History Textbooks in Greece and Turkey
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History Workshop, Issue 31, Spring 1991, England (pp. 22-33)

History Textbooks in Greece and Turkey

by Hercules Millas

This essay is based on a study of history textbooks used in primary schools in. Greece and Turkey- in recent years. It was undertaken in order to find out how and what Greek and Turkish children, respectively, are taught not only about their own nation but also about the nation next door, and about the relationship between the two neighbouring countries. The essay starts with the general historical background. It goes on to examine the textbook material, and notes changes in recently revised editions of two Greek textbooks. Finally, it records recent moves in both Greece and Turkey to amend and improve history textbooks.

Success in amending the school books is necessary not only to restore 'reality', but as the prerequisite for improvement of Greek-Turkish relations both at popular and at government level. This is the conviction - and the aspiration - behind this study.


The modern Greek state was established in 1829 after a national liberation war against the Ottoman Empire which lasted seven years. The Ottomans had subdued the territories which constitute modern Greece as early as the fifteenth century, fighting mainly against the declining Byzantine Empire, the Venetians and the Genoese. In Greek historiography the four hundred or so years of Ottoman rule are known as the turkokratia, a word whose simple meaning (Turkish rule') has overtones of 'the dark years of bondage'. The Greek revolution, which during its course managed to mobilize a large part of the Christian Orthodox population against the Ottoman Turks, ended successfully after the decisive intervention of England, France and Russia.

The liberated Greece of 1829 comprised only a small section of present-day Greece. The Balkan wars (1912-13) enabled Greece to extend its national boundaries at the expense of the Ottoman Empire (the 'sick man of Europe'), annexing Northern Greece and most of the Aegean islands, though the Dodecanese remained Italian. With the defeat and partition (by the Treaty of Sevres) of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War One, Greece, with the encouragement of Great Britain, seized the chance to occupy İzmir and its environs, that is Western Asia Minor (1919). In spite of growing Turkish exasperation and resistance, Greek troops advanced eastwards, almost to the outskirts of Ankara.

A successful counter-offensive by the Turkish army, led by Mustafa Kemal (later Atatürk) in revolt against the defeatist Ottoman leaders, caused the disorderly retreat of the Greek army and its decimation. In 1923 the Treaty of Lausanne officially established the modern national state of the Turks. Except for the Greek Orthodox population of Istanbul and the 'Muslims' of Western Thrace, the Turkish and Greek minorities in the two countries were then forcibly exchanged.

An important and painful historical stage was thus eventually completed. The gradual development of national consciousness and sentiment had given rise to the two national states. By a rare and perhaps unique coincidence, each nation had fought against the other for national recog­nition. The Greeks first, then a century later the Turks, fought for liberation, each perceiving the other as an obstacle and a menace.

A period of Greek-Turkish 'friendship' followed, inaugurated in 1930 by the respective leaders, Atatiirk and Venizelos. Turkey renounced the Ottoman policy of endless expansion and proclaimed its national boundaries as final, and Greece in turn abandoned its 'Great Ideal' (Megali Ithea) familiar to both Greeks and Turks, the longstanding dream of recapturing Constantinople and achieving more or less Byzantine frontiers.

The shallow roots of these newly-established good relations were exposed by two incidents during and just after the Second World War. In 1942 a new tax on wealth was introduced in Turkey. Local assessment boards (all Muslim) categorized taxpayers as Muslim or not, and levied up to ten times as high a charge on the second group. The Greek minority of Istanbul, along with Armenians and Jews, suffered gross discrimination in the assessment. Hundreds of Greeks and other non-Muslims who could not pay were taken to labour camps in Anatolia. Greece, under German occupation, could not react. Enforcement of the tax was curtailed only when the course of the war turned against the Nazi forces.

In 1947, through the Treaty of Paris, Greece annexed the Dodecanese, islands in the south-eastern Aegean which belonged to Italy but were mostly populated by Greeks. Semi-official Turkish declarations in the run-up to this treaty suggest that the arrangement did not please Turkey. Amicable relations continued, however, in spite of such friction and grievances; indeed a new wave of friendship began from 1952, when both countries joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

But the Cyprus issue brought underlying tensions to a head. Turkey reacted to Enosis, the possible union of the island with Greece, and the widespread riots against the Greek minority population of Istanbul in September 1955 marked a new era in Greek-Turkish relations. Eventually, in 1974, the military junta ruling Greece attempted a pre-emptive move, with a secretly planned and executed coup against the Cyprus government of Makarios. This broke the Treaty of Zurich (1960), which had recognized an independent Cyprus while protecting the rights of the Turkish minority. Turkey, one of the guarantors of the Zurich agreement, thereupon moved its troops into Cyprus to define and secure a Turkish zone.

Today, in spite of the Papandreou-Özal detente of Davos in February 1988, a number of issues seem to be causing friction between Greece and Turkey. The most important disputes and grievances concern the status of Cyprus, the continental shelf in the Aegean sea, the present and future of the minorities in Istanbul and Western Thrace, and the military status of the Aegean islands.



It is tempting to conclude that the prevailing resentment between Greeks and Turks, the reciprocally felt animosity, mistrust, suspicion and indig­nation which can be identified not only in daily politics but also in the mass media and at popular level, are simply the result of 'history'. History, however, is not a prime mover; it is not a detached and impartial source which unilaterally shapes human sentiments. Social developments naturally influence feelings and views, but history itself is in turn affected by popular beliefs and prejudices.

Present-day Greek-Turkish relations can best be understood not through an abstract concept of history-as-destiny, but by probing into ideology, into the motives and the beliefs (which themselves are not of course fortuitous) both of the peoples and of the governments. Greeks and Turks have been educated to become antagonists and opponents. For generations they have been fed with aggressive ideologies, with prejudices against the other side, with one-sided information and with historical distortions and exagger­ations, as if they were armies already marshalled, being exhorted before the last deadly charge. This educational practice then naturally generates its own increasing momentum.



Learning is of course not only a question of textbooks: teachers, the mass media, sermons and so on all play their part as well. Here, however, it is textbooks - those used to teach history in Greek and Turkish primary schools between 1988 and 1989-which will be explored.1

     The main difference between Greek and Turkish history textbooks is that the Turkish texts make limited reference to Greeks, whereas in the Greek ones Turks are prominent. This is because the Ottoman Empire was for centuries entangled with a multitude of other states (France, Hungary, Russia, Iran, and so on), while modern Greece most often confronted the Turks.

     In both cases, the general stance of one country's textbooks towards the other country changed little over at least the last fifty years. Marginal changes occurred with the shifting phases of bilateral relations, or when governments with new or different political positions came to power. The Turks in 1977, for instance, stressed 'a rising tide of nationalism'.2 And last year in Greece a noticeable change occurred in the textbooks for Grades Four and Five, which moved away from nationalism towards a more humanistic understanding of history.3

     Despite the dissimilarities, which arise partly from differing historical heritages and partly from different historical interpretations and ideologies, there are still striking resemblances in the ways each nation has handled the image of its neighbour and presents the mutual relationship. The emphasis here will be on those similarities, especially in the presentation of Greek-Turkish relations.





The basic belief which is impressed upon nine to twelve-year-old pupils is that they belong to a superior nation. Such notions as equality among nations and peoples, or that civilization can derive from the interaction of different cultures, are not to be found in these textbooks. The Greeks (the present Greeks) claim they are the founders of world civilization, and the Turks claim that the ancient Aegean civilization (that is, the ancient Greek civilization) flourished because of the Turks!

     According to the Greek sixth-grade textbook, the Greek nation is already around 4,000 years old:


After the wars against the Persian ... a new Greek civilization was created which the whole world still admires . . . This civilization was later conveyed and spread to deepest Asia by Alexander the Great. When the Greeks became Roman subjects, this civilization was carried to Europe and formed the basis of present-day civilization. [During the Byzantine era the Greeks] fought against the barbarian nations to save civilization and Christianity. When Sultan Mehmet II brought this long and glorious historic period to a close, Greek intellectuals escaped to the West and took with them the torch of Greek civilization, helping to kindle the Renaissance in Europe . . . The Greeks were enslaved by the Turks for almost 400 years . . . With its trust in God and its patriotic devotion, the eternal Greek race was reborn. (G3, pp. 186-7.)


