Skip to main content


  • Ellinor Morack (a1)

Based on a series of recollections published between January and April 1926 in the Izmir-based daily newspaper Ahenk (Harmony), this article explores how individual Muslim Turks remembered their emotional responses to the Greek occupation of that city (May 1919–September 1922). Analyzing these recollections, it considers why certain events were remembered while others were almost completely left out. By studying how Muslim Turks described their feelings towards the occupying forces, local non-Muslims, and the eventually victorious Turkish army, the article makes an initial contribution to the history of emotions in early republican Turkey. I argue that the composition and consumption of memories were avenues for connecting emotionally to the Turkish nationalist project. This finding challenges the widespread notion that the early republican period was characterized by collective amnesia of the immediate past, and contributes to the growing body of scholarship on popular participation in early republican nationalism.

Hide All


Author's note: Research for this article was made possible by a doctoral scholarship from the Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies at Freie Universität Berlin. A postdoctoral fellowship at the Martin Buber Society of Fellows, Hebrew University of Jerusalem allowed me to write it. Nicola Verderame kindly rechecked some information at the newspaper archive in Izmir. Razak Khan suggested readings on the history of emotions. I thank the anonymous IJMES reviewers and the IJMES editors, as well as Katja Jana and Daphna Oren Magidor, for their criticism and feedback on earlier drafts of this article.

1 “Aziz Karʾilerimiz, Kahraman Öz Vatan Aileleri,” Ahenk, 1 January 1926. The call was not signed. I have drawn on the issues kept at Ahmet Priştina İzmir Kent Arşivi Müzesi (APIKAM) in Izmir. All translations from Turkish to English are my own unless noted otherwise.

2 The first Ottoman Turkish periodical was Hizmet (Service, or Duty), founded in 1886. Arıkan, Zeki, “Tanzimat ve Meşrutiyet Dönemlerinde İzmir Basını,” in Tanzimat'tan Cumhuriyet'e Türkiye Ansiklopedisi, ed. Belge, Murat (Istanbul: İletisim, 1985), 1:103–11.

3 Akkoyun, Turan, “Atatürk Devri İzmir Basını ve Kamuoyu Üzerindeki Tesiri,” Atatürk Araştırmaları Merkezi Dergisi 12 (2006), accessed 22 January 2016,

4 Mehmet Şevki was probably not identical to Mehmet Şevki (Yazman), who wrote for Kadro magazine in the 1930s. See Bayar, Celal, Ben de Yazdım: Milli Mücadeleye Giriş, 8 vols. (Istanbul: Baha, 1968), 6:1796 ; and Aksoy, Yaşar, ed., Bir Kent, Bir İnsan. İzmir'in Son Yüzyılı, S. Ferit Eczacıbaşı’nın Yaşamı ve Anıları (Istanbul: Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı Vakfı, 1986), 157 .

5 Arıkan, Zeki, İzmir Basınından Seçmeler (1923–1938): II. Cilt- I. Kitap, Kent kitaplığı dizisi 37 (İzmir: İzmir Belediyesi Kültür Yayınları, 2003), 34 .

6 On city politics prior to 1913, see Kechriotis, Vangelis, “Protecting the City's Interest: The Greek Orthodox and the Conflict between Municipal and Vilayet Authorities in Izmir (Smyrna) in the Second Constitutional Period,” Mediterranean Historical Review 24 (2009): 207–21. On the boycott and terror campaign of 1913–14, see Çetinkaya, Y. Doğan, The Young Turks and the Boycott Movement: Nationalism, Protest and the Working Classes in the Formation of Modern Turkey (London: I.B.Tauris, 2014); and Gingeras, Ryan, Sorrowful Shores: Violence, Ethnicity, and the End of the Ottoman Empire, 1912–1923 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).

