Glorious Monastir

At the beginning of the 20th century Monastir was, from many perspectives, a true acropolis of Hellenism in Macedonia. Generous donations during the period 1880-1890 had furnished the town with impressive educational institutions: a complete middle school, a girls’ school and another eight local ones. Although the Greek population was not the largest, their cultural presence was very prominent. The town’s geographical location, near the northernmost boundaries of the territory contested by the Greeks and the heavily populated villages of the plain of Morichovo, rendered it an important bastion. Monastir could not remain outside the Struggle.

Although the town was not cut off from the intrigues in Western Macedonia, especially in neighbouring Morichovo, its mobilisation is associated with Ion Dragoumis’ sojourn in 1902-1903 as a member of the diplomatic staff at the Greek Consulate. This is when the “Macedonian Defense”, the town’ s internal organisation which expanded into the wider area, was organised.

Yet, the true war, was waged by the youth of the middle classes, as described most lucidly by the Monastir politician and author Georgios Modis, who witnessed events first hand. Adolescents with pistols at hand fought for the supremacy of the Greek language in every quarter of the town, especially on its fringes.

The result of the 1st Balkan War left the graves of the Monastir Makedonomachoi lying beyond the Greek state. The bitterness of the town’s refugee community is at least assuaged when the memory of their struggles, military and cultural, is not left out of the history books.