Golden Dawn, a personal affair

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Last October we had the chance to attend the screening of the documentary “Golden Dawn, a personal affair” by the Greek director Angélique Kourounis with whom at the end of the film the public was able to speak in an open question session. This documentary aims to show the day to day of the Greek fascist party Golden Dawn and explain what leads people from all social strata and political ideologies to give them their vote.

It’s Friday night, it’s cold and there are not many people walking on the streets of Munich. I’m going to the Greek cultural centre of the city to watch a documentary that caught my attention not because of the subject but for the methodology. I arrive early, maybe too much because in the projection’s room, a first floor of an old building, there is only one of the organizers checking that the projector and the sound equipment work well and another man that greets me when I enter the place. The room is small, must be about thirty or forty square meters and half is full of chairs, arranged in two blocks leaving a space in the middle. I sit in the third row and while I wait for everything to start, more people come in, most of them speak Greek but I also hear German and even a man with a French accent.

The president of the Greek association of the city and a representative of the antifascist group of Munich present the documentary. We are also lucky to have the presence of the director herself and one of the screenwriters, who have followed the day to day of one of the most controversial Greek political parties since the outbreak of the economic crisis: The popular association Dawn Golden or simply Golden Dawn (Χρυσή Αυγή).

Founding leader of Golden Dawn, Nikolaos Michaloliakos (right) and spokesman to parliament Ilias Kasidiaris (left). Source

Although it is a party with its foundational statements presented in 1980, [1] it was not until 2012 that we met them in the rest of Western Europe, when they first entered the Greek parliament with a considerable 6.9 % Of votes. Golden dawn does not differ much from the rest of ultra-right parties that can come to our mind, their speech is based above all on the exaltation of national values and the rejection of everything that escapes from the established standards (White, Christian, heterosexual). They also have traces of imperialist nostalgia (they want to live again in what they call a great Greece where only Greeks who meet their definition could live) and do not hesitate to use violence to achieve their goals.

Investigating a little, one discovers things as surprising as that a group of former members of Golden Dawn was part of the armed group Greek Voluntary Guards (GVG) or Elliniki Ethelontiki Froura – EEF, who fought in the Bosnian war following the instructions of the Republika Srpska army and participated in the Srebrenica genocide. These members were honoured by Radovan Karadžić himself. [3] Its criminal history does not end here, its founding leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, and other members were arrested in 2013 for membership in a criminal organization responsible for the murder of hip hop singer and activist Pavlos Fyssas. Several threats and assaults on journalists have been reported and the party spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris (also imprisoned for illegal possession of weapons) attacked a Syriza party candidate and a communist party candidate in a Greek television debate.

Radovan Karadzic, president of Republika Srpska during the Bosnian war honoring members of the GVG (Greek Volunteer Guard). Source

With this scenario we may wonder, how have these individuals come to have representation in a democratic parliament, how is that possible that they still give services and have a social structure (offices, public programs to distribute food to the “real Greeks”,…) and the most important, why do they have the support of people from all social status and ideologies? These are some of the issues that led Angélique Kourounis to make a documentary that would try to give some answers and show what the members and sympathizers of Golden Dawn think from a point of view as natural as possible.

With this idea, the director begins to follow the activities of the party in Athens, goes to the headquarters, stays with them to drink coffee and accompanies them to the demonstrations. She never intends to infiltrate, rather on the contrary, she attends the events like anyone else and records almost everything with the mobile, asks questions and shows interest in them and their stories.

What is more surprising perhaps is that they almost never ban her from filming; indeed, they answer the questions she asks and agree to let her enter their lives. So much permissiveness in the end is taking their toll because thanks to various oversights, she records speeches that contradict the official version they give at rallies. But maybe they don’t care much if people know what they really think, they know that even if it’s not politically correct, it’s the same most of their followers think.

Member of the far right Golden Dawn party hold flags as they take part in a rally in Athens on February 1, 2014. Some 3 000 farright Golden Dawn nationalists took part in the rally to commemorate a 1996 incident between Greece and Turkey at Imia island. Meanwhile anti-fascist protesters clashed with police as they gathered nearby to oppose the rally of members and supportes of the Golden Dawn extreme-right party. AFP PHOTO / Louisa GouliamakiLOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images
Members of Golden Dawn in a demostration. AFP PHOTO / Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

This permanent job of attending and documenting yields results after 5 years with a film that shows us the complexity of Greek society, where the extremes of both ideological sides are very active and where a large part of the population has lost any hope in traditional politics, and with a broken country, seeks to cling to anything that gives hope. Conservatism, xenophobia, homophobia, reaction to the austerity policies of the European Union, seen by many as a new Germanic invasion, all wrapped up in an environment where you won’t miss swastikas, mein Kampf’s and racism.

Golden dawn, a personal affair is a courageous work, for which the members of the project are exposed to suffer the consequences of being in contact with radicalised people, who do not hesitate to use violence. It is a different documentary, in which the director although being a journalist is also a citizen like any other who sees how her country is becoming a hostile place, where the rejection of the other becomes more present everyday; and decides to combat this situation with all she has, a camera and a desire to show the world how things are at street level.

For this reason and for the work of informing and denunciation of violent groups that enhance the polarization of society, it is worthwhile to publicize the film and give it economic support if possible,

Here you can see the trailer:




Rosa M. Torrademé

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