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Issue #1788      August 2, 2017

A greatness of spirit

Vale Comrade Themis

Last month after a long illness, a long-standing member of the CPA, a respected member of the Greek community in Sydney, Themis Speis, passed away. His funeral took place on July 20. The following is the funeral oration delivered by his decades long friend and comrade Steve Mavrantonis.

Our dear and beloved comrade Themis, it is not an easy task for me to bid you farewell. Forgive me if I do not succeed to present correctly your character, personality, your contribution to the movement, your great love for the people, your kindness, the greatness of your spirit.

Themis Speis was born on the Greek island of Icaria in 1932. From his childhood he came in contact with and felt a bond towards the exiled communists on the island who the government of Nazi collaborators banished on Icaria, in order to get rid of and exterminate them.

However, these exiles with their unrivalled courage and endurance, their humanism, their way of life and their regenerating ideas managed to become friends with the island’s population, to drastically change their attitudes and thinking, to inspire them and to become a model, an example to be followed. It is to the honour of the Icarian people who not only accepted the exiles with open arms but assisted them in any way possible to overcome the difficulties of the life in exile.

Many of the islanders joined the Communist Party of Greece and struggled consistently to free the Greek people from the bondages of capitalist barbarity. It is for this reason that Icaria became known as the “red rock” and to this day remains a thorn in the eye of the ruling class and all reactionaries of Greece.

From his early years, in other words, Themis was vaccinated with the ideas, the visions and ideology of the communists and these ideas he brought with him to Australia, where he migrated in 1950 to meet up with his father and to escape the misery, persecutions and harassments of the post-civil war period.

There was no job not done by Themis during the initial period of settlement in his new home. He worked in the Garden Island shipyards, in Greek shops, in factories and he finally settled in AGM – the glass factory, as it was known, from where he retired after many years of service.

Being of a concerned mind and actuated by the noble ideas of the struggle for a different society free of exploitation and oppression, Themis did not limit his activities to earning his living.

Very early on he joined the ranks of the Communist Party of Australia, he became a member of the Greek Atlas League, the Greek Orthodox Community, Icarian Brotherhood, he supported actively the peace movement. During the difficult years of people’s struggles in Greece and Cyprus he joined the Committee for Democracy in Greece and the Committee for Self-Determination for Cyprus.

He always maintained close bonds a and great love for the Communist Party of Greece and to his last days he maintained the membership of the Communist Party of Australia.

Wherever there was a struggle for a progressive cause in the community, for democratic rights for all, for a better life for the people, Themis was always present. Humbly, without much noise and drum beating, he was placing his small stone in building the struggle for the good of the working class and the whole society.

His passing away is a great loss not only for his relatives, but all of us. To his brothers, nephew, nieces and all others I convey warm condolences. Besides their grief they should be proud for Themis. His memory will remain forever in our hearts and minds.

Permit me to, in interpolation, refer to the words of the hero of the national liberation struggle of 1821, Karaiskakis, When Dimitris Ipsilantis arrived in Greece from Russia to participate in the struggle for the freedom of Greece, the freedom fighters honoured him with a warm welcome and celebrations. They put on fires and they cooked the traditional lamb on the spit.

When the meat was cooked one of the fighters offered to Ipsilantis a piece of the cooked lamb on freshly cut leaves of a fig tree. Karaiskakis, who was seated next to him, said to the guest: Eat that Prince. Anyone who eats that becomes immortal. How is that possible, asked the Prince. Because, replied Karaiskakis, he is killed by a bullet in the battle against the enemy. All those who fell in the struggle for the freedom of our country are considered by us immortals!

Paraphrasing the words by Karaiskakis we are saying that all those who are falling in the struggle for the liberation of humanity from the bonds of capitalist barbarity are considered by us as immortals. One of these immortals is our dear friend and comrade Themis.

Rest in peace dear comrade. You fulfilled your duty to the very end and now you have entered the sphere of the immortals of the struggle for the liberation of the people. Have good sailing.

Next article – Book Review – Scorched Earth

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