7 Lewis, Bernard, The Emergence of Modern Turkey, 2nd ed. (London: Oxford University Press, 1968); Zürcher, Erik-Jan, Turkey: A Modern History (London: I.B.Tauris, 1998); Mansel, Philip, Levant: Splendour and Catastrophe on the Mediterranean (London: John Murray, 2010).

8 Inter-Allied Commission of Inquiry into the Greek Occupation of Smyrna and the Adjoining Territories, Account of Events that Took Place Following the Occupation, Which Were Established During the Inquiry between 12 August and 6 October 1919, Constantinople, 14 October 1919, accessed 22 December 2015,

9 Toynbee, Arnold J., The Western Question in Greece and Turkey: A Study in the Contact of Civilisations (London: Constable, 1922).

10 For detailed accounts, see Mansel, Levant; Housepian, Marjorie, Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a City (London: Faber and Faber, 1972); and Milton, Giles, Paradise Lost: Smyrna 1922 (London: Spectre, 2008).

11 Shaw, Stanford J. and Shaw, Ezel Kural, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, vol. 2, Reform, Revolution and Republic: The Rise of Modern Turkey, 1808–1975 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977), 363 .

12 Çalışlar, İpek, Latife Hanım (Istanbul: Doğan, 2006), 5456 .

13 The nationalist movement against the Greek occupation emerged out of this milieu. See Berber, Engin, “Mütareke Döneminde İzmir Sancağında Yunanistan Karşıtı Çalışmalarda Bulunan Toplumsal Örgütler (30 Ekim 1918–15 Mayıs 1919),” in Bir İzmir Kâbusu. Mütareke ve İşgal Üzerine Yazılar, by Berber, Engin (İzmir: İzmir Büyükşehir Belediyesi Kültür Yayınları, 2002), 4075 .

14 Gaziemir'den Besim, “Bir Köylü Kadınını Öldürdükten Sonra Arzına Tasallut,” Ahenk, 28 February 1926; Hacı Ömerlerden Kadiroğlu Kadir, “Zavallı Anadolu Halkı Neler Çekmişti? Hacı Ömerler Halkını Nasıl Kurban Ettiler?,” Ahenk, 26 January 1926.

15 Çetinkaya, Y. D., “Atrocity Propaganda and the Nationalization of the Masses in the Ottoman Empire during the Balkan Wars (1912–13),” International Journal of Middle East Studies 46 (2014): 759–78. Contemporary propaganda brochures include Şubesi, Garp Cephe İstihbarat, Anadolu'da Yunan Zulüm ve Vahşeti (Ankara: Matbuat ve İstihbarat Matbaası, 1922); İzmir Fecayii (n.p., 1919); Permanent Bureau of the Turkish Congress at Lausanne, Greek Atrocities in the Vilayet of Smyrna (May to June 1919): Unedited Documents and Evidence of English and French officers: First Series (Lausanne, 1922).

16 Anadolu was established in 1911 as the local mouthpiece first of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) and later of the Republican People's Party (RPP). Like other newspapers, it was badly hit by the alphabet reform, but survived until 1954 (probably due to financial support from the government). See Öktem, Haydar Rüştü, Mütareke ve İşgal Anıları, ed. Arıkan, Zeki (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 1991), 14 . Anadolu published the memoir of Michael Rodas, who had been a high-ranking official in Greek-occupied Izmir, in 138 installments between March and September 1925 after the Istanbul-based Tevhid-i Efkar (Unification of Ideas), which had been publishing it until then, was closed down in February 1925. Ibid., 34.

17 Ahmed, Sara, The Cultural Politics of Emotion (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014), 9 ; Frevert, Ute, “Was haben Gefühle in der Geschichte zu suchen? (What Has History Got to Do with Emotions?),” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 35 (2009): 202 . For examples of such approaches, see Plamper, Jan, “Soldiers and Emotion in Early Twentieth-Century Russian Military Psychology,” in Fear: Across the Disciplines, ed. Lazier, Benjamin and Plamper, Jan (Pittsburgh, Pa.: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012), 7898 ; Pernau, Margrit, “An ihren Gefühlen sollt Ihr sie erkennen: Eine Verflechtungsgeschichte des britischen Zivilitätsdiskurses (ca. 1750–1860),” Geschichte und Gesellschaft 35 (2009): 249–81; Najmabadi, Afsaneh, “The Erotic Vatan [Homeland] as Beloved and Mother: To Love, To Possess, and To Protect,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 39 (1997): 442–67.

