On September 15, 1922, the fires of a raging holocaust began finally to burn themselves out. The once beautiful city had gone up in flames. Future estimations would set the death toll as high as 100,000. For two days while the fires raged, and for some two weeks after, the citizens of this once-lovely and essentially Hellenic city experienced brutality and neglect on a massive scale. The fate of the Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Smyrna is instructive. Many begged him to leave Smyrna before the Turkish Army arrived. He is quoted as saying: "The tradition of the Greek Orthodox Church and the duty of the priest is to stay with his congregation." Crowds were rushing into the cathedral for shelter when Metropolitan Chrysostomos, pale from fasting and prayer, conducted his last divine liturgy. He was arrested and led away to General Nouredin Pasha was spat in his face and turned him over to the mob. After gouging his eyes out he was dragged through the streets by his beard. He was beaten and kicked while he prayed. Occasionally he would raise his hand to bless his persecutors who eventually cut it off with a sword. He was then hacked to pieces and thrown to the dogs.
The next day, the fire subsided and thousands were massed on the quays, Mustafa Kemal issued a proclamation that all Greek and Armenian men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five were to be considered prisoners of war, thus paving the way for further roundups and death marches. The Turks informed their captives of this decision by dropping leaflets onto the crammed waterfront from airplanes. While the city burned, a handful of refugees made their way onto the Allied ships. No systematic removal was undertaken prior to September 24th, when the first Greek ships entered the harbor.
During the interval, tens of thousands of victims crowded on the waterfront in extreme fear and appalling conditions. All the while Allied naval ships remained at anchor several hundred meters from the quay, their crews under orders not to intervene. The Allies feared provoking an incident with the Turks, a stance that incited bitter reproaches by witnesses and survivors later. George Horton, whose impassioned book on Smyrna is unreservedly pro-Christian, nevertheless reflects a thirty-year diplomatic experience of the region. He wrote: "Though the stench of burned flesh that hovered over the harbor was impossible to ignore, the international spectators labored to turn a blind eye to the results of their nation's political designs. Confined to their ships, sailors resorted to the feeble measure of searchlight sweeps in an effort to discourage Turkish predation. In between times they played records at full volume in an effort to drown out the nocturnal outcry. Caruso was heard singing Pagliacci as men drowned or were shot while trying to swim out to the ships. On the Iron Duke , the Royal Navy flagship, the band played night-long concerts."
A new treaty to supplant Sevres was drawn up at Lausanne. Great Power diplomacy staged its second act, beginning in November 1922 and ending with the signing of the treaty in July the following year. Allied power brokers had to acknowledge that (1) Greece was defeated in Thrace and Asia Minor, and (2) the Nationalist Turks now held power within Turkey. Modern Turkey had become a recognized sovereign nation. A separate treaty between Greece and Turkey formalized an exchange of population's, a scheme headed by the Norwegian explorer and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen. Greeks living in Asia Minor or Eastern Thrace were required to return to the Greek homeland, while Turkish nationals living in Greek territory were compelled to return to Turkish homelands. Greeks living in Constantinople were exempted from these provisions, as were Muslims living in Western Thrace.
Estimates vary, but approximately 375,000 Turks and 1.25 million Greeks were thus uprooted, with the Greek exodus well underway long before the exchange program was formally enacted. Ernest Hemingway witnessed the misery of those retreating through Thrace after the Greek collapse and recorded it in reportage and fiction alike: "The enormity of the refugee problem for Greece can scarcely be exaggerated. A poor country with a population of around 4 million was faced with an influx of roughly one-third of its population. Housing and lands abandoned by Muslims did not begin to approach the level necessary to accommodate the new arrivals, whose culture, in any case, was more in line with Constantinople than Athens. Indeed, some fifty years after their transplantation, the anthropologist Renee Hirschon found the Asia Minor refugees and their descendants still maintaining a separate sense of identity from the people they called 'locals', 'Old Greeks' or simply 'Greeks'.
The Treaty of Lausanne represented the final step in the Allied abandonment of Greece. Britain in particular had consistently encouraged Greece, only to step aside as she faltered and then drop her in her utter defeat. No Allied help was forthcoming as Greece crumbled in 1922, there was no military aid, no significant diplomatic pressure, and, apart from a belated Italian relief ship, not even humanitarian support in response to the Smyrna debacle. The Greek army was gradually forced to abandon Asia Minor, leading to the uprooting of the Greek populations of all parts of Turkey, who were "exchanged" for much of the Turkish populace of Greece, in perhaps the largest internationally-sanctioned "ethnic cleansing" in modern history. The ensuing economic and sociological catastrophe devastated Greece, reducing the country to virtually a Third World status from which it did not emerge for generations, and cast a pall over its politics through the late 20th century. It has also left the Greeks with a profound sense of betrayal by the Great Powers, yet it should be acknowledged that Greece had played a significant role in her own failure. As the human flotsam of the war floated back to Greece, assigning blame became the order of the day. Someone had to pay and the military was chosen to assign blame and mete out punishment. The seeds were sown for future disasters.