I realized I have not shared the Saturday AM adventure to the abandoned Greek city near Fethiya yet, so here goes.

This is Karakoy, a Greek city of perhaps 5,000 – there are two thousand ruined cottages and a basilica there—and is the remaining extreme example of the mandatory emigration.

(I put the history behind this at the bottom of this report; it’s there for the history seekers, but out of the way for the rest.)

The first picture shows the city from across the valley– all those houses– that entire hillside–are abandoned.

The old Muslim women who live around the perimeter of Karakoy have turned into tomb-robbers, and there is a lot of pretty cool (and real) loot available: pottery shards, household implements, etc.

They also sell all the evil eye dangles, bracelets, necklaces, gee-gaws of all kinds, which I saw them buying out of a van as I was leaving.

On the way back, I saw some Lycian rock tombs. The Lycians lived in this area long enough ago to be allies of the Trojans (1250 BCE).

Turkey and WWI–

The Turks were on the German/Austro-Hungarian side in WWI (which is why the invasion at Gallipoli happened—to cut Turkey into two parts and preclude the Asian 95% from supplying troops, supplies, food, etc. to the war effort.

Turkey and its allies lost, and the Ottoman Empire (the Balkans, Arabian Peninsula, and what is now Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, many other smaller areas, and Cyprus all were given to the winners.

Emboldened by religious turmoil and centuries of bitter conflicts, the Greeks invaded Turkey after WWI ended, and were doing pretty well until the defense planning and execution fell to Mustafa Kemal, the (then) Lt. Colonel who outfought and out thought the British planners and Australian/New Zealand troops at Gallipoli.

The Turkish flag also has origins at Gallipoli: it was said that you could see the crescent moon and stars reflected in the blood on the ground around the Turkish (which at the time were Ottoman, of course) positions, so the flag is red with a white crescent moon and one star.

Kemal was made a General for Gallipoli, and eventually took over a blundering defense of the country against the Greek invasion.

He was pretty unanimously chosen to be the first president, and renamed himself Ataturk—the father of the Turks. And since “Turk” really means “strong” in the first place, you can start to understand what kind of presence he still maintains here—calendars, biographies (I saw eight different biographies of him in a grocery store—the whole of the top shelf in a place where there weren’t that many books.

One result of the peace treaty was that ethnic populations would be repatriated, forcibly. A million and a half Greeks were sent west as were a half-million Turks came east from Greece.

Well, it’s a lot better to move people than to kill them, which is, as you will remember, what happened to the Bosnians at Srebrenitsa in July of 1995: a town about as large as Karakoy here, where (all) 8,000 men and teen-age boys were taken out to a field and systematically murdered by Serbian army and paramilitary groups.

Originally written for Two Minutes in Turkey

posts by Robert