[Read a translated interview from ‘Ethnos’ newspaper with a former Golden Dawn member from the local branch of Nikaia that recently left the Nazi organization. This is the complete interview as it came with the printed version of the newspaper in two parts (on the 20th and 21st of September 2013. We have put links to the the uploaded parts of the interview wherever available, although a few sentences from the responses are missing from the uploaded version of interview.]
Ethnos 20/09/2013 [first part]
Revealing Interview – The Nazis’ masks are falling off
[Pictures from ‘Ethnos’ newspaper website: http://www.ethnos.gr/article.asp?catid=22768&subid=2&pubid=63890777]
They were doing bussiness with Pakistanis!
When did you join Golden Dawn?
I joined when the first public meeting of the local branch in the neighborhood of Nikaia [Athens] took place. The call took place through Facebook. People from the organization were asking for help because Pakistanis were about to march towards their offices to smash them. This is the first time I went.
It was a Thursday afternoon, I remember, and I passed by, asking how I can join the organization. I ideologically agreed with the vision of a Greece without illegal immigrants, but not with the violence, not with beating them. So I went there and joined. They even issued a member card for me.
How can someone become a member?
You pay 20 euros, you show them a Greek ID card and you get registered. Your member’s card indicates which organization you belong to and it has your membership number on it.
Do you still have the card?
Yes, I have kept it at my house. Since I joined, they put me in the core group [i.e. of the local branch]. The difference between being just a member and being a member of the core group is that the latter is much more active. The core group started with 20 people, but at some point took unprecedented dimensions at some point, and this made it hard to control. Joining the core was a trend. G. Patelis, the person in charge for the whole branch, decided to create both a closed and an open core. In the closed core there would be only those who were pumped up from the use of pills.Who would belong in the open core? Most of the people would belong in the open core, which also included all the women. Then the leadership changed their minds and excluded women. When someone new was coming, they would get him involved in around 5-6 activities and then they would let him know if he was to enter the open core. Then you would continue, you would get more involved and, if they liked you, you could join the closed core. The closed core was allegedly the place where they would reveal their secrets. However in reality these would not stay so secret, because there were individuals there that would talk outside.
What kind of secrets?
About their plans. About going to make a strike at this or that address, this or that house where 10 Pakistanis stay, going out to write slogans on the walls, going out to beat immigrants, etc.
Were they mainly beating immigrants?
They would beat Pakistanis only for people to see. Because I cannot accept that I can beat Pakistanis and then offer them protection. Any Pakistani you ask in Nikaia, he will laugh if he hears about Golden Dawn. The local branch in Nikaia acts as a protection racketeer and extorts money from the Pakistanis. Nikaia branch collects clothes given to their charities for the poor, but these are then given to the Pakistanis to get them sold at street markets and then pay Golden Dawn a of the profits. I am not the only one to have witnessed this kind of things. In another occasion they were collecting money for some person facing significant financial problems and then they put the money in their own pockets. They would say that they collected 40 euros and after the counting at the close core we would learn that there was more than 300 euros collected. They were using this money to pay their bills and to live well with it. Although Giorgos Patelis and his wife are unemployed and their only income is his mother’s pension, they live in a big, cozy house in Nikaia. He pays for water, electricity, and telephone bills and lives a good life, and keeps saying with pride that he gives 15 euros per day to his son. If you are unemployed, there must be some other way in which this money is made.
Does Lagos know all these?
None of these could happen without his support. Lagos knows everything. People who spoke out were beaten badly. Even though they had evidence, they were beaten and kicked out of the branch. They were accused as liars and undisciplined and would have to face disciplinary action. If you saw wrongs and confessed about them, you were out, this was your end. This is how they created a clique consisting of pumped up guys, a storm troop as they wanted it and this is how we got to the current situation and the murder.
[Translated from Ethnos newspaper (printed version). Link to the uploaded relevant section: http://www.ethnos.gr/article.asp?catid=22768&subid=2&pubid=63890778.]
Camouflage uniforms only for the chosen ones!
How many people are there in the storm troop?
The storm troop consist of the Core group is the. When I left, there were about 30 individuals, but then it was joined by more people that I have not met personally.
Are these 30 the ones that were where Fyssas was murdered?
How do the militias work?
The storm troop of Nikaia wears the black and white camouflage trousers. They call it ‘urban uniform’, they are the uniform of the storm troop and nobody except the local branch of Nikaia has the right to wear it. They do whatever Patelis asks for. Whenever they go to do something, he tells them to prepare, to wear black and not Golden Dawn T-shirts (to prevent the stigmatization of the movement), and to wear helmets so that their faces will not be recognised.
What kind of orders did you take when you were a member?
