"I can't quite recall how I arrive at the subject. But somehow I wonder about my mother's recollection of the events of 6-7 September 1955, the date of the pogrom-like riots against the Greeks, who at the time still lived in Istanbul in large numbers. My mother grew up in Istanbul and later always spoke Greek with her Greek female colleagues in Germany. But she didn't talk about the atrocities for a long time.
When, finally, she did, she told me how during the night of 5-6 September, Greek residences were marked out by putting Turkish flags in front of Turkish houses. Greeks who were their friends and neighbours, with whom they celebrated Easter and Ramadan, became victims. My mother spoke of Greeks who banged on the doors of their Turkish neighbours, desperately looking for help. She recalled that some Turks protected their neighbours from harm or offered them shelter until the terror stopped.
Later she learned that the incident that allegedly triggered off the events, the alleged desecration of the house where Kemal Atatürk was born in Thessaloniki (Greece), was in fact an invention of the Turkish secret services. The riots did not, after all, originate from popular resentment of Greeks. Criminals and ultra-nationalists bussed to Istanbul turned the proud Istiklal Caddesi, the famous shopping street in the Beyoğlu neighbourhood, into a heap of rubble. Huge bundles of fabric were left lying in the street by the plunderers. When I found out that my mother's grandmother was herself Greek, and that she had married a Turk out of love, I understood the long silence. You did not talk about things like that."
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