Tag Archives: Golden Dawn

Baltakos Gate

Here’s a video that is expected [or should] cause tremors in the Greek political scene. Golden Dawn MP Ilias Kasidiaris leaked this video today where he secretly filmed a discussion with cabinet secretary Takis Baltakos.

During the conversation, Baltakos can he heard saying that there was no evidence to substantiate the crackdown on Golden Dawn following Fyssas’ fatal stabbing by a Golden Dawn supporter last September.

He says that Justice Minister Haralambos Athanassiou and Interior Minister Nikos Dendias appealed to the chief prosecutor at the Supreme Court, Efterpi Goutzamani, a so-called devout Christian, that Golden Dawn were “pagans, idolaters, Nazis and opposed to Christianity”.

Baltakos also said that the crackdown on Golden Dawn was to stop the party drawing support from New Democracy.

Some initial conclusions:

  1. The Samaras administration has secret channels of communication with Golden Dawn.
  2. Prime Minister Samaras has appointed the Supreme Court Prosecutor simply because she comes from a nearby village.
  3. This otherwise independent prosecutor is paying back favors.
  4. Ministers of the Samaras administration can order arrests by picking up the phone.
  5. A case can be “put in the archive” with a short 30 minute investigative committee at the parliament.
  6. There’s no one to turn to if someone wants to file a claim for corruption against the current administration.

This is probably going to create an avalanche of events so stay tuned. By the time I managed to subtitle the video Baltakos has resigned but, in a modern functioning democracy, both Athanasiou and Dendias should resign too. If not Samaras himself too!

As to who is Takis Baltakos, I copy below some facts from EnetEnglish.

Takis Baltakos was appointed by Antonis Samaras to the key political position of government general secretary in June 2012.

He has been identified with the most rightwing section of New Democracy, and is said to have “led opposition” to proposals crackdown on neonazi Golden Dawn.

In December 2012, he told the head of the National Commission for Human Rights, Kostis Papaioannou, that “he doesn’t care, in his capacity as a representative of the government and New Democracy, about the committee’s work and human rights, nor about the country’s international obligations”. Papaioannou was presenting his annual report to the government. He said Baltakos opened it at a chapter on racist violence and threw it on the table, saying, “We are not interested in the human rights of foreigners.”

In 2013, he is alleged to have said that cooperation between New Democracy and Golden Dawn in future elections was “undesirable but not an unlikely possibility”.

In May 2013, it was reported that he was one of the key officials involved in holding up an antiracism bill on the grounds that it could “potentially cause problems”. The bill would have outlawed incitement against people because of their race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation, and impose jail sentences of up to six years on offenders”.

Baltakos was a leading voice against moving against Golden Dawn, up to September 2013, when the government was pushed into taken action after the murder of Pavlos Fyssas. According to the Wall Street Journal, Baltakos said that a crackdown “would backfire, winning the party sympathy from voters disgusted with the establishment and alienating conservative constituencies such as the army and church.”

Last week, he said he has been an “anticommunist” all his life and that the Greek left has “plagued” the country since 1942, the year it took up arms against the occupying Nazis.

The Politics of Knives

Here’s a short video on the current situation in Greece, produced by Ross Domoney. I found it interesting and informative and thought you will too.

Summary:

The neo-Νazi party Golden Dawn has been active in Greece since the mid-1980s. Through the years, GD has attacked migrants, antifascists and homosexuals, often with the tolerance or even the collaboration of parts of the Greek police force. In recent years, the party saw a largely unexplained soaring in its funding, a broad coverage of its activities (whether real or fictitious) by mainstream media and the opening up of more than fifty local branches across Athenian neighborhoods and Greek cities.

The ostensibly meteoric rise of the GD in mainstream political discourse came at an extremely critical conjuncture, amidst the global financial crisis that hit Greece hard from approximately 2008/09 onward. In the 2009 national elections, GD had received a mere 0.2% of the vote; in 2012, its share sky-rocketed to approximately 7%. The electoral success of GD was matched by the introduction of anti-migration policies by the government coalition, often-encountered police operations specifically targeting anti-fascist activists in Athens and other Greek cities and the rise of racist attacks in the country.

