Published On: Tue, Jun 25th, 2013

One Packet of Nazis – Olive and Feta Flavour please.

Can anybody identify this period, this group and these characters from history? The winning prize is a set of steak knives, which will be sent to you via registered post.

Here are your facts: A country is beset with economic turmoil, which is heightened by the fact that it is under a large degree of fiscal control from foreign nations. Discord, riots and violence exist as a daily reality. Numerous elections are held and none of the elected parties are able to make any headway into the problems that beset the country. As the porridge pot of discontent continues to bubble a radical group with a right-angled symbol of abhorrence begin preaching nationalistic principles and targeting minority and immigrant groups as the cause of all difficulties. They aim to wrest control of the country back from the foreign powers and to ensure that the country is protected for a certain group that fulfils certain ethnic characteristics. All of this is organised by one masterful, distinctive and strong-willed individual whose irrational views are skewed with prejudice.


If you said the 1930s you are wrong.

If you said the Nazis you are wrong.

If you said Adolf Hitler you are wrong.

The real answers are the twenty-teens, Nikolaos Michaloliakos and his party, Golden Dawn. This Greek brand is the latest model in real fascism, which appears to be making a comeback after a dire spell in the political backwaters.  Of course, as many people know, the fascist brand suffered a huge setback in the mid 1940s when the marketing departments’ campaign of war, invasion and murder backfired. While it was always going to be a risky strategy, it turned out that in the long run most people prefer to spread democracy and freedom over their political toast and ultimately the brand never fully recovered, instead occupying a niche in the market.

That is until today when, with the world economy being a big old bowl of scrambled eggs with – in the face of democracy’s apparent inability to deal with the situation – alternative ideologies appearing to be making a big comeback. Of course, if history is anything to go by, we know that real fascism flourishes in countries where there has been a big economic balls-up and the people are pissed off- like really pissed off. Fascism flourishes where people are so pissed off in fact, that they slowly come to look past the real source of their troubles, such as their governments’ uncapped spending over previous generations, or falsification of facts in order to join the Eurozone. Fascism flourishes in countries where that person next door who comes from another country and looks different from you seems a worthy target to unleash your frustrations on. Fascism flourishes in countries like Greece.

So, how much diatribe and vitriol do you get for your Euro in a packet of Nazism these days? Apparently you get the same mix that was so popular in Germany seventy five years ago. For a start, you get roughly the same symbolism. Every member has seven black shirts, labelled Monday through to Sunday. Upon the breast of the shirt you will see their symbol – which at first glance appears to be a swastika, although it does have a laurel wreath around it, to give it that Mediterranean feel. Only when you take a second look, or a ‘Golden Dawnist’ goes to lengths to point it out, do you find that the symbol is in fact a Greek meander. According to party leaders this is one reason you cannot label them as Nazis.

Indeed, Golden Dawn strongly denies its neo-Nazi status. In one video a recruiter can be seen pointing out the fact that their salute goes out straight in front of them while the Nazi salute goes at 45 degrees as evidence. Well now that they have pointed that out I guess they can’t be Nazi’s can they? I am signing up tomorrow. Oh. Wait. I can’t, since I don’t fulfil the necessary ‘Greek blood’ requirement. Hang on – after a quick Google search I also found pictures of members saluting at 45 degrees! Now I am really confused. Which is the salute that makes you a Nazi again?

Chrysi Avgi, which is Greek for ‘Golden Dawn’, gained its first seats in Parliament last year and currently has 18 MPs. They also garner roughly 11.5% support in opinion polls. This surely pleases party founder and leader Michaloliakos who appears to be doing his best to emulate Hitler’s rise to power. Born in 1957, he has always been on the extreme right and has been arrested three times throughout his political career, the most notable detention being the second time, for assaulting journalists in the late 1970s. During his time in prison he learnt many ‘wise’ lessons from the leaders of the then recently deposed military regime. Upon his release, he joined the army, but was soon kicked out because of illegal possession of guns and explosives as well as his right wing leanings. He began editing a right-wing magazine, also called Chrysi Avgi, and soon afterwards founded the party we see in parliament today. He even denies the existence of the gas chambers in World War 2. The only thing he hasn’t accomplished is a Greek translation of Mein Kampf.

Of course, the great irony is that in their effort to rid Greece of its immigrant communities, Golden Dawn is looking to foster growth abroad by targeting the Greek diaspora, particularly in Australia, Canada and the USA. Cities in these countries, particularly Melbourne, Montreal and New York, have played host to Greek immigrants for generations. Obviously then intelligence is not one of the major features that Golden Dawn pursues in its recruitment policy. Wholesome hatred, the ability to become a tap of racist diatribe, general enthusiasm for the cause and a dark pair of aviator sunglasses seem to be far more important characteristics. The group has also begun recruiting in schools. They appear to be willing to do anything to rid Greece of what they call “the rotten establishment”.

So how do we react to these new, olive skinned Aryans? I don’t really think they pose a major threat just yet. Not unless you are a Bangladeshi living in Athens. Are they going to get more powerful? In Greece, they probably will, certainly as long as the economic troubles continue. They were a political pariah a few years ago but seem to be taking bite size chunks of support week by week. It is unlikely that they will gain support anywhere outside of Greece, since most expatriate Greek communities appear to be aware of the fact that they too are immigrants. Nevertheless, if history has taught us anything, it is that hard times bring the lunatics to the fore.  So, I guess the best thing to do is let these guys exhaust all their hatred and hopefully it will trickle out sooner rather than later. Nevertheless – Britons, Americans, Russians, Canadians, ANZACs, South Africans – let’s just keep the knowledge in the back of our minds that in a few years we may need to follow in our grandparents’ footsteps and save the world from evil again. Get the Spitfires and the amphibious landing craft warmed up.

Just in case.

Words by Graham Rex