The Massacre of Phocea (1914)
Chapter 6
By George Horton

Danish translation: Massakren i Fokaia (1914)
Source: Preservation of American Hellenic History (PAHH)
Published on : June 19, 2013

Chapter from George Horton's online book: The Blight of Asia
Danish: Asiens svøbe

The complete and documentary account of the ferocious persecutions of the Christian population of the Smyrna region, which occurred in 1914, is not difficult to obtain; but it will suffice, by way of illustration, to give only some extracts from a report by the French eye-witness, Manciet, concerning the massacre and pillage of Phocea, a town of eight thousand Greek inhabitants and about four hundred Turks, situated on the sea a short distance from Smyrna. The destruction of Phocea excited great interest in Marseilles, as colonists of the very ancient Greek town founded the French city. Phocea is the mother of Marseilles. Monsieur Manciet was present at the massacre and pillage of Phocea, and, together with three other Frenchman, Messieurs Sartiaux, Carlier and Dandria, saved hundreds of lives by courage and presence of mind.

The report begins with the appearance on the hills behind the town of armed bands and the firing of shots, causing a panic. Those four gentlemen were living together, but when the panic commenced they separated and each installed himself in a house. They demanded of the Kaimakam gendarmes for their protection, and each obtained one. They kept the doors open and gave refuge to all who came. They improvised four French flags out of cloth and flew one from each house. But, to continue the recital in Monsieur Manciet's own words, translated from the French:

During the night the organized bands continued the pillage of the town. At the break of dawn there was continual "très nourrie" firing before the houses. Going out immediately, we four, we saw the most atrocious spectacle of which it is possible to dream. This horde, which had entered the town, was armed with Gras rifles and cavalry muskets. A house was in flames. From all directions the Christians were rushing to the quays seeking boats to get away in, but since the night there were none left. Cries of terror mingled with the sound of firing. The panic was so great that a woman with her child was drowned in sixty centimeters of water.
Mr. Carlier saw an atrocious spectacle. A Christian stood at his door, which the bandits wished to enter, as his wife and daughter were in the house. He stretched out his arms to bar the way. This motion cost him his life for they shot him in the stomach. As he was staggering toward the sea, they gave him a second shot in the back, and the corpse lay there for two days.
Fortunately there were two steamers in port, and we managed to embark the unfortunate Christians in small groups. Despite all our efforts, these wretched people were in such haste to depart that they upset the small boats. An odious detail proved the cynicism of this horde, which, under pretext of disarming those leaving, shamefully robbed these poor, terrified people of their last belongings. They tore away from old women packages and bedding by force. Anger seized me and I blushed to see these abominations and I told an officer of the gendarmerie that if this did not stop, I would take a gun myself and fire on the robbers. This produced the desired effect, and these unfortunates were enabled to embark with what they had saved from the disaster, which proves that the whole movement could have been easily controlled.
But the plundering was stopped only in our immediate neighborhood. Farther away we saw doors broken in and horses and asses laden with booty. This continued all day. Toward evening I mounted a little hill and saw a hundred camels laden with the pillage of the city. That night we passed in agony, but nothing happened.
The following day the methodical pillage of the city recommenced. And now the wounded began to arrive. There being no doctor, I took upon myself the first aid before embarking them for Mitylene. I affirm that with two or three exceptions, all these wounded were more than sixty years of age. There were among them aged women, more than ninety years of age, who had received gunshots, and it is difficult to imagine that they had been wounded while defending their possessions. It was simply and purely a question of massacre.

This extract is given from Monsieur Manciet's description of the sack of Phocea in 1914, of which he was an eye-witness, for several reasons. It is necessary to the complete and substantiated picture of the gradual ferocious extermination of the Christians which had been going on in Asia Minor and the Turkish Empire for the past several years, finally culminating in the horror of Smyrna; it is a peculiarly graphic recital, bringing out the unchanging nature of the Turk and his character as a creature of savage passions, living still in the times of Tamerlane or Attila, the Hun; — for the Turk is an anachronism; still looting, killing and raping and carrying off his spoil on camels; it is peculiarly significant, also, as it tells a story strongly resembling some of the exploits of Mohammed himself; it also gives a clear idea of what happened over the entire coast of Asia Minor and far back into the interior in 1914, temporarily destroying a flourishing and rapidly growing civilization, which was later restored by the advent of the Greek army, only to go out in complete darkness under the bloody and lustful hands of the followers of Mustapha Khemal; it rings again the constant note, so necessary to be understood by the European or American, that this was an "organized movement," as Monsieur Manciet says:

We found an old woman lying in the street, who had been nearly paralyzed by blows. She had two great wounds on the head made by the butts of muskets; her hands were cut, her face swollen.
A young girl, who had given all the money she possessed, had been thanked by knife stabs, one in the arm and the other in the region of the kidneys. A weak old man had received such a blow with a gun that the fingers of his left hand had been carried away.
From all directions during the day that followed families arrived that had been hidden in the mountains. All had been attacked. Among them was a woman who had seen killed, before her eyes, her husband, her brother and her three children.
We learned at this moment an atrocious detail. An old paralytic, who had been lying helpless on his bed at the moment the pillagers entered, had been murdered.
Smyrna sent us soldiers to establish order. As these soldiers circulated in the streets, we had a spectacle of the kind of order which they established; they continued, personally, the sacking of the town.
We made a tour of inspection through the city. The pillage was complete; doors were broken down and that which the robbers had not been able to carry away they had destroyed. Phocea, which had been a place of great activity, was now a dead city.
A woman was brought to us dying; she had been violated by seventeen Turks. They had also carried off into the mountains a girl of sixteen, having murdered her father and mother before her eyes. We had seen, therefore, as in the most barbarous times, the five characteristics of the sacking of a city; theft, pillage, fire, murder and rape.
All the evidence points to this having been an organized attack with the purpose of driving from the shores the Rayas, or Christian Ottomans.
It is inconceivable that all these persons should have had in their possession so many army weapons if they had not been given them. As for the Christians of old Phocea, there was not for one instant an effort at defense. It was, therefore, a carnage.
We read in the journals that order had been established, and that, in the regions of which we speak, the Christians have nothing further to fear, neither for themselves, nor for their possessions. This is not a vain statement. Order reigns, for nobody is left. The possessions have nothing further to fear, for they are all in good hands — those of the robbers.

George Horton

George Horton (1859–1942) was a member of the US diplomatic corps who held several consular offices, in Greece and the Ottoman Empire, in late 19th century and early 20th century. Horton initially arrived in Greece in 1893 and left from Greece 30 years later in 1924. During two different periods he was the US Consul and US Consul general to Smyrna, known as Izmir today, the first time between 1911-1917 (till the cessation of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the Ottoman Empire during the First World War) and the second time between 1919–1922, during Greek administration of the city in the course of the Greco-Turkish War. The Greek administration of Smyrna was appointed by the Allied Powers following Turkey's defeat in World War I and the seizure of Smyrna. (Source: Wikipedia)

What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.


Table of Contents

  1. Turkish Massacres, 1822-1909
  2. Gladstone and the Bulgarian Atrocities
  3. First Steps In Young Turks' Program (1908-1911)
  4. The Last Great Selamlik (1911)
  5. Persecution of Christians in Smyrna District (1911-1914)
  6. The Massacre of Phocea (1914)
  7. New Light on the Armenian Massacres (1914-1915)
  8. Story of Walter M. Geddes
  9. Information from Other Sources
  10. The Greek Landing at Smyrna (May, 1919)
  11. The Hellenic Administration in Smyrna (May 15, 1919 - September 9, 1922)
  12. The Greek Retreat (1922)
  13. Smyrna As It Was
  14. The Destruction Of Smyrna (September, 1922)
  15. First Disquieting Rumors
  16. The Turks Arrive
  17. Where and When the Fires Were Lighted
  18. The Arrival at Athens
  19. Added Details Learned After The Tragedy
  20. Historic Importance Of The Destruction Of Smyrna
  21. Number Done To Death
  22. Efficiency of Our Navy in Saving Lives
  23. Responsibility of the Western World
  24. Italy's Designs On Smyrna
  25. France and the Khemalists
  26. Massacre of the French Garrison at Urfa
  27. The British Contribution
  28. Turkish Interpretation Of America's Attitude
  29. The Making of Mustapha Khemal
  30. Our Missionary Institutions In Turkey
  31. American Institutions Under Turkish Rule
  32. The Reverend Ralph Harlow on the Lausanne Treaty
  33. Mohammedanism and Christianity
  34. The Koran And The Bible
  35. The Example Of Mohammed
  36. The 50-50 Theory
  37. Asia Minor, The Graveyard Of Greek Cities
  38. Echoes From Smyrna
  39. Conclusion