The Thessaloniki Organisation

There were two components to the Macedonian Struggle in Thessaloniki. One was the Struggle “within the walls” of the General Consulate waged by Lambros Koromilas and his associates. The other was the organisation of the city itself, the “Thessaloniki Organization”. It is difficult to distinguish clearly between these two elements as the founder and coordinator of the “Thessaloniki Organisation”, Second Lieutenant Athanasios Souliotis, had been brought to the city by the Consul Lambros Coromilas. Souliotis’ task was the systematic gathering of the intelligence – something, which could not be entrusted to the locals – initially using the cover of a sewing machine salesman.

From the spring of 1906, Souliotis set up and ran a loyal network with many functions. It was comprised of several dozen individuals from every class and profession and from all of the city’s neighbourhoods under the direction of the trustworthy section-leaders A.Zachos, D.Margaropoulos, I.Emiris, K.Papageorgiou, K.Tornivoukas and K.Maltos. Souliotis’ work was continued from December 1907 until the summer of 1909 by Second Lieutenant Loukas Sakellaropoulos.

The strategic aim was to reduce the physical, professional and cultural presence of the Exarchists in the city and to strengthen the Greek presence. A variety of methods was used: from the gathering of information to the hanging of Greek, rather than French, signs outside Greek shops, to the foundation of a children’s nursery in a Slav-speaking neighbourhood and the circulation of the “Prophecies of Alexander the Great”, written, in fact, by Souliotis himself.

An official report of 1907 quite justifiably described Souliotis as “most able and highly intelligent”.