The Turkish textbook for the equivalent school year tells another story:


Archaeological excavations and research in Central Asia have shown that the oldest civilization in our world was the creation of the Turks . . . Turks from Central Asia migrated to various parts of the world and helped the natives who still lived in the Paleolithic Age to move on into the Neolithic Age. They learned from the Turks how to cultivate and how to work metals. In these new countries the Turks made further advances, building big cities and founding strong states. Important centres of civilization were thus created in Mesopotamia, in Anatolia, in Syria and around the Aegean Sea. (T3, p. 25.)


The Greek textbook, then, has Alexander the Great bringing civilization to the people of Asia. In the Turkish one it is the other way round:


The first human beings lived in Asia; the great religions were born in Asia . . . Asians were the first to invent gunpowder, the magnetic compass, paper, porcelain, silk, glass, the calendar and writing. The oldest and greatest civilizations, as well as the first great states, were founded in Asia. The hardest working and the most high-minded nations are in Asia. (T2, p. 192.)


The naivete of the above passages is not just because they were written for children, in a simplistic style. Such understandings are accepted respectively in Greek and Turkey as the 'official view of history', and can be found in many history books. Supervision of the writing of history is a major preoccupation for politicians in the Balkans: indeed Atatürk himself formulated the Turkish official historical line.4





Superiority is always relative, and requires that the other party be discredited. To enhance the claims of one nation to be civilized, the past, the ancestry arid the 'character' of its neighbour are proclaimed barbaric. Past events are fabricated, or exaggerated, or evaluated by anachronistic modern standards, without any historical context or understanding.

     Thus Turks were till recently presented to Greek schoolchildren as follows:


Emperor Constantine . . . made preparations for the defence of Con­stantinople even though he knew, as once Leonidas in Thermopylae was also aware, that the barbarians would eventually win . . . Sultan Mehmet II. . . aroused the fanaticism of the Turkish soldiers by promising wealth in this life and happiness in Heaven. Those who died in their efforts to take the city would meet the Prophet (Muhammed) and His rich offer of food in Heaven . . . Terror and horror followed the capture of the city: massacre, plunder, enslavement, vandalism and other barbarisms. Those who sought sanctuary in the church of Saint Sophia fell victims to the fury of the janissaries. (G2, pp. 152,157.)


In the new version of this textbook, however, there are some significant changes. The reference to the expected victory of the 'barbarians' has gone; so have 'the fanaticism of the Turkish soldiers' and their expectation of 'food in Heaven'. With the fall of the city, according to the new book, the Turks started 'to plunder, to kill and to vandalize', but that is all: the 'terror and horror', the 'massacre', and the references to 'barbarism' (so often before attributed to the Turks) are all omitted. (G2 New, p. 198.)

     In the sixth-grade textbook (not yet revised) further brush strokes develop the portrait of the Turk:


It is impossible to imagine a greater catastrophe for our nation than our enslavement to the Turks. The Turks being savages and without civilization were disastrous in their impact, and did not grant a single right to the enslaved nation. (G3, p. 8.)


It is interesting to note a contradiction here. The 'historian' goes on to tell the children how the population was forcibly converted to Islam, 'by any available means', and the churches turned into mosques; how 'satanic, disgusting and pitiless kidnapping' supplied the ranks of the Janissary Corps (in the illustration - see above - a Turk drags away two weeping children as their mother falls to the ground tearing her hair in despair); and how Greeks had to pay heavy taxes 'to stay alive', faced 'disgraceful humiliations', and suffered denial of all justice. The next chapter, however, refers without comment to the 'privileges' granted under the Ottoman Empire to its Greek-speaking population. These privileges in fact conceded autonomy to the Greek Orthodox Church, including right of jurisdiction in the Orthodox community, and gave the Greek-speaking community autonomy in matters of education, religion and culture. Such historical facts are ignored, subordinated to the larger need to maintain the image of the wicked Turk.

     Depiction of Turks in more recent history implies little change. The account of events in 1821, with a touch of paranoia, accuses the Turks of evil intent: 'The massacre of Chios demonstrated to the whole world the bestiality of the Turks and their ultimate aim, extermination of the Greek race'. (G3, p. 91.) Or again, 'hundreds of Greek civilians were massacred' by the Turks in 1922, during the war. (G3, p. 168.)