18 Ahmed, The Cultural Politics, 9.

19 Ibid.

20 Langman, Lauren, “The Social Psychology of Nationalism: To Die for the Sake of Strangers,” in The Sage Handbook of Nations and Nationalism, ed. Delanty, G. and Kumar, K. (London: Sage, 2006): 6683 .

21 Göçek, Fatma Müge, Denial of Violence: Ottoman Past, Turkish Present, and Collective Violence against the Armenians 1789–2009 (London and New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 3536 .

22 Sirman, Nükhet, “Constituting Public Emotions through Memory: Interviewing Witnesses,” New Perspectives on Turkey 34 (2006): 3146 .

23 Anderson, Benedict, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983).

24 Parr, Adrian, Deleuze and Memorial Culture: Desire, Singular Memory and the Politics of Trauma (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2008).

25 Deleuze, Gilles and Guattari, Félix, Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (New York: Viking Press, 1977).

26 Hale Yılmaz has recently shown that such participation was much stronger than previously thought. Yılmaz, Hale, Becoming Turkish: Nationalist Reforms and Cultural Negotiations in Early Republican Turkey, 1923–1945 (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2013).

27 Halbwachs, Maurice, On Collective Memory, ed. Coser, Lewis A. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992 [1939]).

28 Neyzi, Leyla, “Remembering Smyrna/Izmir: Shared History, Shared Trauma,” History and Memory 20 (2008): 106–27; Kolluoğlu-Kırlı, Biray, “Forgetting the Smyrna Fire,” History Workshop Journal 60 (2005): 2545 ; Kolluoğlu-Kırlı, Biray, “The Play of Memory, Counter-Memory: Building Izmir on Smyrna's Ashes,” New Perspectives on Turkey 26 (2002): 128 .

29 On the politics of victimhood, see Jeffery, Laura and Candea, Matei, “The Politics of Victimhood,” History and Anthropology 17 (2006): 287–96; Yektan Türkyılmaz, “Rethinking Genocide: Violence and Victimhood in Eastern Anatolia, 1913–1915” (PhD diss., Duke University, 2011); Klein, Josh and Lavery, Cathy, “Legitimating War by Victimization: State-Corporate Crime and Public Opinion,” Crime, Law & Social Change 56 (2011): 301–17; Subotic, Jelena, “Remembrance, Public Narratives and Obstacles to Justice in the Western Balkans,” Studies in Social Justice 7 (2013): 265–83.

30 Göçek, Denial of Violence.

31 Zürcher, Erik J., “The Politician as Historian, Historians in Politics: On the Nutuk (Speech) of Mustafa Kemal Pasha,” in The Young Turk Legacy and Nation Building: From the Ottoman Empire to Atatürk's Turkey (London and New York: I.B.Tauris, 2010), 616 ; Keyder, Çağlar, “A History and Geography of Turkish Nationalism,” in Citizenship and the Nation-State in Greece and Turkey, ed. Dragonas, Thalia G. and Birtek, Faruk (London: Routledge, 2005), 317 .

32 Gürpınar, Doğan, “The Politics of Memoirs and Memoir-Publishing in Twentieth Century Turkey,” Turkish Studies 13 (2012): 537–57, 539; Adak, Hülya, “National Myths and Self Na(rra)tions: Mustafa Kemal's Nutuk and Halide Edib's Memoirs and the Turkish Ordeal,” South Atlantic Quarterly 102 (2003): 509–28.

33 Özyürek, Esra, “Introduction: The Politics of Public Memory in Turkey,” in The Politics of Public Memory in Turkey, ed. Özyürek, Esra (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2007), 3 .

