Veteran leftist and resistance fighter Manolis Glezos has died at the age of 98, it was announced on Monday.
An active member of Greece’s resistance to the Nazis, Glezos is best known for joining forces with fellow teenager Apostolos Santas in 1941 and tearing down the Nazi flag from the Acropolis, at a time when occupying German forces held Athens.
His involvement with the Left in the years that followed, with parties such as EDA and the Communist Party of Greece, meant that he spent much of his life in prison or island ‘exile’, while he was a prominent figure in Greek politics and at one point even sentenced to death. After the fall of the Greek junta in 1974, he was elected an MP with the PASOK party in 1980, without joining the party, but later withdrew from central politics in 1986 to stand for local government in his native village Apeiranthos.
In June 2012, he was once again elected a deputy with leftist SYRIZA and gained a seat in the European Parliament two years later.
Among the many people expressing their condolences was President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou, who hailed him as “a brave man, a symbol of the resistance against nazism and an uncompromising defender of social justice..a pure patriot in every sense of the word.”
“He will remain in our memory as an iconic figure of our modern history,” she added.
Main opposition SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras emphasised that Glezos had “fought to the last” and that “Greece, democracy, social justice have lost a great fighter of the front line,” who will “go down for eternity as a symbol of a fighter who knew how to sacrifice himself for the people.”
Condolences were also expressed by the Greek government, via government spokesperson Stelios Petsas, Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias, who hailed him as an inspiration to all, and the German ambassador in Athens, Ernst Reichel, who posted on Twitter that his death was “A loss not only for Greeks. His resistance against Nazi occupation will remain unforgotten.”