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Letter from Athens: Jail House Crock: No Springtime for Hitler for Greece’s Nazis

February 18, 2023

Giving new meaning to the term cell phone, the jailed former spokesman for the neo-Nazi nutcase Golden Dawn party, doing time with former lawmakers convicted of running a criminal gang, started a new extremist party while in the hoosegow.

Greece didn’t have a mechanism in place to bar convicted felons from having political groups who could run for Parliament, and surveys showed Ilias Kasidiaris’ Greek National Party would have gained seats in spring elections.

Not many for sure, with an estimated 3.4 percent of the vote that’s just above the 3 percent threshold needed to win places in the 300-member parliament. That’s way too big for a country of under 11 million people (the U.S. House has 435 members).

But imagine this: if the Parliament hadn’t passed a measure to prohibit Kasidaris’ merry men from running, Greece could then have again seen the specter of Heil Hitler salutes bringing more embarrassment if they won seats.

As crackpots go, Kasidaris is up there with Franz Liebkind, the rooftop pigeon-raising American Nazi in Mel Brooks’ classic comedy, ‘The Producers’, played by Kenneth Mars in a campy over-the-top performance (Greek actor Andreas Voutsinas played Carmen Ghia). The movie is about a bad taste play featuring the song ‘Springtime for Hitler’.

Mars was funny, but Kasidiaris is darker than the Grim Reaper, so you can’t imagine him saying, “Hitler …. there was a painter! … he could paint an entire apartment in one afternoon (pause) two coats!”

Alas, the Hitler wannabees are still at it some 68 years after The Fuhrer – made a fuel of himself. The zealots among us still believe in his messianic mess, even in Greece, which suffered so much during the Nazi occupation of World War II.

Kasidiaris gave up on Golden Dawn and maintains he’s not a Nazi but the platform of his party, which had also been called Greeks of the Fatherland (sound familiar?)
is anti-migrant, Islamophobic, and rejects globalization.

Showing the quicksand on which he stands, he had said while with Golden Dawn that, “we’re the Athenian citizens, not those that came from Bangladesh. The Athenian citizens, the finances of the city will be utilized exclusively to assist the Athenian citizens. Not the illegal immigrants, not the Pakistanis, not the Afghanis, none of those that come to Greece to commit crimes.”

Golden Dawn, which got into Parliament in 2012, was ousted in July, 2019 snap elections – while on trial and before the conviction – but came perilously close to winning seats with 2.93 percent of the vote, only 0.07 percent short.

Having experience speaking for a criminal gang, Kasidiaris was gathering more zealots even from prison where, curiously, he had been allowed to use a cell phone before the administration said his calls would be limited and monitored.

That meant, allegedly, that only his family or lawyers could contact him for chats or on Skype and talk only about personal or family or legal matters or otherwise the signal would be broken off – like the Outer Limits taking control of your channel.

Given his complaints it was his right as a convicted felon to run a political party, it’s a wonder he didn’t gripe that the limitations on his cell phone use were a cruel and unusual punishment – for which he’d have plenty of empty-headed backers.

But he’s a courageous man and he wasn’t even afraid in 2012, on live TV, to throw water in the face of a member of SYRIZA, Rena Dourou, and then get up and slap around lawmaker Liana Kanelli, from the Communist party.

Then he ran away with his tail between his legs to escape arrest, Greek law giving him 48 hours to hide out to avoid that, so this isn’t a guy who’d be in the front ranks of the Spartans against the Persians as he’s with the Creeps of the Fatherland.

When it comes to people like him you need to fall back on what Thomas Jefferson said, when he was mocking religion but it applies here and in other cases of trying to knock on a deaf man’s door forever (thank you, Zorba and Kazantzakis.)

“Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them,” said Jefferson, but Kasidiaris’ proposals have only stink upon them.

Known for anti-migrant vitriol and jingoistic statements, Kasidiaris has been able to put together the new extremist party. Although he reportedly no longer has access to a cell phone, he still has a social media presence.

The law passed, but the vote in Parliament was split, with the ultra-nationalist Greek Solution and KKE Communists voting against the measure, saying it could be used against legitimate activist parties from running.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the ban had to be brought, although it wasn’t directed solely at the National Party, which brought some consternation from opponents.
“We have a duty to protect democracy from its enemies,” he told Parliament as some opposition parties said the language in the bill wasn’t specific enough, SYRIZA arguing it could be open to “misinterpretations.”

Here’s what’s not open to misinterpretation: convicted members of criminal organizations shouldn’t be allowed to run a party or have its members in Parliament, although extending that to non-convicted criminals in politics could leave some empty seats there.

There goes the Master Race again.

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This article is part of a continuing series dealing with reports of Greek POWs in Asia Minor in the Thessaloniki newspaper, Makedonia in July 1936.

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