Aristeidis Stergiadis

Smyrna George Horton Greek language
The Greek leadership in Smyrna, October 1920: High Commissioner Aristeidis Stergiadis, Lt. Gen. Leonidas Paraskevopoulos and his chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Theodoros Pangalos.

Aristeidis Stergiadis (Greek: Αριστείδης Στεργιάδης) (1861, in Kandiye (Herakleion), Girit Eyalet, Ottoman Empire – 22 June 1949, in Nice, France) was the Greek high commissioner, or governor-general, of Smyrna during the Greek occupation of the city from 1919 to 1922.

Aristidis Stergiadis was appointed the High Commissioner of Smyrna in February and arrived in the city four days after the 15 May 1919 landing. Stergiadis immediately went to work in setting up an administration, easing ethnic violence, and making way for permanent annexation of Smyrna. Stergiadis punished Greek soldiers responsible for the violence on 15–16 May with court martial and created a commission to decide on payment for victims (made up of representatives from Great Britain, France, Italy and other allies).[1]

When the French ceded Cilicia to the Ottomans in 1921 under the terms of the Treaty of Ankara (1921), the French withdrew their protection from the Greek population. It is estimated that 6,500 Rum left Cilicia as a result. Some of the refugees were transported to Cyprus but the British would only accept refugees holding British nationality or those who had relatives on the island. The others were sent to Smyrna, only to find that Stergiadis would not permit the landing of refugees.[2]

Stergiadis took a strict stance against discrimination of the Turkish population in Smyrna and opposed church leaders and the local Greek population on a number of occasions. Historians disagree about whether this was a genuine stance against discrimination[3] or whether it was an attempt to present a positive vision of the occupation to the Entente.[1] This stance against discrimination of the Turkish population often pitted Stergiadis against the local Greek population, the church and the army. He reportedly would carry a stick through the town with which he would beat Greeks that were being abusive of Turkish citizens. Troops would disobey his orders to not abuse the Turkish population often putting him in conflict with the military. On 14 July 1919, the acting foreign secretary sent a long critical telegraph to Venizelos suggesting that Stergiadis be removed and writing that "His sick neuroticism has reached a climax."[1] Venizelos stuck with support of Stergiadis despite this opposition, while the latter oversaw a number of projects planning for a permanent Greek administration of Smyrna.[1]

At one point, Stergiadis interrupted and ended a sermon by the bishop Chrysostomos that he believed to be incendiary. George Horton writes:[4]

On one occasion I was present at an important service in the Orthodox Cathedral, to which the representative of the various powers, as well as the principal Greek authorities had been invited. The high-commissioner had given the order that the service should be strictly religious and non-political. Unfortunately, Archbishop Chrysostom (he who was later murdered by the Turks) began to introduce some politics into his sermon, a thing which he was extremely prone to do. Sterghiades, who was standing near him, interrupted, saying: "But I told you I didn’t want any of this." The archbishop flushed, choked, and breaking off his discourse abruptly, ended with, "In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Amen," and stepped off the rostrum.

He abandoned Smyrna on 25 September 1922 on a British ship, and was transported to Britain. He died 22 June 1949.

His Herakleion residence houses the Public Archives and Library of Nicolas Kitsikis (1887–1978), the father of Dimitri Kitsikis. Stergiadis was the stepfather of Beata Kitsikis née Petychakis, Dimitri Kitsikis's mother.

References

  1. ^ a b c d Llewellyn-Smith, Michael (1999). Ionian vision : Greece in Asia Minor, 1919–1922 (New edition, 2nd impression ed.). London: C. Hurst. p. 92. ISBN 9781850653684.
  2. ^ Özveren, Eyüp. Eastern Mediterranean Port Cities: A Study of Mersin, Turkey—From Antiquity to Modernity. Springer. p. 117.
  3. ^ Clogg, Richard. A Concise History of Greece, page 93 [1]. Cambridge University Press, 20 June 2002 – 308 pages.
  4. ^ Horton, George (1926). The Blight of Asia: An Account of the Systematic Extermination of Christian Populations by Mohammedans and the Culpability of Certain Great Powers; With the True Story of the Burning of Smyrna. Bobbs-Merrill Company.