Diplomats and andartes

Many people mistakenly believe that the Struggle was conducted by civilians, unaware that the army provided officers, NCO’s, soldiers and supplies of all kinds and that the public purse covered the expenses of the educational system in Macedonia conducted the Macedonian Struggle. Perhaps the most important contribution made by Greece was not the economic or logistical support to the Struggle in Macedonia, but the strategic role played by the Greek diplomats in the Consulates in Serres, Kavala, Monastir and Thessaloniki.

The contribution of the General Consulate of Thessaloniki was the most decisive, and not only because Lambros Koromilas— whose reports secured greater participation of the Greek state in the Struggle—was based here for three years. Select officials were appointed to the Consulate, known as the “Center”, who, as “special clerks”, undertook the role of the military staff. It is they who received the reports from a large part of Macedonia, evaluated the situation, gave orders, met with ecclesiastical and educational figures, even chieftains, and who accommodated fighters within the Consulate . The cases in which, in collaboration with local figures of Thessaloniki, they attempted and succeeded in helping imprisoned andartes escape, bribed officials and pilfered Turkish documents were not few. They were true andartes, although in a diplomats uniform. Dimitrios Kakkavos and Athanasios Exadaktylos made the greatest contribution here, along with the interpreter Theodoros Askitis, who was assassinated on 22 February 1908.

Monastir was the other large consular center and was initially associated with Ion Dragoumis, whose presence here was of great significance for the Struggle. the interaction between the local population and the diplomats and officials acquired legendary status. The consular centers, especially that of Thessaloniki, were considered mythical sites, full of promise of freedom.