Eye Witness


Greek MFA


Vangelis Diniakos


Vangelis Diniakos
New Phocaea

Athens, 11/3/1964; 14/3/1964; 18/3/1964; 1/4/1964
C.A.M.S. researcher: Ms. Loukopoulou

Italics: researcher’s commentary
Non-italics: testimony

Journey Sheet (11/3/1964)

All my efforts to collect information about New Phocaea bore results. After all, I had only four names to choose from. I chose Vangelis Diniakos, who was introduced to me by another informant of mine, Mr. Charanis. The information I had on him said he was good. Indeed, I was not disappointed. After having contacted him through the telephone, I went to Chaidari on March 11th and found him. He waited for me at the bus stop. As soon as I got out of the street car, he approached me and introduced himself. Then we walked together to his shop. He owns a yard that sells building materials. There, in a little room, 1.5 m by 2 m, which they use as an office, we sat and worked. He first spoke to me about the outskirts of the town, the rivers, the mountains, the hills. I was struck by his mnemonic capacity and his method. By describing different placenames one by one, he was able to define the exact borders of the community. Vangelis Diniakos is a wonderful human being and a good informant. Even though he left his hometown very young, 21 years old only, he remembers it very well. He is willing to help with anything else I might need.

Journey Sheet (18/3/1964)

On Wednesday afternoon, I went to Chaidari and we worked with Diniakos again. This is the second journey I undergo on the subject of New Phocaea. We again sat down with the informant in his small office and, having mentally walked around his hometown, we now entered into the city–as Diniakos likes to calls it, and sure thing, it was a city. New Phocaea had about 10,000 inhabitans, 7,000 of which were Christians.

Journey Sheet (1/4/1964)

On the first day of the month I visited Mr. Diniakos for the fourth time and we continued talking about New Phocaea. Our collaboration was very harmonious. He spoke of close and distant villages and about relations and exchanges with the Turks. When we were finished, I went to his home and spoke to his mother, who is 90 years old. The material I gathered from her is about churches and the Exodus. With this journey I’ve completed my collaboration with Diniakos. We worked well together. He’s a good man and a good informant. He is precise and clear in his words. Now I am missing very few things to complete Basic Information. I need an older man who has to have a good memory though. I am working on finding him. 

Informant’s Biographical Note

Vangelis Diniakos was born in New Phocaea in 1901. His mother is from New Phocaea too and his father comes from the island of Tinos. He attended school up to the fourth grade. In May 1914, with the pogrom of the Christians of the Western Asia Minor, he fled to Mytilene. He stayed there for five years and returned in September 1919, with the Return of the refugees. He returned alone. He organised everything he needed and opened up a shop. Then he again went to Mytilene and brought his folks back too. In 1921 he was called to the Greek Army and fought in the Minor Asia Campaign [the Greco-Turkish War]. When the Greek front collapsed, he fled to the island of Chios via Çeşme. He served for a while on Mytilene and then was dismissed, as he had a family to take care of. He went to Crete, where his family had fled, stayed a while. Then all together they left and moved to Liosia in Attica. There, together with other coompatriots, they asked for land and were given it, in Chaidari. 60 families from New Phocaea were the first refugees that settled in Chaidari.


New Phocaea had around 10,000 inhabitants. 7,000 were Christians and the rest were Turks. We had 4-5 Armenian families too. There weren’t’ any Jews. Most inhabitants were locals, Phocaeans. But since the place was fertile, a lot of people would come to work it and stayed. They were mostly islanders from Mytilene, Chios, and Ikaria. My grandfather was a stone mason and came here to work with his two children. New Phocaea had a famous quarry from where they extracted stones for the best millstones. We had a few Athenians as well. One of them refused to wear the salvar [traditional baggy Turkish pants] and so we called him a “Frank” [European]. Another one was an engineer and we called him The Engineer, we didn’t use his name.


We spoke Greek. A lot of Turks spoke Greek too. The Greek element was dominant and so they went along with us. The Greeks spoke a little Turkish, but not very well. The Greek we spoke was like the Greek spoken here, only we emphasized the “ts” sound more. We also used to blend in a Turkish word here and there, just a few though. For example, we called a water fountain a “tsesme” [çeşme]. Many last names had the [Turkish] ending -oglu; but also the beginning “Hadji”. Last names: Anastasiadis, Adasis, Vagiannis, Brettas, Deliganis, Eliadis, Karniavouras, Kritsos, Mayafas, Magakis, Marianos, Maroudis, Bellos, Polizos, Tsilidis, Xadjiandreas, Xadjibekiaris, Xadjinikolas.

