Σάββατο, 3 Μαΐου 2014

Makedonian Stories: The Deserter - George Modis


"Makedonomahoi": Vardas with his fighters.
Για ελληνικά: 


English translation by our friend George Tsapanos, a proud Vlach from Megarovo nowadays living in California.

Good morning to all. 
In todays seventh translation of Modis Makedonian Stories,  I am going to take you back in time around the ILIDEN days,  in our villages (GREEK-VLACHIAN), up there in the Makedonian mountains. For the younger ones of you, those stories should be eye-openers, to the realities of the Makedonian struggle. To our people, from those villages, that emigrated in Canada, Australia, and USA  this story full of truth, is going to bring maybe unwanted memories. 
And to our adversaries of those days, is going to be a reminder that written truths never dissappear. And if they don't believe the Modis papers, they can always check their own writings for that period of time. 
The Politics of those days, and the results of such politics,  are still today,  the key for the ignorants, to unlock  the secrets of the Makedonian problem, and explain  the today's reality. Again the translation is all mine,  apologies for the mistakes. 
  
                                        THE DESERTER
  
On MAY of 1903 arrived in ASPROGEIA (STREMPENO) Cretans, to strenghten Capetan Vangeli,  The --- Thymios Kaoudis, Georgios Dikonymos Makris,  Lamprinos Skountris, Perakis, Mponatos, Zouridis, Seimenis.The first four became later brilliant Oplarxigoi (chieftains ). Lamprinos fell dead on March of 1905 in Mpelkameni (Drosopigi) of Florina,  high on the mountain Vitsi, on the same evening when the first lieutenant  Kalomenopoulos (Nidas) with 40 of his men,  was arrested by a Turkish  detachment. 
Pavlos Melas was sending them,  and Tsontos Vardas,  another Cretan,  had recommended them. They were supplied  with << nefouzia >> (kind of I.D.) and passports of residents from Grevena, Tsotyli, Siatista, Kozani. They traveled separately and apostolic in.......installments........They went through Kastoria first,  where they introduced themselves to the Metropolitan  Karavangelli.  ASPROGEIA like other villages, were in the county of Florina, but ecclesiastically they were part of the Metropolis of Kastoria. 

They arrived in Asprogeia tired and somehow dizzy and right away they became even more perplex. They were seeing a strange land,  nothing to do with Crete. Big green mountains-----Vitsi----and many running waters. Lower to the plain, many lakes were shining.  (X) Cheimaditis (Roudnik) continuing toward the marshes bearing the same name, the lake of Petres or of Amyntaion, the little of Zazari, and the big Vegoritis or of Arnissa (Ostrovo). With perplexity and surprise couldn't see any olive trees. How any place could exist without Athena's tree, so beneficial and productive ? ! 
In the beginning they thought the willow trees were olive trees. Maybe a different species. But they realized very soon, that were trees bearing no fruits and <<for the fire>>. There were not existing orange trees either !......The only cultivations they were seeing were wheat, corn, potatoes, beans.  The people were also different. They were dressed in some kind of strange wool clothes, and instead of << stivan (l?) ia >> (boots), they had tsarou (x)chia (heelless with tufts shoes) !........... And the most astonishing thing of all,  they were talking a strange and unknown language !  It was Bulgaro-Makedonian, as they told them. Most of the residents of Asprogeia had roots from Epirus, Agrafa, and Volos. But still they were all speaking the Slavic language !............... 
On the other hand, in the next village, Lehovo, that they crossed and had coffee, they were speaking Arvanitika !  Committees from Nymfaion (Neveska),  and Kleisoura came to welcome them.  It was obvious they were family men,  rich,  and well travelled. But among them, they were talking VLACHIAN !!!!!!  A real tower of Babel,  and a mosaic of languages ! 
They couldn't understand very well their mission, and the job they had to do . 
Tsontos and Pavlos Melas had told them that, far there, in Makedonia, a strange patriotic struggle was taking place, that needed brave and strong men. They ran willingly. They never questioned the whole thing in detail. Few,  maybe for the first time then,  heard the name Makedonia,  and they didn't know << Where in the hell it was >>. It was plenty, that they were going to participate in a patriotic war,  being warriors, attracted by the smell of the gun powder. They were born in Crete. They knew only the struggle against the Turks. They had fought themselves, their fathers, their grand-fathers, their great-grand-fathers for <<Christ's holy faith, for the liberation of the Motherland>>.  But  here, things were mixed-up. The Turks were not the main enemy and target. They had to fight against the Bulgarians, the Komitatzides, who had raised the flag of the Cross and Freedom, and had declared the crusade against the Turkish tyrants. 

