(ATHENS, Greece) – On April 20, 2015, the anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s birthday, Greek authorities started a trial against 69 members and supporters of far-right, anti-migrant, anti-Semitic and Islamophobic political party Golden Dawn.
The individuals are accused of directing and participating in a criminal organization under a military-style leadership. The trial, which is still ongoing, is the first legal battle against a Nazi political party since Nuremberg trials in the aftermath of World War II.
It all started back in September 2013, when Greek authorities arrested dozens of senior Golden Dawn officials, including members of parliament and the party’s leader, Nikos Michaloliakos. The arrests followed the murder of rapper Pavlos Fyssas.
Self-proclaimed Greek fascists Golden Dawn have been retaining close ties with different international allies from Europe for years, but they also have connections to the other side of the Atlantic – the American white nationalists.
“Back in 90’s Golden Dawn invited William Pierce, a founder of National Alliance to give a speech in Thessaloniki,” investigative journalist and author Dimitris Psarras said last Monday in a testimony before the Appeals Court, which was a part of the Golden Dawn trial.
“Golden Dawn is a Nazi Party”
As the trial against Golden Dawn continues, more than a hundred witnesses have already testified in nearly 190 court hearings at Athens’ Korydallos Prison and the Appeals Court.
Through testimonies of witnesses and the evidence presented during the two-and-half-year-long trial, it has been established that Golden Dawn acted as a Nazi party with a strict leader principle known as Führerprinzip.
“Golden Dawn does not follow, for example, the ideology of Italian fascist leader [Benito] Mussolini. Golden Dawn fanatically follows Hitler’s Nazism and its political doctrine National Socialism. As such Golden Dawn is not a fascist, but a Nazi party,” Mr. Pssaras, who has been reporting about Golden Dawn for three decades, said this week in an Athens courtroom. “Nothing is done without approvement of the leader Michaloliakos,” he added.
Much more disturbing for the party are the testimonies of its former members. Up to date, the public has had an opportunity to hear one of them.
“If Golden Dawn was not a National Socialist party, I would not join them in the first place,” former highly ranked member of the party, Ilias Stavros, testified last month during the trial. “Give me a break with Metaxas (Greek dictator from 1936-41) and Aristotle. Goebbels, Hess and Hitler were the only ones Golden Dawn follows,” he added.
Greek public is well aware that Golden Dawn’s sympathies lie with Nazism, even though the party’s prominent members stubbornly deny that their views have any links to the ideology of Hitler’s Germany. However, the analytical criminal investigation before the trial clearly revealed that Golden Dawn adhered to the doctrine of National Socialism.
“We give an oath to the naval flag of Nazi Germany. What more do you need [to hear]?” the Stavros emphasized during his testimony.
American Nationalists in Brotherhood with Golden Dawn
Apart from the National Alliance and the Order, U.S. white supremacist political organizations, Greek Nazis keep strong ties with the leader of the Traditionalist Workers’ Party, Matthew Heimbach.
Twenty-six-year-old Heimbach, a rising star of the white nationalist movement, visited Golden Dawn offices last year. They are located in the Greek parliament in Athens. There he was seen shaking hands with leader Michaloliakos and other prominent members.
While Heimbach was preparing his followers for the protest in Charlottesville, he explained to Vice that the organizing tactics of his supporters follow “the European example of Golden Dawn.”
Indeed, Heimbach’s paramilitary squats resemble the hit squads of Golden Dawn, which are now sitting in Athens courts, accused of murders, assaults, violent attacks, grievous bodily harm, damage to property and of participation in a criminal organization.
Heimbach is not the only one keeping close connection with the Greek Nazis. Andrew Anglin, the founder of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, participated in a Golden Dawn rally four years ago.
“I have attended many party meetings, worn a black shirt and marched in rallies,” Anglin wrote. According to his own account, he was in Greece in September 2013, during the time when leader of the party Michaloliakos directed members to escalate the violence, which resulted in three brutal attacks. The murder of Pavlos Fyssas was one of them.
During the U.S. presidential campaign of 2016, Golden Dawn supported Donald J. Trump and praised the outcome of the election. MP Ilias Kasidiaris called the result the “major global change which will continue with victory”.
Downfall of Golden Dawn?
During the last Greek elections in September 2015, Golden Dawn gained 18 parliamentary seats, becoming the third largest party in power. However, two members of the party left this year. As a result, the Greek Nazis dropped to the fourth place.
The recent results from public opinion polls show the party lost significant part of its popularity among locals. Golden Dawn is also facing internal clashes.
Just last week, second member of parliament, Nikos Michos, left the party. He is accused of directing a criminal organization and participating in violent attacks against social center Synergio in 2013. In addition, Mr. Michos is facing charges for illegal possession of firearms and narcotic substances.
“Whoever insults and slander in any way the Leader of Golden Dawn is an enemy and an insulter of all of us. The provocateurs and salaried employees of the organization who question the Leader and the Movement will find us in front of them,” Golden Dawn said in an announcement.
This harsh “Führerprinzip” warning is just one of the many aspects proving that the Greek far-right party acts like a strict Nazi organization. However, Golden Dawn members and supporters are not officially charged with establishing of a National Socialist party. They are on trial for establishing a criminal organization.
Despite violence and murder, the Greek justice system seems not ready to condemn the political doctrine of the party yet.