Overview

Also Known As:

Executive summary:

Golden Dawn is a neo-Nazi party that has risen from a marginal role in Greek politics to become the third-largest political force in Greece in the wake of the 2008-09 global financial crisis and the subsequent implementation of severe austerity measures. Golden Dawn does not limit its extremism to rhetoric—party members have been involved in hundreds of acts of violence against immigrants and leftists across Greece. After a murder investigation from 2013 implicated at least one Golden Dawn Member of Parliament (MP) and several other members, further investigation into the political party—including through photos, videos, and phone records in the prosecutor’s case file—revealed a group whose members have illegally possessed firearms and explosives, and participated in money laundering, human trafficking, aggravated assault, and protection rings. One ex-member of Golden Dawn has claimed that the party discussed plots to overthrow the Greek government using “tanks.”Yiannis Baboulias, “Greece’s Neo-Nazis Were Scarier Than Anyone Imagined,” Foreign Policy, November 13, 2014, http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/11/13/greeces-neo-nazis-were-scarier-than-anyone-imagined/.

Golden Dawn was founded in the 1980s by neo-Nazi Nikolaos Michaloliakos. The party has long used strongly racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric, and the ancient Greek symbol used by Golden Dawn closely resembles the Nazi swastika.  In particular, the party has focused its platform on opposing immigration and immigrants; its campaign slogan during the 2012 Greek general election was “So we can rid this land of filth.”Richard J Evans, “Europe on the verge of a nervous breakdown,” New Statesman, June 27, 2012, http://www.newstatesman.com/world-affairs/world-affairs/2012/06/europe-verge-nervous-breakdown.

For over two decades, the party enjoyed negligible support, securing less than one percent of the vote in local, national, and European elections. However, after the 2008-09 global financial crisis and the Greek government’s subsequent imposition of severe austerity measures that caused widespread unemployment and poverty, Golden Dawn’s electoral success improved dramatically.

As welfare provision and public services were dramatically rolled back in recent years due to the austerity measures, Golden Dawn has worked to fill this gap. The party provides a range of social services—particularly to poverty-stricken working class families—including soup kitchens, medical advice, “Greek-only” blood banks, and donations of food and clothing. The exclusive availability of these services to Greek citizens has led Athens Major George Kaminis to refer to them as “soup kitchens of hatred.”Karolina Tagaris, “Police block far-right 'Greeks only' food handout in Athens,” Reuters, May 2, 2013, http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/05/02/uk-greece-goldendawn-idUKBRE9410PV20130502.

In the 2012 Greek general election, Golden Dawn secured just under 7 percent of the countrywide vote, which translated into 18 seats in the Greek parliament and made the party the fifth-largest political force in Greece. Since then, Golden Dawn had been able to maintain its electoral success in successive local and European elections and even increased its share of the vote.Nick Squires and Harriet Alexander, “What is the Golden Dawn trial about?,” Telegraph (London), April 20, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/greece/11548387/What-is-the-Golden-Dawn-trial-about.html. In 2014, Golden Dawn was elected into the European Parliament, taking three of 21 available seats for Greece. However, one elected Member of the European Parliament (MEP)—Eleftherios Synadinos—resigned from Golden Dawn in April 2018 and founded the Patriotic Radical Union (PAT.RI.E.). He resumed his MEP function as a non-attached member.“Golden Dawn MEP Leaves Party, Becomes Independent,” National Herald, April 21, 2018, https://www.thenationalherald.com/197952/golden-dawn-mep-leaves-party-becomes-independent/; “MEPs,” European Parliament, accessed January 8, 2019, http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/en/search/advanced?-name=&groupCode=&countryCode=GR&bodyType=ALL. Following the result of the European elections in 2014, Golden Dawn constituted the third-largest political force in Greece. In the September 2015 elections, Golden Dawn again finished third in Greece’s general elections, despite key leaders having to run for office behind bars.Nick Squires and Harriet Alexander, “What is the Golden Dawn trial about?,” Telegraph (London), April 20, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/greece/11548387/What-is-the-Golden-Dawn-trial-about.html. In July 2019 national elections, however, Golden Dawn won less than 3 percent of the vote and failed to meet the mandated voter threshold to send representatives to the Greek parliament.Renee Maltezou, “Golden Dawn loses its luster as Greeks reject militant far-right,” Reuters, July 8, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-greece-election-golden-dawn/golden-dawn-loses-its-luster-as-greeks-reject-militant-far-right-idUSKCN1U31ND; Demetris Nellas, “Greece: Extreme right party seeks recount after poll flop,” Associated Press, July 8, 2019, https://apnews.com/9df66723489b4260a2500adbafc9e919.

Golden Dawn has long matched political action with violence, with its members taking part in hundreds of violent attacks. Golden Dawn members are also suspected of responsibility for the murders of two immigrants.Mark Lowen, “Greece's Golden Dawn: ‘Don't say a word or I'll burn you alive,’” BBC News, October 2, 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24363776. But in recent years, Golden Dawn has tried to soften its image, attempting to rebrand itself as a nationalist organization and claiming that prior Golden Dawn references to the Nazi Party were “youthful indiscretions.”Yiannis Baboulias, “Who is Nikolaos Michaloliakos?” London Review of Books, October 3, 2013, accessed September 29, 2014, http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2013/10/03/yiannis-baboulias/who-is-nikolaos-michaloliakos/. In order to appeal to more middle-class voters, Golden Dawn candidates in the recent European elections included university professors, lawyers, surgeons, businesspeople, and a former NATO commander. However, despite these cosmetic image changes, Golden Dawn’s violent attacks against immigrants and leftists continue.