On September 18th a self-confessed GD member, Giorgos Roupakias, stabbed anti-fascist rap musician Pavlos Fyssas (aka Killah-P) to death. In the aftermath of the assassination the GD leader, Nikos Mihaloliakos, and key GD MPs and members have been arrested and charged. Only now, after decades of presence in the Greek political landscape, the GD’s connections to the country’s security forces and political establishment are untangled and exposed in mainstream political discourse and in the media.

Produced by Ross Domoney, Klara Jaya Brekke and Dimitris Dalakoglou.
Filmed and edited by Ross Domoney.
Script edited by Klara Jaya Brekke.
Music by Giorgos Triantafillou.
Special thanks to Lena Theodoropoulou and Yiannis Chri.

On ship-owners, bishops and Golden Dawn

The crucial journalistic question on Golden Dawn has been one for the past year. Who funds Golden Dawn?

For a long time there have been rumours that one or some ship-owners were behind them but no one has managed to document something tangible. It seems that this is changing.

Greek financial portal sofokleousin.gr has published a very interesting article a while ago. Though the portal quotes well-informed sources who spoke under the condition of anonymity, it mentions that there is an ongoing investigation of the Financial Crime Unit (SDOE) on the funding of neonazi party Golden Dawn.

The investigation, according to the article, has shown so far that several ship-owners, businessmen and even bishops are behind the far-right party and its criminal activities.

The article also says that among the party’s funders there are people beyond any suspicion, though some of the involved businessmen are serving a sentence in prison while others have trials pending. The data found so far imply a link between the members/local Golden Dawn offices and businessmen who have night clubs or are involved with sports (I guess some football team – not the cleanest sport in Greece). The data are already being used to document crimes like blackmail, threats or even paid assassinations.

The Financial Crime Unit has already asked the opening of several bank accounts so that they can document these investigated financial links with facts and proofs

According to the article, the investigation has showed that among the clergy there are even some bishops (!!!). The Prime Minister’s office has been briefed about the investigation, says sofokleousin.gr, and the PM’s advisers are doing their best to avoid any early leaks to the press.

Which they just failed to do.

Greek newspapers react to fascism

Here’s the reaction of Greek newspapers to the assassination of young Greek rapper Killah P by a Golden Dawn member.

eleftherotypia 20130919

“I am not going to cry, I am not going to be afraid” (lyrics from a remix by Killah P)
Eleftherotypia 19/09/2013

efsyn 20130919

We will not be afraid
Efimerida ton Syntakton (19/09/2013)

dimokratia 20130919

Fear for the worstScenery of civil war
Dimokratia (19/09/2013)

eleftheros tipos 20130919

Greece at the doorstep of the madhouse
Eleftheros Tipos (19/09/2013)

ethnos  20130919

Resist! The nazism’s monster is killing.
Ethnos (19/09/2013)

ta nea  20130919

Enough!
Ta Nea (19/09/2013)

A new type of civil war

I’m getting fed up of these numb mornings. I usually wake up in the morning, I prepare my coffee and sit on my computer to read the news and check the newspaper headlines. This morning my entire electronic universe was filled with the story 34-year old rapper Killah P (known as Pavlos Fyssas) who was killed by a fascist in Amfiali, Keratsini district, near Piraeus.

The victim, a singer known in the area for his anti-fascist lyrics and activism, was watching last night’s Champions League match with his friends at a coffee shop. During one of their discussions they said something (bad) about Golden Dawn. Someone from the crowd, obviously a Golden Dawn member (not just a voter), has called his fellow neonazi thugs and, after the match, the singer was ambushed, attacked and stabbed to death in front of his girlfriend and another couple.

Here’s one of his songs (you can activate English captions for the lyrics).

Can you be something less than immensely furious about this? I can’t.

Some days ago, another group of about 50 neonazi thugs have attacked a team of 30 communists who were wheatpasting on walls posters for the coming Communist Youth Festival. Eight communists were injured in the event that also took place near Piraeus, at Perama district. It was, once more, one of those mornings.

To tell you the truth, I didn’t expect a serious escalation of anti-leftist violence from Golden Dawn, despite the stated hatred from both sides. There was a very popular quote that was often appearing in my facebook timeline:

First they came for the immigrants, but I wasn’t an immigrant and I didn’t speak. Then they came for the communists, but I wasn’t a communist…

I was quickly scrolling down when I’d see this. But I am now afraid that the violence between Golden Dawn and anything Leftist is not an accidental confrontation in a battle to claim the streets but a rise in planned incidents.

