29 Nov GIMÒVASI
GIMÒVASI: imòvasi (Turk. Gumaovasi), small village 19km S of Smyrna, 7km S of Sevdìkioi and 2km from the Smyrna-Aydın railway line. Its inhabitants, prior to 1922, were 2,315 (1,500 Greeks and 800 Turks), according to data by N. Kararas, Σεβντίκιοϊ, Athens 1964, p. 101.
Gimòvasi (Turk. Gumaovasi), small village 19km S of Smyrna, 7km S of Sevdìkioi and 2km from the Smyrna-Aydın railway line. Its inhabitants, prior to 1922, were 2,315 (1,500 Greeks and 800 Turks), according to data by N. Kararas, Σεβντίκιοϊ, Athens 1964, p. 101.
1. 1. 4. This is where you’ll hang, to have a good view of the church!
Testimonial of Maria Hàppa
In August 1922, we were told that the front had collapsed. First one to hear the news was Panagiòtis Karystinòs, known by the name Levèndis. The Greek officers first confided him with the information.
After he got word, Levèndis summoned the whole village to the church. Right before the priest -it was his father-in-law- he asked them to organize a defense. He asked each Gimòvasi Greek to help organize, offering money and animals. He, himself, set the example first. He brought and offered to the organization his best horse and a substantial amount of money.
Word came: “The Çetes are nearing. The Çetes are butchering people” and everyone took to the streets like a herd.
The gendarmes had blocked the village exits. They wouldn’t let the people leave and were trying to calm them down instead. Then, Levèndis ordered the police to leave and to let people go. He and the armed villagers took over the village defense.
We heard about our army retreating. Our started our own preparations. The men of Gimòvasi would send as much money as they could to the Smyrna depots. They didn’t believe that Smyrna would ever fall, so to be on the safe side, they transferred their money over. It was late August. The people, women and children first, started fleeing. They left on carriages; they left on animals; they left on foot and heavily laden, trying to save what they could; trying to save themselves. Miserable! Exhausted!
I used to live in Sevdìkioi back then. That’s where all Gimòvasi residents came first. Sevdìkioi was bigger. There were brave young lads there, feared by the Turks. They thought they’d be safe there, that’s why they came. All the women and children arrived. My brothers -I had two brothers in Gimòvasi- were the last ones to arrive, along with their families. Panagiòtis Karystinòs, nicknamed Levèndis, one of my brothers, was the leader of our village. He took it upon himself to take care of the entire village and then make arrangements for his own family. He had inherited all my dad’s virtues. He would host priests and bishops, he would host Turkish authorities’ representatives, and then, when the Greeks came, he would host Greek authorities’ representatives. This one brother of mine defended the village to his last breath. He was the Muhtar and represented the Bishop. It was up to him to resolve all church disputes.
In the exact same way they had first left Sevdìkioi, they left Gimòvasi as well; women and children first. Our two families, my brother’s and mine, were the last ones to leave.
We got to Smyrna when the city was first set ablaze. We turned towards Taragàtsi, a suburb of Smyrna. We were to return as soon as the fire was out.
The families of both my brothers were on the same carriage. The son of one of my brothers was sitting at the front of the carriage. Turkish peasants recognized him. They made him get off, however without searching the carriages. We were on our way to Karadìna where there was no risk of fire. The boy knew that. They started questioning him. “Tell us where your father is going. We give you our word no harm will come to either you or him”. The boy was very young and told on us. They came to Karadìna. We were at Mànolas’ house. They caught the two brothers and the priest, the father-in-law. It was Çetes that took them. They stormed the house with fixed bayonets. They ordered them to give up all their money. They opened the sacks and threw the money on the floor. The Çetes took it. They even yanked the pieces of five off Levèndis’ wife’s neck. I tried to flee. They caught me at once. They caught us all and they searched us. My little daughter was very young. She was wearing around her neck a cross I had given her. She quickly took it off, put it in her mouth and pretended she was mute. She managed to save that cross and still wears it to this day.
Us women and children were the only ones left. Scattered, having lost our relatives, we took to the road, with a bundle of clothes and went to Punta, Smyrna. Each night, the Turks would sneak up crawling to where we were and attack the girls. It made you really wish you were a hundred years old. Many girls put on clothes and masqueraded as old women to keep them off. They would attack; people were screaming, crying out! The ships were flashing their searchlights; the Çetes would lay off for a while, and then they’d start again. We would leave and go to the cemetery. We would hide young girls inside the graves and sit atop. In that place, there was no danger of fire, either.
On occasion, we would see a ship and think we could leave; we ran down to Punta. And the crowds kept pouring in! Women, children under the age of fourteen and old people over seventy. The rest they had kept as hostages. Oh, the people lost at sea! Young girls, bodies, bundles of clothes floating about.
At last, the ships took us. Some were taken to Chios, others to Samos. The families had been scattered and each was trying to find one’s relatives.
Later we learned that my two brothers and my brother’s father-in-law, the priest, had been taken to the village. They set up a kangaroo court for them. They accused my brothers and the priest of having organized the defense and helping the Greek army. On Christmas day, they hanged them in our front yard, across the street from the church. “This is where you’ll hang, to have a good view of the church; to rally the people, organize them and command them well”.
With these words, the Turks hanged my brother, Levèndis, and then they hanged our brother Spyros and the priest.
Years went by. Even before the Cyprus issue broke out, my two nephews, the son of Spyros and the daughter of Levèndis went there. As soon as the Gimòvasi Turks laid eyes on them, they exclaimed: “The daughter of our Levèndis; the daughter of our Levèndis! I owe my life to your father. When the Greeks retreated, I was arrested along with my cousin. Your father came and set us free”. “You will be leaving soon, but we’ll have to live with them”, he told the soldiers. “Then how come you didn’t save him when our people caught him and hanged him?” said to him another Turk listening in.
“You couldn’t get near. You couldn’t speak. If you spoke, you were labeled a philhellene and a traitor. They were really maddened, and they hanged them right away, not ten days after their arrest”.