The murder of anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas in September 2013 by a Golden Dawn member triggered widespread outrage across Greece and led to a government-led crackdown on the group. As the Greek constitution does not permit banning political parties, the government has attempted to limit the group’s activities and funding through criminal investigations and prosecutions. In February 2015, a judicial panel charged 69 key party leaders—including several MPs—with belonging to a criminal organization, as well as possession of illegal weaponry, extortion, bodily harm, and murder. The trial commenced on April 20, 2015, and was still ongoing as of January 2019. The verdict was initially expected for fall 2016, but is now anticipated for 2020. In the meantime, all detained Golden Dawn members have been released because Greek law allows for a maximum pre-trial detention period of 18 months.Omaira Gill, “Greece’s Golden Dawn trial going nowhere fast,” Deutsche Welle, April 20, 2016, https://www.dw.com/en/greeces-golden-dawn-trial-going-nowhere-fast/a-19197580.

As the criminal investigations have led to a discontinuation of Golden Dawn’s state funding for the party—previously a major source of the party’s income—Golden Dawn has increasingly explored international avenues to widen its reach and to attract funding by opening offices in the United States and Canada where large Greek diaspora communities exist. Golden Dawn also uses the trials to present itself as the victim of state repression.Sofia Tipaldou and Katrin Uba, “Golden Dawn: how the Greek far right wrote the playbook others now use to go mainstream,” The Conversation, August 17, 2018, https://theconversation.com/golden-dawn-how-the-greek-far-right-wrote-the-playbook-others-now-use-to-go-mainstream-100987.

Doctrine:

Golden Dawn openly advocates national socialism, racism, and anti-Semitism. Hitler, the Third Reich, Rudolf Hess, the Waffen SS, and the swastika are Golden Dawn’s idols and emblems and have appeared repeatedly in its publications and rallies.Dina Kyriakidou, “Special Report: Greece's far-right party goes on the offensive,” Reuters, November 12, 2012, http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/11/12/us-greece-crisis-dawn-idUSBRE8AB09F20121112. 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.”Michael Taube, “TAUBE: Shunning Greece’s Neo-Nazi ‘Golden Dawn,’” Washington Times, October 9, 2013, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/9/taube-shunning-greeces-neo-nazi-golden-dawn-wackos/?page=all. Even as recently as 2012, Michaloliakos denied the Holocaust: “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.”Agence France-Presse, “Greek Neo-Nazi Leader Denies Existence of Gas Chambers in WWII Death Camps,” National Post, May 15, 2012, http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/05/15/greek-neo-nazi-leader-denies-existence-of-gas-chambers-in-wwii-death-camps.

In Golden Dawn’s ideology, the absolute enemy of the nation—indeed, of the entire planet—is considered to be the United States and liberalism. This theory is based on notions of the “cultural superiority” of an “Orthodox Greek nation” threatened by “Western bourgeois culture” and a supposed “Jewish conspiracy.”Dimitris Psarras, Neonazistische Mobilmachung im Zuge der Krise: Der Aufstieg der Nazipartei Goldene Morgenröte in Griechenland (Berlin: Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, 2013), 17. Correspondingly, the real “friends of the nation” are considered to be Russia, Serbia, and other Orthodox Christian countries, the Arabs, who are “oppressed by Zionism,” and every right-wing regime worldwide, as long as it is an enemy of the United States and Israel. But like other right-wing extremist parties, Golden Dawn is also fighting the purported “Islamification” of Greece and Europe.

Special notice should be made of the participation of Golden Dawn members in ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims in Srebrenica in 1995. Golden Dawn sent some of its members to join the so-called “Greek Volunteer Guard” to fight on the side of the Bosnian Serbs lead by Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić.Daniel Howden, “Greek role in Srebrenica massacre investigated,” Independent, June 29, 2005, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/greek-role-in-srebrenica-massacre-investigated-295548.html. After the massacres at Srebrenica, this “Guard” triumphantly raised the Greek flag side-by-side with the Chetnik flag.Michas Takis, Unholy Alliance: Greece and Milosevic’s Serbia (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2002), 22.

Golden Dawn campaigns on a strongly anti-immigration platform, using racist slurs openly and regularly. For example, in a 2012 interview, two parliamentarians demanded that only people with “Greek blood” should be allowed to participate in elections.Boris Kálnoky, “Wahlrecht nur für reinrassige Griechen,” Die Welt, May 2, 2012, http://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article106252273/Wahlrecht-nur-fuer-reinrassige-Griechen.html. The party’s xenophobia is coupled with an apparent fundamental contempt for liberal democracy. In 2012, Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris made international headlines when he physically attacked two female left-wing MPs on a live talk show because they had criticized Golden Dawn.“Far-Right Golden Dawn spokesman hits two female MPs on Greek talk show,” Telegraph (London), June 7, 2012, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/greece/9316125/Far-Right-Golden-Dawn-spokesman-hits-two-female-MPs-on-Greek-talk-show.html. When Golden Dawn leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos briefly appeared in parliament in June 2014 for a vote to strip him of his immunity from prosecution on further charges, he verbally abused other MPs. Outside of the parliament, hundreds of Golden Dawn supporters sang the national anthem and insulted MPs, shouting “Scum! Traitors!”Renee Maltezou, “Jailed Greek far-right leader appears in parliament, hurls abuse,” Reuters, June 7, 2014, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/04/us-greece-goldendawn-idUSKBN0EF1E420140604.

