NOTES ON PUTIN AND HITLER: NIGHTMARE SCENARIOS IN MODERN HISTORY
Opinion by Philippe Mora
“Prince Charles Compares Putin to Hitler,” shouted the headlines on May 21st, 2014 around the world. With John Kerry also recently becoming quite shrill about the Russians “lying” to him, one is sadly reminded of previous pre-war crises in world history.
Politicians, historically adept “liars,” actually incorporate giving out false information as a necessary part of the job, even making it integral to “diplomacy.” Apparently initially believing Hitler, for example, the British government finally called Hitler a liar when he broke his agreements and invaded Poland in September 1939. The German soldiers that Hitler said had been brutally killed by the Polish and triggered the invasion, turned out to be murdered German concentration victims dressed in German army uniforms for the world press.
Hitler started his “absorption” of countries by saying Germans were being discriminated against or in danger in the Rhineland and other territories he ended up painlessly invading. Austria was the big one and his triumphant entry into Vienna was well orchestrated. Just like Putin taking Crimea the propaganda preceding all this was well done. Crimea was basically “Russian.” Austria was basically “German.” These were invasions without a shot fired. Of course, some like Churchill never trusted Hitler and warned against appeasement.
As it turns out, Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister loudly accused of appeasement for decades turns out to have been buying time to set secretly to set up a British radar system. This
system saved Britain in the momentous Battle of Britain, as brilliantly outlined in Michael Korda’s book The Wings Of Eagles.
Hitler, in my opinion, was clinically a psychopath who ended up running a country, and that is a prescription for calamity, as we now know. Hitler was also a self-educated crackpot, who ended up explaining to the German people that the reason the Communist Soviet Union and the Capitalist United States, apparent ideological enemies, were both fighting Germany, was that behind both powers lay a greater power pulling the strings for world hegemony: the Jews! (Being Jewish I’ve always wanted to join this all powerful Jewish conspiracy, but I can’t get anyone to find me a phone number.)
Putin is not, at least not yet, an unhinged conspiracy theorist and even goes out of his way sometimes to say he protects Jews in Russia and that the anti-Russian Ukrainians are ‘fascists’ even Nazis. This of course was headlined recently when the anti-Russian Ukrainians told Jews in a part of Ukraine to register with authorities. If all this is confusing, well, yes it is. The fog of war starts well before blood gushes, and this very confusion is historically a very bad sign; If Putin has an agenda to create a Greater Russia, just like Hitler had an agenda to create a Greater Germany, not much will stop his aggression. Hitler was a master of modern propaganda in a technical sense. Print, radio, film, television, street posters, theatrical spectacle and more were all used in a new way. It was a brilliant form of national mind control and tyrants use it as model. Stalin emulated Hitler in many ways.
The KGB had no problem recruiting gay men, in fact, it seemed to be encouraged. In that era, gays already had a “secret life” and codes and signals, a readymade infrastructure of sorts. The OSS and the CIA in particular believed hiring homosexuals would be a mistake because of the blackmail possibilities. In effect, the CIA was left with no “gaydar” and the gay Brits of Cambridge, for example, wreaked a bit of havoc with this.
Ironically or understandably perhaps, J. Edgar Hoover, famously ambiguous in this regard, was constantly suspicious of these British intelligence officers, and his files were stacked with references to “suspected homosexuals” like Anthony Blunt.
Personally Putin and Hitler seem quite different. Putin is apparently a proud homophobe, whereas Hitler had homosexual colleagues in his rise to power, notably Ernst Rohm, the SA chief, who Hitler later had executed. As confusing as this is, the SA were promoting a twisted form of gay rights in the early days of the Nazi party, or promoting a society where women were for breeding purposes only.
Still, Putin’s exaggerated “masculine” antics like riding bare chested for photo ops could strike a cynic as suppressed homoeroticism in himself. Is he trying to impress men or women? On the wacko side, Hitler said leaders should not be seen wearing shorts. It was beneath their dignity and he said the down side of being Chancellor was he could not go walking in Lederhosen anymore, and feel the wind up his shorts. I am not making this up.
Putin, who was a child of the Stalinist system, and an apparently a brilliant KGB agent in his youth and young adult years, knows all this.
Putin has an advanced sense of history and knows that Stalin defeated Hitler, and the Soviet Union paid the price with at least 20 million dead. So he does not appreciate being lectured by the U.S or other states about totalitarianism and so on.
Both Hitler and Putin came from basically working families and appear to have had or have a chip on their shoulders. They were nouveau politicians. They craved respect.
The premature demonization of Putin by some of the U.S political and media class was a miscalculation. He didn’t deserve it, but he’s just a guy at the end of the day, and human nature being what it is, it’s pissed him off. When men like this get pissed off, they can invade countries. At the winter Olympics only the Chinese head of state showed up. Those Chinese are smart. Shortly after Putin grabbed Crimea.
