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Head of Chryssi Avghi, the Greek neo-Nazi party, denies existence of gas chambers

Translated Wednesday 23 May 2012, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Henry Crapo

Nikolaos Michaloliakos, the head of the Greek neo-Nazi group Chryssi Avghi (Golden Dawn), which entered Parliament on May 6, denied the existence of gas chambers in a television interview broadcast on the evening of May 13. This drew a protest from the government in a country where Holocaust denial is not a crime.

“Auschwitz, what about Auschwitz? I haven’t been there. What happened there? Were you there?” Nikolaos Michaloliakos pretended to ask himself, as seen in the video of a program broadcast by the private Mega network on the evening of May 13. “There were neither ovens nor gas chambers, it’s a lie,” he added. He also stated that he had “read a lot of books that question the figure of six million Jews” exterminated by the Nazis.

It is the first time since his election victory that the leader of the neo-Nazi party has publicly made statements denying the Holocaust. Chryssi Avghi won 6.9% of the vote and obtained 21 deputies by playing on the Greeks’ anger at austerity and on their xenophobic reflexes. Michaloliakos also repeated that he considered Hitler to be “a great historical figure of the 20th century.” “I don’t say ‘heil’, simply because that’s something said to someone who is living,” he replied to a journalist who asked him if he continued to support an appeal to make the Nazi salute, which he had signed in 1987.

Pantelis Kapsis, the spokesman for the lame duck government, has “very categorically condemned” these statements, “which distort History and amount to a brutal attack on the memory of the millions of victims of the Holocaust.” He also pointed out that, among those victims, there are “tens of thousands of Greek Jews,” in a rare official reference to the community’s fate. The fact that the Nazis exterminated 95% of the Greek Jews has only recently figured in history textbooks in Greece.

The Council of the Jews of Greece had previously called upon “the political leaders, civil society, the teaching community and the intellectuals to condemn and isolate the forces” of the Chryssi Avghi sort.

Chryssi Avghi, a neofascist party. The organization was founded in 1980 by Nikolaos Michaloliakos (then 23), today a 55-year-old man, mathematician by training. Trained under the former junta dictators, this activist had been found guilty of acts of violence in 1976 (age 19) and 1978 (age 21). His organization remained on the fringes of society and in semi-clandestinity until it made a breakthrough in 2010, after having infiltrated the poor neighborhoods of downtown Athens by going after the immigrants living in crowded conditions there. Mr. Michaloliakos attracted attention when he was elected to the Athens city council by making the Hitler salute, although since 2005 he has played down his Nazi profile. He also denies the use of violence by his troops, even though it has been proved.

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