When the anarchists were demonstrating in Nikaia, Patelis arrived at the crowded office panicked and ordered the whole group to go to the street. They all went out, carrying the sticks and helmets that they have. They make these sticks and helmets disappear by moving them to a different house every time, so that the police will not find them. So they grabbed these and also some shields, and went out to chase anarchists.Where exactly do they hide these weapons?
The last time they were waiting a police investigation, they hid them in Patelis’s car. The shields and the sticks were taken out of the offices and were hidden at his car and his mother’s house, not at his. Some other time, when an ‘upon arrangement’ police investigation was about to happen [i.e. someone from inside the police would let Patelis know] he would ask from anyone carrying a gun, to hand it over to him.
Did they have weapons?
Yes. Knives, foldable batons, firecrackers and I had heard that some were carrying guns, but I had not seen any myself.
Does Giorgos Patelis carry a gun?
No. He would always put others do the ‘dirty work’ for him and he would just sit back pretending he has no idea.
So does the branch of Nikaia take over the protection of other Golden Dawn branches?
Yes, they have taken over the task of protecting. No matter where it is that they are summoned they show up; not only in Piraeus, Salamina, Perama. Wherever there is a problem, they will show up. In Thermopylae it was Nikaia that had taken over the security of the event; in Salamina, where the local branch was holding an event for the opening of its office, they were also there. When there were ordinary people around, they would also start attacking the foreigners, in order to impress. They would beat them in order to show off.
Were you involved in clashes with anti-fascists in any other occasion?
No. Every time the antifascists would say that we had chickened out, we would just say the same and this way there was no other encounter. This is the first time things get there, to the point where someone says he is an anti-fascist and is killed for this.
What did one have to do in order to join the Closed Core group, the storm troop?
You need to have a very strong stomach. To be able to accept anything. You are a zero. Do you know what it feels like to be asked to do push-ups while getting kicked in the ribs in front of everyone? You are a zero and you have to do whatever you are told. You don’t have an opinion. It is an order, that’s it!
What do you know about Pavlos Fyssas’s murder, what have you heard from other Golden Dawners who you might still be in touch with and what exactly do you think has happened?
I know that he was targeted for his antifascist songs. He had some lyrics that were offensive for Golden Dawn. I personally give him credit for this. Everyone can write whatever they want. This does not give one the right to take a gun against them. He was an antifascist, he was singing it, and they knew it.
There are testimonies that there were two members of Golden Dawn in the café where everything started, and that they called someone. Who would they be supposed to call, according to the hierarchy?
Patelis. Everyone has Patelis’s number. The person who called either made a call directly to him [Patelis] or to someone who would notify him. Patelis notified Lagos. And Lagos would notify Michaloliakos. While I was in the local branch of Nikaia this is how we were told it works.
[Translated from ‘Ethnos’ newspaper (printed version). Link to the uploaded relevant section: http://www.ethnos.gr/article.asp?catid=22768&subid=2&pubid=63890816]
From Patelis to Lagos and then to the leader
So how exactly did the hierarchy work?
No matter what it was about, you had to first inform Patelis. You would never call Lagos directly. Lagos then informs Michaloliakos. Lagos is the one getting informed about Nikaia.
Does Lagos inform Kasidiaris, Panagiotaros and the other MPs?
I do not know, but I think that he informs them. In Nikaia, we were informing Patelis; Patelis would then inform Lagos; and from that point on were said that the leader had to OK. You could proceed only once the leader had said OK.
Could something like this happen without leader’s OK?
I believe yes, it could have happened without the leader’s OK. But Lagos must have known about it. Lagos is the one responsible for Nikaia. He knows everything, the robberies, the beatings, the protection racketeering in Memou and Eleytherias squares where there are still vicious conflicts going on.
What do you mean by “protection”?
We offer protection to the cafés and clubs. They [the Golden Dawn] want to take this job from the Albanians who are the ones currently doing it.
Do you know where the Nikaia branch gets its money from?
No. I have only seen the members’ subscriptions. Ordinary people would also come and give around 200 euros as a contribution.
What was the relation between Giorgos Roupakias and the Nikaia branch? Was he Patelis’s “right hand”?
Apart from the fact that he is in the Core group, Giorgos (Patelis) had also put him – without any elections or anything – in the five-member Council of Nikaia. Giorgos only puts his own people there.
What does the council do and how can this be proved?
It is the Council that takes all the decisions for Nikaia. This is supposed to be based on the branch’s charter. They used to keep records, but I don’t know if they still exist.
So there were records kept? Are there names included?
Yes. The five-member Council consists of Patelis, his wife Nitsa, Tsakanikas, who was Egyptian and because he could not show up himself, they put his wife, Anastasia, Roupakias and someone whose name is Vasilis – I don’t know his surname.