Hitler and Putin seem to be basically normal blood pressure types. Hitler’s doctor records his leader’s blood pressure at 140/100 on January 9th, 1940, when he is winning 4 months into WW2 and under great stress. When he is losing (presumably greater stress) by August 25th, 1944 and the Allies retake Paris his blood pressure is 143/87. This implies, contrary to the raving maniac propaganda, that Hitler was quite a cool customer. One gets the impression that Putin is icy calm but we don’t have his medical records.
However, the huge difference between Hitler and Putin is that Putin controls nuclear weapons.
Why Hitler didn’t have them is still in historical debate, albeit the reason now appears to be the Nazis simply did not have the money required. After Stalingrad Hitler was losing and demanded quick results from the weapon scientists, so Albert Speer, in charge of armaments, opted as a practical decision to fund the “affordable” rockets, manufactured with slave labor, which rained down on London.
I met the two faced Speer at his home in 1972, and like many before me, he fooled me that he did not know any Holocaust details. In fact, he said to us that he did not know, but that he should have known. That deceitful distinction saved his neck at Nuremberg.
If Hitler had the atomic bomb there is no doubt he would have used it. Putin, who certainly has seen Dr. Strangelove or knows the reality so brilliantly recreated in that film, is no nutcase or wild card.
However, the Strangelove scenario still exists. A nut on either side right now could still start a nuclear war. So could a terrorist in a nightmare plot.
The United States, now basically defeated in three wars of dubious merit and purpose, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan is in a very difficult position, particularly since it has been spying on its allies as well as enemies, complicating alliances even more. The taunting of Putin seems a mistake. Why be picadors to the Russian bear, after all, a bear is not a bull? Sticking a lance into a bear is not a good idea.
In this speculative arena there is one more nightmarish scenario re: Putin and that concerns Edward Snowden. In this speculation one is reminded that the long standing method of the KGB was to recruit young idealistic Westerners at an early age, say in late teens and early twenties, and use them as sleepers or long term agents infiltrating the Western establishment.
The incredible example of this are the Cambridge spies like Kim Philby, Guy Burgess and others who were recruited as idealists and ended up as KGB generals running British intelligence and “helping” the CIA. This fiasco is still ricocheting in world history.
Snowden in this speculation is a modern Philby, in effect defecting to the the safety of the Putin. One of the spines of the KGB method was deniability for the agent. Snowden is non stop denying and so is Putin. If the million plus documents Snowden downloaded revealed crucial US and allied plans and tactics, is it a coincidence only that Putin is now on the move in his region. Or does he know the “west” will not act because of the NSA leaks. History will reveal this to us. Right now this looks like it could be a replay of intelligence coups of the Twentieth Century.
If you think this is alarmist read the extraordinary memoir titled “Special Tasks” by Stalin’s master assassin and super spy chief Sudaplatov, who masterminded the assassination of Leon Trotsky and the infiltration of the U.S nuclear establishment. Let me underline this is speculation, but in what CIA maven James Angleton called “the wilderness of mirrors,” Snowden being an embedded Russian spy or “imperfect idealist” is not beyond the realm of possibility.
If he is a whistleblower as some passionately proclaim, who exactly he was sounding the alarm for, an American public who apparently could care less, or assorted antagonists of the “West” who could.
Philippe Mora is a French-born Australian film director who has lived in West Hollywood for over 30 years.
He writes regularly for WeHo News.
For more on Mr. Mora, see “Swastika” Filmmaker on WeHo, the Berlin Wall & Nazis
He also writes a regular opinion column for Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald.
His credits include: Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? (1975), Mad Dog Morgan (1976), The Beast Within (1982), The Return of Captain Invincible (1983), A Breed Apart (1984), Howling II: Stirba – Werewolf Bitch (1985), Death of a Soldier (1986), Howling III (1987), Communion (1989), Art Deco Detective (1994), Precious Find (1996), Pterodactyl Woman from Beverly Hills (1997), Snide and Prejudice (1997), Back in Business (1997), Joseph’s Gift (1998) and Burning Down the House (2001).
Russian troops have pulled back from the Ukraine border and the Russian separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk have been losing support; daily clashes, including the latest involving 300 armed separatists attacking a border post, signal that the simmering conflict that began in March is in a boil.
West-leaning chocolatier billionaire Petro Poroshenko won the early elections on May 25 with separatists essentially boycotting the voting. His election stymies Putin’s hope of establishing a credible trading bloc – not having Ukraine’s 48 million people in the Eurasian Economic Union with Belarus and Kazakhstan means having only one third of the economic activity – Ukraine represents 4.7 percent of Russia’s total trade, compared with Belarus and Kazakhstan’s combined 7.1 percent, according to Russia’s Federal Customs Service.
For now Putin seems satisfied with riling separatists; although expert observers suspect he is leaving them behind to soften up possible future incursions.