(From the book EXODUS, vol. 1, Athens: Centre for Asia Minor Studies, 2016 reprint)
I remember the Smyrna newspapers writing about the persecution all along the coast. They said that armed başıbozuk came down and kicked out people from their villages. We would read about it, but never did we imagine it would happen to us too.
One day, a man came by selling cherries. It was May 29 [June 11] 1914. He was coming from the direction of Aliağa.
–What are you doing sitting around? he said. The Aliağa Greeks boarded boats and left!
As soon as my father had heard of that, he told the grocers to assemble all available gunpowder and lead and get ready. He collected as many gras rifles as he could find in the village and sent shooters to specific posts to guard the village night and day.
The villagers took shelter in the most sturdy, safe houses.
My father was a church commissioner and wrote a letter to the Bishop, where he explained the situation. The priest and I hopped on my brother-in-law’s carriage and went to the Cathedral, in Smyrna.
Before we left for Smyrna, a man comes to our house. He was guarding flocks of animals in Maltepe.
–You see? he tells my father. This wooden rod is all I’ve got left after the başıbozuk took everything. All my animals, they’re gone!
In a little while in comes Konsantins the coffee shop owner, from Bağarası.
–Kyr-Thanassi, he tells my father, all the Turk aghas from the surrounding villages are gathered in my shop and they demand that you go find them. They want to speak to you.
My father jumps on his horse and leaves. We all warned him not to go, but he didn’t listen, he was a brave man.
In older times, whenever the Turks would see him coming, they’d run up to him, take his horse to tend. This time nobody went near him.
He went in to the coffee shop, where they were all gathered, and says to them with a smile: