Near East Relief in Transition

By the mid-1920s the leaders of Near East Relief recognized the need for long-term development programs, as opposed to emergency relief efforts. Once again, important changes were in store for Near East Relief.

Citizen Philanthropy segue

Despite the tremendous success of Near East Relief’s campaign for citizen philanthropy, startling changes were on the horizon. In late 1922 the sudden destruction of the historic city of Smyrna would dramatically change the trajectory of Near East Relief’s efforts.

Action segue

The founding members believed that they were engaged in a temporary relief project. Ambassador Morgenthau’s 1916 report showed them that long-term relief was necessary in order to save lives. The Committee set to work making plans to save the survivors.

Relief begins transition

Though World War I ended in 1919, refugees and orphans still faced a daily struggle for food, clothing, and shelter. Religious-based persecution continued throughout Asia Minor. Near East Relief redoubled its efforts in America by making use of mass media, including a new technology: the motion picture.

Smyrna segue

After the Great Fire of Smyrna, Near East Relief workers found themselves caring for even more children in more desperate circumstance. In the face of these challenges, how would Near East Relief raise a generation of child survivors to adulthood?

A Crumbling Empire Segue

The Young Turks fixed upon an answer to the longstanding Armenian Question: non-Muslim Ottoman subjects must be eliminated through deportation, imprisonment, and mass murder. Hundreds of years of persecution culminated in genocide.

The Genocide Segue

Ambassador Morgenthau received transmissions from American missionaries throughout Asia Minor who had witnessed the massacres and deportations firsthand. On May 27, 1915 the Ottoman Parliament passed the Tehcir Law authorizing the deportation of all Ottoman Armenians. Ambassador Morgenthau had reached a crossroads.