External Roads

There was a cart road that started from New Phocaea and headed eastwards. Ιn a lot of swampy places there was this big gravel. This road would run along the seashore and so was sandy, it never got muddy. We called it “Uzun yalıı”. Up until Gecerlik it was a coastal road, then it forked in two. One branch continued by the sea, would go through Tsiflikaki and went to Çakmaklı. The other branch turned inwards, towards land, towards Menemen and Smyrna. At the beginning of this road, after about 2kms, another road started that took you to Arapçıftlık and Alıağa. The two roads to Aliağa and to Çakmaklı were not cart roads. An animal with two baskets could hardly fit through. To the south of our city there was a cart road to Old Phocaea. 4 kms before Old Phocaea there was an intersection to Bağarası and Gerenköy, and another one towards Bucak. The Old Phocaea–Gerenköy road was narrow, but you could fit an ox cart through. In Gerenköy it met with Susta Yolu, which went to Menemen. We had yet another road that went to the countryside, towars Burduzu, Asmandere, Kartera. It was a coastal road, it passed in front of the mills.


New Phocaea was surrounded by a wall and had 3 gates, which closed in the old dates. In my time there were only two gates left, without their doors. When there was fear around, people would gather inside the walls. Later they got more courageous and started constructing new neighbourhoods outside the walls. Inside the walls the houses were adjacent to one another, you could actually step from one onto the other. A lot of them also had a connection via their ground floor. The walls started at around 200 meters from the seashore. They weren’t equally fortified throughout. To the east and west there was almost none left; but you could still see them in the north and south, where the two gates were. Outside the walls you only found Greek neighbourhoods, no Turks. Inside the walls, to the north, there was the Turkish mahale [neighbourhood]. It reached all the way to the church of St Irene to the NE, and to the west all the way to Tophane. To the south, it reached the çarsı [market]. The Turks lived nowhere else but in that neighbourhood. Their houses were very close to one another. Inside the walls there were also two Greek neighbourhoods: the St. Irene neighbourhood to the NE, the Panayia neighbourhood to the west. To the east, towards Sahpana, there was another neighbourhood called Androniki. It had three factories, all for oil pressing. One belonged to Hadjikargilis, the other to Tsilidis, the third I can’t remember. To the south of that there was Papazköy, a new neighbourhood. That’s where the road to Old Phocaea started. Next to Papazköy there was another neighbourhood whose name I cannot recall. To the west there was Kotara. That was a huge stockyard in which the butchers would put all stock that was to be slaughtered. At the edge of Kotara there was the school and then the fields. After Kotara there was the neighbourhood Aniforaki and from there the road led to the cemetary, St. George. At Aniforaki they had this public square where they would read the final blessings to the dead. To the north, right outside the walls, there was the port and its surrounding houses. After the port, to the west, there was the neighbourhood of the Mills. We had 13 mills one after the other. They were at a distance of 5-6 meters from the seafront and then the roads started and then the houses.


