Foreign-born Greek Wives, Husbands and Children at Risk in Greece: Golden Dawn Threatens to Deport All 'Non 100% Greek-blooded Citizens'

by Andrew Leech, ELT News, Leech & Limejuice, Dec. 2012

Anyone following the meteoric rise of Golden Dawn (Greece’s extreme right party with a Nazi/fascist style agenda) is well aware of their well-published, wide-ranging and openly stated aims should they gain office regarding all migrants, immigrants and non-Greeks. This article, however, focuses solely on threats made to deport those who (a) immigrated into Greece mainly as husbands or wives of Greeks, or (b) are the children or grandchildren of such a parent (most are now Greek nationals). From party statements, the issue depends on whether the immigrants are of pure, uninterrupted, Greek bloodline. If not, they are liable for deportation. The same threat also affects those living in Greece on Permanent Residence Permits, whether of the ‘EU National’ type or any other.

According to Eurostat ( approximately 955,000 persons (8.4% of the population) are currently in this category, not counting any children. However, these numbers don’t take into account foreign born wives or husbands who acquired Greek nationality before 1984. Previously, foreign women marrying Greeks received citizenship automatically and disappeared from the alien's statistics ( papers/WPTC-02-10 Bacas.pdf) and men were simply shown as Greek. Personally, I would estimate the true figure of people affected by Golden Dawn’s threat to be at least 25% of the population (if you include all foreign members added to families since the time of their great-grandparents and including their descendants); and that is a conservative number. Statistics for 2004 (for example) show 8,24% of all marriages in Greece were mixed marriages and that percentage is steadily increasing.

Likelihood of gaining power

Golden Dawn has surged ahead in popularity with its anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-Semitic, anti-bailout and ultra-religious platform. From 0.29% of the vote in 2009 it is now in third place with 14%; double what it received when it won 18 seats with 452,000 votes (Greek Reporter 19/10/12). So, if we have snap elections, due to failure of the present government, it would probably gain enough seats to soon begin implementing its long term aims.

In the last election, police support was crucial to making a breakthrough. According to the newspaper Vima, 50% of police officers voted for Golden Dawn and others (estimated 23%) are actual party members – particularly from the riot control section - so they will continue to have a sizable and intimidating presence on the streets. Furthermore, the fact that police salaries were so savagely- and stupidly – reduced in the public sector economic cutbacks; and at a time when they are so vitally needed; has had the effect of pushing even more of our ‘legal guardians’ into the arms of Golden Dawn.

What is surprising is that many middle class people, those expected to totally reject the aims of such a party are actually supporting it, with either votes or action. On talking to some I received the impression they considered Golden Dawn to be the only ones able to send the message: “that if Europe does not want Greece, then Greece doesn’t want Europe,” ... “Golden Dawn are the only ones able to clear out the corrupt politicians in Parliament,” ... “Golden Dawn are the only ones who can prevent a total enslavement of Greece to foreign banks.” They also believe when Golden Dawn has done its work they can move their support to a more democratic party; which seems a rather naive way of thinking, if we look at history. Leaving a nazi-style party is extremely difficult and would probably entail having to leave the country, too!

Another point that few Greeks seem to consider is the effect this policy will have on the only industry still working properly in Greece: tourism. When one considers the result of an attack on a tourist, who probably would not understand the questions a Golden Dawn ‘enforcer’ was asking, it is frightening (and half of current Greek tourism comes from Asia). Would anyone want to visit Greece after that?

Credibility of the threats to deport

To assess the credibility of threats, we need to examine them carefully. The main one, to deport Greek citizens who are not ‘pure blooded,’ comes from Golden Dawn’s deputy leader, – parliamentary representative Ilias Panagiotaros – who believes that: “only 100% Greeks with two Greek parents who were the children of parents who are Greek and can trace their lineage to ancient Greece are really Greek. There are no legal immigrants in Greece. They are all illegal.” he said. “The party wants anyone who is not 100% Greek to be forced to leave the country.” (

Frankly, I do not believe that checks could ever be made to establish bloodline back to ancient Greece. I personally can only trace my own back to about 1790; there are just too few records available. But I can well imagine the party taking a leaf out of the tactic used by Nazi Germany in the 1930s of tracing back to grandparents. Enough documentation is available there.

Another threat surfaced in parliament on 18/10/12, “after a far-right deputy and member of a Council of Europe anti-discrimination committee described immigrants as subhumans,” the Greek news agency ANA reported. Though senior parliamentarians formally condemned her words, Eleni Zaroulia refused to withdraw or alter her remark.

Perhaps intended only towards transient migrants, the fact still stands that she referred to all immigrants (which includes those born abroad who immigrated into Greece to become Greeks and raise families), and when given the chance to clarify her remarks she did not do so. Therefore, her words must stand on a par with those of Panagiotaros and be accepted as a statement of belief on party policy.

Their intentions are plain for all to see. “They do not understand”, said leader Nikos Michaloliakos in a speech in 2011, “that when we become strong, we will be merciless!... If need be, we are not democrats!” ( Furthermore, when asked how he would implement his policy he answered: “use your imagination” ( On this, if on nothing else, Golden Dawn should be taken at its word.

