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Monday, October 18, 2021

The Truth: Greek Heroism in the Peloponnese During 1821 Revolution

Catherine Tsounis
Catherine Tsounis
Contributing Editor The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

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There are two sides to every story. A reader must deal with facts, not what is widely circulated in the media.  I came across articles of Greek atrocities in the Peloponnese during the 1821 Greek Independence uprising against the Ottoman Empire.
The Turkish Coalition of America that fosters an understanding of Turkish American issues through public education painted this portrait: “Greeks under Ottoman rule were free to observe their faith, maintain their language, traditions, and cultural identity. The fact that Greek culture was maintained during the 400 years of Ottoman reign over what is today Greece is testament to the legendary tolerance of the Ottoman Empire over to different people it ruled, not to the perseverance of Greek culture. The Greek rebellion against the Ottoman Empire began in the Peloponnese on 6 April 1821, with the slogan: “Not a Turk shall remain in the Morea”, which inspired indiscriminate and murderous action against all Muslims. The patriotic cry of the revolution, proclaimed by the Greek Archbishop Germanos, was “Peace to the Christians! Respect to the Consuls! Death to the Turks!”

Battle at Vasilika

The article continues by saying “It is estimated that nearly 30 thousand Muslims lived in the Peloponnese in March 1821. A month later, when the Greeks were celebrating Easter, there was hardly anyone left…In the town of Tripolitsa, where the Turkish governor resided, and which consisted of a population of 35,000 Turks, Albanians, Jews, and others, the rebels began atrocious massacres on October 5, 1821, which lasted for three days and claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people. The genocidal orgy in the Peloponnese ended only when there were no more Turks to kill. This so-called Greek war of independence hitherto was hardly a war at all, but mostly a series of opportunist massacres against defenseless civilians, women, and children who were slaughtered because of their ethnicity and religion. After the massacres in the Peloponnese, similar skirmishes were started by Greeks in Crete, Cyprus, Samos, Samothrace, Thessaly, Macedonia, and Epirus. The philhellenes and propagandists portrayed to the West the Ottoman’s strong measures as “Turkish barbarity against the Christian people.” The West, which closed its eyes and ears to the extermination of the Turks in Greece, immediately began to raise its voice against the Ottoman reaction…. The returning Western volunteers who witnessed the bloody events in the Peloponnese became the antidote against this Greek propaganda. A Prussian officer wrote: “The Ancient Greeks no longer exist. The place of Solon, Socrates, and Demosthenes has been taken by blind ignorance. The logical laws of Athens have been replaced by barbarism.”1
Prof. Alexander Colombos answered this article with sources that show these claims are false. “There are no photographs of those so-called massacres the Greeks did to the Turkish populations of Greece, which was very small and scattered all around the Peloponnese. There is not a single painting depicting those acts of Genocide!  Those sources Turks refer to were anti-Greek diplomats and politicians and not real historians, who were anti-Greek and inspired by the movement of Orientalism. They were nostalgic of the Ottoman Empire, which they have idealized in their fantasies as an exotic utopia oblivious of the harsh and savage reality of the Ottoman brutality and their mistreatment of Greek and other Christian populations. The numbers of the so-called massacred Turks vary to such a degree that it is crystal clear there is much confusion and inaccuracy due to the orientalist, anti-Greek propaganda,and the exaggeration of some pro-Turkish pseudo-historians.”

