Italy's Designs On Smyrna
Chapter 24
By George Horton

Danish translation: Italiens planer for Smyrna
Source: Preservation of American Hellenic History (PAHH)
Published on : September 14, 2013

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

Austria's imperial designs were extinguished by the outcome of the Great War. Italy's, however, burned more brightly than ever. In an article in Foreign Affairs of June 15, 1923, Mr. Francesco Coppola says:

Although Italy entered the war to combat the German attempt at hegemony and to wrest her historic frontiers and the control of the Adriatic from Austria, Italy's traditional instinct really aimed to secure the indispensable modicum of security and freedom for expansion. It was for this reason that in the fundamental pact of alliance — the Treaty of London of April, 1915 — Baron Sonnino stipulated for Italian colonial compensation in Africa in the event of a Franco-English partition of the German colonies, and for a corresponding zone in Southern Anatolia in the event of Allied acquisitions in the Levant. It was also for this reason that, later on, when he got wind of the complete plan of a tripartite division of the Ottoman Empire, (disloyally concluded in 1916 between France, Russia, and England without the knowledge of Italy, who had been fighting for more than a year by their side), he forced the Allies to reopen the question and to give an adequate share to Italy. The new treaty was discussed in April, 1917, between Sonnino, Ribot and Lloyd George at St. Jean de Maurienne — from which it took its name — and was concluded and signed in London in August of the same year. While leaving Constantinople and the Caucasus, Armenia and part of the Anatolian coast of the Black Sea to Russia, Syria and Cilicia to France, and Mesopotamia and the protectorate over Arabia to England, this treaty assigned to Italy Southwestern Anatolia, the whole vilayet of Aidin with Smyrna, the whole vilayet of Konia with Adalia and a small part of the vilayet of Adana. But this very treaty contained the poison which was later to weaken it. Even before the war was over, the Allies hastened to avail themselves of the pretext of the absence of Russia's signature to denounce the Treaty of St. Jean de Maurienne. Thus it came about that in the spring of 1919, Lloyd George, taking advantage of the weakness and temporary absence of Orlando, and violating the treaty of St. Jean de Maurienne and the armistice of Mudros, was able to arrange that Smyrna and the surrounding neighborhood be given to Greece. This was done with the full consent of Wilson, who, absolutely ignorant of European and Mediterranean affairs, blindly allowed himself to be governed by idealistic impulses and natural prejudices and with the approbation of Clemenceau, who was only too delighted to be able to "jouer un mauvais tour a l'Italie".

Some of the Italian publicist's conclusions are open to discussion, but his article sets forth the Italian frame of mind. There was much talk at Smyrna during the time of the Greek occupation in military circles and among the Levantines about Italian efforts to build a port farther to the south, in the vicinity of ancient Ephesus, that would become the chief harbor of Asia Minor and leave Smyrna to sink into insignificance. Many stories were told also of Italian efforts to win the affections of the Turk. In any case, it is certain that bands of Turkish marauders were in the habit of crossing the line from the Italian zone and of attacking and killing Greeks, after which they would take refuge with the Italians, where they could not be pursued.

The statement that the Turks received munitions and many arms from Italian shippers was persistently repeated, and has never been successfully refuted. The Italian viewpoint has already been explained. They considered that Smyrna had been promised them and that the Hellenic forces had been hurried there by their unfaithful allies to forestall their own landing. Italy can consider herself very fortunate that she did not beat the Greeks to Smyrna, for even with her own resources, so superior to those of King Constantine, she would have had her hands full.

But, the point is, her attitude contributed to the Greek defeat, the burning of Smyrna and the final destruction of the Christians of Asia Minor. Much valuable Italian property was destroyed as well as that of others. An aftermath of Italian antipathy to Greece may be seen in the bombardment of Corfu and the seizure of the island by the Italian fleet on August 31, 1923.

On the twenty-seventh of the same month, five Italian members of the commission for the delimitation of the frontier between Albania and Greece were waylaid on a lonely road in Albania and foully murdered by unknown persons. The demands of the Italian Government, including a payment of fifty million liras, were refused by the Greeks, on the ground that culpability had not been established. A request by Greece that the affair be referred to the League of Nations was refused and the island bombarded, with the result that sixty-five civilians, largely refugees, were killed or wounded. The indignation of the Italians is easily understandable, but a knowledge of preceding events is necessary to explain the wholly unnecessary bombardment of a Greek island on insufficient data and the killing or the wounding of sixty-five entirely innocent persons. As these latter were killed by cannon, they were not, of course, murdered.

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