achieve a level of affluence that could only be dreamed of by the "ethnic Turks", the Anatolian masses, who were almost all peasantry, while the minorities dominated trade and the skilled trades. They had their own laws, courts, religious (and perhaps secular) leaders, and exemption from military service, but also had sharply higher taxes. The problems of the minorities ironically seemed to start during the 19th Century during the efforts to modernize Turkey. When "equality" was to be imposed on the Bosnians, I understand, they were so opposed that they fought a 15 year guerrilla war against the Turkish administration. Unfortunately, in practice "equality" amounted to the cancelling of traditional privileges, while the down-sides of the old situation often persisted. This process extended into the 20th Century, even into the period between the world wars.
Traditionally (to generalize horribly) both the Serbs and Greeks Turks were supposed to hate the Turks, who occupied them for about 500 years, but the outside observer who is a bit knowledgable about Turkey or Turkish can perceive many things in language or culture among the Greeks and Serbs that come from the Turk, and probably is not understood by the Serb or the Greek. When dining in Greek restaurants I often find the classic Greek dish "Imam baldi" on the menu, and I often ask the server if they know what the phrase means, and generally they do not; only once the restaurant owner chimed in and knew. The phrase is Turkish, and means "the Imam fainted"; the origin supposedly is that this Turkish stuffed eggplant dish was served to an Imam (Muslim cleric), and he found it so delicious that he fainted at the table.
The word "kara" is one of the Turkish words in Serbian; there are two words for "black" in Serbian, kara, a Turkish word, and "cerno", a Slavic word. Although a small country, Serbija was blessed with two, not one royal family, and one of them, the Georjievic dynasty, was founded by the Serbian anti-Turkish hero, Karageorjie, or "Black George". (I remember buying several postcards of Karageorjie on a Beograd street corner a long while ago (probably early 1967, possibly 1971), and the Serb PC vendor burst with pride that a foreigner was interested in him. I do not know for sure why he was called "Black George"; but the traditional paintings of him to me suggest that he was of a swarthy complexion. (There supposedly was one village of blacks in Serbija or Cerno Gora (Montenegro, essencially Serbija on steroids for hundreds of years. Don't know if there was a connection.) But Kara might also be some sort of honorific. Another honorific applied to Black George was one of the most treasured Serb honorifics, "Haijduk", or "Bandit". (One might wonder about a people who use the word "Bandit" as one of their most treasured honorifics.) "Fatma" probably is the Turkish version of "Fatima", a very common Arabic given name for women; the name, I believe, of the daughter of the Prophet Mohammed, Blessed be His Name. Thusly, it is possible that Fatma is also an honorific, and not only a given name.