Harilaos Florakis, one of the veterans of the Greek working class and communist movement passed away on 22 May. While sending our condolences to his family, friends and comrades, we wish to stress the role this remarkable man played in fighting against liquidationism in the aftermath of the counter-revolution in the USSR.
Harilaos Florakis was born on 20 July 1914 in the village of Rahoula in Thessaly. At just fifteen years of age, he entered the communist movement. In 1929, when the Venizelos government was persecuting communists under a special law, he joined the Communist Youth Federation of Greece. From within the ranks of the mighty Post Telephone Telegraph workers’ trade union, he participated in action against the Fourth of August dictatorship and in 1940 fought in the Greek – Italian War. He joined the National Liberation Front just one day after it was established and fought the occupation forces from the ranks of the National People’s Liberation Army (ELAS) under his nom de guerre Captain Yiotis. He fought British imperialism and the local oligarchy in the battle of December 1944. He fought British-US imperialism, rising to Major General, in the Democratic Army.
In 1949 he was elected a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece. He studied and graduated with honours from the Frunze Military Academy in Moscow. He was persecuted, imprisoned and exiled for a total of eighteen years, being convicted to life imprisonment on many occasions, one of the best known being the Great Trial in May 1960 at an Athens Court Martial.
Harilaos Florakis was elected first Secretary of the CC of the Party in December 1972 and served in that position until 1989. He was decorated with the ELAS Medal of Honour and the Medal of Military Merit of the Democratic Army of Greece; the Award of the Friendship of the Peoples by the President of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the Karl Marx Award by the State Council of the GDR and the Dimitrov Award by the People’s Republic of Bulgaria. He was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in September 1984.