Skip to main content

Jewish group condemns remarks by leader of Greek far-right party

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 11:48 AM EDT, Tue May 15, 2012
Extreme-right Golden Dawn party leader Nikos Michaloliakos has been condemned over controversial Holocaust comments.
Extreme-right Golden Dawn party leader Nikos Michaloliakos has been condemned over controversial Holocaust comments.
  • Nikos Michaloliakos said on a Greek TV channel: "There were no gas chambers" in Auschwitz
  • The government and a Greek Jewish group condemn the far-right leader's remarks
  • Golden Dawn won almost 7% of the vote in parliamentary elections this month

Athens (CNN) -- A Jewish group in Greece has condemned the leader of the extreme-right Golden Dawn party over comments he made about the Holocaust in a TV interview.

Nikos Michaloliakos told Greece's Mega TV channel in an interview shown Sunday that "there were no gas chambers and ovens [crematoria] in Auschwitz," said the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece, or KIS.

The politician's remarks come amid growing concern about the apparent rise of the far right in Greece.

Golden Dawn won 21 seats in the country's May 6 parliamentary elections, after winning almost 7% of the vote. Two years ago, it commanded only 0.28% support.

Technocracy to save Greece?
What happens if Greece leaves the euro?

Some members of the ultranationalist party, which proposes harsh measures to combat illegal immigration, have been linked with street violence and neo-Nazism.

In a statement, KIS urged the Greek government to "condemn and isolate the forces seeking the revival of the darkest ideology of the European history," saying Michaloliakos' position was an affront to the Greek people.

"It is an insult to the historical memory, the memory of the 6 million Jews, our brethren, amongst whom there where 70,000 Greek Jews, who perished in the death camps of Auschwitz, Dachau, Treblinka and the other sites of the extermination factory founded by Adolf Hitler," KIS said in a statement.

"It is an insult toward the survivors, who are still alive to bear witness of this atrocity. It is an insult toward all those who fought against the Nazis. It is an insult to the history of Greece, the sacrifices of the Greek people and the struggle to defend the principles of freedom, democracy and humanism."

Greek government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis condemned Michaloliakos' remarks in a statement Monday as "a distortion of history and a fierce insult to the memory of the millions of Holocaust victims."

Greece has been in a state of political turmoil since the elections, which saw voters fleeing the moderate parties blamed for backing harsh austerity measures for parties to the far left and far right of the political spectrum.

The country faces fresh elections after repeated attempts to form a coalition government ended in failure Tuesday.

The political instability has raised the possibility that Greece will fail to make debt payments as early as next month, potentially forcing the country out of the euro, the currency used by 17 European Union countries.

Matthew Feldman, director of the Radicalism and New Media Research Group at the University of Northampton, in Britain, says far-right groups are seeing a resurgence in parts of Europe.

Instead of open racial attacks, they play up a threat to national identity and criticize multiculturalism, particularly as it relates to Islam, he said.

However, while Golden Dawn gained strength in the May 6 election, another far-right party, LAOS, lost its small presence in Greece's 300-seat parliament as voters punished it for its support of Greece's austerity program.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.