Panagiotis Kefalas

Prof. Columbos continues “However, many trustworthy and accurate encyclopedias and historians give way smaller numbers, and they talk about Muslims and not Turks.  We should not forget that the Ottoman Empire was very diverse and multicultural, and its majority were forcefully converted Christians and other Muslim populations. These numbers also include allies of the Turks, which were Albanians, most of them forcefully converted, and mercenaries of many other nations.  For instance, according to the “Modern Encyclopedia” by Eleftheroudakis Publishing, the number of murdered Muslims was 12,000 (Source 3).  The co-editor of Americana Encyclopedia, Thomas Gamiel Brandford, say the Muslim victims were 8,000 whereas Thomas Curtis Κατά την Σύγχρονο Εγκυκλοπαίδεια Ελευθερουδάκη οι σφαγιασθέντες ανέρχονταν σε περίπου 12.000 (12,000killed in the Peloponnese). Σύμφωνα με τον συνεκδότη της Encyclopedia Americana Τόμας Γκαμαλιέλ Μπράντφορντ τα θύματα ήταν 8.000 (8,000 killed in Peloponnese), ενώ κατά τον Τόμας Κέρτις τα θύματα ήταν 6.000 (6,000 killed sources: 1 & 2).  These numbers refer to the Battle of Tripolitsa, for which orientalist George Wogataf gives the illogical number of 10,000!
The scholar believes “IF you look at the semi-literate article you sent me, it enlists the “Massacres” of Acrocorinth with a number of 1500 killed Turks and other Muslims, 2-3,000 for Monemvasia and Navarino and no numbers for Nafplion, which is written as Nauplia, as the Turks always tend to change the names of Greek toponyms to make them sound theirs, Turkish!    Where are the sources for these claims?  No sources for the “Athens and Acropolis Massacre” and for the Acrocorinth Massacre.  For the Tripolitsa “Massacre”, the only source is a historian Henry Phillips who reduces the number of corpses to…2.000!  That is in the Turkish propaganda article!  See, they do not even know how to cite and how to even twist the numbers because they do it in such an amateur way that shows the degree of their unscholarly and anti-scientific work and their lowly propagandistic intentions.  For the “Nauplia massacre”, the only source is a member of a British warship HMS Cambrian, which saved the lives of some “Muslims and Jews”.  Jewish!  Where are the Turks?  What was their number?  Why do the authors of this propaganda give numbers of other ethnicities, including the Jews, who never claimed any massacre by the Greek War of Independence?”
Prof. Columbos believes “Turkish propagandists obviously use numbers from and isolated events as this one of British navy man, who saved a few enemies of the Greeks, to jump to the conclusion that there was a massacre and even a genocide!  As Vasilis Kremidas (sources 4 & 4) put it, they are making anachronisms (evaluating history based on modern experience and projecting modern standards, concepts, and mentalities to historical realities creating urban myths, false theories, and misinterpretations), using today’s anti-war sentimentality and modern human rights terminology to talk about those times.”
Prof. Columbos said facts show “The Greeks were determined to free themselves after being slaughtered by numbers through 400 years of slavery, rapes, child molestation, slave trade of Greek men, women, and children. There were horrific, sadistic, and pervert killings of thousands and thousands of Greeks and other Christians in Greek territories, as well as in the entire Balkans.

Georgakis Olympios sacrifice- Von Hess lithographs

In these events, the Turkish propagandists refer to, was not only the Greeks who fought by many of their allies.  It is so ridiculous, dishonest, and unscholarly that the Turkish propagandist of this “article”, who did not master High School skills of writing and citation and was paid by the Turkish Government, to refer to Orthodox Christian Albanians and Jews as being killed by the Greeks, but they do not list numbers. They do not list trustworthy and accurate sources.  They omit to clarify that not all Jews were against the Greeks, though many were on the Ottoman side, and that there were Orthodox Christian Albanians on the Greek side against the Ottoman Turks, as well! As, it also happens later on in 1940, during WWII, and in particular, in the Italian-Greek War when Mordochaeos Frizis, a Jew born in Chalkida, Greece, was the first who gave his life for Greece.  As a matter of fact, Greeks owe a lot to the Orthodox Christian Albanians who fought by their side as well as some Philhellene pro-Greek Jews and Arvanites, which were Greeks of Albania who were bilingual Greek and Albanian speaking and the North Epirote Greeks as well as other Christian populations fighting on the Greek side (source 5)”.
He explains this Turkish article is the most suspicious of unscholarly and brutal hatred towards the Greeks: on the bottom of the article where it doubts the continuity of ancient Greeks and modern Greeks saying that ancient Greeks are dead and what has been left in Greece is brutality and barbarism.  Obviously, they project themselves!  Even if modern Greece has problems and does not produce the quality of civilization it sued to or the glory of Byzantium that is because of them, the Turks, who took over the Byzantine Empire slaughtering the Byzantine Greeks of Constantinople as if they were going to a wild boar hunt, as Frantzis, the historian of the Fall of Constantinople wrote!  It was the Ottoman Turks who gave permission to Lord Elgin to chop up the Parthenon marble reliefs and transfer them to England and now are exhibited to the British Museum.
 Prof. Columbos based his rebuttal on facts in Greek and English sources. War is a terrible thing. Civilians on both sides were killed. Although mostly Christians suffered in the destruction of Chios and Psara islands, who were sold into slavery. The newspapers, writers, and statesmen of that era described Greek suffering, Lord Byron, one of the great men in literature and molder of public opinion, gave his life for the freedom of the oppressed Greek Orthodox Christians. This is a fact. The 2021 generation, influenced by social media, must see the truth based on reliable sources.
Sources:
1.     Thomas Gamaliel Bradford, Encyclopedia Americana, Desilver, Thomas, & Co Encyclopedias and dictionaries, 1835, 20.
2.      Thomas Curtis, The London Encyclopedia, 1839, 646.
       4    Βασίλης Κρεμμυδάς, Η ελληνική επανάσταση του 1821, τεκμήρια, αναψηλαφήσεις, ερμηνείες, εκδόσεις Gutenberg, Αθήνα 2016, σελ. 99
       5. https://journals.openedition.org/ceb/11433   This is from a non-Greek article which is titled “Brothers in Despair” insinuating that many Orthodox Christian Albanians considered Greeks their brothers and fought together against the Turks for Orthodoxy and freedom!
References:
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