We had but a single school, but it was huge. It was outside the walls, right next to Kotara. It was a two-storey building, with a cellar. It was more than 12 meters high. Made out of local stone, with a tiled roof. It had a big yard all around it, corralled, all earth, apart from the front entrance, where it was paved. Both storeys were filled with classrooms. The cellars were not inhabitable, they were used for storage. It had a wooden inside staircase that led to the upper floor. On entering the building there was a corridor and to its right and left there were the girls’ classrooms. At the end of the corridor there was this huge hall, as big as the other classrooms and corridor together. That’s where the first grade and the junior freshmen had classes. There were no desks: this was an amphitheatre that started at the bottom and went all the way to the top. This is where we had celebrations, it was the only grand hall. The two amphitheatre classrooms were divided by a middle corridor. A female teacher would teach both classrooms, simultaneously; if they had time, other teachers would come help her out. On the top floor there were the boys’ classrooms. 5 grades and 5 teachers. The school had 7 grades all in all: elementary school [4 grades] plus scolarcheio [junior high, 3 grades]. To the west of the school and towards the south there were the fields. To the north, the Kotara houses; to the east, just roads and then houses. We had classes morning and afternoon. We were taught Greek, mathematics, history, geography, everything. From the third grade onwards we had obligatory Turkish classes too, with a Greek teacher. I had all-Phocaean teachers. Only one, Mr. Lazaridis, the Turkish teacher, was from Konya. They would teach us freely [no censorship], all events were free too. Only during exams, when the Turkish authorities would come, were we careful. Then it was all Greece. The authorities did not stay long; we’d treat them to food and drinks and then they’d leave. At the beginning of the school year, when kids went to register, they paid for their entrance fees. If they could not afford the fees in one go, they would pay in two instalments or even in kind. Depending on which grade you were to attend, you paid different entrance fees. The lower the grade, the lower the fee. The higher the grade, the higher the fee. If you wanted to contribute more, you contributed more. Whoever was deemed to be poor, their fees were scrapped. On Three Holy Hierarchs day, we’d go to church, we baked koliva. When church was over, we’d take the koliva to school. We had a celebration, with poem recitations and things. The authorities would show up, the mudur and other important people. At the end of the celebrations we would hand everyone a little bag with koliva and some blessed bread, and in exchange, whoever wanted to, could leave some money towards the school. At the end of each year we had oral exams in front of the community. We also had celebratory shows with poems and songs. Around the 29th of May, maximum by Jun 10th, the schools would close for the summer, unless there was some disease that pushed the closing of the year further ahead. People couldn’t wait to move to the countryside, there was so much work to be done in the fields. In September again, people would move back to the city, the school opened again. The teachers were appointed by the community. We bought books and notebooks from the shops. Some brough books from Smyrna. The school inspector also came from Smyrna once a year and examined us. Apart from the teachers, the school had its own [behaviour] supervisor, its paidonomos. In my time, the supervisor was Barba-Andreas: he would go around the neighbourhoods and the kids were scared of him.


We had two mosques in New Phocaea, both in the Turkish mahale. One was on the western part of town, a big mosque, with a big paved yard. It had a minaret and the reciter with his turban would climb up it and pray. The mosque operated regularly until at least 1922, when we left. I remember the Turks leaving their shoes outside to go in and pray and we, kids, would go and displace individual shoes around for fun. The other mosque was to the east. I don’t recall it having a minaret. It wasn’t operational during my final years there.

Public Baths

We had two public baths in the Turkish mahale. One of them was close to the mosque. They were beautiful buildings, with a cupola on top. They had havuz [pools] inside. We called them hamams. Both Turks and our people [Greeks] would frequent there. In the morning the women would go, in the evening the men. The Turkish women would always go to the hamam. Our women bathed at home equally often.

Greek Villages

Gerenköy was a Greek village. It must have had 200 houses or so. Their church was St. Athanasios. They had an elementary school too, with six grades I think. From Gerenköy we got this type of earth which we used for the roofs, called gereni. We also got black-eyed beans from them, it was their specialty, everybody bought them. Inside the village there were several shops. All Gerenköy inhabitants who were originally from New Phocaea, whenever they’d come here to see their relatives, they’d buy stuff from us as well. Their main commercial partner was Old Phocaea. From us they bought primarily oils.

Greek Villages

To the NE of New Phocaea was Çakmaklı, a small village with about 100 houses, all Christians. It was built at the foot of a hill. It was an open area, had a view to the sea. The sea was about 600 meters distance from the village. Its inhabitants were from New Phocaea, Mytilene, and Chios. My grandfather and two more men gave three cows to a local Turk and bought the whole place up. They had an elementary school with three grades, and a small church, St. Constantine. They had two shops, grocery stores and coffee shops all in one, and a separate coffeeshop. It was a strictly farming village. They had wells for their water. The Çakmaklı people shopped from us. If they needed wheat, they had to go to the marketi in Menemen in the summer to get it. Those of us New Phocaeans that had allotments there, they went to St. Constantine for Sunday prayers. We went to their [religious] fair too. We had relations with them, in general.

