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Funeral oration for H. Florakis

By Al.Papariga, General Secretary of the CC
At the Civil Funeral of Harilaos Florakis, 25 of May2005

The bells do not toll, no
The bells do not toll.
He who has passed is not
a song that ends.

He who fought
like an all-encompassing light
and fell like the sun wearing a cap,
he who has passed is not
a song that ends.
(from Nazim Hikmet’s Funeral March)

Most beloved comrade Harilaos,

Why could you not have had more lives to give to the KKE?

Those unique words were yours. You said this in 1998 when the CC presented you with a commemorative plaque, honouring in your person both living and dead fighters. We honoured you as a part of the living and written history of our land.

And that is how things are, comrade –just as you said.

Each of us has but one life, and it is tremendously important how we live it, for which purpose, what we do with this life, whether it lasts over ninety years, a bit less or even much less.

You, comrade, made your point. You expressed it with your life. We are bidding you farewell today, as a fearless, stouthearted man who fell with his head held high, who never was bowed in difficult times.

The story of your life, the events in our country that marked your life, but also the international developments with which you were connected, are all well known. Everyone knows them.

But in the history of every fighter, every communist, there are moments which stand out, according to the situation and to the stage and tasks of the movement. It is always the many who determine developments, but this in no way detracts from the special, decisive role of the outstanding person, particularly when he holds a position of responsibility, and thus has a special obligation.

We are referring to the crucial points in the last, difficult fifteen years, to the moment of the great, decisive choice.

Alive before us we see the decisive contribution made by Harilaos Florakis in 1990 at the Broad Plenary Session of the CC and at the 13th Congress in 1991, in defending all that the socialist system has offered, with his intrepid stance in mocking the heaps of lies piled on socialism and its ideology, along with his steadfast conviction that the world will change and that socialism will triumph, and all this in exceptionally adverse, dark times.

It is not easy to swim against the tide. It is not easy to stand erect when others fall, and even more difficult to blaze new paths.

Comrade Harilaos,

“Leader of the people” and “historic leader” are titles that you won on the battlefields of the struggle, as a trade-unionist, as a fighter in the National Resistance of EAM (National Liberation Front) and the Democratic Army, as a prisoner and an exile, as a revolutionary in difficult times.

We would like to take one more special look at your long and high-spirited life.

At a very early age, while still a pupil and with his political consciousness just budding, comrade Harilaos entered the struggle. And from that time onward he gave himself and devoted himself to it entirely, both mentally and physically. Harilaos accepted his evolution into what we in the Party call a “professional” revolutionary, a term that has nothing to do with having a political career or profession, with establishing oneself conveniently or with holding an office.

Those who claim that being completely absorbed in party work, in practical and theoretical action and in daily organizational activity makes one distant, cold and cut off from the people and from events have been proven wrong. They have been proven wrong overwhelmingly by the personality of Harilaos Florakis, which constitutes one example that is representative rather than unique. His absolute absorption in party work, that is, in the great cause of the people, his devotion to revolutionary ideals, his long years of imprisonment, did not constrict his personality or narrow his horizons. They rather cultivated yet more his special characteristics, his sense of honour and his common touch, his genuineness, his capacity to connect with the people, to understand the man in the street and to be the man next door.

The practical school of the struggle was the fertile field in which the personality of Harilaos Florakis developed and reached its full integrity.

When Harilaos Florakis said “KKE”, when he spoke of the Party, he was clear: he spoke of the KKE with its well-known symbols, its Marxist-Leninist ideology, its program and its principles. He wrote this in the Farewell that he left to the Party, and for us these words constitute POLITICAL COUNSEL.

He constantly sought ways to make the Party more effective and capable of keeping abreast of political developments, of avoiding repetition when circumstances would bring new elements to the surface. He detested inertia.

When he said “KKE”, he meant the responsibility and obligation to the people borne by communists in the struggle for the social prosperity of the people and the territorial integrity of the country. He meant the communists’ responsibility to stand in the front lines of the struggle when imperialist war strikes our neighbourhood, but also more distant parts of the world. He hated chauvinism, racism and nationalism.

When Harilaos Florakis said “KKE”, he meant the responsibility for the development of the internationalist spirit of the working class and of the peoples in general. He meant the standing obligation to rally and unite the people and the obligation to the cause of socialism and a communist society.

When he felt that time weighed upon him, he felt angry and worried. He did not want nature to stop him from contributing. He had learned not to let things stop him. But he was realistic and knew that his life too would come to an end. He did not fear death but, very rightly, detested anything that would turn the Party’s history- and thus his personal history- into a museum preserving the past. He was unafraid and unhesitating in critically analyzing the history of the Movement and the Party. He felt no inhibitions about speaking openly with regard to weaknesses, omissions and mistakes made. He withstood unjust criticism and polemics aimed at the Party and at him.

The one thing he could not stand under any circumstance were views and practices that stress the futility of resistance. He could even forget unjust attacks and polemics against the Party, but simply could not tolerate orders for subjugation to the mighty and to the victor in each case.

He wanted the torch of the struggle to remain lit at all times. He knew very well that the great YESES and great NOS may even cost the fighter his life, for otherwise there will be no historical vindication or hope for creation to redden, as the poet put it.

His concern for internationalist communist action, the role of the labour movement and the coordinated struggle of the peoples against war, imperialism, oppression, poverty, hunger and state repression and violence was telling. How can we forget how his eyes flashed when we discussed the International Meetings of Communist and Workers’ Parties and the concern we all feel over how proletarian internationalism, the coordination of communist and workers’ parties’ action and the broader international anti-imperialist alliances can be strengthened, under present conditions? Or how his eyes sparkled when we proposed that he head a CC delegation to visit Belgrade and other Yugoslav cities when the war was in full swing, in the midst of relentless bombing?

Comrade, we shall not forget how you reacted and shouted when we told you to be careful, because we wanted you to come back safely, for the struggle must go on. He went, ready for anything that might happen. And, as we learned after he returned, he had stubbornly refused to be at all careful. He felt indignant over the unjust war and was even ready to give his life for the peoples of the region. The internationalism of the revolutionary, hatred for the imperialist war, the thirst for peace and the peoples’ right to decide on their own fate- all this came to the surface whole and intact.

Comrade Harilaos, you are fortunate. You won by the sword the title of leader of the people, historic leader, and you kept it till you drew your last breath. You earned it. No one can doubt this.

You are fortunate. You had a hard life, you climbed mountains and descended them, you marched through canyons, valleys and plains. You spent years in prison and exile. Without wishing to, you became a refugee far from Greece, but you came back illegally, for you knew how to observe the supreme law, the people’s law and the Party’s orders. You had many close brushes with death. But your disposition was that of one who has followed a straight and even path, without difficulties or ups and downs. It was as if you had lived an easy and comfortable life. In the end, you had won the peace of mind of the fighter who feels he has done his duty.

You are fortunate.

For we know that until you drew your last breath you stood straight and erect, a proud communist, unrepenting for the life you had chosen, for the vision of socialism, of a communist society. We have a long road ahead to achieve this.

The last few years, and particularly the last few months, were hard ones for Harilaos Florakis, because of problems with his health and the natural difficulties that come with old age. He felt like a caged lion. We feel the need and the obligation to express our heartfelt thanks to all those who gave him care and support, easing his pain with tenderness, concern and self-sacrifice, who stayed at his side night and day taking shifts, doing all they could so that he wouldn’t feel alone and ailing.

We thank all those who would visit him in the evening to have a glass of wine with him, offering him enjoyable moments with their company and support.

Beloved comrade,

You are gone, but we cannot say that with your passing a great chapter in the history and action of the Party has closed. We shall not say that we have turned the page. What you and your generation have taught us is that in their obligations and action communists never stop or pause. If we turn the page it would be as if we believed that what you offered was in vain.

All that you did, all that you said, all that you thought, your quests and ideas, remain and will remain timely for many years to come. We shall write new pages in our Party’s history without your physical presence, just as future communists and fighters will when we ourselves are gone.

You may be sure that in all the days to come, when we work out our decisions and debate the specific choices we make at specific points in time, we shall be thinking of you, we shall be thinking about what you said, going back to your experience, for you are part of the Party’s collective experience and action.


You are leaving finally and irrevocably as a physical presence amongst us. And we are moving ahead, even if some think we have our heads in the clouds. We are proud of the KKE, uncompromising in its objectives and intransigent in its principles.

Merit has a thousand names
On our shores and mountain passes
Brave warriors, brigands, partisans
Spring from the heart of the masses

The CC bids you farewell, as does the entire Party.

We do not do so with bells tolling, as is usual.
For you who passed are not a song that has come to an end.


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