Kapetan Vangelis impressed them and imposed himself upon them from the first instance. A tall and good looking man, fearless fighter and excellent shooter. In addition he knew how to speak with plenty eloquency. He started to catechize and familiarize them.  He told them that the Komitatzides were saying that were fighting to expel the Turk tyrant,  but above everything else they were trying to Bulgarize, with the knife the land, and bring in Bulgaria. They had kill many of ours, priests,  teachers, notables, just because they didn't want to become Bulgars. One of their victims was the priest of Asprogeia and cousin of his, Father-Dimitris Oikonomidis, whom they killed by roasting him alive! 
And in reality, in the area Kastoria--Florina  the Komitato, had committed systematically many assassinations of our people, already from  1900 and 1899 with arms that was bringing from Greece !......... 
He narrated to them his own story. From the POLI (Constantinople) where he was working, went as volunteer in the war of 1897. He was wounded in the battle of Velestino. Later he returned to POLI. The Turks had put a mark on him. By now the Komitatzides had started their activities. The Turks thought of him as ..............suspicious Komitatzis  and deported him to his village ! 
Here he  threw all of his soul into the struggle, and he was trying to organize and prepare the villages. Soon he realized the plans and the doings of the champions of freedom............They killed in  such  a savage way Father-Dimitris !........He resigned and retired. They send him delegations in order to continue the struggle, for the Cross,  for the Freedom.........They proposed to him the office of the leader of Korestia and because he refused, they circle his house one night to burn him in it. He fought them from the windows with Christos Panagiotidis, and his sister  Sofia, who threw one oka of pepper into the eyes of some Komitatzides while they were  trying to come-up with a ladder in the back part of the house, in order to start a fire on the roof. In the end he hunted them all the way to the out-skirts of the village. 
Since then, he declared open war on the Komitato. He summoned around him 15 boys bearing arms from Asprogeia and Lehovo. The Turks were closing their eyes. He had no reason to fight with them at that time. His main enemy was only one: The Bulgarian Komitato. 
And he called all the Greeks of Makedonia, to wake-up, to stand-up, so they should not cry later. Zissie Dimolios in Lehovo, had himself seven men bearing arms, with permission from the autrhorities. But they were restrained to guard only their village. Also Kolepinis from Flambouro (Negovani) had the same number. But during the day they were hiding their guns. Vangelis was hunting already the gangs and in the mountains. And was nessesary to have lots of courage. The hate of the Christian population against the Turks was abyssal. It was easy for the agents of the Komitato to accuse him as Turk-loving, sold-out traitor etc..... In this mixed -up situation found themselves the Creteans. Vangelis gave  to each one of them a GRA rifle and few bullets. Care was taken by the << Defence >>  that was set up very improvised to bring arms from Thessaloniki. From there was bringing it's guns also the Komitato, but in much bigger quantities. 