34 Brockett, Gavin D., How Happy to Call Oneself a Turk: Provincial Newspapers and the Negotiation of a Muslim National Identity (Austin, Tex.: University of Texas Press, 2011).

35 Studies that trace living traditions include Meeker, Michael, A Nation of Empire: The Ottoman Legacy of Turkish Modernity (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2002); and Özel, Oktay, “Migration and Power Politics: The Settlement of Georgian Immigrants in Turkey, 1878–1908,” Middle Eastern Studies 46 (2010): 477–96.

36 Kolluoğlu-Kırlı, “Forgetting the Smyrna Fire”; Kolluoğlu-Kırlı, “The Play of Memory, Counter-Memory”; Neyzi, “Remembering Smyrna/Izmir”; Öztürkmen, Arzu, “Remembering Conflicts in a Black Sea Town: A Multi-Sited Ethnography of Memory,” New Perspectives on Turkey 34 (2006): 93115 .

37 The APIKAM newspaper archive does not contain issues of Ahenk or Anadolu dating from 15 and 16 May 1925. Their competitor, Hizmet, reported on the anniversary on 16 May 1925; Ahenk perhaps did not publish on that day, or the issue was not archived. As for the lack of commemorations (or reporting on them) in 1926: 15 May 1926 was a Saturday, when daily newspapers had the day off. The Ahenk issues from 11 to 16 May are not available in Izmir, but the 16 May issue of Hizmet ignored the anniversary.

38 Seda-yi Hakk started publication in late 1922. It began supporting the oppositional Progressive Republican Party (Terrakiperver Cumhuriyet Fırkası) in 1924. In February 1925 it and the party were shut down. Arıkan, İzmir Basınından Seçmeler, 22.

39 “Memleket Bu Acı Hatıratı Unutmayacaktır,” Seda-yi Hakk, 15 May 1924.

40 “Büyük Felaketin Neticelerinden: Güzel İzmir Ateşler İçinde,” Seda-yi Hakk, 15 May 1924.

41 “335 Senesi Mayısının On Beşinde Haydutlar İzmir'e Ayak Basmışlardı,” Ahenk, 15 May 1924, published in Arıkan, İzmir Basınından Seçmeler, 42.

42 The story of the “first bullet” surfaced only in the 1960s, and the shot was initially attributed to at least three different people, including Hasan Tahsin (a.k.a Osman Nevres). Umar, Bilge, İzmir'de Yunanlıların Son Günleri (Ankara: Bilge, 1974), 119–66. After 1918, Hasan Tahsin became an active critic of the Armenian Genocide and may well have been killed as a result. See Talat Ulusoy, “Hasan Tahsin Meğer Kurşunu ‘Resmi Tarih'e Atmış,” Agos, 24 May 2012, accessed 23 February 2015,

43 “335 Senesi Mayısının On Beşinde Haydutlar İzmir'e Ayak Basmışlardı,” Ahenk, 15 May 1924, published in Arıkan, İzmir Basınından Seçmeler, 42.

44 Serçe, Erkan, “1923 İzmir-Aydın Demiryolu Grevi: Siyasal İktidar, Sermaye ve İşçi Sınıfı Üçgeni Üzerine Bir Deneme,” Toplum ve Bilim 66 (1995): 86105 ; Aktar, Ayhan, “Homogenising the Nation, Turkifying the Economy: The Turkish Experience of Population Exchange Reconsidered,” in Crossing the Aegean: An Appraisal of the 1923 Compulsory Population Exchange between Greece and Turkey, ed. Hirschon, Renée (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2003), 7995 .

45 Consul Samuel W. Honaker, Report on Introduction of General Consumption Tax, 12 May 1926, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md., Izmir consular records, box 028.

