The Importance of Getting Involved

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

-Edmund Burke

When I was convicted, the KGB, the most powerful organization of the most powerful totalitarian empire in history, told me that the Soviet Jewry struggle was finished, that the human rights movement inside the USSR was over, that I had no choice but to cooperate. The KGB derided all those in the West who stood in solidarity with us as an army of students and housewives. But this army of students and housewives changed our world.

- Natan Sharansky, Soviet dissident (The Case For Democracy, 12/17/04)

   In the stories below, tragedy could have been averted if people had become involved.  After presenting these stories I discuss one major reason people did not get involved and a crucial lesson of these stories. 


The Genocide Of Middle East Christians

    During World War II 6 Million Jews were allowed to die by allies who could have bombed the tracks to the gas chambers but who didn't.  Britain could have allowed Jews to escape Hitler to Palestine but didn't.  Most of the world blocked the escape of Jews to their countries.  Some countries collaborated with Hitler's final solution of the Jews.  Today the world sits by as Christians are murdered throughout the Middle East.  Since America liberated Iraq from Saddam Muslims have been killing Christians there.  In Iraq, Syria and Egypt Christians have been persecuted.  The U.S. has done some small interventions after the Yazidis were surrounded on a mountain but American help during the Obama administration for Christians has been minimal. 


The Syrian Archbishop Jeanbart  told Cardinal Timothy Dolan during the New York archbishop’s weekly radio show: “We expect Christians in the West to help us. They do not”  Robert Spencer wrote: "Why don’t the Christians in the West help them? Because it might harm the dialogue: “Talk about extreme, militant Islamists and the atrocities that they have perpetrated globally might undercut the positive achievements that we Catholics have attained in our inter-religious dialogue with devout Muslims.” — Robert McManus, Roman Catholic Bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts, February 8, 2013
     The United States under the leadership of the Trump administration has been much more aggressive against ISIS than the Obama administration was.



The Murder of Kitty Genovese:

    On Friday, March 13, 1964, a 28 year old New York City woman by the name of Kitty Genovese was murdered.  38 "citizens" awakened by her cries for help watched as she was assaulted not once, but three times over a half hour period. Not only did they fail to come to her aid, they also failed to call the police for help. Vincent Mosely, her assailant, stabbed her several times, then left, only to return a few minutes later to cut her up a little more.

    During his brief absence, these "decent" New Yorkers turned off their lights and went back to sleep, only to be awakened again by this second assault, a scene repeated a third time, after which she no longer needed the assistance she failed to get the first, second or even the third, and final time.

    During Mosely's trial, witnesses made several statements, but one stands above the rest as a symbol of this tragic event and is the reason for its world-wide infamy: "We didn't want to get involved." No surprise to Mosely, for as he said: "I knew they wouldn't do anything - they never do."

    When interviewed afterwards the bystanders to the murder said that the main reason they did not do anything was that they thought someone else would take the initiative to get help.  When there are other bystanders people are less likely to help.  This is known as the bystander effect.

Rape in Uniondale

On 6/22/04 a 22 year old Hofstra University student was moving into a new house in Uniondale, in a rough neighborhood adjacent to the campus when a 6 foot 2 black man with a gun attacked her.  He punched her knocking her to the ground.  He then jumped on top of her smashing her head to the pavement.  Her boyfriend, who was inside the house at the time, heard screams from outside and thought they were coming from next door — until he looked out the window and saw his girlfriend under attack.  Even though he had seen a gun in the assailant's hand, he gave chase.

He immediately grabbed the phone and called 911, but when he ran back outside to rescue his sweetheart, she was gone, Smith said.

Cops and detectives responded to the house, but could not locate the tragic student.

The victim was dragged around the dark, high-crime area and was raped at least once in a schoolyard near the intersection of Front Street and California Avenue. She pleaded to passers-by for help as she was being dragged around by the hulking fiend — but no one intervened.  Her rapist mocked her as he dragged her away from the indifferent witnesses telling her: "No one's going to help you."  Later she told police that at least five people spied her being viciously beaten and sexually abused through the streets and did nothing.  "She told me that she saw three boys and she screamed out to them, but they ignored her," the angered victim's boyfriend told The Post. The boyfriend told The Post he encountered those three boys in the street and asked them if they saw his girlfriend. They said no."

A 13-year-old boy told The Post he "heard the screaming and I got up." He said he saw the rapist "get the girl in a hammerlock" and drag her down the block — but also did not act.

"My parents were sleeping. I didn't call the cops," the teen said. "Five minutes later the cops were here. I think a lot of people saw it" but did not call police "because they're scared of the guy," he said. "I'm scared of this guy."