One year ago, Golden Dawn MP Ilias Panayotaros has given an interview to BBC’s Paul Mason. Sitting comfortably, he said that Greece is in a state of civil war. Paul Mason, a connoisseur of modern Greek History, insisted on the phrase “civil war” and Panayotaros explained:

Greek society is ready, even though no one likes it, to have a fight, a new type of civil war. One the one side there will be nationalists, like us and Greeks who want our country to be as it used to be and on the other side there will be illegal immigrants and anarchists…

Watch the video here (go to 01:55 for the Panayotaros segment)

Last week Golden Dawn was involved in tension during two events that commemorated some ugly moments of the Greek Civil War. One was at Meligalas and the other was at Giannitsa. There were no immigrants involved, just leftists and nationalists.

There have been hundreds of attacks against immigrants, leftists, homosexuals and others and the Golden Dawn party has always denied involvement. There was never a denouncing of the event itself because there were seldom enough proofs (for Justice) to incriminate them. This morning, the killer of Pavlos Fyssas has been arrested and, unofficial police sources say that, he was a supporter of Golden Dawn. Was he an official member? Does it make a difference? Of course not. He was definitely a member of a circle of thugs who have answered the phone call at the coffee shop before the end of the football match.

Not only the killer himself has now blood in his hands. The person who made the phone call also has blood in hands. Golden Dawn MPs, like Panayotaros, who have used hate speech against all non-nationalists, who have made anything they could to polarize the Greek society, they all have blood in their hands. And all those who have voted for Golden Dawn should now feel the thick red liquid in their hands too.

The Golden Dawn ballot is now wet and it’s not black anymore. It’s bloody red.

Update: I just found this great poster made back in 2012 by b-positive

“You’ve armed their hands with your vote”

You can’t be serious!

Two opinion polls were published yesterday (one by Public Issue and one by Pulse). Both had two notable changes.

1. SYRIZA was around 1% ahead of New Democracy

2. Golden Dawn was the other party with an increase, it scored some 13%-13,5% (NB it got 7 % in the 2012 elections)

The neo Nazi party is now stabilised in the third position and many people wonder… What the fuck?

I was speaking with a foreign correspondent here in Athens about these polls and she was telling me that most polling companies (which are not the most trustworthy institutions in this country) tend to play down the actual ratings of Golden Dawn in order to avoid the furore. She also told me that the actual ratings of Golden Dawn were rather closer to 16%. But still, one could say, they are too small and no one would cooperate with them in government.

No one? Well, just the other day, Babis Papadimitriou, a presenter of SKAI TV and a longtime supporter of all austerity measures since the beginning of the Greek economic crisis (with whatever this may mean about his political affiliation), threw the idea. “If SYRIZA can discuss the possibility of a coalition with the Communist Party, why couldn’t New Democracy discuss the possibility of a Conservative cooperation with a more serious (sic) Golden Dawn?”

I am not sure what exactly he meant by “more serious” but it seems that he at least recognises the fact the neo nazi party has had a pretty indecent behaviour so far, linked to all sorts of abuses, racist violence, populist rhetoric and foul language inside the parliament. He indeed admitted it in a later TV show. But can they become serious, Mpampis? Are you serious?

In any case, speaking of seriousness, there has been a more serious aspect in the afore mentioned opinion polls that few media have highlighted, or even discussed. It’s the qualitative analysis of the party ratings in specific age groups. According to the Pulse poll, Golden Dawn was the second party in the age groups of 18-29 and of 30-44. It makes you think that Greece is lucky to have an ageing population with more old people than young ones, that births have dropped by 10% this year according to some reports yesterday, that younger people are less inclined to be bothered to vote and that older people still tend to vote the same party that once hired them or gave them a good pension. All these, otherwise negative characteristics, are saving this country from becoming officially fascist.

I got a very dark feeling in my guts when I saw this table. Check for yourself and tell me how you feel.

Pulse Age Groups

The colours (from left to right) represent New Democracy, SYRIZA, PASOK, Independent Greeks, Golden Dawn, Democratic Left, Communist Party, Other party. Blank vote/Invalid vote/abstention, Undecided voters.

