Στην σφαγή του Σιδηροκάστρου απο τους Βουλγάρους το 1913 οι ακρότητες είχαν την τιμητική τους

Στην σφαγή του Σιδηροκάστρου απο τους Βουλγάρους το 1913 οι ακρότητες είχαν την τιμητική τους, μέσα στα θύματα ήταν και πολλά νεαρά κορίτσια τα οποία βιάστηκαν και εκτελέστηκαν από τους Βουλγάρους. Το μόνο ευτύχημα ήταν το ότι οι Τούρκοι άνοιξαν τα σπίτια τους και φυγάδευσαν όσες περισσότερες μπορούσαν μαζί με άλλους Έλληνες. 
Τσαταλτζινός Γεώργιος

One of the survivors of the 150 notable Demir Hissar, George Tchataldjanos injured seven bayonets .-- Phot. J. Leune.

The Slaughter at Demir-Hissar

The first news of the massacres committed at Demir-Hissar were
made known by the following report of the commanding officer of
the Sixth Division dated July 12, 1913, and published in the Paris '
Temps on July 14:

"I have the honor to report to Your Majesty that an officer
of my staff, sent to Demir-Hissar, ascertained that Captain
Meligof, of the Bulgarian gendarmerie, arrested, at the instance
of three pro-Bulgarian persons, the Bishop, Monseigneur
Constantine, the priest Papastravou, Mr. Papazacharizanou,
a prominent citizen, and more than 100 Greeks who were im-
prisoned in the confines of the Bulgarian school. On July 7
and 8, Bulgarian soldiers and gendarmes massacred them and
requisitioned Turkish peasants to bury them within the school
property outside the enclosure on the east side.

An officer of my staff caused the grave to be opened in
order to verify the facts. He found in a depth of about six
feet the bodies of the victims all in a pile.

Further, the Bulgarian officers and soldiers outraged sev-
eral young girls and killed one named Agatha Thomas, daugh-
ter of a gardener, who resisted their attacks. The shops were
either ransacked or destroyed, and the house furniture of the
Greeks carried away. The lives of many were saved by the
Turks who sheltered them in their homes.

The city in general presents a mournful spectacle of destruc-
tion."

A commission composed of Greek ex-members of the Chamber
of Deputies at Constantinople from Macedonia, and members of
the Chamber of Deputies in Athens, visited the place and forwarded
to His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch at Constantinople and to
the President of the Greek Chamber of Deputies, a report con-
taining the following details:

"The line of the Bulgarian retreat from Lahana led through
Demir-Hissar where 104 prominent citizens were at once ar-
rested, including the Bishop and three priests. Eighty were
immediately put to death and the remaining twenty- four, feign-
ing death, although covered with serious bayonet thrusts, man-
aged to escape. Two women were among the victims and two
children, aged two and three years, respectively; two of the
survivors, very old men, were covered with bayonet thrusts.
One of them had been buried alive, but the earth being thrown
lightly over him he managed to free himself sufficiently to at-
tract attention and was saved. His condition is critical.

A very great number of women and girls suffered at the
hands of the retreating troops, all stores and houses were
looted, but the height of Bulgar barbarity was attained when
the Bishop and three priests were killed by the very hand of
Captain Anghel Dimitrieff Bostanof of the 12th Regiment, who
first cut their hands and gouged their eyes out. 1

All these atrocities were committed by officers and soldiers
of the regular Bulgarian army belonging to the 12th and 21st
Regiments. The consuls of Austria and Italy interviewed and
took the depositions of the survivors. The bodies of the dead,
some of which have been frightfully mutilated, are now being
buried.

1 This was confirmed by the correspondent of the New York Herald.
See issue July 17, 1913.

On the morning of July 7, toward nine o'clock, a score of
Bulgarian soldiers, carrying arms with bayonets fixed and hav-
ing an officer in command, went to the residence of the Bishop
where the Great Logothetis of the Diocese, Mr. Thomas Papa-
charizakis, was visiting at the time, and knocked at the door.
As the Bishop refused to open, they broke it down. An
officer with a detail of six men placed the immates under
arrest and ransacked the house from garret to cellar. They
took among other things forty Turkish pounds ($200) which
they found in a drawer of the Bishop's desk. After treating
the prisoners with every imaginable indignity they conducted
them near the Bulgarian school and forced them to kneel.
The Bishop was repeatedly stabbed by bayonet thrusts, and his
skull crushed by a blow. Mr. Papacharizakis died of apoplexy,
due to fright, but his corpse was, nevertheless, bayoneted.
The sufferings of the Bishop lasted longer. The Bulgarians
kicked and insulted him, and tore the hair and beard from his
head. Afterwards they stripped the bodies of their victims
even to their undergarments.

Having accomplished their inhuman work, the soldiers re-
turned to the residence of the Bishop seeking for his sister, who
had escaped, and who remained in hiding on the roof of a
neighboring house. The aged mother of the Bishop died from
shock. The looters secured all the vestments of the church be-
longing to the Bishop, including two mitres, a cross set in
diamonds, and a gold bound Bible. They took all secular valu-
ables and 240 Turkish pounds (about $1,200), belonging to the
Bishop's sister.

