One of the two men who secretly climbed atop the emblematic Acropolis Hill in central Athens and took down the Swastika in the early morning hours of May 31, 1941 - a defiant and extraordinarily symbolic act of resistance at the beginning of the Axis occupation of Greece (1941-44) - died on Saturday at the age of 89.
Apostolos Santas passed away in Athens.
Together with Manolis Glezos, the then teenaged Santas was highly praised during the last decades of his life for the unprecedented act of resistance.
Santas was born on the Ionian island of Lefkada in February 1922, settling with his family in Athens in 193, before finishing high school in 1940 and successfully entering the Athens law school.
“It was the first gasp of resistance … Two 18-year-olds toyed with history; they saw a symbol and decided to become symbols, themselves,” a Greek Parliament resolution proclaimed in 2008, during a plenum session honoring the two men.
Santas joined the wartime resistance in 1942, taking part in several battles against German and Italian forces in Greece’s mountainous provinces before being injured in 1944. Unfortunately, the bloody Greek Civil War (1946-49) lead to his exile on remote isles in the Aegean. Santas eventually fled to Italy and received political asylum in Canada, where he lived until 1962.
He returned to Greece in 1963.
“I never sought out publicity … We (himself and Glezos) did not comprise the resistance by ourselves; thousands of brave people, men and women, were killed; they were all anonymous,” he stated recently.