On this day, May 30, 1941, the Nazi flag was torn down from the Acropolis by Manolis Glezos and Lakis Santas. The two 18-year-old youths risked everything as they scaled the walls of the Acropolis at sunset to remove the flag and the ideological and political stain it cast over Athens.
The iconic flag known as the Reichskriegsflagge had only flown its iron cross and a swastika over the city for just over a month after having been raised by Nazi German forces when they entered Athens on April 27 before the two young men removed it.
This act of defiance inspired the Greek people to resist the Nazi occupation.
Until this day the alt-right and the neo-Nazi political group Golden Dawn claim that the two men did not remove the flag because there was no flag to remove in the first place since it was already taken down by the occupation at sunset.
However, on June 1 the Greek newspaper Eleftheron Vima published a proclamation from the German commander stating that the “unidentified culprits” responsible for taking down the flag were handed a sentence of death in absentia — a punishment that was never fulfilled, although both men were sent to live in exile and Glezos served time in jail over the years for his political beliefs.
On April 30, 2011, Santas died in Athens, aged 89. Glezos, died on Monday, March 30, 2020, at the age of 97.