September 1955: The violent pogrom against the Greeks of Istanbul

On September 6 and 7, 1955, thousands of Turks will furiously attack everything Greek in Istanbul - It is the starting point of another uprooting


On September 6 and 7, 1955, the Greek neighborhoods of Istanbul turned into a battlefield.

A mob of tens of thousands of Turks, having clear orders from the Menderes government, set their sights on the Greek community of Constantinople and starting from the district of Peran, they destroyed hundreds of Greek houses and shops.

In fact, there were also dead people, with the figures that emerged later talking about 15 to 37 dead Greeks.

The reason for this merciless attack had been "fabricated" a day earlier, in Greece, with an explosion at the Turkish consulate in Thessaloniki, which caused minor material damage and which from the beginning clearly showed the elements of provocation.

It is not accidental or coincidental that a few days ago a conference had started in London between Britain, Greece and Turkey on the issue of Cyprus which was still under British colonial rule, while false rumors were spreading in Turkey that the Greek diaspora was financing the liberating of the British, struggle of the Greek Cypriots and EOKA.

1"TA NEA", 7.9.1955, Historical Archive "TO VIMA" & "TA NEA"

They write "TA NEA" of September 6, 1955:

"This action is a continuation of many other such actions by foreign agents in order to create issues between the governments of Greece and Turkey to be exploited for the Cyprus issue"

A few hours later, the pogrom against the Greeks of Constantinople and Smyrna begins.

2 4 600x83 1"TA NEA", 6.9.1955, Historical Archive "TO VIMA" & "TA NEA"

The facts

"According to the telegrams from Smyrna and Constantinople, the barbaric manifestations of the mob against the Greeks in the two cities unfolded as follows.

"Immediately after the news of the explosion at the Turkish consulate in Thessaloniki, riots broke out in both cities.

"In Constantinople, thousands of other young people, carrying the Turkish flag and the image of Kemal Atatürk and the slogan "Cyprus is Turkish", the demonstrators besieged the shops, which are located on the main Anekartisias street, using stone and iron beams.

"Police authorities took strong security measures near the local Greek consulate and troops were called to assist the police.

Screenshot 2022 09 06 at 09.16.28"THE STEP", 8.9.1955, Historical Archive "THE STEP" & "THE NEWS"

"The enraged Turks threw the furniture and goods of the shops into the streets and set fire to them, while tens of thousands of other Turks gathered in the streets or went out of the windows of their houses to cheer the brave terrorists.

"The Turkish police watched without interfering with the looting. The demonstrators also tried to set fire to an Orthodox Greek church, but were repulsed by the police.

"The owners of the shops did not put up any resistance. The barbaric events continued for hours, and until 11 o'clock at night traffic had not been fully restored in the center of the city"

3 6"TA NEA", 7.9.1955, Historical Archive 

In Smyrna

"As the diaspora of Constantinople experienced the manifestations of Turkish barbarity, in Smyrna raging mobs set fire to the Greek pavilion of the exhibition (s.s. International Exhibition of Smyrna), and ransacked most of the Greek shops.

"The consul general Mr. Zafiriou barely managed to escape, taking refuge in the house of general Mr. Pipiliagopoulos, from which he unsuccessfully tried to communicate by phone with the prefect of Smyrna, who disappeared.

"The enraged crowds, after carrying out the work of looting the shops, moved towards the beach, with the intention of setting fire to the two Greek sailing ships located there in the port.

"There was information that, among other things, the Greek church of Smyrna was also set on fire.

1 7"TA NEA", 7.9.1955, Historical Archive

Menderes on the spot

"On the other hand, it was learned that the Turkish Prime Minister, Mr. Menderes, went to Constantinople today from Ankara, where the seat of the Turkish government is known to be. (…)


"According to this information, all the Greek shops of Peran were destroyed by the raging mob.

"Many Orthodox churches were damaged, including the Agia Triada, the Zoodochos Pigi monastery, the Theological School of Halki, and the Therapia church was blown up.

"In the Governorate, no information has been received so far about the number of injured during yesterday's incidents, but it is estimated that they amount to several tens, and among them are several expatriates. (…)

1 8

"TA NEA", 9.9.1955, Historical Archive

"Yesterday morning (September 7, 1955) the districts of the center of Constantinople presented a scene of desolation.

"Most of the shops whose iron rolls and aprons have been smashed, have been emptied of their contents.

»Heaps of miscellaneous objects cover the streets. Workers were assigned yesterday to the task of clearance, while armed soldiers are patrolling.

"Istiklal Avenue, the most elegant artery of the city, is covered with pieces of cloth, dresses, damaged furniture, broken glass, through which it is difficult to pass.

"Everywhere the victims of these events search among the ruins that cover the ground, in order to discover at least part of their destroyed property.

"In some places, there are also cars upside down."

The September riots were a continuation of the neo-Turkish policy of uprooting minorities, which unfortunately over time achieved its goal. As although the Greek community of Constantinople, particularly prosperous until then, managed to withstand the strong blow of the September 1955, it was not possible to face the deportations of 1964.