Western Thrace Turks gave their lives to protect Greece
Faced with the occupation of Italy, Germany and Bulgaria in the Second World War, Greece lost many lives in addition to the famine and poverty experienced in the war. Among these casualties were Western Thrace Turks, who were sometimes perceived as a "threat" by far-right circles in the country.
Tevfik Hüseyinoğlu, who wrirter of the book "The Turkish Minority of Western Thrace in the Greek Civil War" together with Rahmi Ali, a retired teacher like himself, stated that they suffered the same problems as their Greek neighbors during the war and that they were citizens who loved their country.
The word "Ohi" NO, became a symbol of national resistance against the occupying forces.
Τo Italy's ultimatum to allow Italian soldiers to cross the Greece-Albania border and occupy the country's main strategic points, then-Greek Prime Minister Yannis Metaksas answered "Ohi", which means "No" in Greek, on October 28, 1940, and this answer involved his country in the Second World War.
"Ohi" had also become a symbol of Greece's resistance against the occupying forces.
"They suffered the same pain because the homeland is one, the living environment is the same"
Hüseyinoğlu, for the Greeks and Turks who went through that difficult period, said, "They suffered the same because the homeland is the same, the living environment is the same, there are mixed villages in Western Thrace. There are also mixed Greek-Turkish and plain Turkish villages, but the pain of this war was reflected in all villages because every village maybe soldiers from many families went to the expedition. Whatever the Greek nation suffered, the minority also suffered." used the phrases.
Drawing attention to the sign "Saint Turkish Martyrs of Xanthi, who sacrificed their lives for Greece in the 1940-1950 wars" hanging in the Xanthi Turkish Union, Hüseyinoğlu said that this list includes the names of 34 Western Thrace Turks.
Noting that the Turks of Western Thrace are people of Turkish origin, who speak Turkish and have Turkish culture, who love their country, serve their country and give their lives if necessary, Hüseyinoğlu said, "There is no other thought, it is not possible." he said.
New Turkish-Greek friendships were established during the population exchange.
Emphasizing that the Western Thrace Turkish minority did not come to the region from outside, they were exempted from the population exchange by the Lausanne Peace Treaty decisions and remained in the region.
Hüseyinoğlu described the friendship that his mother-in-law established with the daughter of the exchanged Greek family that they hosted in their house during her teenage years, and the meeting of these two friends years later, with these words:
"I knocked on the door. I told Evdokia Hanım, 'I brought you an old friend, Bedriye.' I said. She jumped on her neck. They hugged and cried. I was amazed. She insisted that we stay with them for the night. They spent their youth together. There are many similar incidents."
He visited villages one by one for his book
Hüseyinoğlu stated that in his research for his book they went to as many as possible Turkish villages one by one and listed the names of Western Thrace Turks who lost their lives or disappeared during the whole pro-cess, and noted that the number of dead or missing was 593.
Hüseyinoğlu stated in his book that many shared pains shared by Turks and Greeks living in Western Thrace during the war were conveyed, and that Turkish politician and writer Mihri Belli's memoirs about the struggle he fought with the Greeks in the region during the Greek civil war are also included in the book.