In recent years, Golden Dawn has sought to soften its image in order to appeal to a bigger spectrum of voters. During the 2014 European elections, for example, many of Golden Dawn’s candidates were middle-class professionals, including university professors, lawyers, surgeons, businesspeople, and a former NATO commander.Helen Smith, “Golden Dawn ditches boots for suits in European election makeover,” Guardian, May 23, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/23/golden-dawn-greece-european-election. When Golden Dawn organizes public events, it now rejects the neo-Nazi label and prefers to present itself as a “nationalist” and “patriotic” organization (although there are exceptions to this practice).Helen Smith, “SS songs and antisemitism: the week Golden Dawn turned openly Nazi,” Guardian, June 7, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/07/greece-golden-dawn-fascism-threat-to-democracy. Partly due to Golden Dawn’s agitation, brutal attacks on immigrants and other hate crimes (mainly against leftists) have become common phenomena in Greece.Liz Alderman, “Greek Far Right Hangs a Target on Immigrants,” New York Times, July 10, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/11/world/europe/as-golden-dawn-rises-in-greece-anti-immigrant-violence-follows.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.

Greek neo-Nazis also engage in social action—but only for “real Greeks.”Karolina Tagaris, “Police block far-right 'Greeks only' food handout in Athens,” Reuters, May 2, 2013, http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/05/02/uk-greece-goldendawn-idUKBRE9410PV20130502. They have established an expansive outreach program that provides services to the elderly in impoverished areas and distributes food and clothing to the needy (termed by Athens Mayor George Kaminis as “soup kitchens of hatred”),Karolina Tagaris, “Police block far-right 'Greeks only' food handout in Athens,” Reuters, May 2, 2013, http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/05/02/uk-greece-goldendawn-idUKBRE9410PV20130502. drawing comparisons to Hezbollah by party leaders themselves.Palash Ghosh, “We Seek To Become Like Hezbollah: Greece’s Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn MP,” International Business Times, May 23, 2013, http://www.ibtimes.com/we-seek-become-hezbollah-greeces-neo-nazi-golden-dawn-mp-1276743. As welfare services such as health care provided by the state are drastically rolled back due to the country’s austerity measures, Golden Dawn has tried to fill the gap—for example, by establishing a network of doctors that provide medical advice to impoverished families.Kerin Hope, “Golden Dawn lures voters with welfare programme,” Financial Times, May 12, 2014, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/17fc5f16-d692-11e3-907c-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3EoMqvrSL.

Organizational Structure:

According to a report by a Greek prosecutor, Golden Dawn’s leadership structure is similar to a “military-type operational force whose members attack mainly immigrants.”“Breakthrough or backlash. Will the arrest of Golden Dawn’s leaders rebound on Greek democracy?” Economist, October 5, 2013, http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21587258-will-arrest-golden-dawns-leaders-rebound-greek-democracy-breakthrough-or-backlash. Inspired by the Führerprinzip prominent in Nazi ideology, Golden Dawn’s leadership structure is strictly hierarchical.“Breakthrough or backlash. Will the arrest of Golden Dawn’s leaders rebound on Greek democracy?” Economist, October 5, 2013, http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21587258-will-arrest-golden-dawns-leaders-rebound-greek-democracy-breakthrough-or-backlash. Consequently, Greek prosecutors argued that Golden Dawn’s leadership orchestrates the violent attacks carried out by members of the group.Paul Mason, “Golden Dawn's leaders accused of ordering murders” Channel 4 News, September 30, 2013, http://www.channel4.com/news/golden-dawn-greece-police-organised-crime-murder.

In 2013, the Guardian (London) reported that members of the Greek armed forces have been training “Golden Dawn hit squads,” paramilitary-like structures that allegedly encompass up to 3,000 members.Richard Seymour, “Golden Dawn's rise signals breakdown of the Greek state's authority,” Guardian, September 24, 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/24/golden-dawn-greece-state-authority.

Financing:

Public funding originally constituted an important source of financing for Golden Dawn. For example in 2013, 873,000 euros in Greek state funding had been allocated to the party. However, following a vote in parliament in October 2013, state funding for Golden Dawn was cut off due to the ongoing investigation by state prosecutors as to whether Golden Dawn is a criminal organization.“Greece cuts state funds for far-right Golden Dawn party,” BBC News, October 23, 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24633611.

Golden Dawn has declined to shed light on its funding sources, stating simply that it is funded by supporters.Dina Kyriakidou, “Special Report: Greece's far-right party goes on the offensive,” Reuters, November 12, 2012, http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/11/12/us-greece-crisis-dawn-idUSBRE8AB09F20121112. Journalist Dimitris Psarras alleges that Golden Dawn has received financial support from like-minded groups in Europe and Russia.Helen Smith, “Greece's neo-Nazi Golden Dawn goes global with political ambitions,” Guardian (London), April 1, 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/apr/01/greece-golden-dawn-global-ambitions. Golden Dawn has also used its satellite offices to raise money and donations for its cause. In September 2014, the London-based Guardian reported that Golden Dawn’s Australian branch had raised money through an unregistered charity called Voithame Tin Ellada (VTE).Michael Safi, “Golden Dawn: Australian branch of far-right Greek party raises cash,” Guardian (London), September 29, 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/greece/11548387/What-is-the-Golden-Dawn-trial-about.html.

