LITERARY IMAGES OF ASIA MINOR REFUGEES IN THE INTERWAR PRESS OF HERAKLION CRETE
The Asia Minor catastrophe, and the Greek refugees that followed that catastrophe, constituted a new key topic for literature, which focused on the depiction of ideological and aesthetic concerns. In a series of short stories in the journal Modern Greek Literature (Heraklion, 1926-1928), the reader can detect the “trace” of this history as well as the movement of the refugees into the city of Heraklion. In these works, there is a surplus of naturalistic descriptions of “human cattle” who “disembark dirty and untidy” in the Aegean, as well as representations of the tragic fate of the Greek refugees, who now have to coexist with the “others” who have the same religion and ethnicity as them but are at the time foreign; the “others”, who have called them “refugees”.
These stories, which are attempts to account for the pain of these people and situations, not only unearth the refugees’ feelings, but also ascertain the feelings and reactions of the locals and make possible the examination of the co-existence of the two. Moreover, this war literature (or rather anti-war, we could argue), denounces social injustice, questions civic values, and endeavours to set the terms for the homogenization of the two groups and the consolidation of the new national conscience and identity.
Through these literary images of this sui generis body of Greek refugees in Greece, literature contributes to the pulse of history and offers a very different reading of interwar society than the one we are familiar with through history.