The day when Vangelis sister Sofia was getting married, << they left the wedding in order to go to collect holm-oaks >>, up high, in << Rados >> where they set-up an ambush for a gang. They killed few and took one prisoner who they turned over to  the Turks. The Creteans were scandalized and especially  Seimenis who was the youngest one. 
-------Why deliver him to the Turks ?  We arrested him...........He was  Christian........he said full with sorrow. 
-------Better we delivered him to the Turks,  Vangelis  explained. We were going to eliminate him. What else could we have done ?  The Turks are going to put him in prison and very often they are giving amnesties. 
One  day when everybody was at Vangelis house, a Turk sergeant-major, Roustem-Bey, entered. He saluted them: -------Yia sas kopelia. Inta xamparia......(Hi boys what's new)...... 
They decide to leave. The Turks they knew they were Cretans! But the Metropolitan came in the village and they went together for a tour of  many villages. 
On a  midday having lunch in the monastery of the Panagia, below Kleisoura, 
Roustem showed-up again. Right away he started singing: 
     <> 
-------Roustem-Bey did you become crazy ? !  You are going to take on your neck us too, the Metropolitan yelled at him in confusion. 
-------As if I didn't know my Despot, he answered to him, that I am Greek and I have Greek blood in my veins? !  I am fighting the Bulgars and like a Greek. Rousem was from Epirus. He was related to Beys and Pashas. He had 80 special soldiers in his detachment, his patriots, fully devoted to him. He had studied in the High-School of Jannina and another one in Athens. 
Seimenis was not impressed by those manifestations. The Turkish-Cretans were speaking only Greek, and Greek blood was running in their veins, but they were the most fanatic and the worst of the Turks. He was  deep  in thought always. 
-------What's wrong with you ?  Are you thinking about your ships ?!  Kaoudis, told him one day,  the << MENTOR >> and the oldest of the group. 
-------How not to think Kapetan-Thymio ?  We came, we went, to fight for the Turks ?!....... 
-------We are fighting for Greece you crazy. Didn't you understand it yet ? 
-------But they too, are receiving their guns from Greece. Everybody is saying it. How come Greece is letting them ? 
-------Because the Greek buffoons are too many. They are after money. And the Greek police is sleeping. 
-------And why did you come here then? Didn't know about it ? Dikonymos Makris told him. 
-------I thought we were going to fight the Turks. As always. 
-------And how come you don't take off ? Don't leave ? 
-------It is easy ? 
-------A  guide is going to take you to the border. 
-------And have them tell that  I got scared ?! 
Seimenis didn't leave. But the sickness of doubt kept bothering him. Sometimes he was feeling the bones of his grand-father crackling, the great Kapetanios, who died during one of the Cretan revolutions. 

Bulgarian atrocities in Macedonia.
Assassinated villagers in Brenik.
Source: Museum of Macedonian Struggle.
Vangelis never stopped telling them about the crimes of the Komitatzides and their false slogans. In SOFIA was their headquarters. They were receiving their instructions  and orders from there. They were fighting to bring Bulgaria and have Makedonia to become lost to the Hellenism. He was informing them  of  the new slaughtering of priests and notables. Then, will become the Turks turn. Now for the first time the Bulgarians showed-up. All the other times, were fighting against the Turks, as good as the Greeks. In 1878 a real revolution had happened in those places. Same thing, some longer time ago. In 1888, many from Kleisoura, Neveska, Kastoria, Florina, Monastiri were jailed. In 1896, it was a common secret that many from those villages went as volunteers to Crete. They were mentioning names of people, from those villages, who had fought and got killed in Crete. 
Those days, those mountains, were filled up with Greek Antartes. But of course were not missing the secret agents of the Komitato,and the others, the ones in good faith the majority, who were telling them in the cafe between a glass of Raki or coffee, that Makedonia was fighting now for freedom and for the cross, like Crete in other times. 
Proclamations were also circulating, written in Greek, that were calling for the struggle <<for the faith and the motherland>> all the Makedonians, without distinctions of nationality and language and were ending with the  <<Makedonia for the Makedonians>>,  in capital letters. They were admitting that priests, notables, teachers and others were killed without reason. 
During agitations mistakes always are  happening. 
Information were existing that in Epirus also a revolutionary action had started. They were cultivating them, systematically the agents of the Komitato and  others easy-believers. 

They found themselves in Kleisoura on the 20th of July, day of the renowned Ilinten (day of the profet Elia). Komitatzides and many hundreds of mobilized villagers, poured-out all of a sudden in the mountainous and rich small town, shooting and yelling. They were also holding flags with big Cross. The Turkish company based  there, was surprised and started running toward the low ground, toward Kailaria (Ptolemaida). 
Vangelis stayed, he fought many hours, and did not retreat, until  he realized that there was danger to be encircled. He anticipated  saving a Turkish Pasha, who was going that day, with a carriage and his chaperone from Amyntaion, thru Kleisoura to Kastoria and Neapolis, where the base of the division of the army was. Later he was very usefull to him. He was telling everybody that he owed his life to him. 
The claims and the rumors now were rampant. One day they were saying that the whole of Makedonia, Thrace, and Epirus were on their feet and in flames-----the  movement was limited to only six Kazades (counties) around Monastiri----That  had fallen, Veroia, Naousa, Serres, Stromnitsa, Jannina.............and that they were in danger, Thessaloniki and Monastiri !  Next day, that Bulgaria, Serbia, Russia had declare war to Turkey, and that Greece was ready to follow them. A real Crusade ! The Cross with general mobilization had started an expedition against the crescent moon . 
The end of Turkey arrived. No doubt anymore. Revolutionary was the whole atmosphere. With the fraudulent slogans many of our people were led away. As was proven 40 years later, the preaching for Freedom, anti-tyrants struggles etc.  always  excited the youth. 
The only real thing was, that, was killed in Monastiri from Albanian-Turk policemen,  the Russian Consul, a disturbing fact for those days. Also, that Krousovo, which really fell in the hands of the rebels for few days, was destroyed,  from the maniac Turks. 
They never learned anything about the ..............liberation attempt of Tsakalarof and Pantef,  who with 450 men encircled VATOCHORI, burned, hung,  slaughtered our people just because they were friends of KOTTAS, who was fighting the Turks in PRESPA ! PANTEF acknowledge everything in his memoirs. 
Seimenis couldn't be kept anymore. One night he left his companions and went to Kleisoura to fight himself for the Cross and for the freedom............The mobilized villagers, accepted him with happiness and enthusiasm. But the terrible TSAKALAROF gave the order to execute him. He said that he thought he was a spy.  But anyway he was  not going to let him live.  He was feeling enjoyment and pleasure to spill Greek blood !........... 
(*Tsakalarof was eliminated in the summer of 1913 by villagers of the Holy Company from Flampouro and other villages of Florina.  He entered with a big gang of old Komitatzides in order to stir-up things ,while the Greek-Bulgarian war was beginning.  He passed thru ,without any problem the land under the Serbian juristiction, but as soon as entered in the Greek land he found rifles behind every rock and branch ).  
Still, those days there was a Greek song that was saying : <<Tsakalaros yelled Hurrah you boys !....>> 
-------Poor crazy boy,said Thymios Kaoudis. 
Vangelis during that period was confined in his villages. 
He didn't bother the Komitatzides, and they didn't bother him. He was able to save them from the rabies of the ferocious Turks,  without to distinguish,  the Giaourides. 
Black dogs were to them the Bulgars, white dogs the Ourum (Romaioi). 
Kleisoura and Nymfaion (Neveska) suffered nothing, close to  the  destruction of Krousovo, even if they themselves remained in the hands of the rebels for few days, and they had amassed lots of riches, in order to excite the fighting fury of the Turks............. 
The leaders of the Komitato, showed ..........special preference  for the big GREEK-VLACHIAN centers. They were expecting them to suffer the fury of the Turks, like Krousovo, in order to have shouting arguments for their propaganda in Europe. The Turks were proving themselves incorrigible, barbarians. With one shot the Komitato was going to get two doves. Destruction of the Greek Centers, and  revolt in <<Europe>>, against the Turks.  They met, the Czar of Russia and the Emperor of Austria, in order to bring peace in Makedonia with their   <<REFORMS !.........>>. 

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