Z “He is alive” – Film by Costas Gavras (1969)

Z (1969) – Film by Costas Gavras
Music by Mikis Theodorakis

The masterpiece about the murder of the popular Greek doctor, athlete, peace-activist and left-politician Gregoris Lambrakis in 1963 has become highly topical again after the murder of Paulos Fyssas by Golden Dawn. A political murder and a typical “hit” from these known police and intelligence backed fascist groups in Greece.


The film Z by Costa Gavras which presents the events surrounding the assassination of Grigoris Lambrakis. “He is alive!” The letter Z, referring to the popular Greek protest slogan “Ζει” meaning “he (Lambrakis) is alive”. Z became a very popular graffiti which began to appear everywhere on the walls of the buildings of the Greek cities in the 1960’s, illustrating the growing protest against the conditions that led to the assassination of Lambrakis.

This film is about an event that paved the way for the military-dictatorship in 1967 and which also proved the fact that everyone in the Greek society knew before,… namely that the Greek government after the civil war and under Konstantinos Karamanlis care, used the “state underworld”, the paracratic, fascistic hoodlums, led by Greek Intelligence services, to spread fear and terror in Greece. Not at all essentially different from what the Greek government does today with the Greek Intelligence using the nazi organization Golden Dawn and with 50% support from the police units in the cities, while it is less than 7% in the rest of the society.

Costas Gavras declare in the beginning that “Any similarity to actual persons or events is deliberate“, stating that this film portraits actual events. It was produced in 1969, during the Military dictatorship in Greece and is therefore filmed in Alger by a French film team and with none of the real names of the real persons is used. Any involvement with this film, from spectator to maker, did mean torture, persecution and imprisonment, if caught by the Greek intelligence. The ones that the Junta started to persecute, imprison, torture and kill in masses was exactly the youth of Lambrakis.

While not a Communist, Lambrakis’s political and ideological orientation did lean towards the left. He was actively involved in the Pacifist Movement of his time, which voiced strong opposition to the Vietnam War. He formed Ενιαία Δημοκρατική ΑριστεράΕΔΑ/Eniéa Dimokratikí AristeráEDA), the only legal left-wing political party in the country after the Greek Civil War. He was elected to the Hellenic Parliament in the Greek legislative election, 1961 as a Piraeus MP.

Lamprakis-400x233Lambrakis participated in international pacifist meetings and demonstrations, despite frequent threats against his life. On April 21, 1963, the pacifist movement in Greece organized the First Pacifist Rally from Marathon to Athens. The police intervened, banned the rally and arrested many demonstrators (Mikis Theodorakis among them). Lambrakis, protected by his parliamentary immunity, marched alone and arrived at the end of the rally holding the banner with the peace symbol (photo), the one he had previously held up during the Aldermaston rally in the United Kingdom while protesting near the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment (AWRE). Soon afterwards he, too, was arrested by the police.


On May 22, 1963, shortly after he had delivered the keynote speech at an anti-war meeting in Thessaloniki, two far-right extremists, Emanouel Emanouilides and Spyros Gotzamanis, driving a three-wheeled vehicle, struck Lambrakis with a club over the head in plain view of a large number of people and some police officers (as with the murder of Paulos Fyssas where 4 police men were standing less than two meters from the victim, when he was stabbed to death). He suffered brain injuries and died in the hospital five days later, on May 27.

1022.02.00002-1The next day, in Athens, his funeral became a massive demonstration. More than 500,000 people rallied to protest against the right-wing government and the Royal Court, seen by many to support the activities of the right-wing extremists. The assassination of Lambrakis initiated an enormous popular reaction, and soon after, investigator Christos Sartzetakis and Attorney General P. Delaportas uncovered connections of the police and army to far-right extremists. Both men lost their jobs during the military dictatorship of 1967.


Christos Sartzetakis was also imprisoned for a year during the dictatorship. Sartzetakis became a symbol of integrity for his handling of the investigation.

The events that followed the assassination of Lambrakis led to rapid political developments. Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis resigned and left for Paris in July 1963. The Marathon Peace Rally became an annual event in Lambrakis’s memory. Thousands of Greek youths formed a new political organisation called The Neolaia Lambraki (Νεολαία Λαμπράκη, Neoléa Lambráki – Lambrakis Youth); the first secretary of Neolaia Lambraki was Mikis Theodorakis, one of Lambrakis’s friends and fellow activists. This leftist political organisation played a decisive role in Greece’s progressive movement of the 1960s.

(Translation available in all languages) – Don’t forget while watching it that Greece today, 2013, is ruled with exactly the same “ethos”, logic, tactics and methods from the Government and their Intelligence services. They are again (and has frequently been since the Civil War due to W. Churchill’s horrific handling of Greek affairs) very closely allied with extreme right-wing, fascist groups, criminals and hooligans. When it comes to these tactics, these methods and most of all the police backing and the cover ups of evidence nothing has changed.

With Greek subtitles but option of translation in any language



About athenianvoice

Kosmas Loumakis - Sociological consultant, analyst, field operative and tactical field coordinator of national and regional social projects in Sweden. Was contracted for almost two decades by governmental bodies and NGO's, in governmental gang crime and extremism preventive efforts. Have produced a number of socio pedagogic action plans and developed methods, field tactics and strategies for gang crime and extremism preventive projects.

Posted on September 24, 2013, in Articles in English, Artiklar på Svenska, Hot, Αρθρα στα Ελληνικα, Videos and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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