In the early 60's Greece's government was firmly controlled
by the right wing. However, populist agitation was growing.
The government viewed this as 'communist.' Gregoris Lambrakis was a left-wing member of parliament calling for Greece
to disarm and withdraw from NATO. After speaking at a rally in Thessalonika on May 22, 1963,
he is run down in the middle of the street. Another deputy from EDA, George
Tsaroukhas is hit and sustains a head injury. Five days later Lambrakis
The government is widely suspected to be behind the
assassination. Over a half a million people attend the funeral shouting
"Lambrakis lives!" (Lambrakis zi!). Thus the letter "Z"
becomes a symbol for resistance to the repressive regime.
The government was indeed complicit: it had some of its
vigilantes did the murder. It took three years and a dogged prosecutor,
but eventually some officials were convicted, but not for premeditated
murder. Still later, the military junta reversed this, and rehabilitated the police who were
Born 1912, he was a noted athlete, winning medals at the Balkan games and holding the Greek record for long-jump for many years.
He was involved in resistance to the Nazi occupation during WWII. After the war he became a physician.
Left-wing, his politics were pacifist. Elected to parliament in 1961 from Piraeus he became an outspoken advocate who was unafraid to challenge government disapproval of public protest. Just a month before his assassination he used his parliamentary immunity to spectacularly defy a government ban on a peace march.