Webster Athens Virtual Lecture Series: 'The Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922'
October 14, 2021
In recognition of Greece’s Independence Bicentennial, Webster Athens continued its virtual lecture series on Greece’s historical development, held in remembrance of the Greek Genocide of 1914-1923 set off by the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish national movement. Webster Athens Vice-Rector Susie Michailidis and International Relations and English student Elisavet Karagkeor presented “The Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922” in September.
While talking about the events after WWI, Michailidis stressed, “The Asia Minor catastrophe is one of the darkest periods in all of Greece’s long history.” The catastrophe marked the end of the Hellenic presence in the Asia Minor region, as the first genocide of the twentieth century resulted in over 2.5 million Greeks, Armenians and Assyrians losing their lives due to religious persecution.
A remarkable American writer, Ernest Hemingway, described the disastrous Greek exiles in one of his short stories- “On the Quai at Smyrna” (1930). Working as a war correspondent during the First World War, Hemingway witnessed a devastating sight of a 20 mile long ‘death march’ – a caravan of people who were forced to walk through the deserts and mountains on foot.
Karagkeor, referring to the stories heard from her grandparents, commented, “It is a tragedy that we shall never forget and as long as we carry this history through time, stories of millions voiceless victims will be heard and remembered.”
Webster Athens faculty, students, and guests from different parts of the world were virtually connected to the lecture and were also happy to welcome Holly Hubenschmidt, director of Library Instruction & Research Services at Webster University Library.
“It was a well-documented, informative account of the Asia Minor Catastrophe, inspiring much discussion afterwards,” reported Dina Skias, Webster Athens Director of Student Affairs & Odyssey in Athens Study Abroad Program.
Webster students were shocked to discover the very sad historical past of the Asia Minor region and expressed their gratitude for bringing attention to this significant historic event. “It is a part of history that has been missing,” said a student whose ancestors were affected by the genocide.
In March, the first lecture in this series, “The Birth of the Modern Greek State” was given by Webster’s adjunct faculty member Stanley Sfekas, followed by “The Birth of the Modern Olympic Games- Athens 1896” in April, delivered by Assistant Professor Joanna Vasiliou.