THE IMMORTAL DAMYAN GROUEV (1871-1906)
Prof. Dr. Veselin Traykov
Born on 17 December 1871 in the village of Smilevo, Bitolya region, and distinguished for his studiousness since an early age, Damyan (Dame) Grouev studied in his native villages, as well as in Bitolya, Salonica and Belgrade, where he was confronted with the Serbian chauvinism. Having seen the threat by the Serb propaganda for the Bulgarians in Macedonia, he left school and came to Sofia where he enrolled in the University. Here, for the first time, together with some friends, he considered the possibility of founding a revolutionary Bulgarian organization on the example of the struggle for liberation before 1878. Later on, he worked as a teacher in Smilevo and Prilep and then went to Salonica where, together with six other patriots, on 23 October 1893, he founded a Bulgarian revolutionary organization - the future Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization (IMARO).
Soon, Dame Grouev stood out as a talented organizer and a wise fighter for freedom. He started making tours around the country and established new branches of the Organization. In 1894 he got an appointment as a teacher in the town of Shtip, where he met Gotse Delchev - the other colossus of the liberation movement - and the two of them
made a pair of leaders happily complementing one another in their qualities. They undertook organizing activities and in a short time Macedonia was covered with revolutionary committees. Grouev also made visits to the Principality of Bulgaria where he met the Prime Minister and the Minister of War and to Constantinople where he met Exarch Yossif. Having already asserted himself as an indisputable and renowned leader, he became a thorn in the side of the Turkish administration and was imprisoned in Bitolya where he spent a year and a half being then moved to the prison in Podrum Kale, Asia Minor. Set free in early 1903, when a decision towards an uprising was taken, he put all his efforts in the preparations despite realizing the unpreparedness.
Grouev took part in the most difficult battles against the Turkish hordes.
Having survived the defeat he, however, was not deject but tried to cheer
up the sufferers and continued working for the preparation of the people.
The great patriot made big efforts for finding a way out of the emerging
partisan internecines by trying to support the unity of the Bulgarians
in Macedonia using his authority. However, fate turned out to be more cruel
than expected: on 10/23 December 1906, Dame Grouev fell from a Turkish
bullet during a battle in the Maleshevska Mountain. His death deprived
the Bulgarian people of their national hero, of one of their greatest sons
who had turned his life into a bright example for service to the mother
country already in his lifetime.