Another Reuters report of 25/4/12 added the following: “In Piraeus, dozens of young men with shaven heads and black t-shirts gathered to hear Golden Dawn's dream of a Greece purged of foreigners .... the party promising voters to start by expelling illegal immigrants - before moving on to the legal ones ....Golden Dawn's manifesto is less benevolent than the good-neighbour image its food drive has helped cultivate ..... Members say discipline and years of unwavering dedication are required to win acceptance. It can take up to three years to become a member - starting first as supporters, then trial-members before joining the ‘family’.

This has an uncanny similarity with the training procedures of the SS in the 1930s, both as to methods and length of training time.

However, it would be wrong to think that the intensification of violence against immigrants means that they are Golden Dawn’s exclusive target. The organization’s own literature bears this out. “Impaired persons, like those who are paranoid, mentally retarded, schizophrenic, epileptic, carriers of mutant genes, incurable alcoholics, heavy drug-addicts and others, should be subjected to sterilization”, maintains an article published by the “Green Wing”, Golden Dawn’s “ecology” branch.

What is chilling about this is how much it is based on the doctrine’s of the 1930s Nazi party. Hitler started with sterilisation of the mentally sick ... then he moved to euthanasia!

Though many think this a transient phase, and that as Greece comes out of its recession Golden Dawn will start to recede as a prime political choice, we cannot ignore the threats. To do so would be to make the same mistakes as in the 1920s-30s when nobody bothered reading the blueprints for a new state that Hitler had made available to all in his book: Mein Kampf.

Furthermore, not a single representative of the EU, or a European government, has so far made a statement on Golden Dawn’s activity, and the actions of the Greek police against protestors are being accepted in silence. Tellingly, even Minister for Public Order, Nikos Dendias, described the presence of foreigners in Greece as a more significant threat than the economic crisis (Independent, 30 Aug 12). Therefore, nothing is likely to be said when Golden Dawn turn their attentions on us.

Yes, Golden Dawn would be able to implement all of its policies if it acceded to power. First focusing on the ‘popular’ reforms, then – when their position was firmly assured –moving on to the others. And who is to say that there would be any change of government after 4 years. “We can replace the constitution with our own,” Kasidiaris (Member of Parliament) told the crowd.” (Ekathimerini 12/11/12) and nobody would - or could - stop them. After all, it has been done before – in 1933 in Germany and 1967 in Greece!

One of the really shocking and pitiful aspects is the role played by Angela Merkel. Her statement to George Papandreou in Berlin in 2010 (Wall Street Journal, 10 May 12) that “she wanted this bailout to hurt so much that no-one else would want it,” and the way she subsequently applied this policy via the Troika, aggravating suffering among the poor, has provided much of the fuel Golden Dawn needed to gain support. She, of all people, and with full knowledge of German history and its seeds, should have known better. It is tantamount to deliberately exporting fascism, especially when linked to the salary cuts made to the police force demanded by the Troika.

What can we do?

Those of us who are Greeks by marriage or naturalisation, or are permanent residents, must unite. We are the largest minority. We must band together now to defend our rights. We are Greeks by virtue of marriage, parenthood, lifestyle and, usually, nationality. We have a vested interest in this country we became part of. Some of us, despite foreign blood in our families, can even see our names in Greek history books. This is our country and many have fought for it. Unity, like fasces (100 little sticks bound together), is our only hope. We cannot rely on the government to protect us, nor the police and perhaps not even the legal system. We have only ourselves and our unity to defend us.

We have high numbers, probably the support of most of the Greek diaspora, some from the Orthodox Church, and – most of all - the legal and moral right to live in our country – even though we may not be able to trace our bloodline to antiquity! Yes, we can organise and defend ourselves, if only we have the common sense to start doing it effectively. If we bury our heads in the sand, like ostriches, and hope it all goes away, we just make it easier for them to say “you have 10 minutes to pack a suitcase, then you’re on the bus to the border! (or worse?)” As Edmund Burke said“When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.

Isokrates (4th Cent. BC) is well known for his famous statement: “And if a man should partake of our culture, let him be called Hellene!” But it seems Golden Dawn may have never read the Ancients they maintain they admire.

(Posting date 18 November 2012. Reprinted with permission ELT News.)

Andrew Leech ( is a former contributing editor of the Greek-American Review of New York. He was born in Cairo, Egypt, of a British father (Lt Colonel British Army) and Greek mother (Marika Calogeropoulou: ballerina, teacher & choreographer). Educated in Britain, he moved to Greece in 1971 while conducting research into the language learning strategies of young children. He returned to Britain in 1977 for postgraduate study. In 1981, he worked in Greece for the Cararigas Schools as Director of Studies before starting his own school in 1984. He also became Director of Studies and Deputy Headmaster of the prestigious St Lawrence College for an interim period. Developing a keen interest in journalism in 1990, Leech became first an internationally known educational correspondent for ELT News and, later, a diplomatic correspondent for Athens News, focusing on visiting dignitaries and heads of state. He is a longstanding member of the Society of Authors and is also a lecturer in Journalism and Communications at Deree College, Athens. For more information about Andrew Leech or to read more of his fine articles, see his brief biography at or visit the archival section of HCS devoted to his works at

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