Recruitment:

Golden Dawn employs a range of strategies to recruit members, including grassroots mobilization and participating in neighborhood initiatives. It has attracted widespread appeal, boasting thousands of members and attendants at Golden Dawn rallies.Helena Smith, “Greece's Neo Nazi Party Now Has Thousands Of Members Who Believe They Are At War,” Business Insider, June 1, 2013, http://www.businessinsider.com/golden-dawn-has-thousands-of-members-2013-6. Golden Dawn also works to appeal to Greek expatriates, including those living in Australia, Canada, and the United States.Nick Squires, Menelaos Tzafalias, and Harriet Alexander, “What is the Golden Dawn trial about?,” Telegraph (London), April 20, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/greece/11548387/What-is-the-Golden-Dawn-trial-about.html. The group also recruits online. According to the 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.”“About,” Golden Dawn New York, accessed August 28, 2015, https://xaameriki.wordpress.com/about.

Within the country, Golden Dawn is heavily focused on recruiting from Greek’s youth population. The group has 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.Helena Smith, “Greece's Neo Nazi Party Now Has Thousands Of Members Who Believe They Are At War,” Business Insider, June 1, 2013, http://www.businessinsider.com/golden-dawn-has-thousands-of-members-2013-6; Gianluca Mezzofiore, “Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Recruits Children in 'National Awakening' History Course,” International Business Times, February 28, 2013, http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/golden-dawn-greece-children-recruit-indoctrination-440502. These sessions have included lessons on neutral subjects like ancient Greek history and the Christian faith. However, according to Greece’s education ministry, the course was a blatant form of manipulation, aimed to instill a sense of Greek supremacy. The competing Greek party Syriza accused Golden Dawn of “brainwashing little tots with Nazi propaganda.”Gianluca Mezzofiore, “Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Recruits Children in 'National Awakening' History Course,” International Business Times, February 28, 2013, http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/golden-dawn-greece-children-recruit-indoctrination-440502. Educators and commentators have also noted similarities to the Nazi method of indoctrination.

In 2011, Golden Dawn opened an office in Heraklion, the capitol of Crete. For years, party members approached young people “in cafes and the gym, presenting themselves as family and protectors. They took them for coffee and gave them lessons on Greek history.” Following the 2013 murder of Pavlos Fyssas, local teachers made an effort to teach history in a less nationalistic manner as well as discuss and confront fascist ideology in the classroom. More than 50 schools also organized an anti-fascist festival. In April 2018, militant activists destroyed Golden Dawn’s office in Heraklion, causing them to leave the island.Jessica Bateman, “’Their ideas had no place here’: how Crete kicked out Golden Dawn,” Guardian, December 3, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/dec/03/their-ideas-had-no-place-here-how-crete-kicked-out-golden-dawn.

Golden Dawn has a youth club, Galazia Stratia (Blue Army). The group has used bribes to recruit younger members. It hands out cellphones to students, claiming that the kids need access to phones in order to protect themselves from neighborhood crime. They even aim to appeal to Greek youth through music. As of 2013, two of Golden Dawn’s members of parliament were musicians, and had used music to propagate violent and hateful messages. One MP was the bass player in a band that praised Hitler’s Auschwitz death camp in one song, and had another song called “Speak Greek Or Die.” Lefteris Bidelas and Maria Psara, “Stuff Greek Fascists Like,” VICE, March 22, 2014, http://www.vice.com/read/golden-dawn-political-immunity-lift-greece. Members of the Galazia Stratia have also been regular participants and instigators of soccer hooliganism. Analysts believe that strong emotional ties to a soccer team help create a sense of identity and belonging that is particularly appealing to disaffected youth. In November 2017, hooligans of the Thessaloniki PAOK soccer club insulted and attacked local Pakistani Muslims who publicly celebrated the birth of the Prophet Mohammed.Al Neal, “Greek soccer faces FIFA expulsion after recent wave of violence,” People’s World, March 15, 2018, https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/greek-soccer-faces-fifa-expulsion-after-recent-wave-of-violence/; “Greek football hooligans attack Pakistanis celebrating Prophet Mohammed’s birthday in Athens (VIDEO),” RT News, November 27, 2017, https://www.rt.com/news/411018-athens-violence-hooligans-pakistani/.

In public platforms, Golden Dawn propagates an extremist Greek supremacy ideology at the exclusion of the country’s immigrants, homosexuals, and religious and ethnic minorities. The group appears to have capitalized on the immigration crisis to curry favor with the population. One Golden Dawn MP has said, “There are no legal migrants in Greece, not even one.”Paul Mason, “Alarm at Greek police ‘collusion’ with far-right Golden Dawn,” BBC News, October 17, 2012, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-19976841. The party’s 2012 election slogan was similarly xenophobic and ominous: “So we can rid this land of filth.”Jessica Elgot, “European Elections: 9 Scariest Far-Right Parties Now In The European Parliament,” Huffington Post, May 26, 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/05/26/far-right-europe-election_n_5391873.html. Golden Dawn has also benefitted from the country’s financial crisis. In line with its nationalist, supremacist ideology, the party has refused to accept any austerity measures from Greece’s creditors, endearing the group to the mainstream Greek population.Luke Hurst, “End Austerity to Beat Greek Fascism, Says Syriza,” Newsweek, February 25, 2015, http://europe.newsweek.com/greece-racism-309242.

