The destruction of Naoussa (or the Naoussa Holocaust) was a bloody episode of the revolution of 21 April 1822.
The events before the siege
The revolution was being prepared in the region since the end of the year 1821 and the Turks decided to take strict precautionary measures to prevent it. In January 1821, the bailiff of Thessaloniki, Ebu Lubut, imprisoned as hostages members of the most important families of the cities of Western Macedonia. Others, however, including the chieftains Anastasios Karatasos and Angelis Gatsos, as well as the most powerful proconsul of Naoussa, Zafiraakis Theodosiou Logothetis, refused to come forward, citing various pretexts. Having been exposed by this act, they decided to declare a revolution, after deliberations in the Monastery of Panagia Dovra. According to George Filippides, the declaration of the revolution took place on February 22, 1822, the Sunday of Orthodoxy, in the metropolitan church of St. Demetrios, with a solemn doxology and the swearing in of fighters. According to the teacher of the Nation, Gregory Constantas, the revolution broke out around the end of April
According to a more recent view, the declaration of the revolution in Naoussa took place around mid-March 1822.
Immediately afterwards, 1,800 revolutionaries launched an attack on Veroia. However, despite its initial success, the operation was abandoned due to the timely arrival of a large Turkish army under the kekhayabei of the Vali of Thessaloniki, Mehmet Agha, probably due to treason. They also scored a temporary success, on 12 March, at the monastery of Panagia Dovras, where 200 Greeks repelled 4,000 of Mehmet Aga’s Turks, with the help of Gatsos’ and Zafeirakis’ men, killing 300 of them. The Turks then captured the monastery, while the Greeks withdrew to Naoussa.
The balis of Thessaloniki, Abu Loubout, took the lead of the attack on Naoussa himself, at the head of 20,000 men, at least half of whom were regulars and the rest irregulars. The city was defended by 4,000-5,000 rebels.
The revolutionary flag of Naoussa
On 26 March, Emppu Lubut asked the rebels to lay down their arms “to receive an apology”, warning them that otherwise they would have a “very unpleasant end”. The response of the Naoussais was negative and so in early April the siege began. In the following days, the Turks made several raids against the key positions held by the Greeks, losing many soldiers. However, on the night of 12 April, after a general attack and heavy cannonading of the Greek positions, they caused a breach in the Alonia position and managed to enter the city from the gate of St. George. A heroic resistance of the inhabitants followed, with fierce street fighting, and the city was captured the next day, Thursday 13 April. However, Zafeirakis with Karatasos, Diamantis Nicolaou and 500 of their comrades defended for 3 days, enclosed in the tower of the former, to the southwest of the city, facilitating the flight of warriors and women soldiers. When the blockade of the tower of Zafirakis became tighter, the besieged made an exit and took refuge on Mount Vermio.
Meanwhile the city had been turned into a hell of massacres. Thirteen young women chose to throw themselves into the waterfall of the Arapitsa bridge to avoid being disgraced by the Turks. The massacre of Naoussa also involved 600 Jews of Thessaloniki who were following the Ottomans. According to the historian Spyridon Trikoupis, the number of dead and prisoners reached 5,000, while, according to the same historian, there were atrocities against prisoners and women prisoners. The fury of the Turks against the civilians is attested to by a document from Abu Lubut himself, which states that all the male prisoners were slaughtered or hanged and their wives and children were manhandled. A more recent estimate puts the death toll from the fighting and massacres at 2 000.
Women of Naoussa are thrown into Arapitsa
For its contribution to the struggle for liberation from the Turks, Naoussa is the only town to be awarded the title “heroic” by Royal Decree of 1955.
From the tragic historical event of the Holocaust of Naoussa and the heroic sacrifice of the Naoussa inhabitants, in 2009 the poet Dimitris I. Brouhos was inspired and wrote one of his best works entitled “The destruction of Naoussa in 1822 AD – Greek Rhapsody”, which was set to music by the composer Dimitris Papadimitriou. The work is presented in a world premiere in 2010, on the day of the 188th Anniversary, at the Municipal Theatre of Naoussa, while in 2012 the Municipality of Naoussa held an honorary tribute to the poet at the Muses’ Hall, where the Mayor awarded him the Medal of the Heroic City.
After the destruction of Naoussa, the revolution in Macedonia essentially died out, although some hostilities continued in the mountains of Western Macedonia. It is estimated that 50 or, according to another estimate, 120 villages and towns of Western Macedonia were destroyed by the Turks, who killed many Greeks, while all the agricultural properties and chiflis were given to the Ottoman state by Sultan’s firman.
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