46 Tunçay, Mete, Türkiye Cumhuriyeti'nde Tek Parti Yönetimi'nin Kurulması: 1923–1931 (Ankara: Yurt Yayınları, 1981), 162 ; Zürcher, Erik-Jan, The Unionist Factor: The Role of the Committee of Union and Progress in the Turkish National Movement 1905–1926 (Leiden: Brill, 1984).

47 Ahmet H. Balcı, “İzmir İstiklal Mahkemesi ve İzmir Basını (1906–1926 Cumhuriyetin De Facto Kuruluşu: Ahenk Gazetesi'nde Söylem/İktidar)” (PhD diss., Ankara Üniversitesi, 2007), accessed 13 July 2015,

48 Mehmet Şevki, “Yekpare Bir Vicdan Halinde,” Ahenk, 1 February 1926.

49 Mehmet Şevki, “İzmire'e Avdet Eden Rumlar Meselesi,” Ahenk, 20 October 1923; “Düşmanlarımızın Dolaplara,” Ahenk, 28 December 1923; Haydar Rüştü, “Firariler Gelememelidirler,” Anadolu, 25 June 1924.

50 Kokaryalı H. Celal, “Azametli Madam,” Ahenk, 21 January 1926.

51 On love and longing for the (human, and usually male) beloved in 16th-century Ottoman poetry, see Andrews, Walter G. and Kalpaklı, Mehmet, The Age of Beloveds: Love and the Beloved in Early-Modern Ottoman and European Culture and Society (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2005).

52 Najmabadi, Afsaneh, Women with Mustaches and Men without Beards: Gender and Sexual Anxieties of Iranian Modernity (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2010).

53 “Şehitlerin Cesetleri Arasından Geçtik,” Ahenk, 4 March 1926.

54 Kemal, owner of the Sakarya bookshop, “Kudurmuş Gibi Saldırıyorlardı,” Ahenk, 16 March 1926.

55 According to Philip Mansel, some fez-wearing rum inhabitants of Izmir were actually beaten up on 15 May by Greek soldiers who mistook them for Muslims. Mansel, Levant, 205.

56 Çetinkaya, The Young Turks and the Boycott Movement, 82.

57 Chehabi, Houchang, “Dress Codes for Men in Turkey and Iran,” in Men of Order: Authoritarian Modernization under Atatürk and Reza Shah, ed. Atabaki, Turag (London: I.B.Tauris, 2004), 209–37; Yılmaz, Becoming Turkish, 22–77.

58 Aksekili Mustafa Asım, “Zavallı Yavrucuk,” Ahenk, 8 February 1926.

59 Ibid.

60 Koraltürk, Murat, Erken Cumhuriyet Döneminde Ekonominin Türkleştirilmesi (İstanbul: İletişim, 2011), 86 .

61 Nüfus Başkatibi Avni Beyin Refikası Sabriye Hanım, “Bir Türk Hanımın Gördükleri,” Ahenk, 23 February 1926. My thanks to Oliver Kontny for his help with the tricky parts of this translation.

62 Ibid.

63 İzmirli Ali Necati, “Mansur Efendinin Başına Gelenler,” Ahenk, 17 February 1926.

64 Barbaros Nahiyesinden Hüseyin Hilmi, “Barbaros Nahiyesinde,” Ahenk, 26 January 1926.

65 İzmirli Ali Muharrem, “Bir Mekteplinin Gördükleri,” Ahenk, 25 February 1926.

66 Kokaryalı H. Celal, “Azametli Madam,” Ahenk, 21 January 1926.

67 İzmir Kızılçullu'da Kemal Hakkı, “Bir Yavrucuğunun Başını Yaran Komitaci,” Ahenk, 17 February 1926.

68 Neyzi, “Remembering Smyrna/Izmir”; Kolluoğlu-Kırlı, “Forgetting the Smyrna Fire.”

69 Parr, Deleuze and Memorial Culture, 17.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Journal of Middle East Studies
  • ISSN: 0020-7438
  • EISSN: 1471-6380
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-middle-east-studies
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed