Athens (AFP) - Greece on Monday mourned "lion-hearted" Manolis Glezos,the country's foremost anti-Nazi resistance hero who died in a hospital at the age of 97, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.
"Manolis Glezos represented a generation that did not bend and did not submit," Mitsotakis said in a statement, adding that the former partisan became "a symbol of our free country."
Henry Dunant hospital in Athens said that Glezos, who had been hospitalised on March 18 with gastroenteritis and a urinary infection according to his family, had died on Monday of heart failure.
Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou called Glezos a "pure patriot" who was "an uncompromising defender of social justice".
Glezos was just 18 on May 30, 1941, when during Greece's occupation by Nazi Germany he and friend Apostolos Santas, a 19-year-old law student, climbed onto the Acropolis in the middle of the night and tore down the flag bearing the swastika unnoticed.
German ambassador to Athens Ernst Reichel said Glezos' resistance to the Nazi occupation "will remain unforgotten".
Famously called "the first partisan of Europe" by French wartime leader Charles de Gaulle, he was later part of a Communist plot that almost killed Winston Churchill in Athens.
Deemed a hero by the Soviet Union, he was awarded the Lenin Peace prize in 1962 and his likeness was placed on a 1959 Soviet stamp.
After the war Glezos worked as a journalist and editor and was repeatedly elected to Greece's parliament with communist, socialist and leftist parties over a 60-year period.
He remained a loud, clear voice on the Greek left throughout a life.
Even as he approached 90, Glezos, with his bushy moustache and shock of white hair, was often on the front line of protests.
And in 2014 Glezos was elected to the European Parliament with the leftist Syriza party, becoming its oldest deputy at the age of 91.
During Greece's economic crisis, Glezos opposed austerity measures and campaigned to force Germany to repay money it was forcibly loaned by Greece during the war.
In 2012, he was tear-gassed by riot police during an anti-austerity demonstration outside parliament.
In 2015, he broke ranks with the Syriza government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after it agreed to implement austerity measures in return for a European bailout.
Glezos had in more recent years turned his criticism toward the global economic heavyweights who he felt wielded too much power over other nations.
"The enemy is the G20, the union of imperialists," he said, speaking of the 20 richest countries which regularly meet to discuss economic and financial strategy.