Goodbye Το Manolis Glezos, The First Partizan to Take Down Nazi's Flag

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Goodbye Το Manolis Glezos, The First Partizan to Take Down Nazi's Flag

Photo:flash.gr

Greece says goodbye to its First Partizan, WWII resistance hero Manolis Glezos.


Manolis Glezos (Naxos Apiranthos, 9 September 1922 - Athens, 30 March 2020) was a Greek politician of the Left, a hero of the National Resistance, a journalist, and writer.

Together with his friend Apostolos (Lakis) Santas, he co-starred in one of the first resistance actions in occupied Greece and, more generally, in Axis-occupied Europe during World War II, when on the night of 30 May to 31 May 1941, tore down the Nazi flag from Acropolis. It was the first partizan act against German occupation in Athens and the first time that the Nazi flag was torn down in occupied Europe. For their action, they were both sentenced to death in absentia.

Left: Manolis Glezos and Lakis Santas in Acropolis during the filming of a documentary for their heroic act, Right: Painting of Glezos and Santas tearing down the Nazi flag from Acropolis

Goodbye Το Manolis Glezos, The First Partizan to Take Down Nazi's Flag

Photo:aegeanews.gr

On 24 March 1942, he was arrested with the Apostolos Santas by the German troops and imprisoned for a month in the Averoff prisons, where he was subjected to inhumane torture, resulting in severe tuberculosis. On 21 April 1943, he was arrested by the Italian occupation troops and remained in prison for three months. On 7 February 1944, he was arrested by associates of the occupation authorities and remained in prison for seven and a half months, where he escaped on 21 September 1944. During the German occupation of Greece, he worked as an officer in the Greek Red Cross (1941-1943) and the Municipality of Athens (1943-1945).

After the Liberation, he worked as a journalist until August 1947. He was arrested again on 3 March 1948 and brought to a total of 28 trials for press offenses. He was sentenced to various death sentences, one of which is death in October 1948. Once again, he was sentenced to death on 21 March 1949. The death sentences were not carried out following intense protests by Greek and international public opinion. In 1950 the death sentences were converted to life imprisonment, and finally, he was released on 16 July 1954. During his imprisonment, he was elected member of the Hellenic Parliament in 1951, under the flag of the United Democratic Left, also known as EDA.

Manolis Gezos with Leonidas Kirkos and Grigoris Lambrakis during a Peace Manifestation in London, April 1963

Goodbye Το Manolis Glezos, The First Partizan to Take Down Nazi's Flag

Photo:iefimerida.gr

On 5 December 1958, he was arrested, once more, on the charge of espionage and convicted. He was released on 15 December 1962, following strong reactions from Greek and international public opinion. At the elections of 29 October 1961, he was elected once more in the Greek parliament, although he was imprisoned.

Immediately after the 21 April military coup, he was arrested along with other political leaders. He was imprisoned and exiled to various prisons in Greece and finally released in 1971.

In total, Manolis Glezos was convicted 28 times for his political activity, of which he was sentenced to three times to death and remained in prison for 11 years and 5 months and a further 4 years and six months. That is, he remained a prisoner (imprisonment and exile) for 16 years throughout his life.

After the restoration of democracy in Greece, cooperated with PASOK in three elections. In 1981 he was elected member of the Hellenic Parliament, 1984 Member of the European Parliament and 1985 member of the Hellenic Parliament again.

He returned to the mainstream political scene in 2012 when he was elected to the Hellenic Parliament with SYRIZA in the dual elections of 6 May and 17 June. With the same party, he was elected to the European Parliament on 25 May 2014 to make the issue of German allowances known in Greece.

Manolis Glezos in the Hellenic Parliament

Goodbye Το Manolis Glezos, The First Partizan to Take Down Nazi's Flag

Photo:iapopsi.gr

Manolis Glezos in the European Parliament

Goodbye Το Manolis Glezos, The First Partizan to Take Down Nazi's Flag

Photo:news247.gr

As for who Manolis Glezos was, the answer to the question of what is his most vivid memory says a lot:

"The most vivid memory of my life is my mother. They keep asking me about the flag. But I, even from the history of the flag, remember my mother. When we got home that day, it was time past midnight. I go home and see my mother a skein on the stairs outside. She was waiting for me. I approach her and say, "Mana!" She stands up, grabs me by the throat, goes to the kitchen so that others won't hear, and wakes up and says, "Where were you?" Then I open the jacket and show her the piece of swastika we had cut. She hugs me, kisses me, and says, "Go to sleep." The next morning, I hear the following dialogue: My stepfather asks her, "Where was your eldest son last night?" He answers, "Get up on the terrace and look at the Acropolis." I never asked her how she understood it. I would consider it an insult to her intelligence. But for me, that was the most moving event in my history. My mother"

Manolis Glezos left his last breath last Monday, 30 March 2020, at the age of 97, from heart failure. His funeral was held on 1 April 2020, without public pilgrimage and in a particularly close family circle due to the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic.

Lakis Santas welcomes his friend Manolis Glezos in Heaven, stating that from there they can also see Acropolis

Goodbye Το Manolis Glezos, The First Partizan to Take Down Nazi's Flag

Photo:thecaller.gr

The loss of the human-symbol of the Resistance caused general sadness. The whole political world embraced the praise of the deceased, who identified his life with the great adventure of the Left.

Manolis Glezos paying tribute to the dead of the Polytechnic uprising 17/11/2017

Goodbye Το Manolis Glezos, The First Partizan to Take Down Nazi's Flag

Photo:thetoc.gr

But even more important is the emotional charge of the citizens. It may be that the last farewell to Manolis Glezos may not be alluded to by restrictive measures; however, social media filled with moving words about the great deceased. Many responded to the internet call and shied away from their balconies.

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Thinking Humanity: Goodbye Το Manolis Glezos, The First Partizan to Take Down Nazi's Flag
Goodbye Το Manolis Glezos, The First Partizan to Take Down Nazi's Flag
Greece says goodbye to its First Partizan, WWII resistance hero Manolis Glezos.
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