Testimonies on Chrysostomos' death.
Translated and adapted from an article on Chrysostomos' death by Mr. Sarantos Kargakos. The article appeared in the magazine Oikonomikos Tachydromos of Oct. 8, 1992.
The testimony of Thomas Voultsios.Sarantos Kargakos writes in his article: In one of my books on the Asia Minor Campaign, I had written the following with regards to the death of Chrysostomos: ``Chrysostomos rightfully belongs to those great national martyrs who never loose their pride even when it is broken down by the cowrdness and stupidity of our political leadership''. In the unprotected Smyrna, at a time when the entire political and military leadership has abandoned the city, the whole civilian population of Asia Minor is rushing to find shelter. The only one who will not abandon the city is Chrysostomos. Even when the Catholic Archbishop is able to book him on a departing steamship on August 25 and begs him to leave the condemned city and escape from the incoming Turks, Chrysostomos replies:
``It is the tradition of the Greek Church and the duty of the priest to stay with his congregation.''It is this very time that Chrysostomos becomes immortal and joins the other martyrs and saints of the Nation. The time is drawing near. He is alone with his congregation. The last great Greek who has left the city is Constantine Karatheodoris, the provost of the Ionian University. The crowds are rushing into the cathedral. Chrysostomos, along with his brother Eugene, is doing everything he can to help. On Saturday he holds a mass in ``Aghia Foteini''. He is pale from fasting and lack of sleep. As soon as he gets in front of his congregation though, he kneels down to pray just like everybode else, and then he stands up as if he were already a Saint. This will be his last preach.
"God is testing our faith, our courage, and our patience at this time. But God will never abandon Christians. It is during the high seas that the good sailor stands out, and it is during time of tribulations that the good Christan does the same. Pray and all these will be gone. We shall again see happy days and we will pray the Lord. Have courage as all good Christians should."The same day, his nemesis, general Nouredin Pasha, the butcher of Ionia, submitted a decleration with which all Greeks and Armenians age 18 to 45 should surrender because according to the decleration they took arms against the country, joined the invading armies, and so on. Then, Nouredin decided to humiliate and annihilate the brave Bishop. The mass was over when a policeman informed Chrysostomos that the chief of police, Sali Zeki Bey, wants him at the garison. Chrysostomos is very calm, bids the crowds good-bye, and follows the policeman along with his right-hand man, Thomas Voultsios. It is due to him that we have reliable information as to what happened next. The garison chief welcomed Chrysostomos, offered him a glass of cherry-juice and dictated his orders to him. They went back to the Cathedral in a car, which was offered to the Bishop by the American officials of the city. The Bishop read the orders to the crowds and asked everybody to surrender any weapons and stay in their homes. The following are extracts from Voultsios' records, who had followed Chrysostomos for the last 20 years.
They came to take the Bishop and they told him that some high-ranking official wanted to see him, along with three other Greek ex-officials of the city. We took the car, along with Tsourouktzoglou and Klimanoglou. The three of them got into the car, so did the policemen. There was no room in the car for me, and the Bishop asked me to remain at the cathedral. At about ten at night one of the soldiers who had been here in the afternoon, brought a note from the Bishop for his brother Eugene. The note said: ``Dear brother, we are being held here tonight, myself as the alleged president of the Asia Minor defense league, the others as members. I do not want you to worry''. Eugene burst into tears. The next morning, at about 8, Eugene asked me to try and find out what had happened to the Bishop. I came across a bank teller, who informed me that about half an hour ago, he had talked to the policeman who had escorted the Bishop from the Cathedral. He had told him that they had gotten rid of the Bishop and the other two. This is what happened. Until Wednesday, the day I left town, I was not able to find out anything more.
Academy member G. Mylonas testifies.A number of Greeks from Smyrna who lived through its tragic destruction have described the martyrdom of Chrysostomos. The credibility of these descriptions has always been challenged, however. The magnitude of the destruction and the pain of those who suffered may have resulted in misrepresentations of reality. Personally, I put aside all my doubts regarding the accuracy of the narrations on December 14, 1982. On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the destruction, the Academy of Athens held a special assembly, which ended with the most dramatic narration of the martyrdom of Chrysostomos. G. Mylonas of Smyrna, was involved in the athletic and cultural life of the city and knew Chrysostomos well, from the first day of the Bishop's presence there until the final hours. The credibility and international acclaim of the scientific work of G. Mylonas render his narration a valued historic document. It follows: "Allow me to end my lecture with a disclosure of a personal experience, a confession that I make for the first time. During the last days of September of 1922, a group of students from the International College of Smyrna and myself were imprisoned in a horrible cell in the building of the administration headquarters of Smyrna. The prison was packed with Greek Orthodox inmates, who were probably destined to die. At night-time, turkish guards led by a high-ranking officer removed prisoners and executed them.
At 5 pm on the evening of the last day of that tragic September, the same Turkish officer ordered me to follow him to the yard.
- ``Are you a teacher?'', he asks.
- ``I have had this honour'', I reply.
- ``And the others who are with you, are they students?''
- ``Yes'', I say.
- ``Hurry up, bring them over here''.
- ``Come with me'' I tell my comrades.``It looks like our turn to die has come. Come on, and be bold''.
We were so surprised to hear the Turk say: ``I will not kill you, I will save you. Tonight all the prisoners will be executed because we need to make room for new inmates who have just arrived. I will save you today and I hope this will help me forget a terrible scene which I witnessed and took part in.''
And he went on: ``I have witnessed the slaying of your Bishop. I was among those who blinded him, uprooted his eyes and dragged him from his beard and hair while he was bleeding through the Turkish neighborhood. We hit him, swore at him and cut off pieces from his skin. I was deeply impressed by his attitude. He neither begged, screamed or cursed while he endured all the tortures. His pale face, covered with the blood of his eyes, was constantly looking up towards the sky and he continuously mumbled something which could not be heard. Do you, teacher, know what he was saying?''
- ``Yes, I know'', I replied. - ``He was saying:"Holy Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing".''
- ``I don't understand what you are saying, teacher, but it does not matter. Every now and then, whenever he had the strength to do so, he would raise his right arm and bless his persecutors. A Turk realized what the Bishop was doing; he got so furious that he cut off the Bishop's hands with his sword. He fell on the ground in a lake of blood and sighed. It was more a sigh of relief rather than a sigh of pain. I was so sorry for him at that moment, that I shot him twice in the head and that finished him off. That's my story. Now that I have said it to you, I hope that I will find my peace of mind. That's why I am saving your lives.''
- ``And where did they bury him?'' I asked with agony.
- ``No one knows where they threw his chopped up body''.