The Arrival at Athens
Chapter 18
By George Horton

Danish translation: Ankomsten til Athen
Source: Preservation of American Hellenic History (PAHH)
Published on : August 25, 2013

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

The destroyer reached Piraeus very early in the morning, and I obtained, after some negotiations, permission from the authorities to land my colony. I was soon convinced that I had made no mistake in undertaking this task myself.

I herded my refugees temporarily in the compound of the custom-house, and immediately appointed a committee of the most capable to attend to the details of obtaining provisions, etc., and to distribute among the families the necessary sums for their daily needs from a small amount which had been provided at Smyrna for immediate necessities by the representatives of the Near East Relief. I then set about finding lodgings for my people and telegraphed to Washington an account of the situation and asked for funds. I found Piraeus, as well as Athens, already crowded to saturation with refugees from Turkey. It soon became apparent that it would be next to impossible to find lodgings for these new arrivals. After running about frantically all day, toward evening I obtained permission to make use of a large steamer that was undergoing repairs in the harbor.

My appeal to Washington for financial help brought an immediate telegraphic order for two thousand dollars, and about two weeks later, Consul Oscar Heizer arrived from Constantinople with ample funds. A small room in the basement of the American Consulate at Athens was accorded to the personnel of the Smyrna office. This was crowded all day with refugees and their innumerable relatives.

It was necessary to study carefully the case of each and determine to what extent he was entitled to relief from the American Government, a matter rendered doubly difficult by the lack of essential records. The painfulness of the task was augmented by the fact that while American citizens could be repatriated, many of those dependent on them could not be sent to the United States.

The consular officials were obliged, therefore, actually to engage in the gruesome business of tearing families apart, even to the extent of separating aged parents from children, and to act as the agents of an uncompromising system which was not rising to the emergency. A more pleasant feature of the task was that of helping in the reuniting at Athens of scattered families and in obtaining news of missing relatives. This work, begun by me, was developed into an efficient system later by the Athens Red Cross.

It was very painful to me to be thrown into daily contact with the beggared inhabitants of Asia Minor, whom I had known such a short time before as self-supporting and prosperous. I remember with peculiar distinctness the old guide of my hunting expeditions, an industrious small farmer from the village of Develikeuy. Many an unforgettable day have I spent in the pinewoods with him, shooting woodcock and hare and swapping Greek and American hunting yarns in his native tongue. The day before I left Athens, I met him wandering about the streets in a dazed condition. He told me that his beautiful and intelligent young daughter, who was soon to have been married, had disappeared; he feared that she had suffered a fate worse than death.

Mr. Heizer, on taking over the work, asked me the peculiar feature of the job. I knew he was a very competent man, as he had done most of the work of the Constantinople Consulate for years, so I replied, "The quality most needed in this task is a human heart and not to try too much to repress its promptings."

From his reply I understood that he was aware of this requisite and agreed with me. I therefore left my people with him without apprehension and sailed to the United States on leave granted me by the department!

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