Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan unofficially kicked off his re-election campaign on Saturday by trying to revise history in claiming that the destruction of the city of Smyrna in 1922 was the work of the Greeks.
Speaking at the Chamber of Commerce of Smyrna (today’s Izmir) he referred to the destruction of the city by blaming the retreating Greek soldiers.
“The biggest blow given to this beautiful city is by the Greek soldiers who burned Izmir as they retreated,” he said.
Our ancestors, Erdogan said, did not want to destroy or burn. They always wanted to build and create, and this is proved by the rapid development of Smyrna after the war of independence, he added.
The Great fire of Smyrna or the Catastrophe of Smyrna destroyed much of the port city in September 1922.
It occurred four days after the Turkish forces regained control of the city on 9 September 1922, effectively ending the Greco-Turkish War in the field.
Estimated Greek and Armenian deaths resulting from the fire range from 10,000 to 100,000.
Traditional Turkish sources hold that the Greeks and Armenians started the fire for damaging the Turks reputation.
The vast majority of historians say that it was Turkish forces that were responsible for the destruction of this great city.