Nikolaos Mihaloliakos
Nikos Michaloliakos, leader of Greece's extreme-right Golden Dawn party Reuters

The Greek government and the Jewish community have criticised the leader of the far-right Golden Dawn party after he made remarks on the Holocaust in a TV interview.

Nikos Michaloliakos claimed that Nazi concentration camps did not use ovens and gas chambers to exterminate Jews. "There were no ovens - it's a lie. I believe it's a lie. There were no gas chambers either," Michaloliakos said in an interview with Greece's private Mega TV channel.

He added that 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust was an exaggeration.

Golden Dawn, who is considered a neo-Nazi party in Greece, obtained 7 percent of the vote at parliamentary elections and 21 seats. Two years ago, it received only 0.28 percent support.

Government spokesman Pentelis Kapsis said that Michaloliakos' comments "constitutes a distortion of history and a fierce insult to the memory of the millions of Holocaust victims".

The Greek people have not forgotten that they too mourned the death of hundreds of thousands of people who were victims of the Nazis, among them tens of thousands of Greek Jews. We honour their memory and stand against any attempt to falsify facts and revive intolerance. "

The Central Board of Jewish Communities (Kis) called on the Greek government to "condemn and isolate the forces seeking the revival of the darkest ideology of the European history", claiming those comments were an "insult" to the historical memory of Jews murdered.

"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."

Some 5,000 Jews live in Greece today.

Cops voted neo-Nazis

A recent report stated that more than half of all policemen voted for Golden Dawn in the elections, held on 6 May.

The daily newspaper To Vima published an analysis revealing that at some polling stations the party obtained a stunning 19 to 24 percent of the vote. At the 11 polling stations located near the police station Ellas, the neo-Nazis received the majority of the vote.

Golden Dawn's anti-immigration campaign was based on the slogan "So we can rid this land of filth".

"No one should fear me if they are a good Greek citizen. If they are traitors - I don't know," Michaloliakos said.

Golden Dawn appealed to nationalist sentiment rising in the country after the austerity measures demanded by the European Union and the IMF helped plunge Greece into further economic turmoil.

Michaloliakos rejected any affiliation with Nazism, even though the party's emblem, a squared spiral, and its colours closely resemble the swastika.

He also made a Hitler-style salute when elected to Athens city council in 2010.

Muscular supporters of the party urged journalists to rise from their seats as a sign of respect for the party leader during a news conference. Those who refused were expelled from the room. The Greeks journalists' union hit back at the party, warning they will not tolerate further intimidation.