"Today, he is an iconic figure in Greece, a leftist who transcends ideology and a national symbol of resistance — beginning in 1941, when he and a friend, Apostolos Santas, ripped down the Nazi flag from the Acropolis, risking death as Hitler’s forces conquered Athens.
That brazen act was telegraphed the world over and inspired millions during one of Europe’s darkest hours. A snowy mane has replaced the brown locks of Mr. Glezos’ youth, and his powerful frame is now stooped. But his steel-gray eyes still burn with conviction, especially when he recalls his foray to the Acropolis.
“We had absolute consciousness that it was a historic moment,” Mr. Glezos said one recent weekend at his home in an Athens suburb, where he greeted a reporter with a viselike handshake. “No struggle for what you believe in is ever futile.”
He has turned up the volume on that message with his latest fight against German-led austerity in Greece, which has gotten him pepper-sprayed, hospitalized and arrested. His platform won him a landslide election victory in May representing Greece’s leftist party Syriza in the European Parliament, where he began work this month as its oldest lawmaker.
“Across Europe, I keep hearing the same theme,” Mr. Glezos said. “People are saying, ‘I don’t want others deciding my future for me.’ ””
- Liz Alderman, “Since Nazi Occupation, a Fist Raised in Resistance,” The New York Times. September 6, 2014, pg. A4.
“In early August I took the train from Kiev to Donetsk. Kiev was full of refugees from the east. Donetsk’s football team was staying at the Opera Hotel; others were staying with friends or relatives or in hostels and rented flats around town. The people of Kiev were not inhospitable, but they were wary, and they were angry. The ATO had been going on in earnest for two months, and each day brought news of more deaths from the front. The government had announced a ‘partial mobilisation’, calling up people who had once served in the armed forces, and there were also several volunteer battalions: some, like the Azov and Aidar battalions, were based on existing structures (in Azov’s case the Social-National Assembly of Ukraine, i.e. the far right, and in Aidar’s case the self-defence units of Maidan); others had been raised by locals who were willing to fight. In early August, the Maidan encampment was still partly intact, but the energy had vanished. One evening, at the edge of what remained of it, I happened across a group of forty men standing outside a bus and saying goodbye to friends and girlfriends. They looked tired, unshaven and for the most part out of shape. Eventually they lined up, did a roll call, and boarded the bus. They were volunteers for the Aidar battalion, and they were headed for Lugansk.
The post-Maidan government was now a war government. It banned the Communist Party from parliament for its alleged support of the rebels. It set up a gmail account for people in liberated towns in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions to write anonymous reports on fellow citizens who might have aided the rebels. And it was doing its best to scare people. A professor at Kharkiv University showed me an order from the Ministry of Education demanding that all senior university officials take part in mobilising staff for the ATO. Those who ‘sabotaged’ the process would be found guilty of ‘separatist tendencies’. ‘This language,’ he said. ‘It’s straight out of the 1930s.’
The day before I was to take the train to Donetsk I met a man from Lugansk called Kirill. He had been an outspoken supporter of Maidan and a unified Ukraine, and after the rebels took over the city they came to his house, arrested him and brought him in for questioning. They demanded that he admit he was a spy, and when he refused they shot him in the leg. They kept him another week, then dropped him off in the woods and suggested he disappear. He hid out with a friend until his leg got a little better, then made his way to Kiev. Now he spent his time playing video games and, out of some kind of repetition compulsion, watching YouTube clips of captured Ukrainian soldiers getting interrogated by the rebels. The films were horrible, and there were lots of them.”
- Keith Gessen, “Why Not Kill Them All? Keith Gessen in Donetsk,” London Review of Books. Vol. 36 No 17 · 11 September 2014, pages 18-22.