The ‘Dekemvriana’ revisited?
Greeks could hardly find time to celebrate the end of the World War II. Less than two months after the occupying Germans retreated, the first signs of a bloody conflict emerged in December 1944.
In what Greeks bitterly recall today as the ‘Dekemvriana’ (the December events) the Greek gendarmerie on 3 December 1944 opened fire on a left-wing rally in Athens and killed 28 demonstrators. An overture to the civil war of 1946-1949, which resulted in more than 150,000 deaths, nearly one million displaced persons and great anguish, the conflict came to serve as West vs. Soviet proxy war fought on Hellenic lands.
I saw Kostas’s face briefly light up, then turn pale as I entered Paratairon, one of the finest ‘kafeneion’ on this northeastern Greek island. He was reading news about the killing of two members of the Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avgi), Greece’s increasingly popular but troubled neo-Nazi party, which has 18 seats in parliament and its outspoken leader in jail on charges of forming a criminal organization.
“We may be going back to civil war,” Kostas said thoughtfully. The Chrysi Avgi members had been gunned down in rush hour on a busy Athenian street. A third victim was seriously wounded and in a critical condition at the time of this column’s writing. Twelve bullets.
No one doubts that there must be one of a handful of anarcho-communist groups behind the murder; Epanastatikos Agonas (Revolutionary Struggle), Sekta Epanastaton (Sect of Revolutionaries) or Synomosia Ton Pirinon Tis Fotias (Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei), to name a few – all “children of November 17,” as a Greek friend, H.F, baptizes them. No one doubts, either, that the double murder was in retaliation of the killing of an anti-fascist singer allegedly by a member of Chrysi Avgi in September.
This peaceful island displays a very rich assortment of graffiti condemning “fascists”with every possible vulgar expression. But it has a local Chrysi Avgi chapter, and a few members riding scooters in the old port boasting their party’s name on their black t-shirts. Violence between the neo-Nazis and anti-fascists is unheard of although “dawn” is stubbornly not “golden” on the shores of the Aeolian lands.
“If you are anti-fascist you must stand up and condemn the killing of everyone, including fascists,” said Kostas who, like an overwhelming majority of this island, is a proud anti-fascist. “A simple ‘if’ or ‘but’ would reduce you to being a fascist. If you don’t stand against the killing of neo-Nazis, you are one of them.”
Not all Chrysi Avgi voters, now estimated at around 15-20 percent of Greeks, are neo-Nazis. Sipping his frappe at the port café, Panagiotis, another local with an anti-fascist (but also anti-anarchist) view, says that only one percent of Golden Dawn supporters are “thugs and killers.” And those thugs and killers do not deserve to be killed. No one deserves to be killed.
There may be further revenge killings, and re-revenge killings. A cycle of violence is what some Greeks fear the most, possibly because of their collective memory of the mediterranean country’s civil war period. They should reread their own history and avoid what their grandchildren would recall as they today recall 1946-1949. They are luckier than 60 plus years ago; they now have an established democratic culture and their country is not a land catering for a proxy war between foreign powers.
More importantly, they are luckier than their neighbors on the eastern side of the most beautiful sea in the world where “some people” deserve to be killed; where killing can be bureaucratically covered up if the killer is pro-institution and the victim is against it; where torturers can enjoy de facto/de jure protection because they torture in the name of the state.
Why, really, were all 23 security cameras on the road that Gezi protestor Ali İsmail Korkmaz was beaten to death on in Eskişehir declared out of order? Was it because the young Mr Korkmaz deserved to be beaten to death? Or because some people deserve to be killed? Because killers in the name of the state should be protected by the state?
Mr Korkmaz was not a neo-Nazi. But like a neo-Nazi he deserved to live.