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Nikos Beloyannis: The Man with the Carnation


(translated by: Comrade Asteras)

Nikos Beloyannis, "the Man with the Carnation", was born in 1915 in
Amaliada, Ilia, Greece. From his student years in the high school and
later on in the University of Athens, he was participating in the
progressive youth movement. In 1934 he became a member of the Communist
Party of Greece (KKE).  From 1934 to 1936 he played an insturmental role in
many Party Organisations all over Peloponnese. He was arrested in March
and in August 1396 for his revolutionary activities. In June 1937, he
escaped and was rearrested in May 1938, when he was sentenced to 5 years
imprisoment and 2 years exile. When the Germans invaded Greece and front
collapsed, in 1941, he was still in the prison. The Greek Government that
crucial moment committed another crime, leaving in the prisons thousands
of Greek Communists (including Beloyannis), to the hands of the Nazi
Germans. Beloyannis managed to escape in 1943. From that moment to the day
of the Leberation of Greece he was participating in the National
Resistance in Patras, where he was the Political Commisser of the National
People's Liberation Army (ELAS). During the Civil War (1946-49) he played
political role in the Democratic Army of Greece (DSE). After the
collapse of the Communist Front (Mount Grammos), Beloyannis fled to some
People's Republics. In 1950 he was elected member of the Central Committee
of CPG. He illegally returned to Greece, where he was arrested in December
1950. He was kept for more than a year in a isolated lightless cell, where
he, illegally and under incredibly difficult conditions, wrote a Study on
the History of Greek Thought.

With his iron presence in the court martial, he managed to make his trial
a boomerang against its organisers! In that trial, where the "judges" had
already the decision in their pockets, Beloyannis proved that all the
accusations were fabricated, and that the only reason he was about to be
executed was his communist beliefs! During a break of the trial, his
companion in Live and Struggle, Elli Papa, offered him a red carnation.
Beloyannis holded the carnation in his hands and put it next to his face
and smiled.  The photographer immortalised that beautiful smile of the
person who was expecting at any time to listen to the announce of his
death penalty. The picture with the young brave man with the red
carnation, was sent all over the world! This picture's impact was really
tremendous! Picasso drew it with his pencils! All the progressive world,
the international intelligentsia, and individuals everywhere were
demanding the conversion of Beloyannis's death sentense.

But, the Greek Monarchofascists and the US had already made their final
decision. Nikos Beloyannis was executed on Sunday, 30 March 1952. The
greek ultra-rightwing was so afraid of the reactions of the people who
were surrounding Beloyannis's prison, that executed Beloyannis, Batsis,
Kaloumenos and Argyriadis on Sunday at 4:10AM, even if, according to the
rules, no executions were permitted on Sundays (Christ's Days). Even the
Germans had respected that rule!