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Turkey's Krystallnacht
September 5-6, 1955

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Semi Karnezos
past President of the Hellenic Society of Constantinople

will share the story she lived
on September 5-6, 1955

as a Greek Orthodox member of the Rum community
in Constantinople
during the Turkish Kry

Sunday, November 5, 2023
St. Andrew's Greek Orthodox Church
in the President's Room
immediately following liturgy

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It is not the first time that the distinguished Turkish historian İlber Ortaylı has publicly warned about the danger of the collapse of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.  

In his recent article in the newspaper Hürriyet, entitled: "Let's protect Hagia Sophia", Ortaylı points out the monument's severe dangers due to increased visitors after its reopening as a Muslim mosque. 

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Navigating the Path to Preservation

Turkey's Greek minority has a rich history, deeply intertwined with the nation's past and culture. This community, which has faced numerous challenges and adversities over the years, is at a critical juncture. Considering the intricate history, are Turkey's Greeks on the verge of distinction or does hope exist for their preservation?

Imbros: A Tale of Resilience

The island of Imbros (Imvros/ Gökçeada), nestled in the Aegean Sea, is a microcosm of the broader Greek experience in Turkey. For decades, Imbros bore witness to a dwindling Greek population, marked by forced departures and discrimination. The 1960s saw a mass exodus, with the majority of the island's 6,000 Greeks departing amid unsettling changes, including the arrival of settlers and convicted prisoners from the mainland.

However, in recent years, Imbros has witnessed a revival of its Greek culture. Tourism has flourished, and Greek restaurants in places like Zeytinlikoy have become bustling hubs filled with both locals and tourists. The Turkish government's decision to permit the opening of three Greek schools a decade ago spurred the return of descendants of the displaced Greeks. The island's Greek population, which had dwindled to under 200, has tripled, with new arrivals establishing businesses and revitalising the local culture.

2022 Major Beneficiaries

Grade School, Agioi Theodori, Imbros
Middle School & High School, Agridia, Imbros
re-opened by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

Grade School
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Middle School
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Why should we support?

  • Gökçeada, Turkey's largest island, was primarily inhabited by Greeks and is the birthplace of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.  In the 1920's, the Republic of Turkey imposed a set of policies targeting minorities in the country, especially the Greek Orthodox. With their properties confiscated through legal amendments restricting property ownership and an anti-minority sentiment gaining popularity, Greeks were forced to abandon their homes and leave the country. Gökçeada now boasts an unbalanced population of Turkish and Greek-Turkish citizens with Turkish people in the vast majority.

  • The schools marked the first time a Greek school opened on the island since the 1960s.

  • The opening of the schools has boosted the Greek presence on the island and has given the residents hope for their children's future in Turkey. With an accredited school for their children to attend, low cost of living and a growing Greek community, school administrators have witnessed families returning from Greece to the island their ancestors once inhabited. 

  • As of 2022. the 3 schools serve 55 Greek Orthodox students, Pre-school - High School grades.

  • The grade school opened in 2013 and the middle and high schools opened in 2015.

  • By supporting these institutions, we indirectly support the Greek Orthodox population who reside on the island, encourage others to return to their ancestral homeland and cultivate a Patriarchal constituency.

Balikli Nursing Home & Hospital
Istanbul, Turkey

A devastating blaze on August 4, 2022 has all but destroyed one of the last remaining institutions of the city’s once huge Greek community, leaving everyone to grieve.

Balikli Hospital was originally built in 1753 by by the Union of Greek Grocers when the population of Constantinople was still one third Greek. The objective was to treat epidemics and common diseases specifically affecting the ethnic Greek population of Constantinople. Over the years, it has served as a clinic for the treatment of alcohol and substance abuse and most recently as a nursing home for the elderly of Greek descent and a general hospital for all citizens.

It is also a source of pride for the small, remaining Greek community in Constantinople. 

Widely considered one of the best hospitals in Istanbul, it is one of the last remaining monuments built by and still administered by the Greeks in Constantinople. 

It also provided a much needed community service to the remaining Greek elderly who lost everything in the pogrom of 1955 and would have spent their last years residing in the nursing home. 

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