Review of Onur Yıldırım's Diplomacy and Displacement: Reconsidering the Turco-Greek Exchange of Populations, 1922-1934


This book will be of interest to students of the Cold War because it examines the antecedents of the many population movements not only during the interwar period but also after World War II. The Turco-Greek population exchange was not the first exchange in the Balkans (a Greek-Bulgarian voluntary population exchange was signed in 1919, as discussed by Theodora Dragostinova in Between Two Motherlands: Nationality and Emigration among the Greeks of Bulgaria, 1900-1949, published by Cornell University Press in 2011), but because of the large scale of the Greek-Turkish exchange—resulting in more than a million refugees in Greece and half a million in Turkey—its obligatory character, and its relatively organized nature, it has become a reference point for the “transfer of large ethno-religious groups by means of which minorities were forcibly uprooted under the aegis of international law to contribute, in turn, to the reconstitution of ethnically ‘pure’ homogeneous states” (p. 10). Many of the examples that are discussed, however, are hardly comparable to the TurcoGreek population exchange and instead constitute instances of disorderly exoduses or unilateral ethnic cleansing.

Publisher's Version

Last updated on 09/20/2015