     In Turkey the textbooks are no better. According to the fourth-grade book:


In 1200 BC barbaric tribes . . . invaded the region which is called Greece today. In doing so they devastated the region and pitilessly killed the aboriginals. The Romans called these unknown tribes 'Greeks'. (Tl, p. 191.)


These Greeks subsequently, Turkish fifth-graders are taught:


intermixed with other tribes which came from Anatolia, thus forming a cross-breed. Then they were mixed with the Macedonians, the Romans, the Slavs and the Albanians. Therefore the Greeks of today have nothing in common with the ancient Greeks but a common language and some customs. (T2, p. 15.)


So history 'proves' the desired point! And there are lessons to be drawn:


Greece attacked the Ottoman Empire (1912-13) when the empire was at its weakest. During this war the aggressors acted with cruelty. They killed the Turks without pity [pity is altogether in short supply - HM] . . . Until the Greeks appreciate our friendly offers we should be very wary and cautious with this neighbour. Turkish boys and girls must realize this. (T2,p. 152.)


In 1821 'most of the Turks who lived in Peloponnese and on the islands, were killed by the Greeks - forty-five to fifty thousand died'. (T2 , p. 64.) During the Turkish War of Liberation 'the Greek army killed civilians without hesitation, women and children included, and set fire to villages and towns'. (T2, p. 99.) And as final touch, to be sure of making an irreversible impact on these children of impressionable years as well as demonstrating the unchangingly pitiless Greek character, the 'historians' record that in 1821 'the Greeks showed by their actions that they are capable of killing without mercy even the babes in their cradles'. (T2, p. 64.)





Two categories of events are skilfully left out of these textbooks; first, 'our' ugly or unpleasant deeds, and second, any praiseworthy actions by 'them'. Schoolchildren in each country almost never read or heard that their ancestors might have injured the other side.

     According to the Turkish textbooks, 'when the Turks captured Istanbul (in 1453) nobody was hurt and nobody lost property'. (T2,p. 19.) According to the Greek textbooks, when on 23 September 1821 the Greeks captured Tripolis in the Peloponnese, 'the Greek army rushed into the city; it is impossible to describe what followed'. (G3, p. 76.) What in fact followed was a massacre. (According to the memoirs of the Greek commanding officer, 'From Friday to Sunday, the Greek soldiers went on slaughtering women, children and men. 32,000 people were killed around Tripolis. One man alone, from Hydra, killed ninety . . . At the end a crier was sent out and the massacre was terminated.')5

     The expansionist, aggressive and booty-seeking policies of both Greeks and Turks are metamorphosed into humane expeditions, acts of benevolence and expressions of tolerance.


Alexander the Great was not only a great conqueror . . . but also a man who civilized [the East] ... He respected the religion, the traditions and customs of [the conquered]. (Gl, p. 168.)


Sultan Mehmet II is the best example of the greatness and of the humane approach of the Turkish nation. He allowed the inhabitants [of Con­stantinople] to live as before and respected their religion, tradition and customs. (T2, p. 19.)


According to these textbooks, expansionist wars were fought for the triumph of tolerance, or at least 'because we had no choice':


The ancient Greeks had to cope with many difficulties [as they established their colonies]. The greatest difficulty was the attitude of the people living there already. Their attitude was sometimes friendly and sometimes hostile [meaning, they defended their homeland: HM]. In this second case, the Greeks had to fight. (Gl, p. 43.)


Mustapha Kemal [in 1919] did not respect the Treaty of Sevres. He revolted . . . and started to fight against the Greeks [meaning, he defended his country: HM]. Greece was therefore obliged to enforce the Treaty by means of guns. (G3, pp. 167-8.)


Byzantine . . . Constantinople was squeezed between Turkish terri­tories. The strait of Bosporus was very important and could not possibly be left to the enemy. (T2, p. 19.)


The Ottoman State was not aggressive. But when its neighbours posed a threat, and only then, it acted promptly to check the danger. (T2, p. 27.)


Beograd had to be conquered in order to defend the Ottoman terri­tories. (T2, p. 28.)


