Aristides Stergiadis (Born 1861 in Heraklio - Died 1949) was the Hellenic high-commissioner, or governor-general, of Smyrna from 1919 to 1922. He was selected for the post by Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, and remained after the political defeat of Venizelos and the return of King Constantine I. Possessed of a strict sense of justice and a high ideal of duty, he lived as a hermit, accepting no invitations and never appearing in society. According to George Horton, US Consul at Smyrna, Stergiadis informed him that he wished "to accept no favors and to form no ties, so that he might administer equal justice to all, high and low alike." It soon became known that when he issued an order he expected it to be obeyed.
Stergiadis made himself extremely unpopular with the local population who saw him as a cold, uncaring outsider who didn't even want to be there. As the Turkish army approached Smyrna, Stergiadis discouraged any thought of a local resistance or evacuation, but was among the first to flee the city. He never returned to Greece, taking refuge in Monaco, along with Prince Andrew, and died there in July of 1949.
Stergiadis and Bishop Chrysostom of Smyrna
George Horton writes:
- On one occasion I was present at an important service in the Orthodox Cathedral, to which the representative of the various powers, as well as the principal Greek authorities had been invited. The high-commissioner had given the order that the service should be strictly religious and non-political. Unfortunately, Archbishop Chrysostom (he who was later murdered by the Turks) began to introduce some politics into his sermon, a thing which he was extremely prone to do. Sterghiades, who was standing near him, interrupted, saying: "But I told you I didn’t want any of this." The archbishop flushed, choked, and breaking off his discourse abruptly, ended with, "In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Amen," and stepped off the rostrum. (The Blight of Asia, An Account of the Systematic Extermination of Christian Populations by Mohammedans and of the Culpability of Certain Great Powers; with the True Story of the Burning of Smyrna; George Horton, 1926. Hellenic Resources Network)