The Turkish and Greek cuisine is similar

Greece and TurkeyA long, deep enmity

For three years they had been at war with one another: Greece and Turkey, from 1919 to 1922. The Greek army had occupied Smyrna, today's Izmir, and had advanced towards Ankara. But then the Turkish troops fought back, who at that time were fighting against several powers for the independence of Turkey. They drove the Greek soldiers out of Anatolia forever and routed tens of thousands of Greek civilians from Smyrna and the surrounding area:

"The Turkish soldiers did not behave badly. But the partisans who came afterwards were bad. They murdered, they raped, that was hell," says Thémis Papadopoúlou in the memorial near Athens, who remembered Greek culture remembered in Asia Minor - a culture that perished with the expulsion of the Greeks. Before the war, Smyrna was shaped by Greek - 40 percent of the population were Greeks. From then on, however, the city belonged to the Turks alone, and since then only the Turkish place name Izmir has been on maps.

The great population exchange

Immediately after the war, Greece and Turkey agreed on a so-called "population exchange" - over the heads of those affected: All 1.2 million Greeks had to leave what is now Turkey. In return, all 400,000 Muslims from Greece were forcibly relocated to Turkey - with a few exceptions.

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The grandmother of Thémis Papadopoúlou also had to leave her ancestral home in Alikarnassós, in Turkish: Bodrum: "My grandmother always had the key to her house with her - in her apron until she died. She never took it out."

With the forced resettlement in 1923, the governments of Greece and Turkey wanted to stabilize the peace between their countries. The time of recurring battles between Christian Greeks and Muslim Turks should end by strictly separating the peoples from one another.

But with the forced relocation new wounds were opened. 1.6 million people lost their homes. The wounds still have an effect today - in both countries.

"I would want to be Cretan again"

Marvo sings a Cretan love song. It's about a Greek girl who falls in love with a Turkish soldier, says the 88-year-old. His grandmother wrote it. She comes from Crete. He never lived there himself. Mavro, that is his Greek nickname, sits in a cafe in Davutlar near Kusadasi on the Turkish Aegean Sea. He was born here, as Hüseyin, and has spent most of his life here. Nevertheless, he says: "I see myself as a Cretan, and if I die and come back into the world, I would want to be Cretan again. I am satisfied with my life."

His friend Yunus is having tea with him and remembers: "We didn't deal with the subject as children, but we already said that we come from Crete. At that time we didn't know anything about Crete, not even that it was an island . We just said we were Cretan. That's how we grew up. "

Longing for the old (unknown) home

The 42-year-old is the chairman of the Cretan clubs in Turkey. The members' ancestors lived as Muslims in Crete. Some were expelled from the island as early as the late 19th century. The last had to go in 1923:

"When you start to study history, of course you not only encounter beautiful things, but also the ethnic unrest that has taken place in Crete. We must not live in the past. But we must not forget the past either. Our ancestors Both sides made mistakes, murdered each other. We must not repeat the mistakes made back then. We have to learn from them and now more than ever work for peace and friendship. "

"We mustn't live in the past. But we mustn't forget the past either." - Yunus, chairman of the Cretan associations in Turkey (Karin Senz / Deutschlandradio)

Eight years ago, Yunus traveled to Crete to learn more about his grandmother's past:

"When I saw the harbor from a distance, I had to think of the stories my family told. I imagined my great-grandfather with his wife and two daughters in his arms from this very harbor A ship drove into uncertainty, and around it all the crowds with faces full of sadness. Tears came to me. Then I went ashore, put my hand on the ground and felt a warmth, like in the womb. "

He finds his grandmother's house and also the ruins of her grandfather's house. When he leaves, the 42-year-old takes some earth with him.

Back to mainland Turkey. Hisir lives very close to Yunus in Selcuk. He is a member of the Cretan Association. His father was born in Crete and left the island as a child. Shortly before the death of his father at the age of 90, the two travel to his home village: "That made him so happy."

The old man's voice fails, tears well up. His younger sister puts her hand on his lap and continues: "He prayed and was so grateful that we made it possible for him. He himself used to have no money and it was just difficult to travel."

A life saving warning

Dilek remembers an old family friend in Crete, Stefanos. She says that one day he will warn the family that anti-Turkish gangs will attack their village. The family fled to Heraklion, where they waited in a camp for two years before finally being able to take a ship to Turkey:

"My father told all of this in the village café - how Stefanos hid them in his house for three days, which was also dangerous for Stefanos at the time. The Greeks were angry with those who helped Turks. When my father told all of this A man from the café came over to him and said that the Stefanos you are talking about was my ancestor. "

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Discrimination against the "half-unbelievers"

The man cried, continues Dilek. The two become friends. The new life for the Cretans in Turkey is not easy, says Mavro from Davutlar, while he is rocking restlessly in his chair. It seems upset when he speaks about discrimination against Muslims with Greek ancestors: "We used to be called semi-unbelievers."

