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Photo exhibition presents Smyrna’s prosperity before the Asia Minor catastrophe

25 September 2012 / 20:09:27  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezzdrova

Smiling people in family portraits, sports teams, opera performances at the theatre of the city, rich and beautiful seafront houses, schools and universities. This is Smyrna (now Izmir) - one of the richest commercial ports in the Mediterranean before the Greco-Turkish War that ended with the signing of the Lausanne Peace Treaty and the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey.

This year marks the 90th anniversary of those events, which have remained in the Greek historical memory as the Asia Minor catastrophe. On this occasion, an exhibition of photographs from the time before the destruction of war has been organized in the general secretariat for information. The photographs show the economic and cultural prosperity of the Greeks in Smyrna and their long-term peaceful coexistence with their fellow citizens of Turkish, Armenian, Jewish and Western origin.

"With this exhibition, we want to show what Smyrna was like before the Asia Minor catastrophe; its prosperity in culture, economy, sports, literature and education. We want to show how its residents lived, where they shopped, and everything about the life before the catastrophe. However, almost half of the photographs show the consequences of the war in 1922. Nevertheless, our main goal was to show the beauty rather than the bad memories that this event recalls," the head of the photographic archive of the general secretariat for the media Yiannis Kousoulas told GRReporter.

The most distinctive among the photographs are the stadium of the local soccer team Panionios, the impressive theatre and the beautiful buildings. The fire and the beginning of the movement of populations come next.

"The Greeks of Asia Minor were like a life-giving injection to the Greek society. The message of the exhibition is that we have to remember our history, the example of these brave people and bear in mind that revival comes after the catastrophe," the Greek government spokesman and a descendant of refugees from Asia Minor Simos Kedikoglou said at the opening of the exhibition.

On exhibition are 72 photographs, 70 of which are the property of the photographic archive of the secretariat for the media.

"There are some photographs without any inscription on the back and we do not know their author. Nevertheless, we are showing them, and I do not think we are doing something wrong. But 70 of the 72 photographs are owned by the general secretariat for the media," said Yiannis Kousoulas.

The exhibition runs until 29 September. It is arranged on the ground floor of the general secretariat for media (11 Frangoudi and Al. Pandou, Kallithea) and is open to visitors every day from 9 am to 4 pm.

Tags: HistoryPhoto exhibitionSmyrnaAsia Minor catastropheGreco-Turkish War
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