The concept of an all-benevolent nation constitutes part of both 'official' histories.

     In the two new Greek textbooks, however, this concept is significantly modified. For instance, they suggest that the Ancient Greek colonies were established to deal with unemployment and in the pursuit of wealth. (G2 New, p. 38.) And instead of reading how Alexander the Great was a conqueror who civilized the East, students are asked to discuss 'how Greek customs changed as they came in contact with new people'. (Gl New, p. 205.) The most important development in these new Greek textbooks, although it is not the focus of this essay, is that they emphasize daily life, whether urban or rural, and deal with women and children. They present a people's history, rather than the heroic deeds and military victories of which 'history' previously consisted.6

Positive aspects of the neighbouring nation's history are in each case generally ignored or even denied. Turkish children are told that the Ionians were a people 'completely alien to the Ancient Greeks', and mention of Homer or Democritus, or the language spoken by these 'Anatolian indigenous people', is discreetly avoided.7 (This denial can be partly explained perhaps, though not justified, as a reaction to the arrogance with which some modern Greeks appropriate the legacy of an ancient civiliz­ation.) Correspondingly, one searches in vain for mention in Greek textbooks of the cultural heritage of the mighty Ottoman civilization. For Greek school-children, and by extension for Greek adults, the Ottoman Empire and barbarism belong together.

The national liberation wars of the two nations, the historic moment of which each nation feels really proud, are also reciprocally scorned and dismissed. The Greek Revolution of 1821 was a turning point in Balkan history and beyond;8 while the Turkish liberation war of 1923 was one of the first anti-imperialist wars in history and was to inspire others. This is how they are presented in each other's textbooks.

The Ottoman Empire treated the Balkan people well. Nobody suffered because of religion, language, customs or traditions . . . The Greek uprising was initiated by the Russians. It was suppressed but Russia continued to incite the Greeks . . . All Europe helped with plenty of money . . . Eventually England and France intervened . . . Indepen­dence was granted to Greece. (T2, p. 64.)

The Turkish Revolution is recounted as follows in the Greek textbooks:

On 15 May, 1919, the Greek army landed at Izmir as required by the Great Powers. Mustafa Kemal refused to comply with the Treaty of Sevres . . . He fought against the Greeks . . . Later, having received support from the Allies, Mustafa Kemal attacked and the Greeks were defeated. (G3, p. 168.)

Not a single reference is made to the people, to liberty, to sovereignty, to self-determination, to personal sacrifices, or to national inspiration, when it is a question of 'their' history. Lofty ideals are reserved only for 'our' revolution.




Both Greece and Turkey have a number of times renounced their earlier expansionist policies. Officially, Megali Ithea (recovering Byzantine terri­tory) and Gaza (war for the extension of Islam) or Pan-turkism are dead. Nevertheless, schoolchildren will still encounter passages in their books which imply that there is something wrong with the present borders between these two countries.

Turkish children read that 'in the Second World War the whole of Greece was invaded by the Germans. In spite of this defeat the Dodecanese were granted to Greece'. (T2, p. 152.) Or again:

Most of the Aegean Islands were given to Greece by the Great Powers. When in fact these islands are very close to our coasts. Previously the whole Aegean coast, the islands and Greece were under Turkish rule. The islands of the Aegean sea were a part of the Ottoman Empire sixty years ago. (Tl, p. 154.)

Children who live on these Aegean islands or on the Greek mainland find in the supplementary readings in their history textbooks a poem relating to the Fall of Constantinople, once quite popular, which ends 'Don't cry, Lady, a time will come when the city is ours again'. Then they read the legend of the Greek king turned to stone by an angel the day Constantinople fell, who is hidden in a cave, and will one day come back to life and 'chase away the Turks . . . and much killing will follow, so much killing that the calf will float in blood'. (G2, p. 163.) It is interesting that both poem and legend are retained in the new textbook introduced for 1988-9. (G2 New, pp. 200-1.) The justification is probably that they are part of the popular literary tradition. But still two questions remain: why out of hundreds of poems and legends are this particular poem and this bloodthirsty legend considered the most suitable for children; and why are this poem and this legend presented as a sample of 'our people's belief and expectation'?


