Children at a Golden Dawn youth club
Last Thursday, the Greek Parliament's Ethics Committee proposed to lift the political immunity of Golden Dawn (GD) MPs Eleni Zaroulia (wife of GD leader, Nikos Michaloliakos), Michalis Arvanitis and spokesperson Ilias Kasidiaris. Yesterday, the committee resumed the meeting in an attempt to lift the immunity of seven more members of the far-right party. Six of the party’s MPs, including leader Nikos Michaloliakos, are already in custody pending trial on charges of running a criminal organisation.
In case all the alleged hate crimes against immigrants, gays and ethnic minorities weren't enough to sway you, VICE is now able to publish unseen videos and photos that further demonstrate the organisation's true colours. Some of these videos come from former members who have since denounced the organisation, and some used to be available on the Golden Dawn's website but were later removed or set to private.
And it's a good thing there's physical proof of this stuff, because when they're pressed by the authorities Golden Dawn members often deny previous actions and statements, and even occasionally refute their own ideology. For instance, after the murder of antifascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas by Golden Dawn member Giorgos Roupakias – and the revelations about the party that followed – Golden Dawn supporters appeared to come down with group amnesia; they maintained that assault battalions never existed and denounced their Nazi past and fascist views.
However, within the closed off core of the organisation – where members feel they can talk and behave as they wish – things are a little different. After sifting through all the photos and videos, here's some of the stuff we learned that the nationalist organisation are 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 8:32.
Four years ago, Golden Dawn leader Nikos Michaloliakos and party spokesperson Ilias Kasidiaris were the main speakers at an event they named the "Tenth Greek Youth Festival", which celebrated GD's Youth Front and the organisation's 30th anniversary. Thousands of supporters gathered in a dark room in Athens to basically watch their leader wave his hands around a lot and shout about being oppressed.
A relative unknown at the time, Kasidiaris took to the stage before his boss.
"[I'll only say] a few words on behalf of the Youth Front before presenting the Chief," he started. "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 slander 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 shook his hands, shouting – and almost foaming at the mouth at one point – about what his men should do when the media accuse the Golden Dawn of being a Nazi organisation. "We are not scared of journalists like Nikos Chatzinikolaou or Yiannis Pretenteris; [we do not care] if they call us fascists, racists or Nazis. Yes – we are all that for our Greece, for our country. Blood, honour, 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 right after that inspiring show of nationalism the white power bands Pogrom and Der Sturmer got up to play.
Artemis Matthaiopoulos – who would later become a Golden Dawn MP – 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 giving a speech outside the Church of Agios Panteleimon
On May Day 2010, in a speech outside the church of St Panteleimon, Nikos 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. Thats what I state – blood, honour, Golden Dawn. But, unfortunately, such a thing is not in sight."
The local branch of the Nikea neighbourhood in Athens played a part in all Golden Dawn events. According to statements from protected witnesses, the "pyrinarchis" (local group leader) George Patelis was in command of the Innova motorised battalion.
The Golden Dawn's motorbike brigade – named the "Innova battalion" after the specific brand of bikes they favoured – seemed to exist only to scare locals and immigrants.
G Patelis (top) and Golden Dawn MP and mayoral candidate Nicholas Kouzilos (bottom) roaming around Piraeus on Innova bikes.
According to a former Golden Dawn member, the team were there to provide a rapid show of force whenever they were needed. However, when questioned by authorities, Michaloliakos' denied the existence of the Innova battalion.
Those pictures above suggest he may not have been telling the truth.
PROMISING TO KILL ANTIFASCISTS
Ilias Kasidiaris gathering stones from the road after an antifascist rally in Crete spoiled his party.
In November of 2012, the Golden Dawn threw a party at a hotel in Crete. The speakers were MPs Ilias Kasidiaris, George Barbarousis, Nikos Michos and Chris Pappas. Antifascists decided to hold a rally outside, because they're antifascists and the Golden Dawn are everything they despise. The fact that people were rallying against them angered and presumably confused the Golden Dawn supporters, who demanded that police disperse the crowd.
Local media reported at the time that Kasidiaris had tried to break the 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. Unfortunately for the party spokesperson, it's unlikely that throwing stones would result in any dead people.
BEING ACTUAL NAZIS
Hidden videos of Golden Dawn supporters now show that they had taken to raising Nazi salutes every time the party's anthem was played. Of course, certain members were eventually found to have swastika and "sieg heil" tattoos, and photos and videos of members raising their right arms made their way around the internet shortly after.
These days, it seems like they've mostly given up the pretence and have just started openly greeting each other in Parliament with salutes. Only, they've come up with a lacklustre excuse to explain themselves, claiming the Nazi salute they're doing actually has nothing to do with the Nazis, and instead is an ancient Greek greeting / something Greek dictator Ioannis Metaxas used to do / a salute to God.
Previously hidden videos also show members giving Nazi salutes when they hear the Greek national anthem.
A few days after the murder of Pavlos Fyssas, Greek newspaper To Ethnos published pictures of a Golden Dawn paramilitary training exercise on the island of Salamis. It was the fifth in a series of paramilitary meet-ups on the island, and was aiming to teach recruits about "night survival".
To the Golden Dawn, surviving a night in Greece apparently necessitates the use of camouflage, full-face masks, knives, bats and pitbull terriers.
TRAINING CHILDREN TO BE THE NEXT GENERATION OF MILITANT RACISTS
Michael Papadimitriou, a local Golden Dawn leader in Piraeus, often organised events involving minors. And during national holidays, Golden Dawn staff "entertained" young girls and boys by shaping them up to be Greece's next generation of bigots in their "national awakening" courses.
- - -
This story was originally published on VICE Greece on Thursday the 13th of March. One day later, Golden Dawn MP Chrysovalantis Alexopoulos announced his split from the party, citing the "multitude of revelations about the acts of GD members [that are] designated as criminal". Stathis Boukouras was ousted from the party on the morning of Tuesday March 18th.