Manolis Glezos passed away at the ripe old age of 97. Few in Australia will be familiar with the name. In Greece it’s a different story.
Manolis lived an eventful life. As an 18-year-old teenager and at the time of the German occupation, he scaled the walls of the Acropolis with friend Apostolos Santas on 30 May 1931, They tore down the Nazi flag, and it made them heroes and national symbols of resistance. They were arrested and tortured for doing this.
Both had to flee the country and were sentenced to death in absentia.
He campaigned for the rest of his life for German compensation for war crimes
This is not the end of Manolis’s story. He was subsequently sentenced to death again multiple times. But he managed to survive.
Manolis was confined to a prison cell for 16 years by the later Greek military junta. .
He had a lifelong devotion to writing and being active in Greek society. Hr became the nation’s greatest authority on the war time resistance movement, writing tow 800-page volumes on its history.
In his nineties, he was elected to parliament with more votes than any other candidate. So strong had his popularity remained over the years. He became a member of the European Parliament (MEP) for Greece.
Manolis did not know the meaning of quit.
During this time he said, “Greece is the guinea pig of policies exacted by governments whose only God is money”.
His time as a parliamentarian was as a representative of Syriza, with which he became disheartened, as it was contained in government and failed to combat neoliberalism and the impositions of the global financial system and Brussels.
He never lost faith in what he believed in.
Manolis won respect from many. Tributes poured in. after he passed away from a heart attack at 97.
Former Prime minister Alexis Tsipras and leader of Syriza said “For all eternity he will remain the symbol of a fighter”.
Nikos Dendias, foreign minister in Greece’s current government, hailed Glezos “as a major figure of the national resistance against Nazi occupation. His stance inspired us all, irrespective of ideologies and parties”.
Prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis praised the resistance hero as a “symbol of our nation’s freedom”.
Greece’s flags were lowered in his honour.