May Day has been identified with the struggles for labor rights. The identification is not unfair, nor is it bloodless: the general strike declared on May 1, 1886 by workers in Chicago, then the heart of industrial America, claimed the lives of at least 16 demonstrators and 7 policemen. In the arrests and trials that followed, four workers were sentenced to death, while one took his own life in prison.

Workers’ May Day was established as a day of general strike three years later – in 1889. The “holiday” is updated with new demands and new claims, not missing those times when the blood cycle is opened again.

She was painted with blood Greek May Day in 1924, when the laborer Sokratis Paraskevaidis lost his life and 17 people were injured from the clashes at the gathering organized by the Athens Labor Center in the middle of martial law in the square of the Municipal Theater (today’s Kotzia square). Equally bloody was May Day 1936 in Thessaloniki where 12 people lost their lives in the big demonstration of tobacco workers.

Among the victims was Tasos Tousis. His mother’s lamentation over his corpse inspired him “Epitaph” by Yannis Ritsoswho, it is worth noting, was born on May Day 1909.

However, the political nature of May 1st is not only linked to labor demands. Just as the athlete is not connected, which is also painted many times with blood.

The mass execution in Kaisariani

It was May Day 1944 when the Nazi occupiers executed 200 Greek political prisoners at the Kesariani Shooting Range in retaliation for the murder of a German major general by ELAS men in Molaus, Laconia.

The execution order was published in the press on April 30, 1944. “On April 27, 1944, communist gangs despite the Molaus of Laconia, following an ambush attack, bravely murdered a German general and three of his companions. Many German soldiers were wounded. As a reprisal, the following was ordered: 1. The rifle shooting of 200 communists on 1.5.1944,” the order stated, among other things.

The death of Alekos Panagoulis

It is the early morning of May 1, 1976 when the car driven by Alekos Panagoulis, a leading figure in the resistance against the Junta, veers off course and ends up in a store. Heavily injured, Alekos Panagoulis will take his last breath a few hours later, two months before his 37th birthday.

His death shocks the whole of Greece, while leaving room for the hypothesis that it was not an accident but a murder, behind which were those nostalgic for the dictatorship or persons who were related in various ways to the regime. Moreover, his death occurred a few days after Panagoulis, as a member of the Center Union, had declared that he had in his possession information from the ESA files that revealed the identity of collaborators of the Junta.

The manifesto against fascism

On May 1, 1925, the “Manifesto of the Anti-Fascist Intellectuals” was published in the newspapers Il Mondo and Il Popolo in Italy. Its editor was the important philosopher, literary critic and politician Benedetto Croce.

Labor Day was not chosen by chance. The so-called “anti-manifesto” was the response to the “Manifesto of Fascist Intellectuals”, which had been published on Christmas Day in 1924.

The declaration of Cuba as a “socialist state”

On May 1, 1961, in a speech of about 10,000 words, Fidel Castro declares Cuba a “socialist state” and with it the suspension of elections. “Do the people have time for elections now? No! What were political parties? Only an expression of class conflict. But here there is only one class (…) The revolution has no time to lose in such madness” he will proclaim, among other things.

Cuba’s longest-serving leader had assumed power two years earlier, handing it over to his brother temporarily in 2006 and definitively in 2008.

“Mission Accomplished” in Iraq

On May 1, 2003, the American president at the time George Bush appears on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln to declare that “major combat operations in Iraq are complete.”

The American invasion of Iraq had begun six weeks earlier. In the same speech, which became known as “Mission Accomplished”, Bush nevertheless stated that “there is still much to be done in Iraq”.

The withdrawal of US forces from the Arab country was not ordered until August 2021 by US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Qadimi.

EU enlargement

Nine countries become members of the European Union on May 1, 2004, including Cyprus.

The others are Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary.