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Golden Dawn is a neo-Nazi party that rose from a marginal role in Greek politics to become the third-largest political force in Greece in 2014. Golden Dawn party members have been involved in hundreds of acts of violence against immigrants and leftists across Greece.* Golden Dawn openly advocates national socialism, racism, and anti-Semitism, and has adorned its publications and rallies with images of Adolf Hitler, the Third Reich, Rudolf Hess, the Waffen SS, and the swastika.* In 1987, Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos wrote in the party magazine, “We are the faithful soldiers of the National Socialist idea and nothing else.”*

Golden Dawn campaigns on a strongly anti-immigration platform. The party blames the “millions of illegal immigrants” and leftist political parties for what it deems “the dissolution of the Greek society.”* Golden Dawn seeks “a Greece that belongs to the Greeks.”* In a 2012 interview, two Golden Dawn parliamentarians demanded that only people with “Greek blood” should be allowed to participate in elections.*

In recent years, Golden Dawn has sought to soften its image in order to appeal to a wider spectrum of voters. When Golden Dawn organizes public events, it now rejects the neo-Nazi label and generally prefers to present itself as a “nationalist” and “patriotic” organization.* Golden Dawn leaders have claimed that prior Golden Dawn references to the Nazi Party were “youthful indiscretions.”* During the 2014 European elections, many of Golden Dawn's candidates were middle-class professionals, including university professors, lawyers, surgeons, businesspeople, and a former NATO commander.* In January 2015, Golden Dawn won 17 seats in Greece's parliamentary elections to become the country's third largest party.* Golden Dawn failed to secure the minimum 3 percent threshold in Greece’s July 2019 parliamentary elections.*

Nonetheless, Golden Dawn members continue to court controversy over their far-right positions and violent actions. The Greek parliament temporarily banned Golden Dawn in June 2018 after Golden Dawn MP Konstantinos Barbarousis called for a military coup. Barbarousis was subsequently arrested on treason charges.* One ex-member of Golden Dawn has claimed that the party discussed plots to overthrow the Greek government using “tanks.”* In 2013, Golden Dawn MP George Germenis attempted to strike Athens Mayor George Kaminis, who was protesting Golden Dawn members distributing food packages to ethnic Greeks while intentionally excluding immigrants. Germenis received a suspended sentence in 2018.* In 2013, Greek police arrested Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos and other senior party members on charges of running an illegal organization. The trial is ongoing.*

European Ethno-Nationalist and White Supremacy Groups

Nikolaos Michaloliakos founded Golden Dawn in 1985 and continues to lead the organization.*

Greece

In January 2015, Golden Dawn won 17 seats in Greece's parliamentary elections, becoming the country's third largest party.* Golden Dawn failed to secure the minimum 3 percent threshold in Greece’s July 2019 parliamentary elections.*

Golden Dawn employs a range of strategies to recruit members, including grassroots mobilization. It has attracted widespread appeal, boasting thousands of members and attendants at Golden Dawn rallies.* Golden Dawn also works to appeal to Greek expatriates living in Australia, Canada, and the United States.* The group also recruits online. According to its website, Golden Dawn New York aims “to counter the lies and propaganda against Golden Dawn in the English speaking world by providing official translations of Golden Dawn articles.”* Golden Dawn's Greek website outlines a list of beliefs for its members, focusing on National Socialism.*

Within Greece, Golden Dawn is heavily focused on recruiting from Greek's youth population. Golden Dawn has a youth club, Galazia Stratia (Blue Army). The group has used bribes, such as cell phones, to recruit younger members.* The group has also used gyms, athletic clubs, and martial arts clubs as grounds for recruiting youths. It actively recruits at high schools, and even stands accused of launching an indoctrination course called “National Awakening,” aimed at children ages 6-10.* According to Greece's education ministry, the course, which taught subjects such as history and religion, aimed to instill a sense of Greek supremacy in youth. The competing Greek party Syriza accused Golden Dawn of “brainwashing little tots with Nazi propaganda.”*

