Kyriakos Matsis | “Miltiadis” of EOKA, who preferred death to surrender – VIDEO
Born on January 23, 1926 in Palaichori of Pitsilia, Kyriakos Matsis was one of the three children of Christofis and Kyriaki Matsis.
He graduated from the elementary school of Palaichori and the High School of Famagusta, while later he studied agriculture at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki to work as an agronomist in Famagusta, when the struggle began.
He stood out for his love for Greece, man and the land, calling land abusers those who did not cultivate their land. He fought hard for the rights of the farmer and the worker within the ranks of their organizations, the PEK and the SEK, of which he was one of the founders.
His desire for the liberation of Cyprus was strongly expressed during his student years with speeches and the organization of rallies in Thessaloniki. He was the head of EOKA in an area of Famagusta province from 1955, the head of EOKA liaisons from August 1955 to February 1956 and the head of Kyrenia until the end of the struggle.
Under the pseudonym “Miltiadis”, Kyriakos Matsis, from the beginning of autumn 1955, after Giannakis Drousiotis, who became the head of Paphos, took action as a Cypriot central liaison between Leader Digenis and the EOKA branches and between the Leader and Archbishop Makarios. This post, after that of the Leader, was the most critical and dangerous. In terms of administration, it was the main node of the Organization. He carried weapons, correspondence, instructions, messages and at the same time he carried out counter-espionage. According to the hero’s brother, Giannakis Matsis, Kyriakos Matsis’ Land-Rover was often found parked among British military vehicles, full of illegal weapons. In fact, several times he crossed the streets impersonating an English officer. The dangerous transfer of Grigoris Afxentiou from Pentadaktylos to Pitsilia, in November 1955, was also characteristic.
On January 9, 1956, he was arrested and brutally tortured with electroshock and other methods. Known for his relationship with chief Digenis and his important role in the struggle, Governor Harding himself visited the Omorfita interrogator and offered him the then-legendary sum of 500.000 pounds as well as his escape for protection insofar as he revealed where Digenis was hiding.
Feeling furious, Matsis slapped his fist on the table and answered “We are not talking about money in the fight, but about virtue. I’m sorry, but you are insulting me.” The Governor left immediately. Appreciating Kyriakos’ morale, he ordered an end to the torture inflicted on him. He was then transferred to the Kokkinotrimithia detention center.
There he continued his action by maintaining contact with Digenis and continuing, on his orders, the Makarios-Harding talks for a solution to the Cyprus problem after the exile of the Archbishop. He set a plan for his inmates, set up a school for the detained students, set up a library, gave speeches and generally created conditions that stimulated the fighting spirit in the detention centers.
He so successfully organized the enlightenment of the English soldiers guarding the prisoners that they burned their camp and the authorities were forced to replace them. He set up an escape network, which continued to operate after his escape.
On September 13, 1956, he escaped and took over as head of the Kyrenia sector, where he developed a very rich and multifaceted action with a bounty of five thousand pounds.
On November 19, 1958, the fighter was in Kato Dikomo, on the slopes of Pentadaktylos. Along with the comrades Costas Christodoulou and Andreas Sofiopoulos, they waited in the hideout of the house of Kyriakos Diakos in Dikomo, until the British completed the search for wanted members of EOKA.
The soldiers searched the house of Diakos twice but left without doing anything. The three guerrillas heard the footsteps of the British hoplites above their heads. The latter returned for a third time and carried out a thorough check, proof that there had been a previous betrayal. The soldiers located the entrance of the hideout and started to break the cover. Thick smoke started coming out from the underground crypt.
The trapped guerrillas were burning documents of the organization. Matsis ordered the two comrades to surrender. Christodoulou and Sofiopoulos refused. But Matsis insisted. Kissing him in tears, they came out of the basement, while an officer addressed the leader in broken Greek: “Kyriakos Matsis, surrender!” “No,” he replied. “Kyriakos Matsis, surrender!”, repeated the head of the detachment. A verse tale followed in which the British threatened Matsis that they would burn him alive. “If I come out, I come out shooting. You will not take me out of here alive. If you dare, come!”, replied the Cypriot fighter.
The British threw grenades in the crypt and Kyriakos Matsis died instantly. When the smoke from the grenades dissipated, British officers and then journalists entered the hideout. Kyriakos Matsis was lying dead, dismembered by the explosions. In his hands he held tightly two submachine guns.
His father, Christofis Matsis, when informed of the death of his son, said: “Both my wife and I are proud of the heroic death of our beloved child. Our son fought with all the strength of his soul for the freedom of our martyr island.”
The exemplary bravery and fighting spirit of Kyriakos Matsis were manifested many times throughout his heroic action. The facts are numerous. Dozens of volumes and testimonies, as well as other struggling texts of the time, refer to the unique fighting personality of Kyriakos Matsis during the EOKA liberation struggle.
Documentary from the channel “Historical Memories EOKA” about the life of Kyriakos Matsis.
With information from: mixanitouxronou.gr / eoka.org / kyriakosmatsis.com.cy
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