Children at a Golden Dawn youth club
On Thursday March 13, the Greek Parliament's ethics committee proposed to lift the parliamentary immunity to criminal prosecution for three members of the far-right Golden Dawn (GD) party: Eleni Zaroulia (the wife of GD leader Nikos Michaloliakos), Michalis Arvanitis, and party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris. The following day, Chrysovalantis Alexopoulos, a member of parliament, announced he was quitting the party in protest of its “criminal” activities, which he claimed to have no knowledge of. Then, on March 18, Stathis Boukouras, another of the party's MPs, was ousted from the GD after hinting he might quit too. Clearly, the Greek neo-fascists are in trouble—already six of the party’s MPs, including Michaloliakos, are in custody pending trial on charges of running a criminal organization.
Members of the GD have been accused of hate crimes against immigrants, gays, and ethnic minorities, and to substantiate those claims, we were able to get our hands on unseen videos and photos that demonstrate the depths of the organization's ugly doings. Some of these videos were given to us by former GD supporters who have since denounced the group, while others were formerly available on the party's website but were later removed or set to private.
These videos and photos are significant because when pressed by the authorities, GD acolytes often deny that they've said and done things that they've said and done—for instance, after the alleged murder of antifascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas by GD member Giorgos Roupakias, the party's supporters appeared to come down with group amnesia and distanced themselves from Roupakias's violent activities while denouncing their own fascist views.
But in private settings, where members can talk and behave out of the public spotlight, things are a little different. After sifting through all the photos and videos, we've learned about some of the stuff that the nationalist organization is into.
WHITE POWER BANDS
Michaloliakos and Kasidiaris rage against TV channels that accuse them of being fascists, racists, and Nazis. “Yes, we are all these things for our [country], Greece…" Michaloliakos says at the 8:32 mark.
Four years ago, Michaloliakos and Kasidiaris were the main speakers at an event they christened the “Tenth Greek Youth Festival,” which celebrated GD's Youth Front and the organization's 30th anniversary. Thousands of supporters gathered in a dark room in Athens to watch their leader shout about being oppressed.
Kasidiaris, who was a relative unknown back then, took to the stage to introduce his boss.
“[I'll only say] a few words on behalf of the Youth Front before presenting the Chief,” he began. “For the general public, Golden Dawn Youth Front means chains, leather jackets, and shaved heads. This picture isn't far from the reality, but here you can also find 19- or 20-year-olds who you can discuss ancient Greek history and philosophy with.”
Soon enough, he was playing the victim card. “We saw representatives of the system launching tons of mud at our expense—slander in order to push us to the sideline and keep Greeks away from our call to fight,” he said.
Then Michaloliakos took the stage to rage about the “TV channel bums.” He waved his hands while shouting—almost foaming at the mouth at one point—about accusations that the GD was a Nazi organization. “We are not scared of journalists like Nikos Chatzinikolaou or Yiannis Pretenteris,” he said. “[We do not care] if they call us fascists, racists, or Nazis. Yes—we are all that for our Greece, for our country. Blood, honor, Golden Dawn.”
The speech ended with Michaloliakos shouting, “Long live victory!” and a round of Nazi salutes. Clearly, all good speeches should finish off with a song, so after that inspiring show of nationalism the white power bands Pogrom and Der Sturmer got up to play.
Artemis Matthaiopoulos—who would later become one of the party's MPs—played bass in Pogrom at the time. Here's a snippet of the lyrics from “Speak Greek or Die,” the Pogrom song that, according to an account from the Youth Front, caused a “frenzy” that evening:
You come to our country / You have no job / You are hungry like scumbags and you eat children / You speak Russian, you speak Albanian / But now you faggots will speak Greek / Speak Greek or die! / I see them in city squares, I see them in the mountains / I see them at the sea, polluting the waters / But now you faggots will speak Greek / Speak Greek or die!