And when you try to describe to people, in and outside Greece, about what is to come in the near future, they read your blog posts or look at you, with a puzzled face, and say: You can’t be serious!

Insignificant men and significant things

I met Rochus Misch in March 2007. He was an energetic old man, living at a quiet, insignificant Berlin suburb. For his neighbours he was just Rochus. For the rest of the world he was Hitler’s bodyguard and the last survivor from Hitler’s Bunker below the German Chancellery building. I read a couple of hours ago that he died today and spent some time thinking about my acquaintance with him.

With Rochus Misch at the site of Hitler’s Bunker (Berlin, March 2007) © Kostas Kallergis

I interviewed Rochus for more than 4 hours, it was my first “serious” interview and I wanted to get all the facts straight. Rochus narrated tons of details from his life and his service under Hitler’s direct commands. The inevitable questions were posed. Rochus kept telling me that he didn’t know about the Final Solution. He was Hitler’s shadow, but old Adolf never went to concentration camps, hence Rochus never saw anything. I asked him to conduct a part of the interview at the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin; he had no problem at all, sitting on one of those eerie concrete blocks talking to me about his duties, his service.

Rochus Misch at the Jewish Holocaust Memorial (Berlin, March 2007) © Kostas Kallergis

Rochus Misch at the Jewish Holocaust Memorial (Berlin, March 2007) © Kostas Kallergis

Rochus was orphaned at an early age and, after trying his skills as a painter, he  joined the army. He was a very simple boy who was discovering the world and the offer to serve in Hitler’s bodyguards came completely out of the blue. Suddenly, from a village boy in uniform that he was, Rochus was transformed into the bodyguard one of the world’s most powerful men. Even when I met him, six decades later, I could feel his awe when he was talking about the “boss”. But still, I’d ask the same question again, in other words every time, and he would deny that he knew, he’d try to avoid denouncing the killings, “there is no war without crimes and there will never be one” he kept saying. Why wouldn’t he just denounce the Holocaust? I kept wondering during the week I was in Berlin.

At his home, with his photo albums (Berlin, March 2007) © Kostas Kallergis

At his home, with his photo albums (Berlin, March 2007) © Kostas Kallergis

Was he a fascist? No he wasn’t. He was an insignificant boy who suddenly became significant. His life got meaning under Hitler. He could easily deny everything else apart from the importance of those few years he lived next to Adolf. I remember him being extremely reluctant of talking about his family. I later found out that he had little or no contact with his own daughter. She had found out from her maternal grandmother that her mother (Rochus’ wife) had Jewish origin, something that he never accepted.

Pointing the "boss", as if one could miss him. (Berlin, March 2007) © Kostas Kallergis

Pointing the “boss”, as if one could miss him. (Berlin, March 2007) © Kostas Kallergis

After the war Rochus spent nine years in Soviet camps as a prisoner. He returned to Berlin and had a quiet life after that, much like his younger years. When I met him in his 80s, Nazi Germany was the most vivid, most important part of his life. He wouldn’t get tired of giving interviews to journalists from all around the world, asking him the same things. How was it in the bunker? Did you hear the gunshot when Hitler and Eva committed suicide? Did you see Magda Goebbels poisoning her own children? How did you feel?

Rochus Misch (Berlin, March 2007) © Kostas Kallergis

Rochus Misch (Berlin, March 2007) © Kostas Kallergis

Several years later he published his memoirs. At the website for the book there was this quote of his:

My name is Rochus Misch. I am an insignificant man, but I have experienced significant things.

I am now thinking about Greece. And the rise of the extreme far-right over here. I think of the countless Golden Dawn voters that I have interviewed. Most of them are marginalised. They feel important when they participate in Golden Dawn rallies. They belong somewhere. Much like Rochus. They deny any connection between Golden Dawn and the rise in racist attacks in Greece. We didn’t see, we didn’t hear, if this is true it’s bad but we are not sure yet. Much like Rochus. And they keep supporting them. They turn a blind eye to violence, to populism, to hatred, to intolerance, to social division. And, most importantly, they vote for them.

Insignificant men doing significant (but wrong) things.

PS: I had travelled to Berlin for the production of a documentary about Rochus Misch for WarZone Documentaries where I was working back then. The documentary is available online here (unfortunately only in Greek).