Her traumatic ordeal when the assailant let her go, and the victim staggered home to her boyfriend.  She was hospitalized with extensive facial injuries.

A 15-year-old girl, said the youths who failed to act "should be arrested, just like [the assailant], for just watching something like that and not helping her," adding the block "deserves to be called the street of shame."

The Burning of Smyrna:

He who has dwelled there longs for her in other lands    
and sighs for the vineyards and olive groves,
the villas and ruins, the delicious breezes
and the star-eyed maidens of Smyrna.

S. G. Benjamin, The Turk and the Greek (1867)


Smyrna was a beautiful civilized and happy place.  Horton, in his book, The Blight of Asia wrote 

    The lightheartedness of the Smyrniotes was well nigh irrepressible and continued almost until the last days when it was extinguished forever.  A poem titled The Martyred City recounts the beauty of Smyrna:

Glory and Queen of the Inland Sea
Was Smyrna, the beautiful city,
And the fairest pearl of the Orient she -
O Smyrna, the beautiful city!
Heiress of countless storied ages,
Mother of poets, saints and sages
Was Smyrna the beautiful city.

One of the ancient, glorious Seven
Was Smyrna, the sacred city,
Whose candles all were alight in Heaven-
O Smyrna the sacred city!
One of the Seven hopes and desires,
One of the Seven Holy Fires
Was Smyrna, the sacred city.

And six flared out in the long ago-
O Smyrna the Christian city!
But hers shone on with a constant glow-
O Smyrna the Christian city!
The others died down and passed away,
But hers gleamed on until yesterday-
O Smyrna, the Christian city!

Silent and dead are the church bell ringers
Of Smyrna, the Christian city,
The music silent and dead the singers
Of Smyrna the happy city;
And her maidens, pearls of the Inland seas
Are gone from the marble palaces
Of Smyrna, enchanting city!

She is dead and rots by the Orient's gate,
Does Smryna, the murdered city,
Her artisans gone, her streets desolate-
O Smyrna, the murdered city!
Her children made orphans, widows her wives
While under her stones the foul rat thrives-
O Smyrna, the murdered city!

They crowned with a halo her bishop there,
In Smyrna, the martyred city,
Though dabbled with blood was his long white hair
O Smyrna, the martyred city!
So she kept the faith in Christendom
From Polycarp to St. Chrysostom,
Did Smyrna, the glorified city!

Smyrna (Now Izmir) in 2018

Serge Trifkovic in his excellent book The Sword of the Prophet wrote that:

The burning of Smyrna and the massacre and scattering of its 300,000 Christian inhabitants is one of the great crimes of all times.  It marked the end of the Greek civilization in Asia Minor, which at its height had also given the world the immortal cities of Pergamus, Philadelphia, and Ephesus.  On the eve of its destruction, Smyrna was a bustling port and commercial center.  The seafront promenade, next to foreign consulates boasted hotels modeled after Nice and elegant cafes.   Yellowing postcards show its main business thoroughfare, the Rue Franque, with the great department and wholesale stores, crowded by the ladies in costumes of the latest fashion...

Sporadic killings of Christians, mostly Armenians, started immediately after the Turks conquered it on September 9, 1922, and within days escalated to mass slaughter. 

The inhabitants of Smyrna tried to flee to the sea where English, American, Italian and French ships were anchored.  Trifkovic writes:

Ordered to maintain neutrality, they would or could do nothing for the 200,000 desperate Christians on the quay.

smyrnawaiting.jpg (58533 bytes)

smyrnaburning.jpg (25443 bytes)


Dr. Esther Lovejoy, chairman of the Executive board of the American Women's Hospitals and President of the Medical Women's International Association spoke about what she saw at Smyrna to the New York Times (October 9, 1922).

there were massed on the quays 250,000 people--wretched, suffering and screaming with women beaten and with their clothes torn off them, families separated and everybody robbed. "Knowing their lives depended on escape before Sept. 30, the crowds remained packed along the water front--so massed that there was no room to lie down. The sanitary conditions were unspeakable. "Three-quarters of the crowd were women and children, and never have I seen so many women carrying children. It seemed that every other woman was an expectant mother. The flight and the conditions brought on many premature births, and on the quay with scarcely room to lie down and without aid most of the children were born. In the five days I was there more than 200 such confinements occurred.

Even more heartrending were the cries of children who had lost their mothers or mothers who had lost their children. They were herded along through the great guarded enclosure, and there was no turning back for lost ones. Mothers in the strength of madness climbed the steel fences fifteen feet high and in the face of blows from the butts of guns sought the children, who ran about screaming like animals. ...  The Turkish soldiers searched and robbed every refugee. Even clothing and shoes of any value were stripped from their bodies. "To rob the men another method was used: men of military age were permit to pass through all the barriers till the last by giving bribes. At the last barrier they were turned back to be deported. The robbery was not only committed by soldiers, but also by officers. I witnessed two flagrant cases committed by officers who would be classed as gentlemen. "On September 28, 1922 the Turks drove the crowds from the quay, where the search lights of the allied warships played on them, into the side streets. All that night the screams of women and girls were heard and it was declared next day that many were taken for slaves. The Smyrna horror is beyond the conception of the imagination and the power of words. It is a crime for which the whole world is responsible in not having through the civilized ages built up some means to prevent such orders as the evacuation of a city and the means with which it was carried out. It is a crime for the world to stand by through a sense of neutrality and permit his outrage against 200,000 women.

George Horton, in his book, The Blight of Asia quotes a letter of a man on one of the American destroyers who observed this as follows:

He tells of having to stand by while the brutal Turkish soldiers seized beautiful Christian girls and tore them screaming from their mothers and outraged them right on the public quay of Smyrna.  He saw these brutal soldiers shooting down helpless women with children in their arms, unarmed men beaten to death by the butts of these Turkish soldiery.  And then he tells of the anguish that he felt because the orders of our government were such that he had to stand by, helpless, before such atrocities.

    Marjorie Housepian in her book, The Smyrna Affair wrote about the fate of the Archbishop Chrysostomos, who could have escaped but refused to leave his flock.

The Patriarch was walking slowly down the steps of the Konak when the General appeared on the balcony and cried out to waiting mob, "Treat him as he deserves!"  The crowd fell upon Chrysostomos with guttural shrieks and dragged him down the street until they reached a barber shop where Ismael, the Jewish proprietor, was peering nervously from his doorway.  Someone pushed the barber aside, grabbed a white sheet, and tied it around Chrysostomos's neck, shouting, "Give him a shave!"

They tore out the Patriarch's beard, gouged out his eyes with knives, cut off his ears, his nose, and his hands.  A dozen French marines who had accompanied Chrysostomos to the government house were standing by, beside themselves.   Several of the men jumped instinctively forward to intervene, but the officer in charge forbade them to move.  "He had his hand on his gun, though he was trembling himself," one of the men said later, "so we dared not lift ours.   They finished Chrysostomos there before our eyes."

The Archbishop's murder was reported to Admiral Dumesnil aboard the French flagship.  He shrugged his shoulders: "He got what was coming to him," he said.


After massacring Armenians the Turks set Smyrna on fire.   George Horton wrote:

As the destroyer moved away from the fearful scene and darkness descended, the flames, raging now over a vast area, grew brighter and brighter, presenting a scene of awful and sinister beauty...  One of the keenest impressions which I brought away with me from Smyrna was a feeling of shame that I belonged to the human race.

   Marjorie Housepian wrote:

The odor of burned flesh hovered over the remains of Smyrna.   Observing strict neutrality, the ships continued to stand idly at anchor, awaiting orders from Constantinople.  Each evening, at dusk, a haunting sound would begin to rise and fall along the waterfront, "like the sound of wind moaning through branches," minor in key and mournfully melodic.  It was the refugees, praying for ships.  And when the night grew black enough for the Turks to begin their nightly orgy, the destroyers would seep their searchlights over the quay in an effort to inhibit rape and slaughter, and turn up their phonographs on deck to drown out the screams with strains of "Humoresque" or the swelling tones of Caruso singing from Pagliacci.   On the battleships the navy bands obliged with nightly concerts lasting far into the morning.  Naval amenities suffered occasional lapses.  An admiral, invited to dine with a colleague, had to apologize for arriving late - a woman's body had become entangled in the propeller of his launch. 

   In some ways those in the West in a position to interfere were more guilty than the Muslim perpetrators of the crime.  The perpetrators were simply obeying the commandments of their faith regarding Jihad against the infidel.  According to Islam, the property of the conquered infidel was theirs to take as was their women.  It was the West, the supposedly humane and enlightened West, whose minds were unencumbered by Islam, who committed the greatest crime.  Nicholas Gage, in his book Greek Fire (Alfred Knopf, 2000) described the callousness of the West as follows:

The pitiful throng - huddled together, sometimes screaming for help but mostly waiting in a silent panic beyond hope - didn't budge for days... Occasionally, a person would swim from the dock to one of the anchored ships and tried to climb the ropes and chains, only to be driven off.  On the American battleships, the musicians on board were ordered to play as loudly as they could to drown out the screams of the pleading swimmers.  The English poured boiling water down on the unfortunates who reached their vessel.  The harbor was so clogged with corpses that the officers of the foreign battleships were often late to their dinner appointments because bodies would get tangled in the propellers of their launches...A cluster of women's heads bound together like coconuts by their long hair floated down a river toward the harbor.

    Smyrna would never have fallen to the Turks and many Armenians outside of Smyrna would be alive today if the West had not collaborated with Turkey.  Horton, in his book, The Blight of Asia wrote: 

Let us briefly review the situation which enabled the Turks in the year of our Lord, 1922, to complete the extinction of Christianity in the Near East: The Germans were, as long as they lasted the active allies of the Turks, and during this period nearly a million Armenians and many thousands of Greeks perished; after the Armistice and during the period which led up to the destruction of Smyrna and the accompanying massacre, the French and Italians were allies of the Turk, and furnished him moral and material support; the British gave no aid to the Greeks, but contented themselves with publishing an account of the dreadful events that had been taking place in the Ottoman Empire; the Americans gained the reputation of being pro-Turk, true friends, who would ultimately, on account of this friendship, be given the permission to put through great schemes which would result in the development of the Ottoman Empire and incidentally, fill certain American pocketbooks.

  There are two men that I read about that did try and do something.  One was Asa Jennings, an assistant YMCA director and the other was George Horton, the United States Consul at Smyrna.   Regarding Jennings Marjorie Housepian wrote:

A handful of American civilians trying to fight the nightmare with bread and bandages wondered which would give out first - their nerves or their supplies.  "I have seen men, women, and children whipped, robbed, shot, stabbed, and drowned in the sea," wrote ASA Jennings, "and while I helped save some it seemed like nothing as compared with the great need.  It seemed as though the awful agonizing, hopeless shrieks for help would forever haunt me."

asa.jpg (23655 bytes)

Jennings had in fact saved quite a few, and was soon to effect a rescue of unprecedented proportions, although judging by appearances he was the last man in Smyrna to qualify for the role of hero.  A frail, unprepossessing man of about forty-five, he had given up the pulpit (he was an ordained Methodist minister from upstate New York) and taken up administrative work in various posts overseas with the YMCA.  He appeared to be an insignificant little man, barely five feet tall in shoes, and seemingly doomed to second place...

But he had scarcely arrived in Smyrna with his wife and two boys late in August, to take up the job of Boys' Work Secretary, when Jacob and Fisher had gone off on vacation, leaving him momentarily in charge. 

By the time the others returned, early in September, Jennings had accepted a Greek merchant's offer of his house at #490 on the quay, stocked it with provisions left by the Greeks, and begun using it as a supply depot to feed refugees.  When the nature of the Turkish occupation became clear, Jennings hoisted the American flag on this house and proceeded to fill it with refugees, ignoring Hepburn's disapproval.  After the fire, again without an "aye" or "nay" from naval or civilian officials, Jennings had moved fast to take charge of still another house on that sparse row by the Point and turned the first, which had survived intact, into an emergency hospital where sailors and relief workers could gather pregnant women, as well as children who had lost their parents ("many of them massacred in the presence of their children," according to Jennings).  The navy patrols had also discovered that it was often possible to rescue young women "from a fate worse than death" by approaching the Turkish soldiers and officers who were leading them away and claiming the girls as friends.  These needy, too, they brought to Jennings, until the two houses held well over a thousand occupants...

When Jennings boarded the Edsall (An American Destroyer) for occasional visits, his orders were in fact gratefully accepted.  He discovered this to be the case late one afternoon, when a cry for help drove him to look over the rail and he saw a swimmer in distress.  Turning to some sailors, Jennings shouted for them to drop a line.  The men moved fast and hauled aboard a little boy.  He was naked, and shivering with fright as well as with cold.  Jennings wrapped him in a pair of Navy trousers and, at the sailors' suggestion, hid him behind a boat.  There the child promptly fell asleep.

Moments later another figure was seen swimming toward the destroyer.  The ship's lights made the swimmer a target for the Turkish sentries and the sailors turned them off.  The figure, obviously exhausted and still some distance from the ship, was struggling to stay afloat.  The men watched in pained silence.  "For pity's sake why don't you lower a boat?" Jennings asked.

The men were apologetic.  They were aching to lower a boat, they explained, but they could not do so without orders, and no officer could give such an order without entering it on the ship's log where it would stand as barefaced evidence of his breach of neutrality.  "Well I'll give the order then,"  Jennings said.  "Push off that boat!"  The men obeyed, rowed out to the floundering swimmer, and returned with a young girl.  Just as they deposited her, unconscious, at Jennings's feet, an officer strode by, took in the situation, turned on his heels, and walked quickly away.

Wrapped in blankets, the girl soon revived.  "She looked at us with a wild expression in her eyes, seeing all those men standing about her," Jennings recounted."  Finally she realized she was with friends who would protect her, and such a look of joy and thankfulness came over her face as I shall never forget.  Then thoughts of what she had been through must have gripped her, for she began to cry, calling out some name in her grief.  We were helpless, for we could not understand a word of what she was saying.  I then thought of the little fellow I had sequestered back to my stowaway to see if he could help us with his few words of English."  Jennings woke the boy and hand in hand they approached the group encircling the girl.  As they came closer, the ring parted.  "Suddenly," Jennings said, "I felt the boy's grip tightened in mine, the little fellow bounded from my side and threw himself on the girl.  Then from her lips there burst the name she had been moaning before in grief.  He was her brother, and there on the deck of that ship we had reunited them."

Despite such heartening episodes, Jennings was in despair as each passing day brought no sign of further progress in evacuating the people...  On the morning of September 20 Jennings awoke with a determination to do something.  He was seized, as he said later, "with an uncontrollable urge" to save at least the people in his charge.

Acting on his impulse, Jennings rushed ot the Edsall, borrowed Powell's launch and with the Commander's blessing to "go and do your darndest," set out to comb the harbor.  He first approached the French steamer Pierre Loti.  No luck.  He then moved on to a large Italian cargo liner, the Constantinapoli.  To save time, he stood up in his motorboat and shouted, 

Did the Captain have refugees aboard?

"No."  An immense, ocean-going liner stood empty!

Would the Captain take refugees?

The Captain was sorry.  He had sailing orders to take cargo to Constantinople.  He had no orders to take refugees.  Jennings persisted. "Can the Italian consul here change your orders?"

The Captain looked doubtful.

"Has he the authority to change your orders?"

Well yes, the Captain admitted he had.

Jennings scrambled aboard.  "Good. I'll pay you 5,000 lire to take 2000 refugees to Mitilini.  I'll pay you 1,000 lire extra for your trouble."

Jennings worked all afternoon and night to prepare for the sailing.  He had to obtain permission from the Turkish authorities as well as from the Italian consul.  The next morning, he discovered that the Turks had stationed two rows of soldiers from the front door of the house where all the refugees had been gathered, to the wharf where the ship was moored.  "Although we had made it plain that no man of military age could hope to leave, some had tried in various ways to disguise themselves," he wrote.  "It was heartbreaking to see the grief of loved ones when these ruses were discovered and soldiers pulled the men back from the ships.  But there was nothing else to be done.  It was either play the game as the Turks said, or not play it at all."

Jennings was exhausted when the ship finally drew away that afternoon.  As the engines churned and the bow split the waters, refugees swarmed around him on the deck.  "They kissed my hands and my clothing, and many actually grabbed me and fell at my feet and kissed my shoes.  This was too much for me."  He fought his way to his cabin, fell on his berth, and wept uncontrollably.

Eight hours later, when the Constantinapoli reached Mitilini, Jennings was seized with still another impulse.  In the harbor, even under the shroud of darkness, he could see ships, twenty big, beautiful, empty transports, standing row on row - the bulk of the fleet that had evacuated the Greek army.  

Before the ship had pulled away from Smyrna, Powell had informed Jennings that Admiral Pepe had finally obtained permission from Kemal for Greek ships to enter Smyrna harbor.  Powell had also handed him two cables from Davis: one ordered him to land the refugees in Mitilini under the aegis of the Red cross; the other authorized him to act as he saw fit "in any subsequent emergency."  Using the second of his cables, Jennings now approached General Frankos, Commandant of the South Army and commander of the ships in in Mitilini harbor, and asked if they might be sent to Smyrna.  The General was willing to lend six ships provided he could have a written guarantee that they would be protected and permitted to return.

After delivering his refugees to the governor-general of the island, who offered to take as many more as he could feed, Jennings boarded the destroyer and headed back to Smyrna, making the trip in less than three hours.  There, he grabbed a written statement from Powell and returned immediately to General Frankos at Mitilini.

Frankos read Powell's document and hedged.  The Americans were offering to "escort the ships in and out of the harbor," but the statement said nothing about protection in case the Turks attacked.  The Turks had no navy, the General pointed out, and they might well seize the ships and set out to capture Chios, or even Mitilini.  "He was not convinced that the Turks had given permission and demanded further proof," Jennings said later.  "I could appreciate his position and reasons for caution but I realized something had to be done right away, so I told him that I personally would accompany the ships in and out of the harbor."  This was not exactly enough for the General.

Outside, through the gray, early-morning mist, a familiar-looking warship loomed in the harbor.  It looked to Jennings like an American battleship, and yet he knew that there were no American battleships around these waters.  He asked someone what it was, and was told that it was the Greek ship Kilkis.  "Then I remembered.  Somewhere, sometime before the war, I had read that the United States government had sold the Greeks the old battleship Mississippi.  And there she was, with a different flag and a different name, lying at anchor right out there in the harbor.  Somehow I had the strange confidence that through her I could get help."

Jennings found the Captain of the Kilkis eager to cooperate.  Together, they worded a message to the authorities in Athens, which the Captain sent over the ship's wireless in code.  It read: "In the name of humanity, send twenty ships on idle here to evacuate starving Greek refugees from Smyrna without delay."  It was signed "Asa Jennings, American citizen."

Within minutes there was a query: Who the devil was Asa Jennings?

"I identified myself as Chairman of the American Relief Committee in Mitilini," said Jennings.  "I didn't bother to explain that I held the position solely by virtue of the fact that I was the only American there."

The next message took longer in coming.  It stated that the Prime Minister had called a cabinet meeting, and asked what protection Mr. Jennings could offer the Greek ships.  Jennings replied that American destroyers would accompany them in and out of the harbor.  Another question: "Will American destroyers protect ships if the Turks attempt to seize them?"

That was the ticklish point.  By what authority could Jennings assure the Greek cabinet that America would back Greece to the limit, if necessary resisting a Turkish attack by force of arms?  He gambled on an evasion: "No time to discuss details of exactly how ships will be protected.  Stated guarantees should be entirely satisfactory."

But the Greek cabinet, at that moment so shaky that it was only four days from toppling, found Jennings's guarantees somewhat slender.  At four o'clock on the afternoon of Saturday, September 23, with the negotiations hopelessly deadlocked, Jennings grew desperate.  "I threw caution to the winds," he said.  "I staked everything on this one.  I told them that if I did not receive a favorable reply by six o'clock that evening I would wire openly, without code, so that the message could be picked up by any wireless station in the vicinity, that the Turkish authorities had given their permission, that the American Navy had guaranteed protection, and that the Greek government would not permit Greek ships to save Greek and Armenian refugees awaiting certain death, or worse."

It was not quite six o'clock when the reply came: "All ships in Aegean placed under your command to remove refugees from Smyrna."  Jennings had been made Admiral of the entire Greek fleet.

The Captain of the Kilkis was asking his new chief for orders, but Jennings was for a moment too stunned to reply. ("All I knew about ships was to be sick on them.")  He rallied quickly, convened a meeting of the transport captains aboard the Kilkis, and discovered that ten of the ships could be made ready to leave by midnight.  Next Jennings remembered that an Admiral was supposed to have a flagship.  ("Who ever heard of an Admiral without one?")  He chose the Propondis, mainly because her Captain spoke a little English.  "He was tickled to death to think his ship had been selected," said Jennings.  "Whether he realized this meant he was to head the procession into the Turkish harbor, I don't know-I didn't stop to press details on him.  At twelve o'clock I was ready, and, ordering the Greek flag run down, an American flag flown in its stead and a signal flag that meant "follow me' run up aft, I mounted the bridge and ordered full steam ahead."

Midway to Smyrna the flotilla was met by the Lawrence.  It drew alongside and the Captain asked Jennings if he would not prefer to ride the rest of the way on the destroyer.  In truth, Jennings was feeling ill, but he looked back, "saw my nine ships following in good order, and remembering my promise to the Greek cabinet that I would go with the first ship, declined with thanks and remained on the bridge."

The convoy moved on.  Dawn shredded the night, revealing billows of thick black clouds over their destination.  The odor of smoke, which had been discernible all the way to Mitilini, grew stronger as the sun rose behind Mount Pagus.  Jennings was to remember that moment the end of his life.

"Directly in front of us, gaunt brick-and-stone skeletons of once fine buildings pushed themselves up from the charred debris that covered the ground.  It was the most desolate, fearsome sight I ever saw.  And at the water's edge, stretching for miles, was what looked like a lifeless black border.  Yet I knew that it was a border not of death but of living sufferers waiting, hoping, and praying for ships - ships- ships!  As we approached and the shore spread out before us, it seemed as if every face on that quay was turned toward us, and every arm outstretched to bring us in.  Indeed I thought that the whole shore was moving out to grasp us.  The air was filled with the cries of those thousands, cries of such transcendent joy that the sound pierced to the very marrow of my bones."

On September 24 the curtain rose on the final act of the Smyrna tragedy, when the Greek fleet with Admiral Jennings at the helm rescued fifteen thousand old men and women, and children from the hell the city had become in two interminable weeks.  On September 26 Jennings returned with seventeen ships and carried off forty three thousand more exiles to Mitilini.  A cargo fleet under British charter joined in the rescue on the third day.  By October 1 one hundred and eighty thousand refugees had been taken from Smyrna, the last ship pulling out exactly six hours before the expiration of the deadline.

American and Allied commanders now prevailed on the Turks to extend the time limit another eight days so that British and Greek ships might evacuate nearby ports.  Another sixty thousand person were thus plucked from the shores of Urla, Chesme, and Ayvalik, where they had been gathered for two weeks.  This brought the grand total evacuated to nearly a quarter of a million refugees.

Regarding George Horton Margorie Housepian Dobkin wrote:

He had managed to evacuate those who could afford passage, but there remained well over a hundred who were too poor to pay their way.  The conviction that many of these would be killed led him to collect them in the theater with their immediate relatives, such as mothers or children.  Captain Hepburn had insisted on ejecting other relatives - a tragedy, Horton thought, since large families often lived together.   It had not been easy to persuade the Navy that these people were in imminent danger, and he wondered what he was to do with them if the State Department did not soon answer his request that they be repatriated to the United States at government expense.   The Navy might take them as far as Piraeus, but destitute Greece was scarcely in a position to care for indigent American citizens.  Then there was the question of those thousands of Ottoman subjects who had nowhere at all to turn.

    Hour after hour, all week long, they had been filing past his desk, identically harassed faces flushed with the conviction that he was their last hope of escape before the holocaust.  He could understand their fears better than he could the dogged optimism of some remote authority. 

    Least of all could he understand how commerce could carry on inexorably in the face of human catastrophe.  Already some of the businessmen who had volunteered trucks for distributing food to refugees were showing themselves more interested in moving tobacco to ships.  Men and women were pleading vainly for passage while immense fighters sat idly at anchor awaiting merchandise...

   Since the first day of September, Horton's days and nights had been an endless round of conferences, interviews, and errands of mercy that were to become legendary among the Greeks.  He had gathered hundreds of families at the Point and scoured the harbor to beg or buy their passage, often at his own expense.   Thanks to his ingenuity scores of small fishing vessels sprouted the stars and stripes and maneuvered their way safely to the open sea.

   On April 29, 2018 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed Greek soldiers burned down the coastal city of Izmir (Smyrna) as they were retreating in 1922, at the end of the Greek-Turkish War. Almost 100 years after the fact Turkish leaders lie about Turkish crimes.  In this case he may be riling up his citizens to go to war with Greece.  Turkish fighter jets recently (April 18) harassed a helicopter carrying the Greek prime minister. 

    The movie "The Promise" is about the Turkish massacre of the Armenians.  The trailer is embedded below.


Genocide in the Sudan

   Simon Aban Deng was a Christian native of the Shiluk kingdom of the Southern Sudan and was enslaved at the age of 9 by Arab Muslims.   During the ongoing genocide of his people, he met with Madeleine Albright's assistant and asked her why the United States wouldn't at least call the genocide, genocide.  Her assistant answered that the United States had signed covenants that it would intervene to prevent genocide and since the United States was unwilling to intervene (i.e. get involved in a violent confrontation), it wouldn't call it genocide.  (Daily Pennsylvanian 3/2/05).  In September 9, 2004, Secretary of State, Colin Powell had the courage to  genocide has taken place in Sudan and that the government in Khartoum and government-sponsored Arab militias known as Janjaweed "bear responsibility" for rapes, killings and other abuses that have left 1.2 million black Africans homeless.(Washington Post 9/10/04)

   The United States tried to pass a resolution establishing a U.N. commission of inquiry regarding whether it was the intent of the Sudanese government to commit genocide but China warned that it may veto the resolution, noting that it does not believe genocide has occurred.  China has lucrative oil arrangements with the Sudan.


The Voyage of the Damned:

    On May 13, 1939, a cruise ship, the St. Louis, carrying 937 Jews left Hamburg, Germany, seeking freedom from Nazi terror. Almost all had paid for both passage and papers which would legally entitle them to disembark in Cuba. When the ship reached Havana, it was not permitted to dock.  Setting sail for Miami, the ship was intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard and warned to sail on. The ship was forced to return to Europe.  More than half of the passengers died in the Holocaust.

images/stlouis1.jpg (15464 bytes)       images/stlouis2.jpg (18477 bytes)

Unbelievably this ship was turned back by a country with the statue of liberty standing in New York Harbor.

images/lady11.jpg (10781 bytes)

A statue with the inscription

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Steven Steinlight in an article titled High Noon to Midnight Why Current Immigration Policy Dooms American Jewry (April 2004), wrote:

One story from those terrible years is indicative: in the summer of 1939, when the ship St. Louis stood offshore with its desperate cargo of German-Jewish refugees, symbolizing for all the world the plight of Jews seeking to escape the devouring maw of Nazism, the American Jewish Committee was unable to assemble its Executive Board to meet because the members could not be troubled to interrupt their summer vacations.

