A blow to neo-Nazi organizations — particularly in Europe, but also throughout the world — was dealt in Athens, Greece, on Oct. 7. After 400 court sessions, over 100 witnesses and five years of prosecution, the fascist Golden Dawn political party was convicted of being run as a “criminal enterprise.”
The parliamentary leadership of Golden Dawn was convicted of directing a criminal conspiracy, and its cadre were convicted of “being members of a gang.” Golden Dawn was founded in 1985 by Nikos Michaloliakos, a former Greek commando with neo-Nazi sympathies.
The public prosecutor supervising the case recommended acquittals for many key party members, citing a lack of evidence. (Guardian, Oct. 7) But the three judges hearing the case disagreed — 68 of its members were convicted, and massive marches throughout Greece showed popular support for these convictions.
Trade unions, particularly PAME (the All-Workers Militant Front founded by Communist Party of Greece trade unionists), progressive political parties and student groups brought out more than 20,000 people to cheer the verdict in front of the Palace of Justice in Athens. They then marched to parliament, where they held a moment of silence for victims of Golden Dawn and demanded “exemplary punishments” and maximum sentences for members of this fascist party. (Greek Communist Party Statement, Oct. 8)
Marches against Golden Dawn were held in Thessaloniki, Agrinio, Arta, Volos, Ioannina, Zakynthos, Igoumenitsa, Heraklion, Ikaria, Katerini, Kozani, Cephalonia, Kardista, Larissa, Patras, Pyrgoss, Samos, Santorini, Syros, Trikala, Tripoli and Chania. Videos of the marches showed careful attention to pandemic hygiene.
Golden Dawn engaged in street violence from the beginning, but the 2010 financial crisis, when the European bourgeoisie imposed harsh austerity, gave it a big electoral boost. It presented itself as an opponent of austerity and portrayed its racist xenophobic attacks on Greek workers as opposition to foreign inference. The organization built ties to other right-wing, fascist parties in Europe and the U.S.
Golden Dawn aimed attacks at LGBTQ+ people, members of PAME and immigrants. Group members were found guilty of killing a Pakistani fruit worker, Ssazad Lukman, in Athens in 2013. Abouzid Embarak, an Egyptian fisher working in Athens in a joint Egypt-Greece project to improve fishery technology, was left for dead after a Golden Dawn attack on his boat, but he survived to testify at the organization’s trial.
Pavlos Fyssas, one of the first people killed by Golden Dawn, was a political rapper whose lyrics skewered the group’s claim to respectability. Fyssas was a metal worker like his father and active in his union, which was affiliated with PAME. He was a member of the anti-capitalist political party Antarsya. His mother attended almost all the court hearings and cried out as the verdict was read: “My son has won!”
For a while, Golden Dawn was Greece’s third largest party with 21 seats in parliament. But as its fascist practices were exposed, it lost influence, and in the 2019 general elections did not get enough votes to gain any seats. By the time of the trial, even the Greek president, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, whose role is mainly ceremonial, supported the judgment.
Now a number of other groups in Greece are competing for the mantle of fascism.
But all of them will have to confront the masses of anti-fascist Greek workers, who are organized and in the streets.