It is much easier to remember the times we were in war; even they are the small part of our common history.
To be honest, it sounds quite normal to me. If you live under somebody else’s ruling on your own land, this always leads to some war; sooner or later.
Even most part of the Greek-Turkish relationship looks like calm, the beginning and the end were actually the total sum of our history. Now the years, centuries past over lot of things. It is much easier for us, the grand children, grand-grand children, to discuss about the history. It is also much easier because we are in a peace state of mind; and I hope it will go forever.
Nevertheless, the point of view of the people are very different.
Who had burn Izmir for example? Was it Greeks or Turks? Turkish history books say it was the Greek army who were trying to create a wall-of-fire when they are leaving Izmir and Turkish army about to reach to the city. Greek history books say it was the Turkish army who tried to kill all the Greeks and stop Greek army’s movement.
These two things are SO different than each other I cannot begin to make sense out of it.
While two side’s history books battle on this, not much people remember actually the REAL people who died in fire. So, there is no common memory, annual ceremony or any scientific study on it.
Because of above reasons, I always like to read the history from the “other one”. If there is an important event for Greeks I try to read the history from Turks. If there is an important event for Turk I read it from Greeks.
I am doing that for a while now. I also read, each important war in our history from academic publications where actually you find the most sensible thoughts.
Now, here is another book that I have noticed 2 years ago (I think) but never remembered to buy it when I was in Athens.
Greeks and Turks in War and Peace by Thanos M Veremis is published by Athens News (ISBN: 978-960-89200-2-6). Back cover says:
Greeks and Turks in War and Peace chronicles the tumultuous road of Greek-Turkish relations from the Ottoman conquest of 1453 to Turkey’s current courtship dance with the European Union.
Leading historian Thanos Veremis sheds light on the long-nurtured distrust that persists between the neighbours. At the same time, he highlights the areas of common interest between the two peoples and attempts an interpretation of their psyche, with all that may divide and unite them.
Thanos Veremis is a professor of political history at the University of Athens. He is also the president of the National Council for Education in Greece. He has been Constantine Karamanlis professor at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and is the author of many books including Greece: The Modern Sequel, 1821 2006.
This is the next book that I will try to buy (€17) and read. I will also write a full commentary about it to this post after.