Besides distorting and manipulating historic events, these textbooks are also arbitrary in their evaluation of them. Severity and harshness in ancient times and more recently are used to 'prove' the continuous and characteristic brutality of the neighbouring nation. Labels such as Greek and Turk create images of permanent ethnic prototypes, ignoring the complexity of life and the way that ethnic groups change and evolve. These textbooks leave the impression that they are concerned with two invariable, unchanging racial groups.

The notion of immutable nations is then further reinforced by assigning definite national characteristics: 'our' nation is superior, benevolent and strong; the other is harsh, uncivilized, insignificant and so on. Children are left to conclude that the other side was always in the wrong, and their own side always almost perfect.

It is difficult to assess the harm done. But judging by the image which each nation has of the other - and there are some gloomy poll findings - this educational procedure is quite influential.


Both in Greece and in Turkey there has been criticism of the nationalistic approach to history and in particular of its presentation in the textbooks. Historians, teachers, psychologists, philosophers and others have all been involved.

At a three-day conference in November 1975, for instance, Turkish historians engaged in extensive discussion of the textbooks used to teach history from primary level up to the universities, and many voiced criticisms of the 'official' line.9 Since then a study of primary school reading books in Greece has appeared, by Anna Frankouthaki (1978);"' and in Turkey a content analysis of Turkish, French, German and Italian history textbooks, by Türker Alkan (1982)." Nicos Ahlis has analyzed the way Bulgarians and Turks are presented in Greek High School textbooks (1983).n In the mid-1980s Vasilis Kremidas, in co-operation with other Greek historians, brought out his exemplary five-volume history for intermediate-level teaching, which is being extensively used outside schools.13 And in 1988 Hristina Koulouri published an anthology from Greek textbooks of the period 1834 to 1914.'4

The Greek-Turkish Friendship Committee, established when bilateral relations were in decline (1986), has repeatedly called for improvements to the textbooks. The Friedrich-Naumann-Stiftung (German Institute) organ­ized an international conference in Athens in December 1988 to discuss them. At a conference in Istanbul in 1986, initiated by Unesco, where Greek and Turkish officials discussed their countries' textbooks, it was decided that the Balkan countries would study their neighbours' textbooks and suggest amendments. A second Unesco conference two years later, in Patras (Greece), brought together official representatives from Albania, Romania, Turkey and Yugoslavia.

With the renewal of closer relations since the Davos meeting in February 1988, the prime ministers of the two countries undertook to try to amend the textbooks as a step towards improving bilateral accord. The Greek and Turkish branches of Unesco are currently working on this, under govern­ment guidance.


Biased textbooks are only one of the ways in which opinion is formed, but one of the most important, since textbooks are central to the 'education' of the whole nation. Evidently they need to be amended, not only for the sake of historical honesty, but also for practical political expediency: if Greeks and Turks are to live as good neighbours they have to overcome their nationalistic prejudices. Even the governments which authorize the use of these textbooks admit their harmfulness.

Both Greece and Turkey have historians and educationalists capable of surmounting the past in the interests of a more humanist future.15 Why don't they do it, then? There are a series of probable reasons. Most people are happy with the myths which they learned at school, and as voters now they will resist drastic change. Foreign policy is a battlefield for politicians, and any attempt to change the 'official' historical line will be exploited by opposition parties. Many of those responsible for amending the textbooks were themselves brought up on them, and believe they are still valid and useful. And finally, the politicians seem to see the whole issue of amending textbooks only in the context of bilateral relations, not as a measure which will free and enlighten the children of their own country. So demands for reciprocity, endless negotiations, and worries about the risk of too hasty concessions mean that change is delayed, inadequate and ineffective.


Abbreviations in the text refer to the following textbooks used in this study:


-   Gl: Arhaia Ellatha (Ancient Greece), Fourth Grade, prepared by G. Kamaterou-Glitsis.

-   G2: Romaiki kai Vizantini Istoria (Roman and Byzantine History), Fifth Grade, prepared by A. Bouyioukas.

-   G3: Elliniki Istoria ton Neoteron Hronon (Greek History of Recent Times), Sixth Grade, prepared by H. Diamantopoulos and A. Kiriazopoulos.

