By Roger L Jennings….
I have written many articles and made videos about my grandfather Asa K Jennings and his work in Turkey in 1922 when he was helping those in need. This brought him recognition and awards from both Greece and Turkey and I have published a new video that received recognition as Best Historical Film at the Cannes World Film Festival 2022.
Please do watch this video below and I have also given you a summary of the events which led to my grandfather undertaking an incredible task that led to major changes in the growth of modern-day Turkey
100 years ago the Turkish Army defeated the Greek Army. The Greek soldiers panicked and ran to Cesme to board ships.
They left about 500,000 people in Izmir (Smyrna) with no means of support. Asa K. Jennings of the YMCA formed the American Relief Committee and the flour left behind by the Greek Army was used to feed people.
The US Navy brought more flour to Izmir from Istanbul. The flour was a gift from Near East Relief, an American organization.
There was fear of disease breaking out and the Nationalist Turkish government said the people in Izmir would have to move to the interior of Turkey. Asa Jennings went to Gazi M. Kemal and requested permission to remove the people from Izmir.
The Gazi approved with conditions and Jennings took 2000 Greeks to Lesbos where he found empty ships. Greek General Frankos refused to allow those ships to be used to remove people from Izmir.
Then the Greek battleship Kilkis entered the Mitylene harbour and Greek Captain Theofanides translated messages written by Jennings that were sent to the Greek Government. In the end, Jennings had to blackmail the Greek Government with the help of Captain Cast Theofanides to get 26 ships to remove people from Izmir.
For his service to Greece, the Captain was kicked out of the Greek Navy. Jennings removed 350 000 people in 11 days and then got permission from the Gazi to go to all Turkish ports and in 10 months 1,250,000 people were removed from Turkey. Greece made Jennings the highest decorated person in Greek history.
The Gazi was impressed by Jennings and his ability to achieve objectives. When the Greeks and Armenians left Turkey there was no one to work in the packing plants in Izmir to pack olives and other products. Jennings then set up daycare facilities so Turkish women could leave their homes to pack products.
The women were paid for their work when the men were not working. Women gained status in the family and society and the Gazi was impressed by the contribution the women were making to the Turkish economy which led to women getting the same legal rights as men. Women have become leaders in Turkey.
Editors note To see many more videos produced by Roger L Jennings click below: