The following testimony relating to Ioannis Kokkinidis was submitted through our online questionnaire by a relative of the family.
1. From which region of the Ottoman Empire were your ancestors from?:
My grandfather was from Triglia (today Tirilye) in the Bithynia region of Asia Minor.
2. How did their life change when the Neo-Turks and/or the Kemalists came to power? :
His family, along with other Greek families, were driven out of their homes because they were accused of giving gasoline to Allied submarines during WW1. This of course was a lie. In 1915, Liman Von Sanders ordered the expulsion of the Greeks living in the Sea of Marmara due to "military necessity". The claim was that Greeks were giving supplies (gasoline) to Allied submarines which was totally untrue.
3. Were they deported during the genocide? If so, when, where to, and describe their experience:
In 1915 they were expelled. My great grandmother was pregnant with my grandfather. They fled to Izmir where they were hidden by St. Chrysostom who was a relative of ours. He provided them with fake ID papers. Unfortunately my great-grandfather was caught and taken to the labor battalions. In 1918 they were allowed to return to Triglia. Of the 1,500 families that were there in 1915, only 1,000 returned in 1918. But the whole town managed to flee to Eastern Thrace before the Kemalists arrived to send them to the labor battalions again.
4. Were they held in a concentration camp or labor camp? If so, where was it located and describe the conditions :
My great-grandfather was taken to a concentration camp. We are not sure where since he never returned, but most likely to Magnesia.
5. Did they lose family and friends? If so, how did they cope?:
My grandfather grew up as an orphan. My great-grandmother did not remarry. She couldn't raise my grandfather so she left him at an orphanage.
6. Did anyone within Turkey including Turks try to help them during the genocide? :
7. How did they cope emotionally with their genocide experience? Did it affect the remainder of their life? :
My grandfather enjoyed chalcography (engraving of copper and brass) as a hobby. He made one and hung it in his home in dedication to his hometown Triglia as he remembered it with the ship that took them away to Eastern Thrace in its harbor. He also made maps of the Hellenism of Asia Minor and how they were settled in Greece after 1922.
8. Did the denial of the genocide by the perpetrator (the successor state of Turkey) affect their ability to form closure?:
In my grandfather's era it was not so much denial, but the triumphalism over throwing the Greeks into the sea that hurt him. He would have liked an apology; a "we did wrong".
9. How did they feel about Turkey after the genocide? :
His feeling was very negative. He did visit the land of his birth several times in his old age, where the mostly Turkish Cretans settled. They actually welcomed him because they had similar bad experiences on their arrival from Crete. He did though have a very negative opinion of the Kemalist state.