Turkey's Kristallnacht in 1955

Remember the Kristallnacht? It was a cowardly pogrom against Jews and jewish property carried out by the Sturmabteilung (SA), the Nazi Party's paramilitary force, plus incited civilians throughout Nazi Germany during the night of 9 and 10 November 1938. The pogrom left approximately 100 Jews dead, 7,500 Jewish businesses destroyed and countless schools, homes, synagogues, and graveyards devastated. The German authorities had looked on without intervening.
The name Kristallnacht ('Crystal Night') comes from the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and synagogues were smashed.

But you probably do not remember the second Kristallnacht on 6 and 7 November 1955, when the Polites, short for Konstantinoupolites, which were the Greeks of Istanbul, were targeted in a violent pogrom carefully fabricated by the Turkish Security Service.

In what can be described as Turkey’s Kristallnacht, riots that lasted two days targeted the Greek and Armenian communities. The riots were carefully planned by the Turkish government to cleanse Istanbul of the approximately 100,000 Polites, who were excluded from the Turkish-Greek population exchange of 1923-24.
They were triggered by the false fake news that the Turkish consulate in Thessaloniki, in northern Greece, had been bombed the day before. However, the bomb was planted by a Turkish usher at the consulate, who was later arrested and confessed. The Turkish press, conveying the news in Turkey, remained silent about the arrest and instead insinuated that Greeks had set off the bomb.

A Turkish mob, most of which had been trucked into the city in advance, assaulted Istanbul’s Greek community for nine hours. Overnight, 71 churches, 41 schools, eight newspapers, more than 4,000 stores and 2,000 residences were looted or destroyed.
The human toll and suffering were even more catastrophic, with more than 30 dead, 300 injured and over 400 women, girls, and boys raped.

As was the case in in 1938, the police remained mostly inactive, and the violence continued unabated until the government declared martial law in Istanbul and called in the army to put down the riots. The pogrom greatly accelerated emigration of ethnic Greeks from Turkey, and the Istanbul region in particular. In Istanbul alone, the Greek population decreased from 65,108 to 49,081 between 1955 and 1960. And it went on unabated: the 2008 figures released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry placed the number of Turkish citizens of Greek descent at just somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000.
Don't for a moment think that the Turkish government has any regrets over this ethnic cleansing. Even now, Greek schools in Turkey struggle to survive. Only Greek Orthodox students are allowed to study in the Greek schools - a requirement introduced in 1968 by the Turkish Ministry of National Education.

Armenians, Jews, Kurds, and Greeks. Genocide seems to be an integral part of Turkey's culture and mindset.

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