Training:

During the highly publicized Golden Dawn trial, prosecutors have painted Golden Dawn as a criminal organization posing as a political party.“Greece trial of Golden Dawn members begins,” Al Jazeera, April 20, 2015, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/04/greece-trial-golden-dawn-150420081447112.html. In doing so, the prosecution has pointed to evidence of military training and attack battalions that, according to one ex-member of Golden Dawn are preparing “to overthrow the Greek government.”“Greece trial of Golden Dawn members begins,” Al Jazeera, April 20, 2015, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/04/greece-trial-golden-dawn-150420081447112.html; Yiannis Baboulias, “Greece’s Neo-Nazis Were Scarier Than Anyone Imagined,” Foreign Policy, November 13, 2014, http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/11/13/greeces-neo-nazis-were-scarier-than-anyone-imagined/. Evidence from the prosecutors shows Golden Dawn members in military clothing wielding knives, swords, handguns, rifles, and even a bazooka.Yiannis Baboulias, “Greece’s Neo-Nazis Were Scarier Than Anyone Imagined,” Foreign Policy, November 13, 2014, http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/11/13/greeces-neo-nazis-were-scarier-than-anyone-imagined/. According to the ex-member of Golden Dawn, “They kept telling us that we’ll break into the parliament with tanks.”Yiannis Baboulias, “Greece’s Neo-Nazis Were Scarier Than Anyone Imagined,” Foreign Policy, November 13, 2014, http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/11/13/greeces-neo-nazis-were-scarier-than-anyone-imagined/.

According to the ex-member—serving as a witness in the trial against Golden Dawn MPs—Golden Dawn even recruited a butcher in order to train its members in the art of using a knife effectively so they could learn to “neutralize opponents.”Yiannis Baboulias, “Greece’s Neo-Nazis Were Scarier Than Anyone Imagined,” Foreign Policy, November 13, 2014, http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/11/13/greeces-neo-nazis-were-scarier-than-anyone-imagined/. The butcher also allegedly supplied guns to Golden Dawn members.Yiannis Baboulias, “Greece’s Neo-Nazis Were Scarier Than Anyone Imagined,” Foreign Policy, November 13, 2014, http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/11/13/greeces-neo-nazis-were-scarier-than-anyone-imagined/.

Key Leaders

  • Nikolaos Michaloliakos

    Leader of Golden Dawn
  • Christos Pappas

    Member of Greek Parliament, alleged deputy leader of Golden Dawn
  • Ilias Kasidiaris

    Golden Dawn Spokesperson and Member of Greek Parliament
  • Golden Dawn

    Ilias Panagiotaros

    Golden Dawn Member of Greek Parliament
  • Giannis Giannopoulos

  • Artemis Mattheopoulos | Golden Dawn

    Artemis Mattheopoulos

    Golden Dawn Member of Greek Parliament
  • Georgios Epitideios | Golden Dawn

    Georgios Epitideios

    Golden Dawn Member of European Parliament
  • Lampros Fountoulis

    Golden Dawn Member of European Parliament
  • Eleytherios Synadinos | Golden Dawn

    Eleytherios Synadinos

    Member of European Parliament affiliated with the Patriotic Radical Union (PAT.RI.E.), resigned from Golden Dawn in 2018
  • Theodoros Koudounas | Golden Dawn

    Theodoros Koudounas

    Member of Golden Dawn’s central committee
  • Ioannis Vouldis

    Member of Golden Dawn’s central committee
  • Kostas Barbarousis | Golden Dawn

    Konstantinos Barbarousis

    Former Golden Dawn Member of Greek Parliament (expelled)

History

 

Violent Activities

Golden Dawn MPs have personally been implicated in attacks and murders. In June 2012, Golden Dawn MP and spokesperson Ilias Kasidiaris physically assaulted two female left-wing politicians while being filmed on Greek TV show Good Morning Greece.“Golden Dawn, NYC (short documentary dir. Richard Ledes) 2014,” YouTube video, 29:40, posted by “richardledes,” June 10, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdCEY2uNk88&feature=youtu.be. In September 2013, one Golden Dawn member stabbed leftist musician Pavlos Fyssas to death. Ioannis Lagos—a Golden Dawn MP—was implicated in Fyssas’s murder, and prosecutors claim that he directed the murder himself.

These are not lone incidents. Throughout the early 2010s, Golden Dawn members were recorded carrying out the majority of documented racist crimes in Greece.“Profile: Greece's far-right Golden Dawn party,” BBC News, October 1, 2013, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-24346993. Attacks committed by Golden Dawn members have ranged from stabbings, aggregated assaults, and murders. They were carried out both by individual members of Golden Dawn acting alone as well as those acting in a group.