Does Giorgos Roupakias have a membership card?
Of course he does. The moment you join the Nikaia branch you pay 20 euros and give your Greek ID. He has his own membership card and it must also appear at the office’s archives. There is also a book where you sign to confirm you have received your card and you write down your phone number, address, marital status and – the men – whether they have completed their military service and where. There is proper profiling. Those participating in the Close Core also have their own special book with pictures of them where their achievements are also written down.
How many Pakistanis have you beaten, in how many party gatherings and events you have been present, etc.
Who is N. Beneki who is photographed next to N. Skarpeli?
She is Lagos’s girlfriend. She was kicked out of the central GD offices because she is Albanian. She is there under Lagos’s auspices. I am from Greece and I don’t accept being subjected to ideological indoctrination by an Albanian.
Ethnos 21/09/2013 [second part]
Did the storm troops start exlusively from Nikaia? In how many incidents have they taken part?
This is how were named, Storm Troop. They have been everywhere. At the incident outside the military camp in Korinthos they had left Nikaia and headed to Korinthos and they had taken a minor with them as well. The man who was in charge there was sitting back taking pictures, without any second thoughts about these kids and what he gets them involved in.
Who was involved in the Perama incident, the attack against the members of the Communist Party [KKE]?
The same. It was the same ones who were also present at the murder [in Amfiali]. The Nikaia group. And I know this from witnesses that saw them in both incidents [in Perama and in Amfiali]. You know, there are 150 people that left from the local branch of Nikaia.
But the perpetrators were wearing helmets…
If I see you every day, for one and a half year, I will know who you are, even if when you wear a helmet. That simple. Friends from Perama also told me that Giorgos brought his boys and crushed them [the communists].
[Translated from Ethnos newspaper (printed version). Link to the uploaded relevant section: http://www.ethnos.gr/article.asp?catid=22768&subid=2&pubid=63890861]
Why did they do the attack?
It was Lagos’s order. Everything starts from there. Once you get an order you just carry it out.
When you had to go to a gathering with others, who would tell you where to go and what to do?
When there was a public gathering, you would receive text messages sent through the internet. We would not be informed about such things during meetings inside the office of Nikaia.
Had they ever sent you a message asking you to join them somewhere for beating someone or such things
No. They would never inform us this way because they were afraid it would leak. They would usually summon us at the offices and inform us that something would take place the next day and that all men had to be present. They would say tonight men must be at that particular spot. And they would only learn what they had to do once they would get there. It could be about beating Pakistanis, writing slogans on the walls, anything. And the next day they would come and applaud and give an account of what had happened: “Well done to that guy who beat up the Pakistani”.
What has impressed you the most during your days in Golden Dawn?
They had gone to a mountain and one member of Golden Dawn Nikaia (his details are kept by our newspaper) said that while they were returning, they found two Pakistanis on their way. They made one of them lay down on the street, and then he walked back to gain some speed and kicked his head as in a penalty kick. I was stunned having heard this. And he was bragging about it. At that point, I started realizing that this organization was not for me.
Why have many individuals left Golden Dawn?
Because of the robberies and the beatings. Being a Nationalist does not mean killing the other. Put illegal immigrants in boats, airplanes, whatever, and send them to their countries. Don’t kill them.
How many members does the Nikaia branch have?
Over 5.000 members. A lot of people have joined. But also many have have left.
What do you have to do in order to join the Closed Core group and become Patelis’s right hand?
You have to beat Pakistanis. I could have joined, if I wanted to.
Was Roupakias’s wife in Nikaia’s branch?
Yes. She was responsible for the office’s coffee shop. Patelis used to put them in these places and he would keep record. He would say this person is responsible for this; his wife was in charge of the women. In theory there were records for all these, because there was a charter regarding the posts. However, someone could have gotten in the offices and threw them already.
Were Panagiotaros and Germenis vising the offices often?
Lagos, as well. He would come at least every Thursday when his girlfriend was there to do the ideological indoctrination.
Did they make you buy bullet-proof jackets?
Yes. The ones we were getting were quite good. We would buy them from the shop next to Egaleo’s Police Station. We would go there and say “we are from Golden Dawn Nikaia” and we would buy them at discounted prices.
Are Michaloliakos, Kasidiaris, Panagiotaros, and Germenis often present at the broader area of Piraeus?
They strongly support Nikaia, because it is Nikaia’s branch that they all call for the difficult tasks. We were going everywhere. In Athens, as well. If they summon us, we go anywhere. And even when there was a procession of a holy icon at a church near Diligianni Street [where the central offices of GD used to be], they had called Golden Dawners from Nikaia for it. They are everywhere. In Ilioupoli, too. And also at the theater, where there was that play going on. And even when you do not see them in the camouflage outfit, they are there in black.
