I love this picture. I remember the first time I went to the Acropolis. My uncle Kostas took me and my cousin Giorgos. We walked around the Acropolis warmed in the bright sunshine of a Greek summer day. At the northern end of the Acropolis was the area with the Greek flag. We walked up the steps and viewed the city of Athens below us. Then my uncle told us this story.
During the Nazi Occupation of Greece, two 19 year olds, Apostolos Santas and Manolis Glezos climbed the Acropolis on the 31 May 1941. They took down the swastika flag, that had flown since the day the Nazis had entered Athens. In its place they left the Greek flag flying. The word spread throughout Athens that the swastika had been removed. Furious, the Nazis tried the two men in absentia and placed a death sentence on them. The Nazis’ public outrage at this defiance rather than quashing resistance, further spread the news of the two men’s valiant act throughout Greece inspiring others to rise up against the Occupation.
In an interview years later, Manolis Glezos answered the question why they had done it. He responded by saying that Hitler commented that the fighting was all over now that the Germans were in Greece. Mr. Glezos said that spurred the two young men to show Hitler that it was in fact, not over.
One of the first acts after the liberation of Greece was to raise the Greek flag on the Acropolis. A simple plaque at the Acropolis commemorates the actions of the two young men.
Every time I visit Greece, I visit the Acropolis and make sure to stay a few moments underneath that flag and remember the heroic efforts of the Greeks against an evil speeding across Europe until it met with Greece resistance. I remember two 19 year old boys who climbed the Acropolis in an act of defiance to take down the flag of an oppressor and raise the flag of their country, the Greek flag.
H. S. Stavropoulos