This post was written by Michael Mansheim, STAND’s Programs Intern and a Senior at American University.
In Athens and many cities and towns across Greece, thebeatings of immigrants and other social outcasts continue. All too often, the perpetrators come from the supporters or members of the neo-nazi Golden Dawn party. Gathering increased support as the Greek economy grows worse and worse, the recent rise of the Golden Dawn has drawn many comparisons to the rise of the Nazi regime in the 1930’s. Swept into popularity by the current lack of faith in the EU among Greeks, the aggressively neo-fascist party is now the third most popular political party in Greece, and is making inroads on its mainstream opponents.
However not just Greece, with its tattered economy and high unemployment, is feeling the landswell support for the far-right in Europe. Eurosceptic parties (who oppose the EU) have been receiving larger and larger support since 2007. In the last round of European Parliament elections, Eurosceptics in the UK, France and Denmark came out on top, finding considerable support as the economy in the Eurozone remains poor.
These parties in the UK, France and Denmark are democratic, something the Golden Dawn has spat on. With their open adoration of figures from both Nazi Germany and their Greek Fascist contemporaries, adoption of Nazi symbols (indirectly, but with very little subtlety) and incredible taste for violence, the Golden Dawn seems a throwback to a much uglier version of Europe. So far, the party has showed a talent for being able to disconnect itself from much of the violence done for the glory of its causes. This includes the incitement of many of the riots that occurred in Athens and the murder of a prominent anti-fascist hip hop musician.
Within the Greek Police, there is a huge amount of support for the movement. The police support is mostly due to the adverse effects that austerity spending has had on their ranks. Many have alleged that murderers and attackers of immigrants either come from the ranks of the police, or are sheltered by them; a fifth column undermining society from within, devoted to covering up and destroying evidence of hate crimes. Activists who have been jailed have reported experiencing brutality and being forced to listen to Golden Dawn propaganda while imprisoned. In addition, beginning in 2012, migrants without proper identification were rounded up on the streets by police and putting them in camps.
However, maybe the most troubling allegation about Greek fascist groups, in particular the Black Lily group, is that they have a habit of sending their young volunteers to fight for the Assad regime in Syria. This link is potentially due to the small number of Orthodox Christians being protected by the regime, as well the connections between the Assad regime and white supremacist organizations; Assad has previously played host to British nationalists and David Duke, American KKK leader extraordinaire. The move also raises fears that the volunteers could return to Greece with military experience or hardware gained during the fighting in Syria. This nouveau Condor Legion could prove to be the spearhead of fascist violence in Greece as Golden Dawn rises in the polls despite its violent reputation.
The rise of the Golden Dawn should be incredibly concerning for the rest of Europe. The lip service being paid to “Never Again” in regards to fascism are clearly for nothing if a political party that glamorizes and openly admires nazism is allowed to come to power in the EU.