  • May 2011: A Bangladeshi immigrant is murdered by members of Golden Dawn.Helen Smith, “Greek prime minister calls for calm after murder of leftwing musician,” Guardian, September 19, 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/19/greek-prime-minister-golden-dawn.
  • June 12, 2012: Golden Dawn members violently attack Egyptian fisherman Abou Zeid MubarakMarcus Walker and Marianna Kakaounaki, “Greece struggles to outlaw its Golden Dawn Fascist party,” Wall Street Journal, December 4, 2013, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303281504579219983801909944.
  • June 7, 2012: On a morning television show, a high-profile member of Golden Dawn, Ilias Kasidiaris, physically assaults female politicians Rena Dourou and Liana Kanell. He throws water in Dourou’s face and slapps Kanell after she protested his assault on Dourou.Helen Smith, “Golden Dawn MP's live TV assault shocks Greece,” Guardian, June 7, 2012, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jun/07/golden-dawn-tv-assault-greece.
  • July 7, 2012: A group of Golden Dawn members attack Pakistani immigrants outside their house in Nikaia.“Three Pakistanis attacked by members of Golden Dawn,” The city at a time of crisis: Map of attacks on migrants in Athens, accessed October 1, 2014, http://map.crisis-scape.net/reports/view/91.
  • August 23, 2012: Members of Golden Dawn confronts police over the transfer of immigrants awaiting deportation to an army base in Corinth. They threaten to turn off the water supply to the base. Later, two immigrants were stabbed.“Golden Dawn clash with police about the transfer of immigrants awaiting deportation to an army camp in Corinth,” The city at a time of crisis: Map of attacks on migrants in Athens, accessed October 1, 2014, http://map.crisis-scape.net/reports/view/45.
  • August 25, 2012: In the courtyard of the Greek parliament, Golden Dawn MP Dimitri Koukoutsi attacks the president of the Pakistani Community Association, Javed Aslam, and Vasiliki Katrivanou, an MP from the left-wing Syriza party.“Golden Dawn physically attacks visiting president of Pakistani Community Association and Syriza MP in parliament courtyard,” The city at a time of crisis: Map of attacks on migrants in Athens, accessed October 1, 2014, http://map.crisis-scape.net/reports/view/41.
  • September 7, 2012: Two Golden Dawn MPs and approximately 50 group members attack migrant street vendors at a festival in Rafina. Two Golden Dawn members pretend to be immigration officers and asked to see documents while the group destroys stalls.“Golden Dawn members, led by one MP attacks migrants street vendors in Rafina,” The city at a time of crisis: Map of attacks on migrants in Athens, accessed October 1, 2014, http://map.crisis-scape.net/reports/view/38.
  • October 12, 2012: A 21-year-old Egyptian is attacked by four members of Golden Dawn. He is severely beaten with chains and bitten by a dog. The attacks leave him blind.“21 year old blinded by attack by four Golden Dawn members,” The city at a time of crisis: Map of attacks on migrants in Athens, accessed October 1, 2014, http://map.crisis-scape.net/reports/view/26.
  • November 1, 2012: Around 150 people, including an unidentified number of high-ranking members of Golden Dawn, attack migrants and damage migrant shops.Matthew Boesler, “REPORT: A Huge Golden Dawn Mob Led An Assault On Immigrants In Athens Last Night,” Business Insider, November 1, 2012, http://www.businessinsider.com/golden-dawn-mob-attack-greek-hairdresser-2012-11.
  • November 15, 2012: Members of Golden Dawn threaten to burn down the house of an immigrant family who was behind in their rent payments. The police only arrive after the group has left, and the group returns the following night to repeat their threats.“Threats to damage house of migrant family,” The city at a time of crisis: Map of attacks on migrants in Athens, accessed October 1, 2014, http://map.crisis-scape.net/reports/view/167.
  • 2013: At least 100 attacks are attributed to Golden Dawn.“Profile: Greece's far-right Golden Dawn party,” BBC News, October 1, 2013, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24346993. Investigations revealed that Golden Dawn regularly sends “militias” to attack migrants. A witness admits that he had participated several times in attacks with 50 to 60 motocycles. Two neo-Nazis had sat on each motorcycle, and the ones sitting in the back “had a stick and beat on each Pakistani he could catch,” the witness says.“Griechische Neonazis schickten ‘Kampfmilizen’ los,” Die Welt, October 1, 2013, http://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article120540525/Griechische-Neonazis-schickten-Kampfmilizen-los.html.
  • January 3, 2013: An Egyptian worker is attacked by three men on motorbikes. Their jackets bear the sign of Golden Dawn.“Egyptian worker attacked by three men on motorcycles,” The city at a time of crisis: Map of attacks on migrants in Athens, accessed October 1, 2014, http://map.crisis-scape.net/reports/view/11.
  • February 7, 2013: Members of Golden Dawn gather outside Medicin du Monde clinic in Perama and threaten staff and patients.“Golden Dawn threatens Medicin du Monde clinic in Perama,” The city at a time of crisis: Map of attacks on migrants in Athens, accessed October 1, 2014, http://map.crisis-scape.net/reports/view/5.
  • February 14, 2013: A group of Golden Dawn members attack three Pakistani workers.“Three workers from Pakistan were attacked by seven Golded [sic] Dawn (greek neonazi party) members,” The city at a time of crisis: Map of attacks on migrants in Athens, accessed October 1, 2014, http://map.crisis-scape.net/reports/view/89.
