Invisible victims of Istanbul pogrom: Women and children

Looted shops, goods of shops in the middle of the street, people carrying sticks in their hands… The Istanbul pogrom of 1955 meant much more for women and children than the photographs show.

News Center- 67 years have passed since the Istanbul pogrom took place on September 6-7 1955. There are many photographs showing how the shops, houses were looted; Greek people living in Istanbul were killed. However, they do not show the invisible victims of the pogrom; women and children.

On September 6-7 1955, 4214 homes, 1004 businesses, 73 churches, 26 schools, two monasteries, and a synagogue were attacked. Over 4,000 Greek-owned businesses, over 1,000 Greek-owned homes, 110 hotels, 73 churches, 27 pharmacies, 23 schools, and 21 factories were badly damaged or destroyed. The photographs taken on those days show the looted and damaged shops on Istiklal Avenue. According to human rights watchdog, Helsinki Watch, 15 people lost their lives; hundreds were injured during the September events. Greek citizens, who survived the attacks, were forcibly displaced to Greece, Armenia, Europe and the US. 

Untold facts of events

There are untold facts of 6/7 September events; what women faced. The ruling power at that time tried to strengthen itself over women. Demetrios Kaloumenos, the official photographer of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, wrote in his book titled, “The Crucifixion of Christianity” that 200 Greek women were raped and tortured. He wrote:

“200 Greek girls were brutally raped and tortured.

1- In the Bosphorus, in Ortaköy, they raped an 80-year-old woman who lost her mind due to what she faced.

2- They killed an old and disabled woman in Arnavutköy. (That night, other Greeks shared the same fate.  Thousands of Greeks were beaten, tortured, injured, ill-treated, and attacked. Many later died of fear, fever, heart attack, wounds, nervous breakdown, depression, distress, grief, and shock.)

3- They opened the grave of Iliaskos, who was burned in the Şişli Greek Orthodox Cemetery, and stabbed the dead body. They also destroyed other graves.

Women and children were subjected to rape

Some sources said 400 women were raped during the 6/7 September events. Sexual abuse cases were mostly reported to the Greek Consulate. Not only women but also children were subjected to sexual abuse.

What happened to Greeks and non-Muslim minorities are told by Speros Vryonis in his 2005 book titled “The Mechanism of Catastrophe”, and Leonidas Koumakis in his 1995 book titled “The Miracle: A True Story.”

 “At 7 pm, a mob surrounded a six-year-old girl and gave her to a half-mad porter called the Gorilla.”

What was told is just a part of what happened on September 6-7. “Many more dramatic events took place that we don’t tell and some will never be told but they will remain in a shameful silence,” wrote Demetrios Kaloumenos.

6/7 September events will remain as never forgotten shame in the history of Turkey.