Mavro can speak some German, he once lived in Duisburg for a while. Sometimes he pretends to be Greek, they are more popular than Turks, he says and grins somewhat mischievously. He is still fluent in Cretan. Many of his ancestors could only speak Cretan and no Turkish. For this they were teased and sometimes beaten up.

When remembering the family history, the voice fails - the siblings Hisir and Dilek, whose ancestors had to flee from Crete. (Karin Senz / Deutschlandradio)

Hisir's family also had to struggle with prejudice: his father tries to build a life as a cattle rancher in a small Turkish village near Selcuk. But the Turks do not want to buy from the Cretan, the meat is supposedly not halal, so it is allowed to be slaughtered, says Hisir. But his father was clever:

"He then went to the Imam in the mosque and complained that he was called a half-believer and that no one should buy meat from him. He told the Imam, let me quote a few verses from the Koran and recite prayers He then asked him: Well, am I not a Muslim? After the next Friday prayer the imam rebuked the villagers. So with the help of the imam everyone bought meat from my father and that was the end of the matter. "

A new Smyrna at the gates of Athens

The bells of the Greek Orthodox Church of Agia Fotini in Nea Smyrni ring for the service. "Nea Smyrni" means: New Smyrna - the settlement has been built by displaced persons from Smyrna, today's Izmir in Turkey, since 1926 directly at the gates of the Greek capital Athens. The bell tower of Agia Fotini is a faithful replica of the tower in old Smyrna, which sank to rubble during the 1922 war. The displaced people from Smyrna have rebuilt a piece of their homeland here:

"The government gave the refugees this place, which is now called Nea Smyrni. It used to be the rubbish dump in Athens," says Thémis Papadopoúlou. She lives in Nea Smyrni; and she researched the history of the place. She is the granddaughter of a Christian expellee from Asia Minor.

Reservations about the displaced

Back then, in 1923, Greece was completely overwhelmed by the large number of refugees. Greece has a population of just five million. It was a poor, underdeveloped country. The state treasury was empty after the defeat in the war against the Turks.

In addition to the five million inhabitants of Greece, 1.2 million displaced persons from Asia Minor were added in a short time. They weren't exactly welcome, says Thémis Papadopoulou: "At that time there was a newspaper in Greece that demanded that refugees wear an armband so that they could be recognized immediately. The newspaper also said: The refugees shouldn't walk on the sidewalk, but kindly stay on the street. "

Impulses for culture and economy

Yes, it was difficult for them, the displaced people from Asia Minor. And many did not feel comfortable in their new home at all. Thémis Papadopoúlou says: Athens was a provincial nest back then - no comparison to Smyrna, because Smyrna was "much bigger. And much more cultured. Smyrna had hundreds of Greek schools, and here were (laughs) ... forget it."

In ancient Smyrna in what is now Turkey, the Greeks laid the groundwork at the end of the 9th century BC. BC settlements. After their expulsion to Greece, Nea Smyrni was built - at the gates of Athens.

Ultimately, according to Thémis Papadopoúlou, the displaced people from Asia Minor were an asset for Greece: "The people who came brought their culture with them. They paid great attention to cleanliness. They prepared their fragrant dishes here. Many were artisans; they had Manufactories built here, a small industry that didn't even exist here. "

The displaced people built their settlements all over Greece. Directly on the sea, very close to Athens, is Nea Makri, founded by refugees from Makri, in Turkish the place is called Fethiye.

Michális Baláskas grew up in Nea Makri. His grandmother was one of the first settlers here and has fostered the memories of the old homeland. The 35-year-old Michális Baláskas feels connected to the Greek culture of Asia Minor - if only because of the delicious cuisine: "My mother keeps the legacy of this kitchen alive," he says: "I grew up with food." With a lot of cinnamon, with a lot of pepper; Spices are the be-all and end-all of Greek cuisine in Asia Minor.

