Greece’s neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, which has actively been recruiting high schoolers to indoctrinate them, has been giving what it calls “national awareness” lessons to elementary school students aged 6-10 to teach them “Greek ideals,” its officials have admitted.
On its website, Golden Dawn said that more than 20 children took part in a tutorial at the party’s offices in Artemida, eastern Attica, on Feb. 23, and were shown educational videos, taught the virtues of the ancient Greek gods and the Christian faith and Greek Orthodox Church.
It was not reported whether they were also taught about the party’s platform to rid Greece of immigrants and its anti-gay, anti-Semitic extremist views on religion and nationalism.
The party, which gained 6.9 percent of the vote in the June elections to win 18 seats in Parliament and is rising in popularity, said that parents were advised to bring their children at specific times to the future tutorials that would ensure the “rebirth of the Greek spirit,” the newspaper Kathimerini reported.
The vigilante far-right movement has begun spreading its anti-immigration message in schools and youth clubs, and through online social media networks, according to recent reports in the international press.
That came as a noted historian of Greece, Columbia University Professor Mark Mazower, former Prime Minister Constantinos Mitsotakis and PASOK Socialist leader Evangelos Venizelos, who is one of the partners in the coalition government headed by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, have also warned of the dangers of Golden Dawn.
The party’s Nikolaos Michaloliakos, called Hitler “a great personality of history” and said the Holocaust that killed six million Jews and hundreds of thousands of gays, gypsies and other targets of the Third Reich never happened. He has denied supporting Nazi tenets, although Mein Kamp was on display at party headquarters.
Samaras, now the chief of the New Democracy party once headed by Mitsotakis, has yet to denounce Golden Dawn’s alleged participation in beating immigrants and pushing for blasphemy arrests, but has adopted its position against immigrants.
Teachers at a primary school in the Athens suburb of Nea Philadelphia accused Golden Dawn earlier of trying to interfere in their work after one of the party’s MPs asked the Education Ministry to investigate an art project assigned to children titled As Refugees Facing Migration.
In a statement, the teachers pointed out that Nea Philadelphia was a neighborhood populated by Greek refugees from Asia Minor. They asked for teaching unions and the Education Ministry to condemn the action of the Golden Dawn MP, who asked for educators to face disciplinary action over the project assigned to pupils.
Venizelos also called for the police to purge themselves of ties to Golden Dawn as earlier reports showed as many as half the officers support the extremists and some have been accused of looking the other way as assaults were taking place on immigrants. Venizelos said that the police must improve their “internal monitoring” to ensure that Golden Dawn does not gain undue influence in the force.
Speaking at an event organized by the Andreas Papandreou Foundation (ISTAME) in Athens last month, Venizelos also called for civil society and the justice system to become more active in opposing Golden Dawn’s actions.
The PASOK leader also said it was time for the Church of Greece to take a clear stance over Golden Dawn, repeating his belief that the party is “unconstitutional” and should be isolated. Some church leaders have openly supported the party.
Golden Dawn said Venizelos’s attack on the party was designed to attract “the praise of international usurers,” criticism apparently aimed at the country’s international lenders, the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) who are putting up $325 billion in rescue loans but have demanded harsh austerity measures in return, which are supported by Venizelos, Samaras, and the other partner in the government, the tiny Democratic Left.
Some 30,000 black-clad neo-Nazis rallied in Athens last month in support of Golden Dawn party, Reuters reported. Billed as a remembrance rally, the event was held to honor three “fallen heroes” of the party. Men dressed in military fatigues, baseball caps and swastikas lit torches and fired flares, chanting anti-immigration slogans.
“We are winning the hearts and minds of the people, because we say it as it is,” Golden Dawn spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris told supporters. “These politicians who have ruled us for decades are crooks. They have betrayed our national interests. They have led us to humiliating defeats,” he said, referring to a 1996 dispute with fellow NATO member Turkey, when three Greek air force pilots were killed in a dispute over an Aegean island before the US intervened, forcing both sides to back down.