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Remembering Nikolaos Manginas: a child of Beyoğlu and a bearer of memory


This story on this page was going to be different. It is not completed, and it won’t be. This is about Nikos Manginas, who was a journalist and a photographer at of Constantinople. We lost Nikos on 10th April 2021. 

Nikos was a generous, helpful person with a great sense of humour. I am grateful to him for his time and support. He always hosted me with a warm welcome and generously gave gifts, such as books that are relevant to my research. Although he told me a lot about himself, we did not manage to conclude our discussions about the Patriarchate, Fener and , about himself and his family. Here I’ll write what I know, based on the time I spent with him. 

Nikos was ‘a child of Beyoğlu’ as he put it. That’s where he began taking photographs.  He was a graduate of the Zografyon Greek High School and studied in Athens afterwards. 

When I first met him at the Patriarchate, I was wating for permission to film in a church. We started chatting. He listened to me talk about what I was doing and told me his story. He told me about his mother, Anastasia Nikolaidou Mangina, who was a teacher and a headmaster at the Greek orphanage in Büyükada; he showed me a picture of her. We agreed that he would tell me more details about his mother and family another time, and we planned to meet again. 

He also briefly mentioned his grandfather, who died in the Campaign as an Ottoman soldier when Nikos’s mother was 3. His grandfather, Nikola Nikolaidis, was born in the historical Greek ‘Rum’ settlement in Trilye, in the Mudanya District of Bursa, a city in the north west of Turkey. He told me that his mother was proud of her father because of the sacrifice that he made for his country, although she only ever saw him in photographs. Nikos gave me a copy of a newspaper article in which he talked about his grandfather. He was disappointed that although his grandfather was a şehit [martyr], the contribution of ‘non-Muslims’ (a term he disliked because he felt it implied discrimination) in the wars went unrecognised. Nikos was given the name of his martyred grandfather’s. 

He showed me that he had a vast archive of photographs of the that he himself had taken. Nikos was very close to the Patriarch and had followed and took photographs of him since , in his all national and international visits, in his services, and sometimes in his daily life. Once I was talking to Nikos at the Patriarchate and he wanted to go to the church immediately when he heard that the Patriarch was going to attend the evening prayer. This was just a normal routine prayer, and not otherwise a special occasion. The presence of the Patriarch was the main focus for him. We went to St George’s Church at the Patriarchate and he took many photographs of him. 

Nikos is taking a photograph of the Patriarch in Balıklı.

Apart from his photographs, Nikos prepared booklets, edited books, and organised exhibitions. He showed (and gave) me a booklet that was written by him to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Patriarch Bartholomew’s ascension to the throne. The booklet shows the Patriarch’s official visits. When I met him, Nikos was organising some events and preparing a book to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Patriarch’s ascension to the throne in 2021. 

When Cem Hakverdi and I went to interview him for our film, Burying the Bones, we asked him what had been the most memorable visit that he had with the Patriarch. Nikos chose their visit to Cuba in 2004, when Fidel Castro gave the ownership of Saint Nikolaos Church in Havana to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Castro could have given this church to any other church, but chose the Patriarchate, which pleased Nikos greatly. Nikos gave a booklet in Spanish that he had prepared to Fidel Castro.

Nikos explained the book to me: “Due to the 50th anniversary of these events [the 1955 Pogrom against the Greeks], I did an interview with Dimitrios Kalumenos. He relived how the events took place. He explained their every second. And we gave this camera to him to hold after fifty years. He took those pictures 50 years ago. He told us that he was deeply afraid when he took those photographs. He went to many places: Beyoğlu, the Patriarchate, and to the Yedikule area where he saw the huge damage to the churches. He went to the Şişli graveyard where they desecrated the graves. They took the bones from the coffins. So, all those photographs exist because of him.”

The last time I saw Nikos was during a visit to the Patriarchate in November 2020. I showed him this website that you are visiting now. I read some of stories and we looked at the images together. He said the website was ‘very different and creative,’ and that he appreciated my research, after which he gave me this gift. 
 
On this cross is inscribed the name of the Patriarch Bartholomew I, which was very important to him; in turn, this object is very important to me as a memory of Nikos.