Dr. Euripides Georganopoulos

The evidence of the French commission in Pontus on the anti-hellenic persecutions after the end of the First World War (1919-1920)

Although France had little interest in the Pontus region, as it become obvious by the secret agreements signed between its allies during World War I, it proceeded with a diplomatic mission after the end of the war, with a view to oversee the application of the ceasefire terms. The evidence offered by the diplomatic reports of the French commissioner in Pontus Paul Lépissier about the anti-hellenic actions of the Ottoman authorities, the Muslims of the region and the kemalists, during the period of the presence of the French Commission there, that is from the end of the war until the August of 1920, are particularly valuable and interesting, because they are quite analytical and insist on the description of the persecution of the Greeks. The reports increased during the spring of 1919, when there was a growing wave of return of the Pontian refugees from southern Russia to Pontus. Lépissier is not limited to describing the persecution of Greeks, but also he refers to his efforts towards the prevention of the persecutions and the restoration of the refugees, which seem to have had some results at first. However, after the rise of the kemalist movement, the anti-Hellenic actions rose rapidly, as illustrated by the many reports of Lépissier in June 1919, and they continued escalating in the coming period, resulting, especially after the winter of 1920, in the efforts for the protection of the Greeks not being particularly successful. Indeed, due to the pressures and threats that have been caused by the kemalists, the French mission was eventually forced to leave Trabzon in August 1920.