Friday, 15th March, 7:30 am. A couple from Phillipines waits at the traffic lights to cross Kifisias st., near the ‘President’ hotel.
When the light turns green, the man holds his partner’s hand, they cross the street and dissapear in the narrow streets of Ampelokipoi. Golden Dawn’s public gathering at the hotel’s basement has already started and it is the first official appearance of the organization in this quiet migrant neighborhood.
At the entrance of the hotel a girl walks past us. She is elegant and looks like she’s got a professional meeting. We follow her as she goes past the reception and heads toward the stairs. “The gathering?”, she nods to the sizeable security guard. “Two levels down” he answers stepping at the same time aside. In the comme il faut lobby, you can hear reverberating the slogan… “blood – honour – Golden Dawn”. As we walk down, more people join, among whom a priest. “Greek history lessons – the truth about ’21” [the Greek revolution for independence] is the title of the talk which has already started with more than 500 people squeezed in the hall and another 50 attending from the entrance (“it started at 7.30, you should have been here earlier”, the organizers yelled at some of them). We look around. Lots of shaved heads and pumped-up muscles, lots of elderly people, lots who look like university students and lots of women of all ages. The TV channels are also there.
From the podium, standing in front of a giant greek flag, Christos Pappas introduces the Educational Foundation of Geopolitical and Historical Studies of Golden Dawn. “It is about the effort of pure Greeks who shiver when listening to the national anthem, it is the beginning of a intellectual effort, the dawn before the blinding light of the Golden Dawn of Greekness”, he says. “It was springtime when the revolution of 1821 started”, he reminds the audience. History “lessons” begin with the historian – according to the programme – Eirini Dimopoulou, who cites excerpts from a letter, dated from 1598, by the then Patriarch of Alexandria, Meletios Pigas, according to which: “The Turks chopped off 30.000 tongues of Greeks in a day because they insisted talking Greek.” She refers also to a communique of PAME [the Communist Party’s trade union] that was handed out in schools this year in anticipation to the 25th of March national celebrations: “They tell us that there was no Secret School.* The dominance of the Left in education and in culture, it is time it got stopped”, she says, being applauded. Let us remind that Golden Dawn has also ‘founded’ history schools for children where the latter are taught Golden Dawn’s version of history. Last week the course included building a kite with Golden Dawn’s insignia.
“Let truths be heard”
All of a sudden, the smiles in the entrance hall freeze. Ilias Kasidiaris is coming out bursting: “where is the sound engineer?”, he screams. “I want volume, this is not volume”. In a few moments he steps up on the podium. He refers to scattered but glorious incidents of the Greek revolution, ending up talking about the philhellene doctor, John Mayer, publisher of the Greek Chronicles of Mesollogi. “The Greek state didn’t have 5000 euros to spend for obtaining his memoirs of the Mesologgi siege, but it did have 1 million euros for Angelopoulos’ movies that nobody watches.” He then turns to the cameras: “At this point we have to say something about the huge provokation with the Turkish TV series, because they will find us confronting them. This Turko-lust will not pass”, he shouted, receiving all the applaud. Someone turns to his wife, pointing his finger to his brains: “I told you”, he seems to say. “the fuss doesn’t last long. Everyone shows discipline to the order for ‘silence’”.
Next comes the philologist Nikolaos Lemontzis. “During the Turkish occupation a great many people changed their religious beliefs out of dread”, he says. “Only a monk tried to subvert things. No other than Kosmas of Aetolia”, he adds, to receive widespread applaud.
“Like God-sent, the movement of Golden Dawn has been born.”, N. Mihaloliakos says, closing the round of talks. “Let everyone come here to hear truths. They are ragging because now we play on their terrain. We are the new Secret School”.
Outside the hotel, the black flock became dense. Silence in the streets.
Note: President Hotel did not want to comment on their decision to host the gathering in its premises.
[* Translator’s note: the ‘Secret School’ refers to an unproved belief according to which the Ottoman Empire was prohibiting the teaching of Greek language. According to the relevant story, Greek children were being taught Greek language in ‘Secret Schools’ run in churches]
[Translated article from ‘Kathimerini’ newspaper, 20-03-2013, found online at: http://portal.kathimerini.gr/4dcgi/_w_articles_kathbreak_1_20/03/2013_488754]