The Greek - Turkish Population Exchange Convention was signed on 30 January 1923. The population exchange was based on religious identity - involving denaturalization of the Orthodox Christian population of Turkey and the Muslim population of Greece.

My question is about the situation of the Muslim population on the Greek side. What was the legal situation of the converts, who wanted to stay in Greece, and converted to Christianity after the convention date? More specifically, what happened to Turkish women married to Greek men after the convention date, and decided to stay in Greece as a Greek.

We know that in both sides, many people changed religions to stay. On the Turkish side, at least on the official side, the Orthodox Greek women marrying to Turkish men were only allowed to stay in Turkey, if the marriage was prior to the convention date. It was even subject to a government decree dated 27 July 1924 in the Turkish side, to clarify such situation, which did not allow post convention marriages.

I want to understand the similar situation in Greece, with regards to Muslim women marrying Greek men, after the convention date. Were they allowed to stay, or was there the same situation as in Turkey, where only the pre-convention married women were allowed to stay?


1 Answer 1


Officially, If you were a Muslim in Greece, you could be exempt from compulsory deportation if you were:

  • part of the ethnic Albanian community
  • a resident of Thrace

The Greek government had placed no restrictions on religious conversions via marriage or baptism in the same fashion that the Turkish government did. Last minute conversions to prevent deportation were allowed and this applied to both men and women. It is unclear if there were specific rules for women

Here is an example of marriages occurring in Crete in order to prevent evacuation:

...findings reveal that some male members of Muslim families in Crete avoided the population exchange either by way of converting to Christianity or getting married to the local Greek women. Thereby, it became possible to prevent the properties of their families from confiscation. See Raif Kaplanoglu, Bursa'da Miibadele (1923-1930 Yunanistan Gogmenleri) (Bursa: Avrasya Etnografya Vakfi Yaylnlarl, 1999)

- Diplomacy and Displacement: Reconsidering the Turco-Greek Exchange of populations, 1922-1934 (Onur Yildirim, pg 249)

If your identification papers read that you where Orthodox and not Muslim, you where exempt from the population exchange.

Furthermore, marriage in the Orthodox church requires that both husband and wife must profess the Christian faith. Therefore those Muslim men and women who married into Orthodox families had to convert as a pre-requisite to their marriage.

  • OP asks about women; most of your answer focuses on men. Is that because there is very little documentation on women?
    – MCW
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 0:35
  • 2
    There is very little documentation in English about the situation of women. There probably exists Turkish accounts of individuals marrying to avoid deportation. unfortunately i dont know Turkish and the best info i could find in English is on males. Will edit accordingly
    – Notaras
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 0:43
  • Kapetanios, I am checking Diplomacy and Displacement in detail. It is true that there had been lot's of conversions in both sides to prevent forced immigration. However, I cannot find sources documenting that such conversions were allowed after Lousanne Agreement. During Lousanne negotiations, many people converted. It was so fast in the Turkish side that the Turkish government at some time froze the official registry of marriages. However, later on passed a decree to allow all conversions and marriages pre-Convention. This also included many post Convention conversions, back date registered
    – Can
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 8:28
  • What I am trying to understand is whether or not such conversions were allowed in the Greek side, if the official (registered on state) conversion date was after the Lausanne Convention.
    – Can
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 8:33
  • @Can As i mentioned in the answer "The Greek government had placed no restrictions on religious conversions via marriage or baptism in the same fashion that the Turkish government did". Exactly who could be baptised was solely determined by the Orthodox church and not the state. And there is no documented cases of Orthodox priests or bishops refusing to baptise Muslims prior to or after the Lausanne agreement.
    – Notaras
    Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 22:45

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