EN | GR
CENTRE OF ASIA MINOR STUDIES TESTIMONY
C.A.M.S. researcher: Ms. Loukopoulou
Italics: researcher’s commentary
Journey Sheet (23/9/1964)
In Drapetsona (Pireaus) there’s a coffeeshop whose owner, Giorgos Papoutsis, is from Old Phocaea. I’d met him last winter. I’d sought him out so that he would put me in contact with informants from Vari or Söğütçük.
I went to find him again on Wednesday evening. This time I wanted him to give me information about his own hometown. But I couldn’t convince him to speak. He very politely evaded my questions, saying he was too young when he left his hometown; and so he sent me to a man named Giannaris, who also has a coffee shop in the area right across the church of St. Panteleimon.
So I went to Giannaris, but he wasn’t very keen to speak to me. I had no other informant lined up so I pretended I wasn’t getting his hints and I sat down to work with him. There were two other Phocaeans there, younger than him. I thought that, with everyone’s help, something might come out of my visit. Giannaris is a strange man. He remembers his hometown clearly and knows a lot of things, but he is very reluctant to share anything. His replies belied boredom. Truth is, he was quite busy at the time as well; every now and then he would leave me be and go and make coffee for his clients. In any case, by getting a bit out of Giannaris, and by getting a bit out of the others or his wife –who came into the shop for a while– I managed to collect some information on Old Phocaea. It is, however, clear to me, that he’ll give me no second chance to work with him again.
Informant’s Biographical Note
Tassos (Anastasios) Giannaris was born in Old Phocaea in 1885. His mother was from Phocaea and his father was from Sparta, in the Peloponnese. He’s got very little education. He only want to school for one year, in first grade. In 1913, because he was obliged to serve in the Turkish [Ottoman] army, he fled to America. A few years afterwards he returned and came to Greece. Here he married a woman from the same hometown, Old Phocaea, who had fled Phocaea during the 1914 pogrom. In 1920, when the refugees were repatriated, he returned to his hometown with his family. He left again in 1922, with the Catastrophe. He’s held various jobs ever since. First, he was a winemaker, then he opened up a grocery store, now he owns a coffeeshop. He has two sons, both married, and five grandchildren. He is not a very good informant. Even though he remembers his homeland and knows a lot of things, he lacks the willingness to share this knowledge. I met him on February 10th, 1964. His coffeeshop is in Drapetsona right across the church of St. Panteleimon.
(date collected: 23/9/1964)
Old Phocaea was headed by a kaymakam and New Phocaea [12klms to the NE] was run by a mudur. The mudur in New Phocaea was under our administration. We also had a mudur of our own, but he was the head of the Ottoman Public Debt Administration, which we called “demumye” [Düyun-u Umumiye]. He kept the books and he checked the salt exports. We didn’t have a mutassarıf. If you wanted to appeal, you had to go to Smyrna [44klm to the SE], because that was the seat of the valı. We were part of the vilayet of Aydin. The Old Phocaea kaymakam only dealt with minor cases. When I was there, if there was a murder, say, they’d have to go Smyrna for the trial. When we became part of Greece, we were appointed a governor who was from Chalkis, his name was Rambesis. The konak building was on Mikros Yialos [Küçük Deniz]. The police and civil authorities were based there. The courtroom was there too.
Old Phocaea had about 13,000 people. Most were Greeks, only 2,000 were Turks. We had about 20 Jewish families and 4-5 Armenian families too. The Jews owned all the commerce shops and the Armenians the smithies and forges and a coffee grinder’s shop. The Phocaeans have been there from ancient times. The place teams with ruins, old foundations and marbles. When the Persians attacked in the old days, a lot got scared, took the boats and fled, went to Marseille.
Distances from cities and other villages that were close to Old Phocaea.
The closest village to Old Phocaea was Vari [Hacılar], about 3klms to the south. There were no proper roads to get there, only footpaths. To the east of Vari you had Söğütçük, we went there with our animals, it took about 1.5 hours. New Phocaea was to the north, about 15 klms away from us. It took 6 hours to get to Menemen. Smyrna was even further away. Between Menemen and Old Phocaea there was Gerenköy, and Bağarası, about 2.5 hours distance from us. To our right, we had Turkish villages like Issızköy, Bozköy, and Illıpınar. They came after one passed Gerenköy.
Relations between Greeks and Turks
In my time, we were getting along fine, it was only after the Hürriyet [1908 Young Turk Revolution] that we didn’t get along. Especially after 1912, when the Greeks took Macedonia, the Turks were enraged. Earlier no one bothered you, no one did you wrong. Even if a Turk insulted you absurdly, you got justice during Abdul Hamid’s reign. There were our people too, Greeks, in the courts. We got along well, we didn’t come into contact with them, we didn’t’ visit their houses, only their summer cottages, if they were neighbours. Old Phocaea had both a commercial and a rural side. Commerce was in Greek hands. The Turks only had a grocery store and some coffee shops, where they drank only tea and coffee. They had a marble mortar in which they’d grind your coffee fresh, right there and then. If they wanted to drink ouzo, they’d come to the Greek shops. Sometimes they came to bully us, we’d beat them up and they’d leave. The Turkish Phoceans were decent people. They had large pieces of land to their name. Greeks worked those lands. They were affluent too. If they asked you for 1000 okka [1,3 kilos] of grain and you gave them 700, they’d say that’s enough, it’s ok. Our Turks had huge estates. Most beys had sheep which they gave to Greek shepherds for grazing. After the Constitution was established, they called for us to serve in the army. In the beginning some of us went, then the rest started fleeing to Mytilene. You’d give the Turk one lira and he’d look the other way. 1000 young men fled like this to America. Those who stayed behind would hind in different houses because [the authorities] would go round the neighbourhoods rounding up the deserters. In the good old days, on the Friday before Easter, and on Resurrection Day, the Night Watchman would come knocking on our door to get us to go to church. In my neighbourhood the Watchman was Turkish and he was the one who’d call on us. The Turks believed in St. Anastasia. They called her Kara Kız [black girl]. On her holiday they’d bring gifts to the church in Horozköy. They believed in Aya Yiorgi [St. George] too. On his holiday they didn’t work, they went out to celebrate in the countryside.