Saturday, October 27, 2012

True Greek Heroes Fight Like Greeks.



How many of us can think of a single act of valor so symbolic to a nation that it defines the rest of the actor’s life? I’m talking on the scale of Hans Brinker’s little Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke sort of stuff, not a Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction moment.

Manolis Glezos and Apostolos Santas
One such act occurred on the night of May 30, 1941 in Athens when two, 19 year-old Greeks, Manolis Glezos and Apostolos “Lakis” Santas, climbed to the top of the Acropolis and tore down a huge Nazi flag flying there since the Nazis first entered and occupied Athens on April 27, 1941.


Their action is credited as the seminal act inspiring Greek resistance to Nazi occupation and turned the two men into folk heroes.  Santas died last year at the age of 89.   His colleague, Glezos, is still alive and more than kicking as an outspoken member of the Greek parliament at 90.

There are many who disagree with Manolis Glezos decidedly leftist politics, but he’s clung to his beliefs all of his life, enduring nearly a dozen years in prison and several death sentences, including one shared with Santas issued in absentia by the Nazis for their daring nighttime attack on the Nazi flag.   He’s also received international recognition for his commitment to his beliefs. 

Glezos on Soviet Stamp
Glezos says what he thinks and at 90 is still out on the streets leading demonstrations, despite the very real risk of injury should they turn violent, as happened recently.  But he was a younger man then, only 89.


In June of this year, Andy Dablis of the Greek Reporter wrote a story condemning the rising, virulently anti-immigrant, neo-Nazi Greek political party, Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avgi).
(I’ve written about Golden Dawn several times on Murder is Everywhere and in the October 19th issue of The National Review Eliza Griswold has an article titled, THE TERRIFYING RISE OF GREECE’S 
NAZI PARTY: They own the streets; is parliament next?  In addition, yesterday The Guardian published a story and graphic video mini-documentary by Aris Chatzistefanou titled “Golden Dawn infiltrates 

Mr. Dablis article was prompted by a nationally televised pre-election debate in early June that unexpectedly featured Golden Dawn’s party spokesman, a 32 year-old member of parliament (“MP”), physically attacking a female communist party MP when she referred to a pending charge against the spokesman for the attack and robbery of a postgraduate student several years before.  As a MP, prosecution for his acts was barred by parliamentary immunity.

To Mr. Dablis, that televised attack meant no “more proof was needed that the Nazis of Golden Dawn are really just cowardly bullies who do their fighting in packs like mad dogs when they can pounce on one victim without fear of being hit back.”

His piece offered several suggestions on how to deal with Golden Dawn, two of which I found particularly telling in light of what happened this week in Greece’s Parliament.

Mr. Dablis suggested in June that (1) “Greeks rise up as they always have against bullies and tyrants and shun Golden Dawn, make its members pariahs and ostracize them,” and (2) “seat them next to Manolis Glezos, a real Greek hero who, with his late friend Apostolos Santas, climbed up under the Acropolis in 1941 to pull down the Swastika that Golden Dawn wants to put up again. Glezos knows how to deal with Nazis. Let’s see if the rest of Greece does too.”

This week, 220 MPs of the 300 in Greece’s parliament voted in favor of lifting the immunity of Golden Dawn’s spokesman and two other Golden Dawn MPs charged with recent attacks on immigrants.

Bravo, Parliament.

And, as reported by Athens’ primary newspaper, Ekathimeri:

Leftist veteran and main opposition SYRIZA MP Manolis Glezos on Tuesday condemned the ultra-rightwing Golden Dawn, describing their presence in Greece's Parliament as “an insult to Greek democracy.”

The entrance to Parliament earlier this year of Golden Dawn, which holds 18 of the seats in the 300-seat Parliament, is “one of the darkest pages in the history of Greek democracy,” Glezos said.

The 89-year-old wartime resistance veteran, best known for removing a flag bearing a swastika from the Acropolis in 1941, said Golden Dawn was not purely a fascist or Nazi group “but a party that essentially violates the good of the nation and with characteristics of a criminal organization which does not hesitate to plot crudely, exploiting the instincts of a society that is collapsing.”

Bravo, Mr. Glezos! 

This is a moment to be proud of, Greece.

Keep up the fight.  Never relent.  Never forget.



Jeff—Saturday  

12 comments:

  1. And BRAVO, Mr. Siger for this wonderful post! Glezos is an example to the world, a freedom fighter at 90. When I grow up, I want to be like him! And Apostolos Santas, what a name. Could any novelist have thought up a better one for a larger-than-life hero?

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  2. Thank you, and in answer to your question: Yes, Annamaria Alfieri:)).

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    1. ...as in the symbol of Greek resistance prompted by the assassination of a Greek of the spirit of Glezos by far right wing extremists. Not to mention the movie. Thanks, Leigh.

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  4. What a sad, sad thing to happen to such a wonderful country. I grew to love Greece in the three all-too-short months I was there. Still, I cannot be surprised: even a wonderful country -- Greece now, Germany eighty years ago -- can, under conditions of economic collapse and social turmoil, turn upon itself in just such fashion.

    Thank you for this post, Mr Siger. I was, of course, not entirely unaware of the situation, but had not realized the extent of it. However, I rejoice to learn that Manolis Glezos still lives. Let us hope enough people follow his banner while there is yet time ... --Mario R.

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    1. Believe it or not, a critical key is how the Greek media chooses to address the threat, keeping the pressure on government to do what is necessary to prevent this "insult to Greek democracy" from turning into irreparable harm.

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  5. It is nice to hear about true heroes, who are principled and truly love their country! Especially this country.

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  6. Just in case anyone wondered, the 'Z' above was a Greek comment, not a snore.

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  7. I'm in total agreement with Annamaria Alfieri's words about these heroes, and Glezos' continuing political role. He sure knows Nazis when he sees them.

    It's also quite a boost for aging to know that at 90, he's still demonstrating and denouncing the Nazis, and I'd assume, the austerity policies imposed on his people.

    Thank you for posting this. I am inspired.

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  8. Well, that makes two of us in agreement with Annamaria. And thank you, Kathy.

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