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This article is taken from PN Review 191, Volume 36 Number 3, January - February 2010.

Smyrna's Coinage Konstantina Georganta

Smyrna in Flames photograph - Vivid accounts have reached this country of the terrible plight of the 100,000 inhabitants of fire-swept Smyrna, which, it is reported, can hardly escape destruction. A view of the ancient seaport, which was captured from the Greeks last Saturday by Turkish Nationalist forces under Kemal. Warships of the Powers are standing by to help take away refugees’, The Times, 16 September 1922

Smyrna, the ‘least Turkish of the cities of Asia Minor’, an article in The Times reported on 16 September 1922, had been for the last three thousand years a vibrant multicultural community including Greeks, ‘Gregorian and Uniat Armenians, Jews of the Sephardim, Circassians, Persians, and other peoples of Asia’, as well as Europeans and Americans.1 By 16 September, however, Smyrna’s history had already melted down into one night - ‘The fire that is raging in Smyrna has practically destroyed the town’, ‘Smyrna has virtually ceased to exist’, ‘Smyrna has been turned into a charnel-house’.2 G. Ward Price, British newspaper correspondent in Smyrna, provided a vivid description of the night of 13 September, when, as the war between Greece and Turkey reached its climax, ‘the entire city of Smyrna, with 350,000 inhabitants, the greatest port on the coast of Asia Minor, was devoured by fire’, interspersed with various patterns reminiscent of a waste land imagery: ‘As with most places that are in the grip of fear, Smyrna on that September morning [8 September] looked like a dead city.’3

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