Der Sturmer's biggest hit, on the other hand, goes like this:
With sword and shield I am standing guard / Against the bastards who invaded my country / Fucking run—run for your life / As all my barrels spew fire to your peers / My weapons will once again become bloody / To end your misery, I sharpen my axe / Negroes, Jews, yellow and red fuckers / Your dirt will soon end in blood.
THE TACIT ENDORSEMENT OF DICTATORSHIPS
Michaloliakos gives a speech outside the Church of Agios Panteleimon.
On May Day 2010, in a speech outside the Church of St. Panteleimon in Thessaloniki, Michaloliakos expressed his dislike for elections. “Ladies and gentlemen, every now and then we have elections,” he said to his followers. “In this country, it is still legal to have any political views you want. We can say anything we like, so they say. I personally wouldn't mind if there were no elections, ever! And there should be a way to end this fairy tale. That's what I say—blood, honor, Golden Dawn. But, unfortunately, such a thing is not in sight.”
The Golden Dawn's motorcycle gang, known as the Innova Battalion, parades through Athens's Nikea neighborhood. According to statements from witnesses, the pyrinarchis (local group leader) George Patelis was in command of the group.
The GD's motorcycle gang—nicknamed the “Innova Battalion” after the brand of bikes they favored—seemed to be on hand whenever the party needed to scare immigrants or locals who disagreed with it. According to a former Golden Dawn member, the Innova Brigade existed to provide a show of force on short notice. When questioned by authorities, Michaloliakos denied the existence of the Innova Battalion, but the pictures below suggest he may not have been telling the truth:
George Patelis on an Innova bike in the town of Piraeus
Golden Dawn MP and mayoral candidate Nicholas Kouzilos roams around Piraeus on his Innova bike.
PROMISING TO KILL ANTIFASCISTS
Ilias Kasidiaris gathers stones from the road after an antifascist rally in Crete spoiled his party.
In November 2012, the GD threw a party at a hotel in Crete. The speakers at the event were Kasidiaris, George Barbarousis, Nikos Michos, and Chris Pappas, all MPs. Antifascists natually held a rally outside, and GD supporters responded by demanding that the police disperse the crowd. When the cops declined their request, some GD members threatened to take matters into their own hands.
The local press reported at the time that Kasidiaris had tried to break through police lines to fight with the protesters, and that when the police stopped him, he threatened an officer. “[Let me attack them] if you don't want us to fuck [with] them all night and to end up with dead people. Because I give you my word—you will end up with dead people,” he reportedly said.
The video above shows Kasidiaris, in a motorcycle jacket and helmet, picking up stones from the side of the road and putting them in his pockets, ready to throw at activists—a completely normal way for the spokesperson of an entire political party to act.
BEING ACTUAL NAZIS
Formerly private videos of GD supporters show that they made Nazi salutes when the party's anthem was played (and also during the Greek national anthem). Unsurprisingly, some party members have swastika and “sieg heil” tattoos, and photos and videos of members raising their right arms have made their way around the internet.
These days, it seems like GD members have mostly given up the pretense of not being fascists and have started openly greeting each other in Parliament with salutes. Naturally, the GD members claim the gesture has nothing to do with the Nazis and insist it's an ancient Greek greeting repurposed by Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas.
TRAINING PARAMILITARY GANGS
A few days after the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, the Greek newspaper To Ethnos published pictures of a GD paramilitary training exercise on the island of Salamis. It was the fifth in a series of meet-ups on the island, and the party claimed it was all about teaching recruits about “night survival.” For the GD, surviving a night in Greece apparently requires camouflage, masks, knives, bats, and pit bulls.
TRAINING CHILDREN TO BE THE NEXT GENERATION OF MILITANT RACISTS
Michael Papadimitriou, a local GD leader in the town of Piraeus, often organized events involving minors. During national holidays, GD staff “entertained” girls and boys—some as young as six—with “national awakening” courses that aimed to instill the spirit of bigotry in them. Let's hope the kids are smarter and more tolerant than their parents.