The following is a true story from the folkloric magazine “Pontian Forum”, Year 23 – Issue 92, October-December 2007, of Eyxinos Club of the city of Kozani, Greece. This article has been posted on our website unedited, and with the permission of Mr. K. Sanidis, publicists, Kozani, Greece.
Professor Phufas of Erie Community College, Buffalo, NY, and members of the Pontian Greek Society of Chicago have translated the article.
The Genocide Continues…
An Authentic Sincere Testimony
Source of Information: Penelope, daughter of Grigoris Lipiridis and Nikos Kiriazidis.
Supervised by: Christoforos Christoforidis
Finally seeing the light of day, is one of the thousands of unknown but genuine firsthand accounts of the appalling events that followed the implementation of genocidal measures by the Young Turks against the Greek Christian population of the Pontus.
The following account was written by Grigoris Lipiridis, born in the village of Partin in the prefecture of Argyropoulis in the Pontus region of Asia Minor in 1904. His parents were Christos and Rebecca. In 1924, along with four sons, Grigoris, Lefteris, Kostas ad Theodore and two daughters Anatoli and Margarita, he settled in the village of Xerolimni of the Kozani prefecture. Two of the daughters of the family died in quarantine at Selimiye in Constantinople. In Xerolimni, Grigoris married Kyriaki (Kitsa) of the Rodopoulos family from the “Nanak” settlement of Kromnis, a neighboring village of Partin. He died in Xerolimni in 1985.
A few months before his death, Grigoris Lipiridis felt obligated to write his story and tell of the nightmarish journey that lasted 27 months, undertaken when he was only 18 years old. During this time, he survived the Pontian Greek genocide started by the Young Turks and their allies, and finished by Mustafa Kemal.
On a bit of paper and expressed in the simple, yet sincere words of a man with only a 2nd grade education – Lipiridis recorded the heartbreaking pain he suffered during those 27 months in exile. He was fortunate to be among those who survived and were set free after the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 that authorized the exchange of populations between the Greek and Turkish states.
Further comments regarding the testimony of the events are unnecessary.The photocopy of the original narrative with its authenticated signature, (only edited to correct spelling), says it all. We wish to express our gratitude to the daughter of Grigoris Lipiridis, Penelope, who brought to light her father’s unknown story, and Nikos Kiriazidis, who contributed the family facts of “Barba” Grigoris, in whose memory we light a candle with the publication of his written testimony.
“They grabbed me – those barbaric Turks – may they be banished from the face of the earth! On March 2, 1922 I was taken into exile into the depths of Turkey -Erzurum, Erzekian, Mama-Hatum, Sarikamis, Caucasus, Hasan Kale, – into the forests alongside wild animals, bears, wolves, wild boars, foxes and many assorted birds. Meanwhile, there was the very big Euphrates River, which joined with the Tigris River to flow into the Persian Gulf. I became familiar with all these things during those 27 months of exile. At the same time, frostbite, illness and the most debilitating disease – typhus – attacked my body, turning it yellow like a wax candle, and only by a miracle did I survive this evil sickness in the hospital at Erzurum with a fever of 41C. Finally, let’s just say that I “recovered” and was sent to Sarikamis, surrounded by mountains and forests. Hungry and barefoot, we chopped wood and coal for the battalion…while fleas crawled through our naked bodies. For rations there was barley bread and soup. And we had to eat it cold. Those disgraceful Turks deliberately would not let us have a warm meal. Finally winter came and all was covered by snow. They brought us to Erzurum where we were forced to labor in stables with oxen and wagons to serve the officers; this is how almost all the Christians perished. Only a few of us were lucky. 70-80% never made it out of the mountains of Erzurum, Sarikamis and Caucasus – let the Turks face up to that!