Dame Gruev

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Dame Gruev
Born January 17, 1871 Smilevo, Monastir Vilayet, Ottoman Empire (now Macedonia)
Died December 10, 1906(1906-12-10) (aged 35)
Petlec Peak, Maleshevo, Salonica Vilayet, Ottoman Empire (now Macedonia)
Nationality Bulgarian
Organization Bulgarian Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Committees (later SMARO, IMARO, IMRO)
Dame Gruev

Damyan Yovanov Gruev or Damjan Jovanov Gruev, often known by his short name Dame Gruev,[1] (January 19, 1871 – December 10, 1906) was а Bulgarian revolutionary and insurgent leader in Ottoman Macedonia and Thrace.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12] He was among the founders of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (initially known as the Bulgarian Macedonian-Adrianopolitan Revolutionary Committee).[13] Scholars in the Republic of Macedonia consider Gruev to be an ethnic Macedonian revolutionary.[14]


Early years[edit]

Dame Gruev together with other rebel leaders

Dame Gruev was born in 1871 in the village of Smilevo, (present-day, Republic of Macedonia). He received his elementary education in Smilevo and continued his education in the Bulgarian Men's High School of Thessaloniki. He was part of a group excluded from the school following a student revolt. In early 1888, the group, consisting of 19 people, including other future IMRO-revolutionaries was attracted by Serbian propaganda. As result they went to study in a Serbian Gymnazium in Belgrade at the expense of the Saint Sava society. Gruev later continued his education in the Grandes écoles in Belgrade. Following yet another revolt, Gruev and his associates were excluded from the Great School and emigrated en bloc to Bulgaria. Gruev was enrolled in Sofia University and, later, in the Young Macedonian Literary Society. He found also the circle "Druzhba", whose aim was to implement "Article 23" of the Treaty of Berlin (1878) on authonomy of Macedonia. In 1891 Gruev was expelled from the University as he was suspected in the assassination of the Minister Hristo Belchev, but subsequently this allegation turned out to be groundless.

Next, Gruev left the University and returned to Ottoman Macedonia region to apply himself to a new revolutionary organization. In order to carry out his plans more successfully, and possibly to avert the suspicion of the Turkish authorities, he decided to become a Bulgarian school teacher. The first two years after his return to Macedonia region he spent teaching, first in his native village of Smilevo, and later in the town of Prilep. Later, Gruev established himself in Thessaloniki and here laid the foundation of BMARC (the Bulgarian Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Committees). With the cooperation of Hristo Tatarchev and Petar Pop Arsov among others, he came up with the Constitution and By-laws of IMARC. It was to be a secret organization under the guidance of a Central Committee, with local revolutionary committees throughout Macedonia and the region of Adrianople (Edirne). These regions were to be divided into revolutionary districts or rayons like in the April Uprising. In accordance with the Constitution, the first Central Revolutionary Committee was formed in the summer of 1894, under the chairmanship of Hristo Tatarchev.

1894 to 1900[edit]

Monument of Dame Gruev in Skopje, Republic of Macedonia

In the summer of 1894 in Negotino, he organized the first local revolutionary committee, and soon after with the cooperation of Pere Toshev, the first district committee in the city of Štip. Gruev visited the cities of Resen, Ohrid, and Struga as well, and found the local population to be accepting his organization's revolutionary ideas very well. He remained a teacher in Štip during the academic year 1894–1895. In the fall of 1895 Gotse Delchev arrived in Štip with the idea of laying the foundations of a revolutionary movement seeking autonomy for Macedonia and Adrianople Thrace. Gruev and Delchev met for the first time and shared their ideas there. Gruev introduced Delchev to the plan already outlined by the Central Committee of Thessaloniki. After this, both Gruev and Gotse Delchev worked together in Štip and its environs.