Turkish Villages

To the east of New Phocaea there was Güzelhisar, a Turkish village with around 300 houses. To get there it took 2.5 to 3 hours, you had to go through another Turkish village first, Samurlu. Güzelhisar was big village, it even had mısafır oda [guest houses]. When we went there for business that’s where they’d put us up. It had a fertile plain which produced everything. I went to Güzelhisar to sell raisins and buy melons, watermelons, and onions. They would come to us to, for commerce. Half an hour away from Güzelhisar, at the edge of the plain, towards the mountain, there was a small country church. St John Tsitakia, we’d call it. The Turks loved it. I’ve seen Turks go around villages and New Phocaea, gathering oil for St. John. They had this huge rosary with them, half a metre long maybe, with big wooden beads. They’d place it on the icon.

Relations, Commerce and Economic Information

There were a lot of shops in New Phocaea. On the market road there was a grocery store, kahves (Turkish coffeeshops), 3-4 bakeries, coffee shops and 5-6 ironmongers’. The smithies made chisels, farming equipment, balustrades. There were four basmacı [textile shops], not in the market, but all over. On the wide road at the edge of the city there were two farriers. One more farrier was to be found on this side, by the mosque, it was owned by a Turk this one. We had two factories, oil pressing factories, with machines; and for more, hand-operated which we called “mills”. One of the factories also produced flour, but most people would rather use the many windmills. ¾ of all commerce was in the hands of Christians. Some Turks had Rumlar [Greeks] as partners in their businesses. Shop owners got most of their war, around 90%, from Smyrna. The caiques would load stones from the quarries and take them to Smyrna, bringing back all sort of wares. We had a lot of quarries in New Phocaea. We’d make millstones and slabs for construction. We had a lot of fishermen too. Three trawls. And purse seiners, but they also used dynamite. The fat fish, the good ones, they’d take to Smyrna and Menemen with their animal carts. They’d leave at 4 o’clock in the morning and be in Menemen by 8. On the way back they’d bring helva and legumes. If the weather did not permit the boats to go out but shop owners needed things, they’d go shopping in Menemen. We had two Greek doctors and, lately, a Turk too. There were two pharmacies, both Greek. Every Friday, Turks from neighbouring villages would descend to New Phocaea to sell their products, there was a market here. They mostly brought milk products, cheese, yoghurt, butter, and eggs. Then they’d buy whatever they needed and go back. Çakmaklı and Kozbeyli people would always shop from us. People from Samurlu, Güzelhisar, and Kocamehmet, another Turkish village, would go to Menemen. We had the sea so the stone-carrying caiques would come to us for all sorts of business. Our port was quite busy. We had around 15 caiques belonging to local people. Big foreign ships would visit from Constantinople, bringing cured products and loading up millstones which they took to the Black Sea. In August, there would come caiques from the Dardanelles, filled with çanak [pots] for sweets. They’d exchange them for raisins. Housewives would take the pots and make gün balı in them, from grape must, in huge quantities. So they needed a lot of pots. We had everything. The Phocaea black raisin was famous, so was the blonde one. We exported both types. Tradesmen from Smyrna and Menemen would come and buy it, they’d go around the estates reserving them. And we had dealers from New Phocaea too, who’d send representatives to the vineyards to buy the raisins. We produced loads of olive oil, we exported that too; all the Turkish villages would come buy from us. We cured the olives and send them to Smyrna. From the school onwards, and towards Arezeni, there were myriads of gardens. Their owners would bring their garden produce to New Phocaea, Kozbeyli, and Çakmaklı to sell. On the other side, towards Sahpane and Asmadere, there were livestock corals all around. Every house owner had 4 or 5 sheep within the big flock and that’s how he had his own lamb (for food), his cheese. At home we had everything we could wish for. Only rice, sugar, petrol, coffee, and textiles did we have to buy from the shops. The shops had everything; it was rare that someone needed to go all the way to Smyrna to shop. You’d go to Smyrna if you had some other business and found the opportunity to shop as well. We didn’t buy many textiles. Our women knew how to weave beautiful cotton and silk textiles themselves. Only the stone masons, the fishermen, and the caique owners did not have land, but they had money and shopped everything they needed.

Old Phocaea (Eski Foça)

New Phocaea (Yeni Foça)

Anna Kindyni
Mamy Maroudi

Vangelis Diniakos

Argyro Diniakou

 Despoina Pepa