As history has shown, ethnic cleansing is always being accompanied by the expropriation of the values of repressed peoples and religious communities. Turkey plundered Christian, including Armenian and Greek, relics valued at tens of billions of dollars in 1915-1925.
International humanitarian organizations and sources at UNESCO report, in particular, on the expropriation of Greek and Armenian values by Turkey totaling at least $60 billion adjusted to inflation. These include, for example, unique historical monuments of ancient Greek and ancient Armenian states, icons, jewels, manuscripts, etc. This is probably why Turkey hadn’t borrowed large foreign loans until 1948…
After the conclusion of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty with Soviet Russia (1918), tens of thousands of graves of Russian soldiers killed in the 19th century for the liberation of Western Armenia from Turkish occupation were desecrated and plundered. According to the requirements of the USSR, Turkey in 1946-1953 returned about 7 thousand Russian soldiers and officers to the Armenian and Georgian SSR, but most of these remains were desecrated by the Turks.
According to Soviet data, the value of valuables stolen from burial places was up to 10 million rubles in 1951 prices. And according to the émigré Russian All-Military Union, they were valued at about 16 million “Stalinist” rubles.
After the death of Stalin, the USSR radically changed its “Turkish” policy. The Russian Necropolis in the east of present-day Turkey was brought to oblivion.
And those eastern Turkish areas where traces of the Armenian Genocide and desecration of Russian cemeteries remain are still closed to foreigners.
Only since 2003, according to the Turkish ambassador to the Russian Federation Kurtulush Tashkent, “some Turkish authorities have been allocating money for the restoration of monuments of Armenian and Greek culture in eastern and northern Turkey…”
Recently, both Greece and the Greek diaspora abroad have been demanding compensation from Turkey for the genocide of the Greek population of the Black Sea regions and for the creation of fashionable resorts in the “cleansed” regions (Antalya, Belek, Smyrna, Kemer). A lawsuit of about $10 billion has already been filed with the European Court, but Turkey has so far refused to discuss this issue. Meanwhile, the average annual income of Turkey from tourism only in its coastal regions exceeds $10 billion, according to the Turkish Embassy in the Russian Federation.
According to the estimates of German archeologist and historian Eberhardt Paul, in the 1910s-1950s, at least over 10,000 Christian and pagan artifacts — predominantly Greek and Armenian — were exported from the territory of present-day Turkey to Great Britain, Italy, France, Switzerland, and the US. Many of the original monuments of Hellenism and Greek Orthodoxy in the former “Greek” Turkey are replaced by copies or counterfeits.
However, attempts were also made to sell “Asia Minor” fakes: in the late 1920s – the first half of the 1930s, scandals erupted in France, Switzerland, and the United States because of the sale of fake monuments, jewelry, coins, and manuscripts at local auctions from allegedly “Greek” Turkey and the ancient Armenian state of Urartu (in the east of present-day Turkey).
Paul wrote about this business: “The first reason for the hype around historical and archaeological fakes is prices sometimes expressed in astronomical numbers, eagerly paid by experts and collectors for supposedly unique accessories. The second reason is the lust of the inexperienced average person – they say that they know the truth and that the experts are wrong.
On any given day, unique items may appear on the market, but it is possible that a rough or very clever hoax will trap us. As the demand, including tourist, for a true aesthetics is constantly growing and its supply is insufficient, “business” people quickly find a way to earn money…”
The historian of Orthodoxy Vladimir Vasilik says: “After the war against Greece and Turkey, the genocide of the Asia Minor Greeks followed, killing about a million people (1923–1925), and unique relics of Asia Minor Hellenism and Greek Orthodoxy were destroyed or sold abroad.
In the 1974 invasion of Turkish troops in the north of Cyprus, 20 thousand Christian Cypriots were killed, about 200 thousand were expelled, almost all the churches in the occupied part of the island were turned into mosques, and Orthodox shrines and decorations (icons, frescoes, reliefs, etc.) were destroyed, defiled, or sold abroad…”
According to the UNESCO data of 1974, of the 913 Armenian historical monuments that had survived in the east of present-day Turkey by 1916, 464 were completely destroyed, 252 were turned into ruins, and 197 are in urgent need of restoration.
Official Ankara rather sparingly provides data on the number and condition of Armenian church monuments and relics. The study of historical and cultural values is difficult in many of the eastern provinces of Turkey because a special military access regime has been established there, prohibiting visits to the territories where Armenian monuments are located.
As the correspondent of the British newspaper Independent William Dalrymple wrote, “not a single Turkish or foreign scholar would dare to conduct his own archaeological research of the original Armenian regions of Turkey.
One British archaeologist (who, like almost everyone with whom I spoke about this, asked not to be named) said: ‘It is impossible to explore the Armenian areas in Turkey. Officially, those do not exist and have never existed. If, for example, you try to obtain permission for independent archaeological research or find out the fate of the relics of not only Armenian but also Greek Christianity, you will be persecuted.’”
In confirmation of these words, one can bring many facts. French historian J. M. Thierry was detained in 1975 while drawing a plan of a half-ruined Armenian church near Lake Van. He was taken to the police station and brutally interrogated for 3 days. He was conditionally released and managed to leave Turkey, although he was sentenced in absentia to 3 months of hard labor.
The French scientist who studied the “East Turkish” churches confessed to historian Stephen Kamajian (Canada): “The Turks pay living expenses and archaeological research until I discover what they want. That is, I must declare that this or that is a Turkish church. Otherwise, things won’t end well for me…”
In other words, earning dividends on the tragedy of “outcast” nations is an indefinite policy…