Until noon of the following day the corpses of the victims
remained exposed on the roadside. Then, with the bodies of
many others, they were tied by the feet and dragged to a pit
which they dug in the yard of the half-finished Bulgarian school
house and there thrown in. We exhumed some of the remains
and, although decomposition had set in, we could see unmis-
takable signs of the dreadful tortures which had been inflicted.
An examination of all of the corpses was impossible, as many
were far gone in decay. The body of the Bishop was thrown
in head down. The faces of the martyred victims bore the
traces of ineffable sufferings.

The exhumation took place amidst the sobs of the widows,
the orphans and the entire community."

The competent local authorities drew up a list of the victims,
among whom were the Bishop of Meleniko, Monseigneur Constan-
tine, the Archpriest Stavros, the great Logothetis Thomas Papa-
charizakis, Constantine Harizano and other notables. 1

1 For a full list of those that were killed and those that disappeared or were wounded, see the official report of the Greek staff supra cited.

The Paris U Illustration of August 2, 1913, contains numerous
photographs of Demir-Hissar and of the survivors. Also the pic-
tures of four of the forty-two young girls that were outraged by the
Bulgarians.

The following account signed by L. Leune accompanied these
pictures :

"We are passing through the pretty town of Demir-Hissar
built on a hill, with its picturesque bridge set on the rocks and
its cypress trees. Women and children come and go, shadows
of human beings with faces full of suffering and despair. A
wounded man crosses the street. He has had a strange experi-
ence. Before their precipitate departure, the Bulgarians caused
the drum to beat, a sign which means, in nearly every country,
that some important communication is about to be announced
by the authorities. The people of Demir-Hissar rushed out
of their houses in masses. The Bulgarian soldiers seized the
Bishop, the priests and the notables, 110 people in all, and
conducted them to the courtyard of the Bulgarian school house,
where an immense pit had been freshly dug. The prisoners
were forced to sit around it. Poor fellows, they well under-
stood that this great yawning hole was going to be their grave.
They looked at it and smiled like martyrs. They were about
to depart for the great beyond to commence that great life
which time can not destroy. They will watch from above the
victorious Hellenic army take possession of the land which
they have so bravely defended during their short stay on earth
and preserved for their mother country. It would be their
work.

The Bulgarian bayonet is doing its terrible work. A thrust
carries the beard of the Bishop away with the jaw. Another
digs his eyes out. A third stops the beating of the heart.
Fingers, hands and other limbs are torn away from the victims
and thrown pell-mell. It can hack, that Bulgarian bayonet!
Their work, that mass of mutilated bodies without form, the
Bulgars contemplate with satisfaction and a sneer. * * *
How brave they are, the soldiers of King Ferdinand, these
'Japanese of Europe/ these 'Prussians of the Balkans'! * * *

But the Greek army is approaching! * * * The corpses
remain and the murderers are fleeing. And the wounded man
continues : 'After my first wound, I feigned death. When the
Bulgarians fled, I got up. The Greek soldiers were there.' "

A small town can not so easily recover from such a disaster.
The picture which Mr. George Bourdon, who spent three entire
weeks at Demir-Hissar after the slaughter of July 7, has drawn of
the place is proof of this statement.

Here is the text of his dispatch to the Figaro which appeared
in that paper on August 4, 1913:

Salonica, August 2.

"On my return from the general headquarters at Livanovo,
which is the Olympus of a very busy staff, I visited the city
of the dead. I am speaking of Demir-Hissar.

Demir-Hissar, a charming little Turkish town northwest of
Serres, is built at the foot of a rocky mountain which gives it
the aspect of a thicket lying against a wall. Dominated at the
top by the ruins of an old fort, traversed by a river, which, at
this time of the year, shows its dry bed of white pebbles ; with
its pretty little coffee house standing on stilts and open to the
four winds; its murmuring springs; its mosques and trees as
old as Mahomet; its uneven pavements; its quaint little stores-
where but lately sat squatting merchants from afar picking the
glittering beads of their amber diaplets; it forms a fetching^
picture.

Turks, sitting behind their baskets rilled with fruit, vainly
await a customer. One seeks on the azure skies the blue line
of the Bosphorus or the small wave of the sea of Marmara.
I imagined myself back in Broussa where I felt to have found
again that gentle and mysterious charm of the high quarters of
Scutari.

Nothing, however, but silence reigns in this grief-stricken
city, which resembles a motionless widow, who, having cried'
her eyes out, can not shed any more tears.

The rare people we meet on our way, mostly Turks, rise and*
salute us with deference. The aids of the King and the Greek
princes are guiding me through the town. How very few peo-
ple indeed we meet! The streets are deserted of the human-
beings that gave them life ; the little neat stores are abandoned,
the big houses are without their occupants, even the courtyards
are without their inmates. What cataclysm then has so sud-
denly struck this charming town ? It is neither fire, earthquake
nor lava. Its houses are intact. The Bulgarians, however, have
passed this way.

Swords, bayonets and knives were freely used, and Demir-
Hissar realized how true was its old Turkish name : The Fort-
ress of Iron. Turks and Greeks although unequal in number
suffered alike. A large number of Greeks owe their lives to-
tenderhearted Turks and they own this with gratitude.

In many places, where the bodies of the victims were interred,
pious hands have placed a stone, a cross or a candle to burn.
There is nothing so touching as these humble signs of grief and
mourning. They bear no names. It is like a human wail which
quietly and discreetly finds vent, yet it rends the heart and fills-
the skies.

At Nigrita, at Doiran, at Strumnitza, the same atrocities.

Τι απέγιναν οι νεκροί της Ασβεσταριάς του Σιδηροκάστρου του 1913 

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