When the Wikipedia Deaths in 2020 page describes your notoriety as “folk hero”, you know this is going to be a good one.
Hitler’s 1000 Year Reich dream died in 1945. Manolis Glezos, a man twice sentenced to death by the regime, has died in 2020 of old age issues. He was barely twenty when he helped remove the Swastika flying above the Acropolis and became a figurehead for anti-Nazi activities in occupied Greece. Sentenced to death in absentia, he was later caught by the Germans (who didn’t know who he was) and came down with TB, 77 years before his death. He survived the Nazis, only to fall on the wrong side of the Greek Civil War, and face another death sentence, 72 years before he died. This was commuted to a life sentence, during which he went on hunger strike and got elected to the Greek Parliament as an MP from his jail cell.
Despite being released from jail in 1954, he fell foul of yet another bunch of authoritarians in 1958 and found himself back in jail, and his face on postage stamps in Moscow in a bizarre tit for tat trolling war between the two countries. During this time in jail, he won the Lenin Peace Prize and was once again elected as an MP from his jail cell. This time was released in 1962.
After this, he had a quiet few decad… no, he found himself on the wrong side of another coup d’etat in 1967 (with a mere 53 years left to live), and this time he was exiled from Greece until the 1970s. On return to Greece, he was promptly elected as an MP for newly founded PASOK, the Greek version of Labour until they got murdered by the economic recession of 2008. He actually stayed with PASOK until the 1990s, and had a run as a MEP for them. By 2000, he was running as a candidate for the radical left, and in 2014 he was elected an MEP for Syriza, his 5th separate party affiliation. He was the oldest person ever elected to the European Parliament. He wrote two books on the Nazi occupation, and suggested that the best ways to cope with imprisonment by a dictatorial regime is to keep reading, or talk to the guards.
In later years, he stuck to doing what he knew best: protesting against anti-democratic policies and taking on riot police. Somewhat surprisingly, chest problems have done what Nazis, Fascists and far right military dictatorships failed to do, and bumped off Glezos once and for all. We assume. If you find he’s done a Lazarus at the next instance of anti-democratic movements in Greece, well, it wouldn’t surprise us.
When not fighting fascists, Manolis Glezos was fond of geological sciences and flood prevention schemes and won an honorary Doctorate from several universities for this. “He stood in the pantheon of Greek politicians feted as much for fortitude as tenacity” claimed the Guardian. “An incurable optimist who became a popular elder statesman” read the Financial Times. “This guy never dies” claimed DDP regular Drollercoaster.
Glezos was picked by one team. God’s Gonna Gettem. Possibly, but expect a protest.
9 September 1922 – 30 March 2020