    Arthur Morse wrote a book called "While Six Million Died, A Chronicle of American Apathy".  This book tells us how the "civilized" countries of the world were silent while six million died.  In fact it describes how these countries obstructed attempts to save the Jews.  

    Elie Wiesel a survivor has dedicated his life to keeping the memory of these events alive.  He explained his motivations thus:

"I swore never to be silent whenever or wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides; neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented"

    Simon Wiesenthal, a man who spent four years in concentration camps and lost 89 family members to the Nazis has spent 50 years pursuing the killers of the six million Jews. He did that despite death threats and bombs hurled at his office.  He has bought more than 1,100 Nazi war criminals to justice. He explained why he devoted his life to this quest as follows:

When we come to the other world and meet the  millions of Jews who died in the camps and they ask us, 'What have you done?' there will be many answers.   You will say, 'I became a jeweler'.  Another will say, 'I built houses.' But I will say. 'I did not forget you.'"

    Simon Wiesenthal in a request for support for the Simon Wiesenthal Center wrote what his lifelong mission has taught him: 

When I was liberated from the brutality and suffering of Mauthausen concentration camp in 1945, I vowed that I would dedicate myself to seeking justice, not vengeance..not only for the Jews, but for all who suffered.

This lifelong mission has taught me that justice, like freedom, can never be taken for granted.  It demands not only vigilance, but action.

    If you would like to assist in Simon Wiesenthal's battle against hate groups and get involved, a good way to start is to visit the Simon Wiesenthal Center web site.

Rev. Niemoller, commenting on events in Germany 1933-1939 wrote

They came first for the Communists...but I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews...but I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for the Unionists...but I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Unionist.
Then they came for the Catholic...but I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me...and by that time...there was no-one left to speak up for me.

Escape on the Struma

In 1942, a Soviet submarine in the Black Sea torpedoed and sank the Struma, a ship filled with almost 800 Jewish refugees headed from Romania to the Holy Land. David Stoliar, the lone survivor, agreed to share his story with SPIEGEL ONLINE.  For his story click here.


Why Didn't They Do Something?

    In many if not all the cases above people did not intervene because they were afraid of the consequences to themselves if they did so.  The excuse of the 13 year old who did nothing to stop the rapist from Uniondale was that "I'm scared of this guy".  It may be that the U.S. did not allow the Jews fleeing the Nazis into the U.S. because they were afraid of a flood of refugees from Europe and because they were afraid that German spies might be on board the ship.  Britain blocked Jewish refugees from entering the Jewish National Home because they were afraid the Arabs would join the Nazis. 

    If it wasn't for the intervention of Asa Jennings the Greeks would have left the Armenians to die because they were afraid that the Turks might seize rescue ships and use them to invade Greece.  In fact it was fear that they would not get reelected which finally trumped the fear of a Turkish invasion and caused them to allow rescue ships to travel to Smyrna.  Fear is a major reason that people don't get involved.

    Another reason Turkey was not stopped from committing atrocities and the Sudan is still not stopped from doing so is greed for oil and ambition for influence and power.  

    What is the take home lesson here?  I think it is the importance of being able to defend oneself or one's country on one's own and not to depend on the humanitarianism of others to lead them to endanger themselves on one's behalf.  Israel is a country that should take heed to this warning, greed for oil and the power stemming from an alliance with the Arab world as well as fear of the Arabs has turned most of the world against Israel.  Just how far the world is willing to crawl for oil and Arab power is well illustrated in the picture below where President Bush, who said he would go after those who support terror is kissing prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, a country that spreads terror throughout the world. 

    When in the future the Arabs, armed with the best arms the U.S. has to offer unite to attack Israel as they did in 1948 and 1967, it is highly doubtful that the U.S. will step in to save Israel.

     During the Obama administration no effective steps have been  taken to save the Christians of the Middle East from the Muslims.  Where are the rallies and protests in the West demanding that the persecution of Christians stop?  When Egyptians rebelled against Mubarak Obama threatened to cut off money to the Egyptian army if they didn't overthrow him.  When Egyptian Christians rebelled against Morsi, the man who replaced Mubarak, the Obama administration asked them not to be violent.  When Muslims rebelled in Libya the Obama administration helped them overthrow Kaddafy but when Iranians rebelled against the extremist Islamic government of Iran the U.S. did nothing to protect them.

images/house2.gif (1340 bytes)

c o p y r i g h t   ( c )   1 9 9 9 - 2004 Karl Ericson Enterprises.  All rights reserved

Table of Contents