Two new books were introduced in 1988-9, replacing Gl and G2 above. They are:

-   Gl New: Arhaia Hronia (Ancient Years), Fourth Grade, prepared by D. Aktiris, A. Velalithis, Th. Katsoulakos and K. Horcanthis, under the supervision of D. Melas.

-   G2 New: Sta Vizanlina Hronia (In Byzantine Years), Fifth Grade, prepared by V. Asimomitis, M. Karla, N. Nikilopoulos, Y. Papagrigoriou and Y. Salvaras, under the supervision of D. Melas.



-   Tl: Sosyal Bilgiler (Social Knowledge), Fourth Grade, prepared by F. Sanır, T. Asal and N. Akşit.

-   T2: Sosyal Bilgiler (Social Knowledge), Fifth Grade, prepared by F. Sanır, T. Asal and N. Akşit.

-   T3: Milli Tarih (National History), First Grade Junior High School, prepared by N. Akşit. (This last is used to provide comparability. Greek primary schools have six grades, Turkish only five. So the age group for whom Greek sixth-grade books are designed would in Turkey be in the first grade of junior high school.)


  1. 1A similar comparative study of Greek and Turkish history textbooks appeared in the Turkish periodical Yeni Düşün in September 1987; and a translation followed in the Greek Elefterotipia, 24 February 1988.
  2. 2Türker Alkan, The Political Integration of Europe, Middle East Technical University, Ankara, 1982, p. 88.

      3  In both Greece and Turkey these approved textbooks are the only ones provided in the primary schools: teachers have no choice but to use them.

      4  For an extended study of the Turkish official line (its origin, significance, authors, evaluation etc), see Büşra Ersanlı, 'The First Turkish Historical Congress' (in Turkish), Toplum Ve Bilim (Sociological Review), Autumn 1987.

      5  Th. Kolokotronis, Memoirs. The sufferings of the defeated when the Ottoman army entered Constantinople in 1453 are extensively described by many historians.

      6   The History of the Human Race, by the distinguished historian, L. Stavrianos. an exemplary textbook now being used in Senior High Schools, illustrates the new tendency and the abandoning of the ethnocentric approach.

      7  The eminent Turkish historian. Mete Tuncay, publicly criticized these textbooks and this 'Grecophobia' at a conference in 1977 (see note 9); and of course numerous well-known Turkish scholars of Ancient Greece, like Ekrem Akurgal or Suat Sinanoğlu, have refuted the blinkered 'official' line.

     8   'Only one of the 1820-22 revolutions maintained itself, thanks partly to its success in launching a genuine people's insurrection and partly to a favourable diplomatic situation: the Greek rising of 1821. Greece therefore became the inspiration of international liberalism . . .': Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Revolution, 1977, p. 172.

     9  For contributions by Sina Akşin, Ioanna Kuçuradi, İlber Ortaylı, İsmet Parmaksızoğlu, Suat Sinanoğlu, Yahya S. Tezel, Mete Tuncay, Ekrem Üçyiğit, see Felsefe Kurumu Seminerleri, Türk Tarih Kurumu Basımevi, Ankara, 1977, pp. 278-311.

    10   Anna Frankouthaki. Reading Books in Primary Education (in Greek), Themelio, Athens 1978.

    11   See note 2.

    12  Nikos Ahlis, Neighbouring Nations: Bulgarians and Turks as presented in High School textbooks (in Greek), Athelfon Kiriakidi, Thessalonika 1983.

    13  Vasilis Kremidas, with Sofoklis Markianos, Foula Pispiringou, and Thanos Veremis, History Manuals (five volumes; in Greek), Grasi, Athens 1982-6.

    14  Hristina Koulouri, History and Geography in Greek Schools, 1834-1914 (in Greek), Athens 1988.

    15   As an example of a new general historical perspective on the Turkish side, see the four-volume History of Turkey prepared by S. Akşin, U. Hassan, H. Berktay, A. Ödekan, M. Kunt, H. G. Yurdaydın, Z. Toprak, MeteTunçay, Cemil Koçak, Hikmet Özdemir, Korkut Boratav, Selahattin Hilav and Murat Katoğlu, Cem, 1987-8.




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