Page:Ambassador Morgenthau's Story.djvu/72

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48
AMBASSADOR MORGENTHAU'S STORY

Meanwhile, I had other evidences that Germany was playing her part in Turkish politics. In June the relations between Greece and Turkey approached the breaking point. The Treaty of London (May 30, 1913) had left Greece in possession of the islands of Chios and Mitylene. A reference to the map discloses the strategic importance of these islands. They stand there in the Ægean Sea like guardians controlling the bay and the great port of Smyrna, and it is quite apparent that any strong military nation which permanently held these vantage points would ultimately control Smyrna and the whole Ægean coast of Asia Minor. The racial situation made the continued retention of these islands by Greece a constant military danger to Turkey. Their population was Greek and had been Greek since the days of Homer; the coast of Asia Minor itself was also Greek; more than half the population of Smyrna, Turkey's greatest Mediterranean seaport, was Greek; in its industries, its commerce, and its culture the city was so predominantly Greek that the Turks usually referred to it as giaour Ismir — "infidel Smyrna." Though this Greek population was nominally Ottoman in nationality it did not conceal its affection for the Greek fatherland, these Asiatic Greeks even making contributions to promote Greek national aims. The Ægean islands and the mainland, in fact, constituted Graecia Irredenta; and that Greece was determined to redeem them, precisely as she had recently redeemed Crete, was no diplomatic secret. Should the Greeks ever land an army on this Asia Minor coast, there was little question that the native Greek population would welcome it enthusiastically and coöperate with it.

Since Germany, however, had her own plans for