  • July 21, 2013: Six members of Golden Dawn pose as police officers and enter a house lived in by migrant workers in Tavros to check their papers. When the migrants ask for help from a police car, the Golden Dawn members begin beating the migrants. They steal the migrants’ wallets and work permits.“Golden Dawn attack home of migrants,” The city at a time of crisis: Map of attacks on migrants in Athens, accessed October 1, 2014, http://map.crisis-scape.net/reports/view/125.
  • September 15, 2013: Golden Dawn MP Ilias Panagiotaros interrupts a World War II remembrance event in the small town of Meligalas. He grabs the microphone, shouts, and shoves elderly townspeople.Marcus Walker and Marianna Kakaounaki, “Greece struggles to outlaw its Golden Dawn Fascist party,” Wall Street Journal, December 4, 2013, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303281504579219983801909944.
  • September 17, 2013:  Leftist musician Pavlos Fyssas is stabbed to death near the port of Athens. The attacker is later arrested by the police and states that he was a member of Golden Dawn.Nektaria Stamouli, “Greek killing prompts fears of political violence,” Wall Street Journal, September 18, 2014, http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323308504579082922836516330.
  • August 24, 2014: Golden Dawn members attack a gay couple in Athens, seriously injuring one of them.“Rise in Greek anti-gay attacks blamed on Golden Dawn party,” South China Morning Post, August 26, 2014, http://www.scmp.com/news/world/article/1580879/rise-greek-anti-gay-attacks-blamed-golden-dawn-party.
  • November 18, 2016: Golden Dawn members are suspected of attacking a refugee camp with Molotov cocktails and rocks on the Greek island of Chios.Helena Smith and Patrick Kingsley, “Far-right group attacks refugee camp on Greek island of Chios,” Guardian, November 18, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/nov/18/far-right-group-attacks-refugee-camp-greek-island-chios.
  • April 1, 2017: A student is heavenly beaten and seriously injured allegedly by members of Golden Dawn.“Student brutally attacked allegedly by Golden Dawn members,” Keep Talking Greece, April 1, 2017, https://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/2017/04/01/student-brutally-attacked-allegedly-by-golden-dawn-members/.
  • November 1, 2017: A prosecution lawyer in an ongoing Golden Dawn trial is attacked outside Athens police headquarters by Golden Dawn supporters.Tasos Kokkinidis, “Lawyer in Golden Dawn Trial Attacked by Neo-Nazis in Athens,” Greek Reporter, November 1, 2017, https://greece.greekreporter.com/2017/11/01/lawyer-in-golden-dawn-trial-attacked-by-neo-nazis-in-athens/.
  • February 26, 2018: A group of suspected neo-Nazis and Golden Dawn members storms the anti-fascist Favela Free Social Center in Piraeus, wielding iron bars, setting off flares and besmearing the walls. Five people are injured. Party leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos denies Golden Dawn’s involvement.Tasos Kokkinidis, “Neo-Nazis Attack Greek Anti-Fascist Center, Injure 5,” Greek Reporter, February 26, 2018, https://greece.greekreporter.com/2018/02/26/neo-nazis-attack-greek-anti-fascist-center-injure-5/; Carolin Philipp, “Griechenland: Renaissance des Faschismus,” Missy Magazine, October 11, 2018, https://missy-magazine.de/blog/2018/10/11/griechenland-renaissance-des-faschismus/.
  • April 23, 2018: Violent clashes between a Greek far-right group, riot police, and migrants rage on the island of Lesvos, leaving several people injured. Asylum seekers are protesting against their prolonged stay in the overcrowded registration camp, when far-right extremists insult and throw objects at them.Niki Kitsantonis, “’One of the Hardest Nights’: Violence Erupts Between Greeks and Migrants,” New York Times, April 24, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/24/world/europe/greece-lesbos-refugees.html; Philip Chrysopoulos, “Extreme Right-Wing Group Attack Migrants on Lesvos (video),” Greek Reporter, April 23, 2018, https://greece.greekreporter.com/2018/04/23/extreme-right-wing-group-attack-migrants-on-lesvos-video/.
  • May 21, 2018: Approximately two dozen people attack Thessaloniki’s Mayor Yiannis Boutaris at a public event, throwing him on the ground and kicking him repeatedly. Police subsequently arrest four men, among them an off-duty police officer. As Boutaris is reviled by extreme nationalists, authorities blame the beating on “extreme-right thugs.”Tasos Kokkinidis, “Greek Police Arrest 4 Over Violent Attack on Thessaloniki Mayor,”  Greek Reporter, May 21, 2018, https://greece.greekreporter.com/2018/05/21/greek-police-arrest-four-in-violent-attack-of-thessaloniki-mayor/; Tasos Kokkinidis, “Police Officer Among Suspects of Mob Attack Against Greek Mayor,” Greek Reporter, May 25, 2018, https://greece.greekreporter.com/2018/05/25/police-officer-among-suspects-of-greek-mayor-mob-attack/.
  • December 17, 2018: The Holocaust memorial in Thessaloniki is vandalized and besmeared with a swastika painting for the fourth time in 2018. Previous attacks have been attributed to far-right supporters, including those from neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn.Toi Staff, “Greek Holocaust memorial vandalized for 4th time this year,” Times of Israel, December 17, 2018, https://www.timesofisrael.com/greek-holocaust-memorial-vandalized-for-4th-time-this-year/.

