The Struggle in Eastern Macedonia

Organising the armed resistance in Eastern Macedonia was not easy. The region was close to Bulgaria, its territory flat and the tobacco farmers especially vulnerable to Bulgarian pressures. Many important members of the Bulgarian committee, such as Santanski and Panitsa were active in the region. Despite Ion Dragoumis’ brief stop at the Serres Consulate, by the end of 1905 there were a few militiamen stationed in only ten villages, unable to put up any serious resistance.

The situation was reversed with the appointment of Antonios Saktouris as Consul at Serres and of Lieutenant Demosthenes Florias as a “special clerk” and their adoption of a more aggressive policy. Greek action was divided into three general zones: at Belles under the experienced captain Stergios Vlachbey; at Nigrita under Alexandros Aivaliotis; and at Zichni and Pangalos under Captain Doukas Gaitazis.

Smaller bands operated around these core areas, led by either army men, such as Konstantinos Dais’ band at Pangaios or local captains, such as that of the priest papa-paschalis, who died tragically in a battle with a Turkish regiment.

The most dramatic episode of the Struggle took place in Serres on 14 July 1907, when the small band of Mitrousis Gongolakis, two of his fellow villagers and two fighters from southern Greece were betrayed and trapped in the forecourt of the Church of the Evangelistria. When only Mitrousis was left, he locked himself into the belfry and, having used up all his ammunition, committed suicide with his own knife. His two hostaged companions, Nikos Panayiotou and Yiannis Ourdas were hung.