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Complexities of the Hellenic Democracy: Growing up with the far-right Golden Dawn party on the rise

By Amalia Daka

Header Photo: The immediate reaction of Magda Fyssa, the mother of late Greek rap singer Pavlos Fyssas, after the delivery of the verdict of the court decision in Athens. Photo by Petros Giannakouris/AP

This article is a chronological testimony of the writer’s experience growing up with the far-right Golden Dawn party on the rise, and a celebration of its fall after the landmark trial in Athens, Greece on October 7. The trial convicted Golden Dawn’s leader and ex-MPs as guilty for operating a criminal gang under the guise of being a political group. 

28th October 2002

I still remember the first day I heard about Nazism. I was 5 years old and it was an important (and rainy) day in October: the National Anniversary of Greek Independence or ‘Oxi’ Day anniversary (pronounced ‘ohi’) in celebration of Greece’s refusal to yield to the powers of the Axis in 1940. My teacher was describing the rise and fall of Hitler and in the end, she mumbled: ‘Hitler committed suicide, but many people believe he is still alive’. I remember being frightened. ‘Hitler cannot be alive, he is too old to be alive!’ I thought.

17th June 2012

Ten years later I had proof. Hitler was not too old, and he was still alive. Not exactly as how people initially thought, but in a form of a neo-Nazi ‘political’ party named Golden Dawn in Greece (and in many other neo-Nazi political parties across Europe). Under a complex political and financial situation in Greece, Golden Dawn began to gain voters’ attention by constructing a national plan with extreme demands that, as they claimed, would protect critical national interests. This plan included the expulsion of all illegal immigrants who have entered Greece and a demand to the German government to repay a loan that was forced upon Greece during the Axis occupation. 

By touching upon the wounds of Greek society, they became popular by providing a quick fix to sensitive and critical issues such as the migration crisis. Many academic researches started to debate whether mere exposure to the refugee crisis is sufficient to fuel support for extreme-right parties1, to prove the correlation with the growing popularity of Golden Dawn.

However, the criminal acts of Golden Dawn’s members were omnipresent. Only five days before their election to the Hellenic Parliament, four Egyptian fishermen living in Greece were attacked in their sleep (!) by black-clad attackers who were Golden Dawn members. On 17th June 2012, Golden Dawn received 6.92 percent of the vote in national elections. While becoming more popular, their criminal actions were prevailing without disruption by reproducing violence and smashing the stalls of unlicensed migrant peddlers in Athens and other cities in Greece.  

18th September 2013

A year later, the anti-fascist singer Pavlos Fyssas is fatally stabbed by Golden Dawn members. His photo being held dead by his girlfriend was circulating in the next days as cover in many Greek newspapers. It was a portrait of a modern ‘La Pietà’, that showed the real repulsive face of the neo-fascism in Greece. This murder had a deep meaning for the Greek society; Pavlos Fyssas incarnated ‘the son, the brother, the boy next door’.

25th May 2014

Three Golden Dawn members were elected to the European Parliament for the first time.

25th January 2015

Golden Dawn finishes third in national elections. 

4th February 2015

Nearly 70 defendants including senior Golden Dawn members are sent to trial after the murder of Pavlos Fyssas.

June and July 20192

The first defendants appear in court. Golden Dawn failed to win a single seat in national elections in July. Was Hitler finally dead?

7th October 2020

The Greek Court’s voice is echoing in the whole world, since the landmark trial resulted with the overwhelming conviction against Golden Dawn, finding the neo-fascist party guilty of operating a criminal gang that brutally targeted opponents under the guise of being a political group. The hearing has been the biggest trial of neo-fascists since the prosecution of the Nazis at Nuremberg after the Second World War.3

Hitler committed suicide again. Golden Dawn committed suicide. Every criminal act on their behalf was a proof of deconstruction of something being deeply criminal, with a political disguise. Holocaust deniers, admirers of Hitler, murderers, and now guilty. 

As one of my favourite role-models Melina Mercouri said, referring to the Greek military junta of 1967–1974; ‘I was born a Greek and I will die a Greek. But, Patakos and his people were born fascists and they will die fascists.’ 

Justice is served. Hope is served. Democracy is winning.

Is Hitler finally dead? 

I cannot be sure. But maybe it is once again the start of his fall, until the neo-Nazi parties across Europe realize that their only valid decision will be to commit a political suicide. 


Suggested Documentary: Golden Dawn: A Personal Affair https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P8gyTPy-kM 

1 Dinas, Elias, Konstantinos Matakos, Dimitrios Xefteris, and Dominik Hangartner. “Waking Up the Golden Dawn: Does Exposure to the Refugee Crisis Increase Support for Extreme-Right Parties?” Political Analysis 27, no. 2 (2019): 244–54. doi:10.1017/pan.2018.48.

2 https://www.france24.com/en/20201007-the-rise-and-fall-of-greece-s-far-right-golden-dawn-party (includes most of the information for the timeline)

3 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/oct/07/golden-dawn-leader-and-ex-mps-found-guilty-in-landmark-trial

4 http://www.enetenglish.gr/?i=news.en.article&id=1692

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