The expansion of the IMRO at the time was phenomenal, particularly after Gruev settled in Thessaloniki during the years 1895–1897, in the quality of a Bulgarian school inspector. Gruev had become the soul and body of the Central revolutionary committee. Under his direction, secret revolutionary papers were issued, ciphers were introduced, pseudonyms or a nom de plume were used, and channels for secret communication between various other local and Macedonian committees were maintained. A representative of the Central Revolutionary Committee was sent to Sofia to take charge of purchasing and dispatching of the necessary war provisions for IMARC. Gruev's tirelessly travelled throughout Macedonia and the Vilayet of Adrianople and systematically established and organized committees in villages and cities. Unfortunately, for purely political reasons, and in order to avoid suspicion from the Ottoman authorities, IMARC decided to dismiss Gruev in 1898. Soon after his dismissal Gruev moved to Bitola and there with the cooperation of Petar Poparsov, Vasil Paskov and others, he began to issue a revolutionary paper.

He organized a system in which money was collected from Sunday schools through a special "revolutionary tax", and a quantity of war materials was purchased. Gruev was again appointed to the teaching staff now in the city of Bitola, and as such, he also assumed the management of the revolutionary movement in the Vilayet of Monastir (Bitola), while the active persons at the Committee in Thessaloniki were Hristo Tatarchev, Pere Toshev, and Hristo Matov. Gruev's activities in the Bitola district were not left unnoticed by the Ottoman authorities. Numerous chetas (bands) throughout the surrounding mountains began to terrorize the local authorities. Gruev, being suspected as a major factor in fostering this movement, was arrested on 6 August 1900. He was held in Bitola jail until May 1902. However, by using secret writings and ciphers, he was able to remain in contact with the local revolutionary committees, and direct the affairs of the revolutionary district of Bitola.


Letter from the General Staff of the Monastir (Bitola) Revolutionary Region, signed from Dame Gruev to the Bulgarian Government, requestioning military intervention for the salvation of the local Bulgarians

In the latter part of May, 1902, Gruev was condemned to banishment in the prison of Podrum Kale in Anatolia. There he found Hristo Matov and Hristo Tatarchev, both sentenced to exile in January 1901. Gruev and his comrades were kept in Podroum Kale for ten months. Although he was away from Macedonia and Thrace itself, Gruev managed to keep himself informed as to the development and affairs of the IMARO. He kept up a steady stream of encrypted correspondence with Thessaloniki, Bitola, and Sofia. On Easter of 1903, at the instance of a general amnesty, he was released. Gruev hastened to Thessaloniki and there he found that the Central Committee, which was in charge of the IMARO, had already resolved to declare a general insurrection which was to take place during 1903. Although Gruev was not in accord with the Central Committee's decision, primarily because of the SMARO's lack of preparedness, he gave in to the decision of the central Committee.

He left Thessaloniki and went to Smilevo where the insurrectionary Congress was to be held. The purpose of this Congress was to set the date for the declaration of the general insurrection and to outline the methods and tactics in its prosecution. Here Gruev met Boris Sarafov, who had just arrived from Bulgaria. Gruev was elected as chairman of this Congress, and the latter decided that the day of the declaration of the insurrection was to be 2 August 1903. Gruev, Boris Sarafov, and Aleksandar Lozanchev were elected by the Congress as the three members of the General Staff, and empowered to direct the insurrectionary forces in the Bitola region. Gruev lived to see the retreat of the Turkish troops from his native village of Smilevo. He was engaged, during the course of the insurrection, in numerous skirmishes with the Ottoman army. But with the arrival of Ottoman troops, any progress of the insurrection was made impossible and in a period of six weeks it was completely crushed. Gruev put himself to task of touring various revolutionary districts, disarming the insurgents, and storing up the war materials for future use. Gruev and his followers continued the work of organization and preparation for another uprising.

After the Uprising[edit]

Dame Gruev's dead body.

In 1904 Dame Gruev chaired the Prilep Congress of the Bitola Revolutionary District of IMRO. In the autumn of that year, Dame was captured from the Serb's leader Micko Krstić, but was set free, with the assistance of Gligor Sokolović, after his negotiations with Pere Toshev. In 1905 Gruev headed the first General Congress of the organization after the uprising, the so-called Rila Congress. Here Dame Gruev was elected as a member of the Central Committee and became in fact its leader, until his death. Indeed, Dame was the only one who appeared to be capable of mastering Yane Sandanski's ambition to leadership. However, the Rila Congress failed to erase the political differences in the organization. There arose a need to conduct a new special congress in Sofia in December 1906, which never took place. At the end of 1906, Gruev moved with his detachment from Ottoman Macedonia to Sofia to attend at the special Congress. On 23 December 1906, Dame Gruev and his detachment were discovered by the Turkish authorities near the village of Rusinovo (Maleševo district). Gruev and his band were confronted by Ottoman forces and in the following battle he was killed.

