September 1955: Nothing is as it seems…

What you will read below is not a detective novel,

nor has it been taken from a spy movie.

All the characters are real and all the facts are exactly the way they lived them.

 

 

By Leonidas Koumakis, IHA Member, Contributing Editor

***

 

Two years ago in 2016, on the 61st anniversary of the disastrous pogrom against Hellenism of Constantinople in 1955, a Turkish journalist, Sedat Kaya, wrote a shocking article titled “Nothing is as it seems” (HİÇ BİR ŞEY GÖRÜNDÜĞÜ GİBİ DEĞİLDİR).

 

The article reveals the “success” that those who participated in the organized pogrom, operated by the Turkish “Special War Office” against the Greek population of Constantinople in 1955 had in their later lives.  It also reveals previously unknown to the general public, the “identity” of Ian Fleming, the famous creator of James Bond, the secret agent 007.

 

Το κείμενο μας υπενθύμισε φέτος ένας άλλος Τούρκος δημοσιογράφος (Mustafa Uyan) με την εξής σημείωση:

This year we were reminded of this article by another Turkish journalist – Mustafa Uyan – with the following notice:  

What you will read below is not a detective novel, nor it has been taken from a spy movie. All the characters are real and all the facts are exactly what they lived.

 

Below is the article by Sedat Kaya, in a free translation by the signatory, as follows:

“It was five men …

Five different people …

A student, a businessman, a journalist, a local governor (kaymakam.), a soldier…  Oktay Engin, Mithat Perin, Goksen Sipahioglu, Hayretttin Nakipoglu, Sabri Yirmibesoglu …

Sixty-one years ago, their fate was bound in a commonplace… After September 6-7, 1955, their lives changed radically…

***

It was 1955.

The night that connects September 5th  to September 6th

A bomb exploded at Ataturk’s house in Thessaloniki…

Turkey learned of the event from the Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) newscast at one in the afternoon… Immediately, the newspaper Istanbul Ekspres printed an extra edition… Normally, sales of extra editions amounted to 20,000 copies but that day 290,000 copies were printed… They were distributed in the districts where Greek Christians lived… Istanbul Ekspres used the headline:  “Atatürk’s home was destroyed by a bomb”… The newspaper account claimed that the bomb was thrown by the Greeks… Well, everything started from this point onwards!  In every nook and cranny of Turkey, the hunt of the Greeks (Rum Avi) started… Initially, in Constantinople, the houses and shops of the Greeks were looted…  Fifteen Greeks were killed, 300 injured, more than 30 women raped, 4214 houses, 1004 shops, 73 churches, one synagogue, two monasteries, 26 schools, and various other places like factories, hotels, etc. – a total of 5,317 structures were destroyed and looted… Within the churches, pilgrims’ sacred objects, sacred images, icons, and other holy objects were destroyed… Orthodox churches numbering at 73 were delivered to the flames… The cemeteries of Greeks, Armenians and Jews were attacked… After two days of pillaging, destruction, and killing, martial law was proclaimed… Turkish mass circulation newspapers wrote that there was a “Greek finger” in the events and that the bombs that the Greeks placed in Atatürk’s home had enraged the people…

 

The Greek government immediately ordered an investigation to clear the facts… First of all, there was no damage to Atatürk’s house… What was placed was a firecracker…   In addition, there were many eyewitnesses… According to Greek researchers, the bomb at Atatürk’s house was placed there by two Turks – Hasan Ucar, the Turkish Consulate chief and the student Oktay Engin… The first helped the second one who threw the bomb… They were both arrested immediately… The bomber, Oktay Engin, 21 years old, was a Turk from Western Thrace… He was studying at the law school of the University of Thessaloniki with a scholarship from Turkey… After the relevant questioning, he was released until his trial… There was a ban on leaving Greece, but he fled to Turkey… When he was tried, he was convicted and sentenced to a 3-year and 6-month imprisonment… Greece immediately requested extradition to serve his sentence… Turkey refused…

 

After returning to Turkey, Oktay Engin moved around freely and proudly…  He continued his second-year studies in Law at the University of Istanbul… In order for him to continue his studies at the University in Turkey a document certifying that he had been a student in Thessaloniki was required…  Even so, he was never asked for such a certificate… While still a student, he was registered to the payroll of the Municipality of Istanbul… As soon as he graduated he secured a diploma for local kaymakam (governor)…  He was appointed prefect in Cankaya… In a short while, the security commander asked for him to be appointed to the General Directorate of Political Affairs of Turkish Security – an incredible achievement… Reaching this position would typically take at least 15 years of service… The inexperienced local governor ascended the steps of the hierarchy two by two, and three by three… It was as if someone had told him – “Oktay Walk!”… He had become a governor straightaway:  the Governor of Nevsehir… The man who threw a bomb at the house of Ataturk in Thessaloniki was now a Governor of the Turkish Republic…

 

And the others…

Interestingly, Hayrettin Nakipoglu was the local governor (kaymakam) in the Beyoğlu (Pera) district (where the events of 6-7 September had occurred)…  From the security offices, he became a deputy member of Adalet Partisi (Justice Party) in Kayseri and in 1970 Minister for Public Works…

 

On that day, with the slogan “Our dear Papa’s (K. M. Ataturk) house was destroyed”, the man who barged into the busy neighborhoods of the Greeks distributing the Istanbul Ekspres newspaper, was its owner – Mithat Perin...   

