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Atatürk in Büyükada

Mihalis’s grandfather was a driver in  in the early 20th century. and his aide, Kılıç Ali, visited the Island in . They both spoke Greek. According to Michalis’s grandfather, Kilic Ali’s Greek was especially good. Twenty carriages were needed for this official visit. The man in charge of the carriages didn’t expect that the drivers would be given any money by Atatürk and his party. Because of that, he sent Greek and Armenian drivers rather than Turks, since it didn’t matter to him whether they would be paid or not. One of the Greek drivers was Mihalis’s grandfather. 

In fact, Atatürk and Kılıç Ali gave the drivers a tip larger than the normal price. In the following years when they returned to the Island they asked again for carriages. This time, remembering the large tip, the manager sent Turkish drivers. However, Kılıç Ali understood what was happening, called the manager, and told him off. He then asked him to bring the previous years’ drivers instead. 

Mihalis was emotional when he told me the story. His voice trembled when he told me how the Greeks and Armenians were called for unpaid work, and what Kılıç Ali’s gesture meant to them.