Social Center Burned Down by Nazis & Nationalists in Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki, Greece – Using the cover of a large nationalist rally over Macedonia naming rights, Nazis and nationalists attacked two social centers (burning one to the ground), vandalized a Holocaust Memorial and tore down a sign promoting religious tolerance. Although dozens of police were present, no arrests were reported in either of the attacks on the social centers, ‘The School’ and ‘Libertatia Squat’.

In a statement from the Libertatia Squat, they say multiple attacks happened throughout the day on January 21, 2018, when a group of fascists and nationalists separated from the large nationalist rally and marched to the social centers.

In the video below, you can see police in white helmets standing around while fascists on the street throw projectiles towards ‘The School’ building. Anarchists and other anti-authoritarians repelled the attack while the police mostly stood idly by.

According to the statement released by Libertatia Squat, the fascists attacked Libertatia twice; it was the second time, approximately two hours after the attacks on ‘The School’, that several dozen fascists attacked the building with “molotovs and flares which set the building on fire.

A large banner of the fascist group Pro Patria is seen with the group of attackers and in the video of the attack the crowd of nationalists can be seen waving Greek flags, attacking the building, and lobbing flares. Watch the video by ERT3 below:

Nobody was inside during the second attack on the historic Libertatia building, which is said to have unfolded while the Greek police prevented anarchists from defending Libertatia as they had repelled the attack at ‘The School’. In media postings the police can be seen collaborating with the attackers on multiple occasions by allowing them passage through their lines, providing cover for them, and blocking the anti-fascists that were opposing them.

The Libertatia building was one of the remaining symbols of Thessaloniki’s vibrant multicultural history. The building hosted generations of Dönme, Sephardic Jews who had converted to Islam. Jews made up the city’s largest minority for over four centuries, before being deported en masse by German Nazi forces to extermination camps in the 1940s. During the Nazi occupation of Greece, the Libertatia building hosted Greek refugees fleeing their villages when Nazi occupation forces destroyed their homes.

It is a historical building: one of the few that survived the Nazis but unfortunately was destroyed by their grandchildren– unnamed Greek anarchist

Since 2008, the Libertatia was occupied by left wing and anarchist pro-refugee activists who had converted it into a social center.

The Nazi attackers on Sunday ended up burning down a house beloved by people whom they professedly hate: Jewish people, Muslims, victims of fascism, refugees, anarchists, left-wing and LGTBQ people.

The social center, Libertatia, was burned down by Nazis in Thessaloniki. Photo via Athens Indymedia

At the large nationalist rally in Thessaloniki on Sunday, participants demonstrated their will to deny the right of their neighboring country (FYROM) to use the term Macedonia as a part of their official name.

Though this rally was held to confirm nationalists’ respect for history, specifically their depiction of the city’s and country’s history with respect to the past of Alexander the Great, a group of radical fascists set fire to and completely destroyed a historic building in their own city.

Tens of thousands of nationalists gathered near Alexander the Great statue in Thessaloniki, Greece. Photo via Keep Talking Greece

A wide spectrum of conservative forces were in attendance of the rally, including but not limited to: the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, PASOK social democrats, the Nea Dimokratia conservative right wing party, the Syriza-allied governing populist party ANEL, Greek Orthodox priests (including the xeno- & homophobic Thessaloniki bishop Athimos), army generals, football clubs, and more.

Speakers of the rally are said to have spoken “racist and anti-semitic remarks” and in congruence with the Western nationalist/fascist talking points name-dropped George Soros, labeling “the mayor of Thessaloniki a ‘Soros man’“. 

Traditional costumes worn by Greek nationalists. Photo via Keep Talking Greece

During the rally, a recently resigned politician, Kostas Zouraris, was chased and almost mobbed by football fans before being led to safety by his personal guards. Ultra-nationalists also tore down a sign promoting religious tolerance between the Jewish, Christian, and Islamic faiths. See the video by @teacherdude below:

The same night of the rally, a Holocaust Memorial honoring 45,000 Jewish victims of Nazi terror in Thessaloniki, was vandalized with Golden Dawn insignia.

The success of the rally is extremely concerning for anti-fascists in the country, as it was considered an opportunity for a public re-emergence of various fascist groups which have struggled following a decline in the fortunes of Golden Dawn. – Greece: Libertatia occupied centre burned by fascists by Freedom News

These attacks are not new to Greece. Since December 25, 2017, 30 homes of migrant workers have been attacked in the port city of Piraeus. Locals think that Golden Dawn is training new members during these attacks. Hate crimes throughout Greece have been increasing.

In August of 2016, with many high profile cases of killings by fascists in Greece, and as the trial of neo-Nazi group Golden Dawn has been ongoing for years, neo-Nazis firebombed Notara 26, a refugee and migrant housing squat in Athen’s Exarcheia neighborhood.

We are the group that kills, burns, hits and tortures immigrants, mainly Muslims,” said a member of the new neo-Nazi vigilante group Crypteia to Muslim organizers during a phone call. Crypteia is “believed to have stemmed from the neo-fascist Golden Dawn party, which has 16 seats in the Greek parliament“, said Al-Jazeera in a report spotlighting their threats to Muslims in the country.

These attacks in broad daylight are part of a continual growth of xenophobic, nationalistic terrorism throughout Europe aimed at refugees and those that provide any sorts of mutual aid to them. Germany, Sweden, and other countries across Europe have also seen sharp rises in xenophobic attacks against people seeking asylum in the last couple of years, including arson attacks against refugee shelters.

The night after the burning of Libertatia, estimates of 1,000 anti-fascists and allies marched in a solidarity demonstration and were violently attacked by riot police in Thessaloniki. Clashes between police and demonstrators went through the night as molotovs and tear gas were thrown. Five were arrested.

George, a local from Thessaloniki, spoke to Unicorn Riot and provided some of the historical facts above and called this event “burning down history in the name of history“. They furthered:

This doesn’t mean we have 100,000 fascists in my hometown, but it definitely means we have a very strong movement of people who can only perceive history distorted through an idealized nationalist narrative.

It doesn’t scare me that so many Greek people demonstrate their half-blindness about history. After all, one could have a talk with them, using tons of patience and scientific data and lots of them would probably end up understanding some points… State nationalism is a wide spread disease in the Balkans.

What really scares me is the silence of the ‘decent’ average citizens towards fascism. What really scares me is the incapacity of united action against racism. What scares me is the banalization of the term ‘fascist’, launched daily among the different legitimate democratic options. What scares me is that Greek so-called ‘liberal media’ criticize squatters (like the ones almost burned yesterday) far more than professionally organized criminal Nazis.

See pictures of the burned out Libertatia Squat below:

See our past reports from Greece, some of which spotlight networks of solidarity created for refugees.

Unicorn Riot's Special Reports From Greece [2017]:
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