Shortly after the events of September 6-7, he became Democratic Party MP in Istanbul, chairman of the ANADOLU news agency, member of the board of directors of Turkish Airlines and president of the Union of Newspaper Owners of Istanbul and Izmir…

 

This is the case of the Istanbul Ekspres newspaper, with Goksin Sipahioglu as editor-in-chief – the man who had prepared the “extra edition”… Around 1960 he founded SIPA Press… During Turkish military rule, he entered countries that nobody dared to approach… He became known worldwide for taking photos in these countries… In 1969, SIPA Press was voted the world’s largest photo agency… SIPA Press gained admiration for its ability to send correspondents to countries before various events broke out…  During that time, there was a rumor that Sipahioglu was one of the National Intelligence Organization’s (Milli İstihbarat Teskilati, MİT) most important sources of information in Europe… Many years later his boss, Mithat Perin, admitted that the National Intelligence Organization MIT used Goksin Sipahioglu in the events September 6-7…

 

The fifth man was Sabri Yirmibesoglu…

On September 6-7 he was in charge of the Special War Office, Department of Mobilization and Supervision… Later, he became the President of the entire War Office… In 1974 the same person organized the Special War Office in Cyprus, and even gained a reputation as a leader… Many years later, Sabri Yirmibesoglu said: “The 6-7 September events was a Special War Office operation… It was a very important organization and accomplished all its goals… On September 23, 2010 in the Haberturk newspaper he said: “If you want to show the enemy your values, and a engage a mass movement of resistance at one place, you show that the other side has done something, a very diminishing action, so you can assemble, you can fool the people… There is a rule in the Special War Office… To increase the power in the crowd, you sabotage certain values, as if the enemy has acted… Certain acts of sabotage are staged and blamed on the enemy to increase public resistance…  We can start a fire in a mosque… In Cyprus, we burned mosques… For example, a mosque can be ignited…”

 

“It was five men.

Five different individuals…

A student, a businessman, a journalist, a local governor (kaymakam), a soldier…  Oktay Engin, Mithat Perin, Goksen Sipahioglu, Hayretttin Nakipoglu, Sabri Yirmibesoglu…

Sixty-one years ago, their fate met in a commonplace… After September 6-7 1955, their lives changed radically…  As if God had said to them, “Go on, my faithful servants” …

Does this historical overview seem like a spy movie script?

Speaking of spy movies…

During the events of September 6-7 in Istanbul, the correspondent of the British newspaper Sunday Times was present at Istiklal Caddesi… Right in the heart of the events… He has just arrived from Thessaloniki where a bomb was placed at Ataturk’s house…

Do you know who he was?

Ian Fleming.

The world-famous author of James Bond, Secret Agent 007

And at the same time, Fleming was an agent of the British intelligence agency MI6…

I wish everyone a very nice week…

(Sedat Kaya, Datca)

 

C O N C L U S I O N: About ten years after the events of September 6-7 1955, the Turkish Deep State methodically organized the inhumane deportations of 1964. But even today, the few remaining Greeks of Constantinople (Istanbul), are facing a host of daunting problems that are intentionally ignored by Turkey – an otherwise very “sensitive” country regarding human rights outside its own borders, reminding us of the saying: “the camel does not see her own hump“.

However, it is very encouraging and comforting that, over decades, many Turkish journalists, intellectuals and scholars of the letters and arts, have been dealing with a taboo subject, boldly and without prejudice. They describe the events as we, the tens of thousands of Greeks of Constantinople (Istanbul), the real victims, experienced them.

Let us wish that the young generation of Turks will become sensitized to the protection of those Greeks who have survived and remain to this day in Constantinople (Istanbul) as these few remaining Greeks are undoubtedly part of their common history. The surviving Greeks are part of a religious institution that has been rooted there for seventeen centuries.

It has been historically shown that the various politicians and military officers with political obsessions, or due to religious extremist views, and inferiority complexes brought on by fears of anything different, are those who continue, even nowadays, to sow violence against defenseless victims – Greeks, Turks, Kurds, Jews, Armenians. They are the same ones who provoke turmoil and do not hesitate to use with the most extreme, the most inhuman means to achieve their ends.

The more the new generations awaken, the greater the chance of succeeding – at some point in the future – a lasting peace in our nevertheless complex and sensitive region of the world.