Language Note

The Greco-Turkish War is referred to in many different ways. The Greeks referred to the conflict as the Asia Minor Campaign, the Anatolian Catastrophe, and the Great Catastrophe. The Turks called it the Turkish War of Liberation and the Turkish War of Independence. These terms have a bias towards one side of the conflict and are primarily used by either Greece or Turkey. Modern scholarship on this topic has begun to focus on both sides of the narrative, and the “Greco-Turkish War” has become the prominent term in modern western scholarship; therefore, this exhibit will use the term Greco-Turkish War. 

Furthermore, the Turkish changed drastically following the Greco-Turkish War. For centuries beforehand, the Turkish language was written in Arabic script, and differed from the Turkish language of today. As the followers of Mustafa Kemal took control of the Turkish government they reformed the script and switched to a Latin script throughout 1928-1929. The initial Arabic script did not adequately represent the Turkish language in the eyes of the Kemalist government and they said it led to a lack of use throughout Turkey and the Ottoman Empire. Only 5-10% of the population could use the Arabic script. Turkey’s adoption of a Latin script and development of other literacy programs led to a massive increase in literacy. Therefore, we focus on terms relating to the Latin script of the Turkish language.

Throughout this exhibit we will reference geographical areas that were critical to the conflict and its aftermath. These areas often have names in both Greek and Turkish, with each name having passionate supporters and detractors. In this exhibit we will be referring to areas by both their Turkish and Greek names; for example, İzmir/Smyrna or İstanbul/Constantinople. Similarly, we will be focusing on names familiar to English speakers for each country. Therefore, we will use the term Greece, and not the Hellenic Republic; and similarly, Turkey, and not Türkiye. 

The War Before the War: World War I and the Treaty of Sèvres, 1830-1920