Pavlos Melas

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Pavlos Melas
Παύλος Μελάς
Pavlos Mellas Officer.jpg
Nickname(s) Mikis Zezas (Μίκης Ζέζας)
Born 1870
Marseille, France
Died 1904 (aged 34)
Statista, Kastoria (Macedonia)
Allegiance Country flag Greece
Years of service 1891-1904
Rank Captain
Battles/wars Greek Struggle for Macedonia

Pavlos Melas (Greek: Παύλος Μελάς, Pávlos, i.e., Paul, Melás) (March 29, 1870–October 13, 1904) was an officer of the Hellenic Army, and he was among the first who organized and participated in the Greek Struggle for Macedonia.

He was born in Marseilles, France in a family with origin from Northern Epirus. He was the son of Michail Melas who was elected MP for Attica and mayor of Athens. At an early age Pavlos moved to Athens to study, and later joined the Army, graduating from the Hellenic Army Academy as an artillery lieutenant in 1891. In 1892, he married Natalia Dragoumi, the daughter of Kastorian politician Stephanos Dragoumis and sister of Ion Dragoumis. In 1895, the couple had a son named Michael.

Melas, with the cooperation of his brother-in-law Ion Dragoumis, the consul of Greece in the then Ottoman occupied Monastir (now Bitola), Christos Kottas,and Germanos Karavangelis, metropolitan bishop of Kastoria, tried to raise money for the economic support of Greek efforts in Macedonia. After the Ilinden-Preobrazhenie uprising, he decided to enter Macedonia in June 1904, to assess the situation and to see if there is any possibility of establishing a military unit to fight the Bulgarians (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, VMRO) and the Ottoman Turks.

In July 1904 (under the alias Captain Mikis Zezas), he reentered Macedonia with a small unit of men and fought against the VMRO until October 13, 1904 when he was killed after being surrounded by Ottoman forces in the village of Statista. The village with coordinates 40° 42' N 021° 16' E has been renamed Melas in his honour, after joining Greece.

After his death, Greek efforts became more intense, resulting in the interception of Bulgarian Komitadji efforts, especially in West and Central Macedonia, which joined Greece after the Balkan Wars.

He is considered to be a symbol of the Greek Struggle for Macedonia and many of his personal belongings can be seen in the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle in Thessaloniki and Pavlos Melas Museum in Kastoria.

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