Archbishop Hieronymos: Hellenism was not lost in the Holocaust, but in 1922

Archbishop Hieronymos: Hellenism was not lost in the Holocaust, but in 1922
Archbishop Hieronymos: Hellenism was not lost in the Holocaust, but in 1922

“If the Fall of the City was a terrifying and vanishing wound for Hellenism, the Asia Minor Catastrophe was the one that brought about its death in the East. In this sacred place for the Greeks, Asia Minor, the ancient cradle of the Greek soul, the Greekness of the East faded in 1922. The loss of Hellenism in the land of Asia Minor – where the Fathers of the Church harmonized classical Greece with the Christian discourse – became definitive in 1922. Until then, Hellenism had not, despite the sufferings it suffered and the demographic invasion of the Turkish element, to submit. He kept his cultural superiority alive and thriving.”

The above is emphasized, among others, by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Hieronymos in his article published in the newspaper “Demokratia” today, in the special tribute for the 100th anniversary of the destruction of Smyrna.

In detail, His Beatitude’s article:

The future of each place is inextricably linked to its historical memory. And this memory, if we want to have a future, we have to keep it indelible. To be able to create the present and arrive with claims to the next day. Having as material within us even those that hurt us. Let’s keep these traces of the soul alive, no matter how much they hurt us. Because they teach and guide.

Historical memory is the “material of the soul” that connects and keeps Greek identity intact. The Asia Minor Disaster is not an anniversary opportunity to carve out pain and sow the fruit of division with neighbors. It is the occasion to reflect on the “so far” of Hellenism. How we will proceed in the “from now on” and keep what can unite the two peoples. For this peace that nowadays is no longer taken for granted.

If the Fall of the City was a terrifying and vanishing wound for Hellenism, the Asia Minor Catastrophe was the one that brought about its death in the East. In this sacred place for the Greeks, Asia Minor, the ancient cradle of the Greek soul, the Greekness of the East faded in 1922. The loss of Hellenism in the land of Asia Minor – where the Fathers of the Church harmonized classical Greece with the Christian discourse – became definitive in 1922. Until then, Hellenism had not, despite the sufferings it suffered and the demographic invasion of the Turkish element, to submit. He kept his cultural superiority alive and well.

It took a lot of pain and blood to uproot from the soil of Asia Minor the Greek roots that had been watered for centuries. From this soil that Greeks soaked with their blood and sweat. Until the time when Turkish hands cut them off from their ancestral homes and deported them to Greece. The Greece they loved and adored for centuries.

1922 is the landmark year of tragedy for Hellenism. But it is also the springboard for these Greeks to come with their skills and their creative spirit to the opposite side of the Aegean, to the land of metropolitan Greece. The refugees from Asia Minor and the Pontus were, by common confession, the driving force for metropolitan Greece to “flourish”. They were carrying the only property they had left in their small bag. The Greek soul and traditions. The traditions they never forgot. Even today a century has passed. In every refugee neighborhood the Asia Minor refugee keeps the candle of tradition unextinguished. It keeps yesterday alive in order to march into tomorrow.

These refugees did not receive a warm welcome at first. They were accused of being “Greeks” when they lived across the street. “Turks” they called them when they arrived in our country. Despite the difficulties they faced – which should concern and teach us even today – they managed to become the catalyst that took Greece off the ground. Thanks to their ingenuity, hard work and skills. Our Asia Minor brothers contributed significantly to the formation of today’s Greece and its identity. They raised new Saints, kept the Orthodox faith and traditions alive. Because they carried Greece in their souls.

The past 100 years have hurt us a lot. But they offered us knowledge and experience. How should we teach the history of this place to those who are willing to accept this place as refugees from other cultures and traditions. Traditions, our Church and the European way of thinking. Not necessarily to assimilate them, but, if nothing else, to respect them. To do a new, modern, mission by showing those who come to Greece the way of thinking of Europe and the love of the Christian tradition.

Just as he respected local traditions, so did every Greek who arrived as a refugee at every corner of the earth and contributed with his own little stone to the progress of the place, wherever he docked. The Greek who kept his identity unchanged, his traditions alive and his cultural starting point thriving, and, in the end, never came out lost. This is what history teaches us, and this is what we should keep as a compass for our future course.


The article is in Greek

Tags: Archbishop Hieronymos Hellenism lost Holocaust

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