As of June 29, 2020, Golden Dawn's YouTube page had 19,700 subscribers, an increase of more than 3,300 subscribers since July 3, 2018. The account also hosted more than 600 videos and had received more than 14 million views since October 2012.* In contrast, Golden Dawn New York’s YouTube page hosted only seven videos and has only 614 subscribers as of June 29, 2020, decreasing from 663 on March 19, 2019.* Golden Dawn's Twitter account had been suspended as of June 24, 2018.*

During a 2015 trial of Golden Dawn members in Greece, prosecutors pointed to evidence of military training and attack battalions that, according to one ex-member of Golden Dawn, were preparing "to overthrow the Greek government."* Evidence from the prosecutors showed Golden Dawn members in military clothing wielding knives, swords, handguns, rifles, and even a bazooka.* According to the ex-member of Golden Dawn, “They kept telling us that we'll break into the parliament with tanks.”*

  • Golden Dawn website, undated: “[Golden Dawn is] against the population distortion, because of the millions of illegal immigrants, and the dissolution of the Greek society that is promoted by the coalition parties and the so called Left. It proposes a National policy for exiting the crisis imposed on our country. It fights for a Greece that belongs to the Greeks.”*
  • Ilias Panagiotaros, April 2014: “[Hitler is a] great personality, like Stalin.”*
  • Ilias Panagiotaros, 2013: “Golden Dawn wants to become, and will become, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, which is in effect a second government that helps even the last of its poor citizens….”*
  • Nikolaos Michaloliakos, November 2012: “I have read a lot of books casting doubts on the number of six million Jews… There were no ovens, no gas chambers, it's a lie.”*
  • Nikolaos Michaloliakos, August 2012: “We feel disgusted in the parliament. If they want us to, we can abandon it at any given moment and take to the streets. There, they shall see what the Golden Dawn is really about, they will see what battle means, they will see what struggle means, they will see what bayonets sharpened every night mean.”*
  • Nikolaos Michaloliakos, 1987: “We are the faithful soldiers of the National Socialist idea and nothing else.”*
Nikolaos Michaloliakos

Introduction

Golden Dawn is a neo-Nazi party that rose from a marginal role in Greek politics to become the third-largest political force in Greece in 2014. Golden Dawn party members have been involved in hundreds of acts of violence against immigrants and leftists across Greece.* Golden Dawn openly advocates national socialism, racism, and anti-Semitism, and has adorned its publications and rallies with images of Adolf Hitler, the Third Reich, Rudolf Hess, the Waffen SS, and the swastika.* In 1987, Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos wrote in the party magazine, “We are the faithful soldiers of the National Socialist idea and nothing else.”*

Golden Dawn campaigns on a strongly anti-immigration platform. The party blames the “millions of illegal immigrants” and leftist political parties for what it deems “the dissolution of the Greek society.”* Golden Dawn seeks “a Greece that belongs to the Greeks.”* In a 2012 interview, two Golden Dawn parliamentarians demanded that only people with “Greek blood” should be allowed to participate in elections.*

In recent years, Golden Dawn has sought to soften its image in order to appeal to a wider spectrum of voters. When Golden Dawn organizes public events, it now rejects the neo-Nazi label and generally prefers to present itself as a “nationalist” and “patriotic” organization.* Golden Dawn leaders have claimed that prior Golden Dawn references to the Nazi Party were “youthful indiscretions.”* During the 2014 European elections, many of Golden Dawn's candidates were middle-class professionals, including university professors, lawyers, surgeons, businesspeople, and a former NATO commander.* In January 2015, Golden Dawn won 17 seats in Greece's parliamentary elections to become the country's third largest party.* Golden Dawn failed to secure the minimum 3 percent threshold in Greece’s July 2019 parliamentary elections.*

Nonetheless, Golden Dawn members continue to court controversy over their far-right positions and violent actions. The Greek parliament temporarily banned Golden Dawn in June 2018 after Golden Dawn MP Konstantinos Barbarousis called for a military coup. Barbarousis was subsequently arrested on treason charges.* One ex-member of Golden Dawn has claimed that the party discussed plots to overthrow the Greek government using “tanks.”* In 2013, Golden Dawn MP George Germenis attempted to strike Athens Mayor George Kaminis, who was protesting Golden Dawn members distributing food packages to ethnic Greeks while intentionally excluding immigrants. Germenis received a suspended sentence in 2018.* In 2013, Greek police arrested Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos and other senior party members on charges of running an illegal organization. The trial is ongoing.*

Leadership

Nikolaos Michaloliakos founded Golden Dawn in 1985 and continues to lead the organization.*

Base of Operations

Greece

Membership Size and Relevance

In January 2015, Golden Dawn won 17 seats in Greece's parliamentary elections, becoming the country's third largest party.* Golden Dawn failed to secure the minimum 3 percent threshold in Greece’s July 2019 parliamentary elections.*

Recruitment and Propaganda

Golden Dawn employs a range of strategies to recruit members, including grassroots mobilization. It has attracted widespread appeal, boasting thousands of members and attendants at Golden Dawn rallies.* Golden Dawn also works to appeal to Greek expatriates living in Australia, Canada, and the United States.* The group also recruits online. According to its website, Golden Dawn New York aims “to counter the lies and propaganda against Golden Dawn in the English speaking world by providing official translations of Golden Dawn articles.”* Golden Dawn's Greek website outlines a list of beliefs for its members, focusing on National Socialism.*

Within Greece, Golden Dawn is heavily focused on recruiting from Greek's youth population. Golden Dawn has a youth club, Galazia Stratia (Blue Army). The group has used bribes, such as cell phones, to recruit younger members.* The group has also used gyms, athletic clubs, and martial arts clubs as grounds for recruiting youths. It actively recruits at high schools, and even stands accused of launching an indoctrination course called “National Awakening,” aimed at children ages 6-10.* According to Greece's education ministry, the course, which taught subjects such as history and religion, aimed to instill a sense of Greek supremacy in youth. The competing Greek party Syriza accused Golden Dawn of “brainwashing little tots with Nazi propaganda.”*

As of June 29, 2020, Golden Dawn's YouTube page had 19,700 subscribers, an increase of more than 3,300 subscribers since July 3, 2018. The account also hosted more than 600 videos and had received more than 14 million views since October 2012.* In contrast, Golden Dawn New York’s YouTube page hosted only seven videos and has only 614 subscribers as of June 29, 2020, decreasing from 663 on March 19, 2019.* Golden Dawn's Twitter account had been suspended as of June 24, 2018.*

Violent Activities

During a 2015 trial of Golden Dawn members in Greece, prosecutors pointed to evidence of military training and attack battalions that, according to one ex-member of Golden Dawn, were preparing "to overthrow the Greek government."* Evidence from the prosecutors showed Golden Dawn members in military clothing wielding knives, swords, handguns, rifles, and even a bazooka.* According to the ex-member of Golden Dawn, “They kept telling us that we'll break into the parliament with tanks.”*

Rhetoric

  • Golden Dawn website, undated: “[Golden Dawn is] against the population distortion, because of the millions of illegal immigrants, and the dissolution of the Greek society that is promoted by the coalition parties and the so called Left. It proposes a National policy for exiting the crisis imposed on our country. It fights for a Greece that belongs to the Greeks.”*
  • Ilias Panagiotaros, April 2014: “[Hitler is a] great personality, like Stalin.”*
  • Ilias Panagiotaros, 2013: “Golden Dawn wants to become, and will become, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, which is in effect a second government that helps even the last of its poor citizens….”*
  • Nikolaos Michaloliakos, November 2012: “I have read a lot of books casting doubts on the number of six million Jews… There were no ovens, no gas chambers, it's a lie.”*
  • Nikolaos Michaloliakos, August 2012: “We feel disgusted in the parliament. If they want us to, we can abandon it at any given moment and take to the streets. There, they shall see what the Golden Dawn is really about, they will see what battle means, they will see what struggle means, they will see what bayonets sharpened every night mean.”*
  • Nikolaos Michaloliakos, 1987: “We are the faithful soldiers of the National Socialist idea and nothing else.”*