"Turks and Greeks are very similar"

Michális Baláskas visited the homeland of his ancestors in what is now Turkey and would like to do so again soon, but trips are currently not possible due to Corona. In Greece there is even a curfew until the end of November, so he can only tell on the phone:

"I was there with a program of Greek-Turkish friendship: In Fethiye, as Makri is now called, and also in Kayaköy - the former Livíssi, where my grandmother lived. I saw many abandoned houses there, but above all I learned : The Turks and the Greeks are very similar. They have more in common than differences. "

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This can also be confirmed by his aunt Déspina Damianoú: she helped set up the cultural center in Nea Makri, in which the story of the flight from Asia Minor is told. Greeks and Turks used to live together peacefully in Asia Minor. They were neighbors. They were friends. When the Greeks had to leave their homeland with an uncertain destination in 1923, saying goodbye was painful for everyone - for Greeks and Turks. The Greeks were only allowed to take what they could carry. They had to leave everything else behind.

Neighbors, friends, confidants

Déspina Damianoú: "Some of the Turkish neighbors in Makri at that time had advised the Greeks to leave their jewelry there for the time being. They would take care of it and later bring it to Rhodes, where the Greeks could pick up their jewelry. That's exactly how it is happened, my family also got their jewelry back from their old homeland. "

Yes, they could rely on each other, Greeks and Turks back then in Makri and Livissi. But they were not allowed to stay together, they had to submit to the "population exchange": "It was like always in wars: the powerful decided something and the common people had to pay the price. The Turks and the Greeks had been neighbors there for a long time in their history they were neighbors. "

A European approach

But they have been living separately for almost 100 years. The Turks on the eastern shore of the Aegean Sea, the Greeks on the western shore, 500 kilometers apart as the crow flies.

When the Greeks had to leave their homeland with an uncertain destination in 1923, saying goodbye was painful for everyone - for Greeks and Turks. - In the picture: ruins in the town of Kayaköy, the former Livíssi (Karin Senz / Deutschlandradio)

Dimitris Triantaphyllou is sitting in a park in Istanbul. The Greek has lived in Turkey for years and teaches international relations at the university. And of course he also looks at the two countries:

"Relations have improved somewhat since 1999. I am a product of this rapprochement. I would not otherwise be here as a Greek academic who teaches in Turkey. That means, yes, there were tensions, but they were limited by a European framework Because the rapprochement was linked to Turkey's EU accession process. That is why Greece also gave up its opposition, but only demanded that developments be monitored. "

Tensions escalate

The rapprochement seems to be history. This year the dispute over sea areas in the Mediterranean is escalating. Warships on both sides come dangerously close in the summer.

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that there are hardly any foreign tourists in the two holiday countries because of the pandemic.

"There is a tacit agreement that there will be no tension during the summer months. This summer everything was different because of Covid. Both countries, for example, fought for German tourists. All of this means that the period when tensions are normally defused has been canceled is. "

"I don't want a war"

In addition, the borders are almost tight in both directions. Greeks and Turks can no longer visit one another, no longer talk to one another.

Mavro, the 88-year-old Cretan from Kusadasi, Turkey, is missing that. He sips his glass of tea and shakes his head. Of course, he also follows the gas dispute in the Mediterranean: "The Greek state is slipping into the EU. It wants more than it is entitled to. God forbid, I don't want a war, not even an ant should be harmed. Nobody! Nothing should happen to the Greeks , but neither for our people. We are all human. "

A circle of love and friendship closes

Dilek's family from Selcuk has already contributed to international understanding. After her father and the descendant of his friend Stefanos found each other in a cafe on Crete, they stayed in touch. The families visit each other every summer. Dilek's nephew Mehmet and the young Cretan Clio from Stefano's family also get to know each other:

"One summer Mehmet and Clio fell in love. My nephew took the initiative at some point. Allah Allah ... And then the two got married at some point. The descendants of the two friends. That's just so nice for us!"

Risen from the ruins - in a new land: The Greek Orthodox Church of Agia Fotini was destroyed in Turkey during the war and rebuilt in Greece. (Karin Senz / Deutschlandradio)

She takes out her cell phone and proudly shows a photo: the little daughter of the two - a Cretan Turkish woman or the other way around, it doesn't matter! The young family did not build a life in Turkey or Greece, but in Denmark.

Thémis Papadopoúlou, the retired English teacher from Nea Smyrni, does not want to give up hope that one day the Greeks will be able to return to Asia Minor. Yes, there is hope, she says. The hope that one day, on a very nice day, we'll be back. She knows that this is pretty utopian. But she would like to carry on the legacy of her grandmother, who was once evicted from her house in Alikarnassós, today's Bodrum and who carried the key to this house, which she had to leave, with her in her apron for the whole of her life.

Thémis Papadopoulou keeps this key from her grandmother as a precious heirloom. You know the house is still there, but go there? Thémis Papadopoúlou takes a deep breath, drops his hands on the table. No, she doesn't want to go there. It is, she says, a paradise lost.