And what happens with the Police?
When the Police arrested Patelis, we could not understand why, and he told us that they got him involved in the case of the beating of a woman who was pregnant. Then his best friend, a policeman from Nikaia Police Station (his details are with our newspaper) intervened in his favor [for his release]. I am 100% sure the police provide information to Golden Dawn.
What do you know about the MPs?
Those underneath know nothing. Giorgos (i.e. Patelis) knows. And if he wants, he can inform others. The only thing we knew was that we would report to Lagos and then Lagos would give the OK for us to proceed. Lagos would kick out those pointed out by Giorgos. He would say to Lagos: “He is not good for us, he is a leftist.” Out of the blue. And this person would be kicked out. Without any warning, you could show up at the offices one day and get beaten up and kicked out. A member of the group who was kicked out, a guy who had undergone surgery for brain cancer, was beaten savagely by five members. The excuse was that he had stolen one euro. Even though he said: “guys, I am not the one in charge of the money”. And when he wanted to go to Lagos to complain about this they were not letting him. Whoever protested was kicked out.
Golden Dawn denies that Giorgios Roupakias is a member of the party.
Golden Dawn should better have a look at their photos that have leaked. Ordinary fans of the party do not go official Golden Dawn events. You have to be one of their guys in order to participate in the physical activities.
The Nikaia organization is considered – and this is also what MP G. Germenis has stated – as an exemplar for all Golden Dawn groups. Even more, Germenis congratulated Patelis.
Clearly this is how it is. This is what everyone says. When we have good coverage to manage to hide our dirt it seems like the best Core. These are the ones saving us from the Pakistanis, people think. These are the ones that will save the old grandma. But they truth is that it is considered as the best Core because of all the dirty work they carry out.
The hacker you mentioned before, what exactly is his job?
He attacks the facebook pages of members that have left and the administrator of webpages. My facebook profile was attacked; he stole my passwords and deleted it. In there, there were many conversations between me and the branch’s Secretary where I was informing him about what was going on.
What were you informing him about?
I have told him about a group of blacks that had started protesting, and I was asking him what would do with them. He had replied “we are waiting for Lagos’s orders”. Later, he came back to me saying that Lagos had not given any orders. Later I learned from guys in the neighborhood that the “boys in black” went down there and smashed the blacks.
But, why did they delete your Facebook profile? Did it have any material that was potentially harmful for them?
On Facebook I was talking with many Golden Dawners, all of us were using fake names. There were no orders about what we should do there. They would only pass such orders when we were meeting. On Facebook we would just inform each other about things we had heard. That is what Giorgos has told us to do. But there must have been something on my page that they did not like. I also had many pictures from Golden Dawn events, many of them showing faces too.
What was the ideology you were being taught in the offices?
That we are Nazis. They say it openly in the offices. But we do not salute like Hitler. However, in the ideology courses, we were told that Hitler did not burn the Jews.
Did the local organization of Nikaia have other storm troops?
There was even someone in charge of the ‘Innova’ and the ‘Centaurs’.
What is ‘Innovas’?
It is the motorized group. We would say: “The Innovas are here!” It is the brand of the motorbikes they drive.
Ah, like the DELTA police group?
Yes, almost. They are the ones that can go quickly wherever they are needed. They intervene whenever there is trouble or they gather together in order to carry out certain activities.
What is the Centaur’s team then?
The underage youths of the local branch of Nikaia. The person in charge there is the one also in charge of ‘Innova’. We have one high school student, an excellent student, particularly good in history, who also runs some of the ideological courses. He uses a lot of historical data and refers to specific events. When this or that took place, etc.
Does this mean that they recruit in schools too?
No. Some 16-years-old hang out in the offices. Whoever deserves it can move up the ranks. It is not the case that they go to schools in order to recruit students.
Why did you decide to leave GD?
Because they were lying, they were stealing and when some of us started speaking out and eventually learning where all this money goes. We started learning about the money given by members that nobody used to know how it was used, the clothes that was supposed to be collected for those in need and then were given to Pakistanis to have them sold at their stalls. Everything, in general, was happening without our own opinions being voiced, and they would even kick some of us out of the group for no reason. For me it was over.
Did the murder of a young man play any role in your decision?
Of course. Nobody should arm your hand just because someone is different. This is what they taught us, to hate Pakistanis, to hate whoever is different.
Do you believe any more in Golden Dawn?
No, it is over for me.
[Translated from Ethnos newspaper (printed version). Link to the uploaded summary of the relevant section: http://www.ethnos.gr/article.asp?catid=22768&subid=2&pubid=63891467]