Associations

Ties to Extremist Entities:

Forza Nuova
Golden Dawn has attended various festivals with the Italian far-right extremist party Forza Nuova.Anthee Carassava, “Far-Right Festival in Greece Will Proceed as Planned, Party Says,” New York Times, August 10, 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/10/international/europe/10greece.html. The two groups have marched together both in Greece and in Italy. Golden Dawn MP Artemis Mattheopoulos serves as Deputy Chairman of the Alliance for Peace and Freedom, an organization run by Forza Nuova leader Roberto Fiore.“Together for a Europe of Free Nations – The Alliance for Peace and Freedom moves forward in Brussels,” Alliance for Peace and Freedom, February 21, 2015, https://alliancepeacefreedom.wordpress.com/.
Jobbik
Golden Dawn reportedly has close links with the Hungarian neo-Nazi party Jobbik and its former leader Gabor Vona.Far-right Hungarian who faced calls to be banned from Britain because of his views arrives in London for rally amid protests,” Daily Mail (London), January 26, 2014, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2546296/Far-right-Hungarian-faced-calls-banned-Britain-views-arrives-London-rally-amid-protests.html.

Ties to Other Entities:

Casa PoundKaterina Nikolaus, “Greece's Golden Dawn opens Italian branch,” Digital Journal, November 13, 2012, http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/336773.
In November 2013, Casa Pound allegedly held a meeting in Rome, which two senior members of Golden Dawn attended, one of which was Apostolos Gkletsos, a former MP and member of Golden Dawn’s Central Committee. The outcome of the meeting allegedly signaled the emergence of a potential alliance between Casa Pound and Golden Dawn.Alfio Bernabel, “Golden Dawn links with Italian fascists,” Searchlight, January 28, 2014, http://www.searchlightmagazine.com/archive/golden-dawn-links-with-italian-fascists.
British National PartyNatharlie Savaricas and Charlotte McDonald-Gibson, “Just what Greece didn’t need: BNP leader Nick Griffin seeks Golden Dawn alliance,” Independent, January 10, 2014, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/just-what-greece-didnt-need-bnp-leader-nick-griffin-seeks-golden-dawn-alliance-9052662.html.
Nick Griffin, the leader of the far-right British National party (BNP), travelled to Athens on January 10, 2014 to offer his support to Golden Dawn in the face of the Greek government’s crackdown on the group.Matthew Taylor, “Nick Griffin offers strident support to Golden Dawn on visit to Greece,” Guardian, January 10, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jan/10/nick-griffin-support-golden-dawn-greece. Griffin also stated that he was looking to build an alliance of five far-right parties after the European parliamentary elections in May 2014. Griffin said that the description of Golden Dawn as a neo-Nazi party were a “ridiculous smear.”Natalie Savaricas and Charlotte McDonald-Gibson, “Just what Greece didn’t need: BNP leader Nick Griffin seeks Golden Dawn alliance,” Independent, January 10, 2014, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/just-what-greece-didnt-need-bnp-leader-nick-griffin-seeks-golden-dawn-alliance-9052662.html.

Ties to Individuals:

According to a website linked to Golden Dawn, the leader of the organization, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, received a letter from Alexander Dugin, a professor at Moscow State University and former Kremlin adviser. In the letter, Dugin, who is also one of the architects behind Putin’s “Eurasian” ideology, called for an open exchange between Golden Dawn and his Moscow-based think tank and positively noted Golden Dawn’s geopolitical views. Michaloliakos has allegedly expressed support in the past for closer ties with Russia.Mitchell A. Orenstein, “Putin's Western Allies,” Foreign Affairs, March 25, 2014, http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/141067/mitchell-a-orenstein/putins-western-allies.

Media Coverage

  • Analysis of Group

    Golden Dawn has attracted increasing international media coverage since it successfully entered parliament following the 2012 Greek general election...

Rhetoric

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Nikolaos Michaloliakos, July 7, 2019

“We are sending a message to our enemies and so-called friends: Golden Dawn is not finished; get over it. The fight for nationalism continues. We return where we became strong: on the streets and squares, in a tough struggle against Bolshevism and the coming savage capitalism.

“Hail victory!”Demtris Nellas, “Far-right Greek party crashes out of Parliament,” Associated Press, July 7, 2019, https://www.apnews.com/c10782a0c6324824a76dd23dac6b8499.

Ilias Panagiotaros, April 2014

“[Hitler is a] great personality, like Stalin.”Helena Smith, “Greece’s Golden Dawn party describes Hitler as ‘great personality’,” Guardian, April 16, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/16/greece-golden-dawn-hitler.

Ilias Panagiotaros, April 2014

“Until 1997, [the] international association of doctors, and I don't know what, considered homosexuality a sickness, illness, which it is.”Helena Smith, “Greece’s Golden Dawn party describes Hitler as ‘great personality’,” Guardian, April 16, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/16/greece-golden-dawn-hitler.

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 (…)”. Palash Ghosh, “ We Seek To Become Like Hezbollah: Greece’s Neo-Nazi Golden Dawn MP," International Business Times, May 23, 2013, http://www.ibtimes.com/we-seek-become-hezbollah-greeces-neo-nazi-golden-dawn-mp-1276743.

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.” Yiannis Baboulias, “Greece’s Golden Dawn Isn’t a Political Party – It’s More like a Criminal Gang,” Guardian, September 4, 2012, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/sep/04/greece-golden-dawn-not-political-party.

Nikolaos Michaloliakos, 2012

“I have read a lot of books casting doubts on the number of six million Jews.” “Greek Neo-Nazi Leader Denies Existence of Gas Chambers in WWII Death Camps,” Agence France-Presse, May 15, 2012, http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/05/15/greek-neo-nazi-leader-denies-existence-of-gas-chambers-in-wwii-death-camps.

Nikolaos Michaloliakos, 2012

"No one should fear me if they are a good Greek citizen. If they are traitors — I don't know." Nebi Qena, “Extreme right leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos lashes Greece's 'traitors,'” The Independent, May 6, 2012, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/extreme-right-leader-nikolaos-michaloliakos-lashesgreeces-traitors-7718581.html.

Ilias Panagiotaros, 2012

"There are no legal migrants in Greece, not even one."Paul Mason, “Alarm at Greek police 'collusion' with far-right Golden Dawn”, BBC News, October 17, 2012, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-19976841.

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