Gruev Cove in Greenwich Island, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica is named for Dame Gruev.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The first names are transliterated either as Damjan Jovanov, after the Bulgarian Дамян Йованов Груев and Macedonian Дамјан Јованов Груев. The last name is also sometimes rendered as Grueff.
  2. ^ Goce Delchev and the other leaders of the BMARC were aware of Serbian and Greek ambitions in Macedonia. More important, they were aware that neither Belgrade nor Athens could expect to obtain the whole of Macedonia and, unlike Bulgaria, looked forward to and urged partition of this land. Autonomy, then, was the best prophylactic against partition – a prophylactic that would preserve the Bulgarian character of Macedonia's Christian Slavic population despite the separation from Bulgaria proper."The National Question in Yugoslavia. Origins, History, Politics" by Ivo Banac, Cornell University Press, 1984. pp. 307-328
  3. ^ Д. О. Лабаури. Болгарское национальное движение в Македонии и Фракии в 1894 - 1908 гг.: Идеология, программа, практика политической борьбы. София, 2008. с. 248.
  4. ^ Российская Академия Наук, Институт Славяноведения, Человек на Балканах, Государство и его институты: гримас политической модернизации, последняя четверть XIX — начало XX в. с. 166-176.
  5. ^ Region, Regional Identity and Regionalism in Southeastern Europe, Klaus Roth, Ulf Brunnbauer, LIT Verlag Münster, 2009, ISBN 3-8258-1387-8, pp. 135-136.
  6. ^ We, the people: politics of national peculiarity in Southeastern Europe, Diana Mishkova, Central European University Press, 2009, ISBN 963-9776-28-9, p. 125.
  7. ^ Claiming Macedonia: the struggle for the heritage, territory and name of the historic Hellenic land, 1862-2004, George Constantine Papavizas, McFarland & Company, 2006, ISBN 0-7864-2323-4, p. 41.
  8. ^ Socialism and nationalism in the Ottoman Empire, 1876-1923, Mete Tunçay, Erik Jan Zürcher, British Academic Press and International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, 1994 ISBN 1-85043-787-4, p. 33.
  9. ^ Contested Ethnic Identity: The Case of Macedonian Immigrants in Toronto, 1900-1996, Nationalisms Across the Globe, Chris Kostov, Peter Lang, 2010, ISBN 3-0343-0196-0, pp. 69-70.
  10. ^ Yugoslav Communism and the Macedonian Question, Stephen E. Palmer, Robert R. King, Archon Books, 1971, ISBN 0-208-00821-7, p. 14; p. 117.
  11. ^ Сборник: Вътрешната Македоно-Одринска революционна организация през погледа на нейните основатели. Спомени. Съставителство, предговор и бележки П е т р о в, Т. и Ц. Б и л я р с к и, 1995, стр. 13-48.
  12. ^ Идеята за автономия като тактика в програмите на националноосвободителното движение в Македония и Одринско, 1893-1941, Димитър Гоцев, Изд. на БАН, София, 1983 г.
  13. ^ ..."It appears to have originally been called the Bulgarian Macedonian-Adrianopolitan Committee (BMORK — the'O'standing for Odrin or Adrianopole). In 1902 it changed its name to the Secret Macedonian Adrianopolitan Revolutionary Organisation"... Who are the Macedonians? Hugh Poulton, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2000, ISBN 1-85065-534-0, p. 53.
  14. ^ "They took for their motto the words of Gladstone "Macedonia for the Macedonians". They differentiated themselves from the Bulgarians and the Macedonians living in Bulgaria....", Macedonia's heroic struggle for freedom, New York Times, 6 December 1903