Monday, March 30, 2020

Greek Left's veteran Manolis Glezos dies at 98

Manolis Glezos, a resistance fighter during the Nazi occupation of Greece in the Second World War and a prominent figure of Greek left-wing politics, has died in Athens at the age of 98. 

Manolis Glezos acquired fame when, alongside his friend Apostolos Santas, climbed on the Acropolis on May 30, 1941 and tore down the Nazi swastika flag. This action became an inspiration for the people who were fighting against occupation, while Glezos and Santas were established as international anti-Nazi heroes. 

The Nazi regime responded by sentencing both to death in absentia as long as they had not been arrested. Manolis Glezos was arrested on March 24, 1942 by the Germans and was subjected to imprisonment and torture. 

In the post-war period, Glezos was put to trial for his political convictions and was sentenced to death several times by the bourgeois Greek governments; however, the death penalties were reduced to life sentence in 1950. While in prison, in 1951 Manolis Glezos was elected as member of the Greek Parliament for  the United Democratic Left (EDA) party. 

On December 1958 he was arrested again and convicted for espionage - the most common pretext for the persecution of left supporters during the Cold War. Being imprisoned, he was re-elected an MP of EDA in 1961. The public outcry in Greece, as well as international reactions, led to his release on December 1962. In 1963 Glezos was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize. 

A 1959 Soviet postage stamp depicting
Manolis Glezos.
The imposition of the Greek Junta by the Colonels on 21 April 1967 led to Glezos' arrest, imprisonment and he was sent into exile. 

After the fall of Junta and the restoration of parliamentary democracy in 1974, Manolis Glezos became a supporter of the then rising Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) and his leader Andreas Papandreou who became Prime Minister. In the elections of 1981 and 1985 he was elected an MP for PASOK, while in 1984 he was elected Member of the European Parliament with the list of PASOK. 

In 1986 he withdrew from the Parliament and after a long-term absense from the central political scene he re-appeared in 2002 forming a political group under the name "Active Citizens", which became part of the opportunist Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA). 

In June 2012 parliament election Manolis Glezos was elected an MP for SYRIZA and in the European Parliament elections of May 2014, at the age of 91, he became the oldest elected MEP. He subsequently resigned in July 2015 after expressing disagreements with the policy of the SYRIZA government. 

Manolis Glezos was born in 1922 in the island of Naxos.