The Communist Party of Greece announced that its honorary chairman, Harilaos Florakis, died May 22 at the age of nearly 91.

Florakis was born July 20, 1914, in a village in Thessaly. At the age of 15 he joined the Communist Youth Federation of Greece and in 1941 he joined the Communist Party. During the World War II occupation of Greece by German and Italian fascist forces, Florakis worked underground and was detained twice by the police. He helped lead the strike of Post, Telephone, Telegraph workers in April 1942, the first large strike during the occupation and one of the first in enslaved Europe.

Florakis joined the National Liberation Front a day after it was founded. He fought against the occupation forces as a member of the National People’s Liberation Army (ELAS), and later against U.S. and British imperialism as a member of the Democratic Army, ultimately reaching the rank of major general.

In 1949 Harilaos Florakis was elected to the party’s Central Committee. He was persecuted, imprisoned and exiled for a total of 18 years — 12 years in prison serving a life sentence, and six years in exile. He was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment many times, one of the best known being the “Great Trial” in May 1960 at the Athens Court Martial.

From 1972 to 1989 Florakis served as the party’s first secretary. He was awarded the ELAS Medal of Honor and the Medal of Military Merit of the Democratic Army of Greece. He was given the Lenin Peace Prize and the medal of the Friendship of the Peoples by the USSR, the Karl Marx Award by the German Democratic Republic, and the Dimitrov Award by the People’s Republic of Bulgaria.