Neo-Nazism is on the rise in Greece, where the Golden Dawn Party and its leader Nikolaos Michaloliakos continue to gain popularity. The party has gone to great lengths to distance itself from the Nazis of 20th century Germany, but the parallels are hard to ignore.
The Golden Dawn Youth Front operates similarly to how the Hitler Youth operated, indoctrinating young children with xenophobic messages through advertising in schools. The party has also been criticized for anti-Semitism in reaction to its veneration of Nazi war criminals, such as Rudolf Hess. Perhaps most damningly, the party frequently represents itself with a banner that bears a striking resemblance to the Nazi swastika.
The Golden Dawn Party is characterized by anti-Semitic and xenophobic rhetoric. Spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, in a 2011 article, extolled the superiority of Greek culture and customs. He went on to blame Jewish people for World War II and referred to Adolf Hitler as a “great social reformer.”
There has been a great deal of violence in the already turbulent Greece involving the Golden Dawn Party. In 1998, just five years after the party’s formation, Antonios Androutsopoulos was implicated in the attempted murder of three students. There have also been a number of instances involving street violence between Golden Dawn Party members and immigrants or ethnic minorities.
The party is a frequent target of violence as well. In December 2012, attackers detonated a bomb in a Golden Dawn office outside of Athens. A similar incident occurred in 2010.
As of June 2012, the Golden Dawn Party holds 18 seats in in the Hellenic Parliament. So why is this important? Why does the re-emergence of neo-Nazism – in the birthplace of democracy no less – seem so troubling? Well, for one thing, we should look at some of the factors that led Greece to this situation. The country has been suffering through economic turmoil for some time. The complete and utter collapse of its financial institutions threatened to topple the Euro, at which point Germany was forced to come in and bail out the drowning country in November of 2012.
Of course Greece wasn’t the only country wallowing in debt, and it seemed like every Western nation had suffered. Amongst the casualties of the Great Recession were Spain and Italy. What we’re seeing is economic crisis followed by the near collapse of a few countries, then the rise of extremist parties. Basically, Europe is on the cusp of repeating the 1930s.
Greece must thwart the Golden Dawn Party from gaining further traction in government. While its influence is limited for now, its profile has steadily increased over the last two decades. Merely exposing the public to the party’s ideologies is dangerous and must be avoided.
The phrase, “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” comes to mind when considering what could happen in Greece. Unfortunately, the media has barely covered the rise of the Golden Dawn; too few people are aware of the severity of what is occurring. The Golden Dawn Party is nothing more than a hate group masquerading as a political party and must be stopped before something truly tragic happens.