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Number 31328

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Wikipedia article

'Noumero (Number) 31328' is an autobiographical novel by Elias Venezis. It tells of his experiences as a captive of the Turkish Army on a death march into the Anatolian interior.


During the Greek genocide, Venezis family fled from Ayvali to Lesbos to avoid persecution but returned to Asia Minor after the Greek army liberated Smyrna and its hinterland in 1919. When the area was recaptured by the Turkish Army, Venezis was taken prisoner and enslaved in a labour battalion. He was 18 years old. The prisoners were marched into the interior, but few arrived at the destination, since most of them were either killed on the way, or died of the hardships they were exposed to. Of the 3000 "conscripted" into his labour brigade, only 23 survived.

When Venezis was released he was returned to Lesbos. There he met Stratis Myrivilis, who had founded the weekly newspaper 'Kambana', and was encouraged by him to write an account of "his horrific experiences as a hostage in Turkey".See [http://www.greekbookshop.com.au/pandronikos/myrivilis.htm "Stratis Myrivilis: A Brief Biography" by Pavlos Andronikos] The novel which resulted was published in serialised form in 'Kambana' in 1924. However it did not become well known in Greece until an expanded version was published in book form in 1931.See 'An Introduction To Modern Greek Literature' by Roderick Beaton, pp. 138-140.

The film '1922' (1978) by Nikos Koundouros was based on the book.See http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0079643/ The film is sometimes called 'Smyrna 1922'.

Plot summary

The story starts in Aidini, and takes us through the first days of the Turkish occupation. The way to 'amele taburu' is slowly but steadily painted in pale and crimson, in the red bloodstained steps of bare wounded feet walking on hot summer sand.

The life of the captives, as seen through the eyes of one who lived through these horrific experiences numbs the spirit of the reader too. The few bright sparks of humanity in a wasteland of inhumanity are treasured, as people are treated as if worthless: struck to death with hammers, lethally wounded and left to die alone, raped and then killed. All hope and all light is lost, despite the occasional effort by the prisoners to help each othersincere at first, then worn down and half-hearted, until at last utter indifference.


Category:Greek novels

Category:Autobiographical novels

Category:Greek literature

Category:Novels first published in serial form

Category:1924 novels

Category:Works originally published in Greek newspapers

Category:Novels set in Turkey

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