Nikos Beloyiannis

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Nikos Beloyiannis (Greek Νίκος Μπελογιάννης) was a Greek communist and resistance leader born in Amaliada, Elis prefecture in the (Peloponnese, Greece) on December 22, 1915. He was jailed in the Akronauplia prison (Nafplion) by the Ioannis Metaxas nationalist regime in the 1930s and transferred to the Germans after the Nazi Occupation of the country (1941). He escaped in 1943 and joined the Ethnikos Laikos Apeleftherotikos Stratos (ELAS) in Peloponnese on the side of Aris Velouchiotis. After becoming Political Commissioner of the Democratic Army of Greece (DSE) during the Greek Civil War he was one of the last to leave the country after its defeat (1949).

In June 1950 Beloyiannis returned to Greece in order to re-establish the Athens organization of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) that had been declared illegal. He was arrested on December 20, 1950 and was taken before a court-martial on charges of violating Compulsory Law 509/1947, which criminalized the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).

The Beloyiannis trial started in Athens on October 19th 1951. In total, 94 people were accused. One of the three members of the court-martial was Georgios Papadopoulos who later (1967) became the leader of the military dictatorship of 1967-1974.

Beloyiannis denied all accusations and stressed the patriotic nature of his actions during the anti-Nazi resistance (1941-1944), the British "intervention" (1944-1946) and the Greek Civil War (1946-1949). He became globally known as the "Man with the Carnation" and as such he was depicted in a famous Pablo Picasso sketch. On November 16, 1951, 12 of the accused were sentenced to death.

A second trial was held on February 15, 1952. This time 29 people were accused. On March 1, 12 of the accused were sentenced to death, among them Beloyiannis.

Despite national and international appeals for clemency, Beloyiannis and three of his fellows - Dimitris Batsis, Elias Argyriadis and Nikos Kaloumenos - were taken from the prison of Kallithea early in the morning of Sunday March 30, 1952 and were executed in the Goudi camp.

Beloyiannis became one of the great heroes of the Greek left. His name was given to village Beloiannisz built in Hungary to house the Greek political refugees who lived in exile from the end of the civil war (1949) until the fall of the Papadopoulos junta and the re-establishment of democracy in Greece (1974).

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