How To End a Coup: Putin Borrowed from Hitler and Erdogan’s Playbook but Will it Work?

Russian President Vladimir Putin who vowed to fight so-called neo-Nazis in Ukraine around 500 days ago when he launched his military operation against Ukraine finds himself in a similar position that Nazi Germany leader Adolf Hitler found himself in back in 1944.

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Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin has declared a coup d’etat against the Russian President Vladimir Putin and has vowed to free Russia from Putin’s corruption.

Putin warned that he would quash this mutiny and take harsh action against the plotters but there are some leaders from the past and the present who may have some tips for the Russian leader.

July 20 Plot to Assassinate Hitler

The ‘July 20’ plot to assassinate former German chancellor and dictator Adolf Hitler was hatched in circumstances similar to the one Putin finds himself in.

German military conspirators General Friedrich Olbricht, Major General Henning von Tresckow and Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, along with Claus-Heinrich Stülpnagel were unhappy with Hitler’s war strategy and felt Germany will suffer defeat in the hands of Allied Forces in the Second World War and wanted to take control of the then-German government in order to reach armistice on favorable terms.

“Stauffenberg placed one of two bombs in a briefcase under the table in Hitler’s briefing room in the Wolf’s Lair. It detonated, but failed to kill Hitler,” a report by the US Holocaust Military Museum said in a post.

Once the plan, known as Operation Valkyrie and also ‘July 20 Plot’, failed, Hitler’s forces hunted down the conspirators. “A very small group of ambitious, unscrupulous, and at the same time unreasonable, criminal-stupid officers has plotted a conspiracy to eliminate me and at the same time to wipe out practically the whole general staff of the German Wehrmacht,” Hitler said.

“When I speak to you today, it happens for two reasons. So that you hear my voice and know that I am unhurt and healthy myself. So that you can learn more about a crime that is unparalleled in German history,” Hitler said.

Putin appears here to take a leaf out of Hitler’s book and addresses the public urging unity but unlike the former German chancellor he was not attacked directly. However, Hitler was able to maintain control and quell the coup, while restoring German people’s confidence in his government.

It should also be noted that the disgruntled Nazi Germany army bigwigs who mutinied against Hitler also cited similar reasons like Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Prigozhin since the beginning of this year has been complaining that the Russian defence ministry is making the wrong moves leading to the slaughter of Russian soldiers in Ukraine.

He blames Putin’s army generals and ministers for the setbacks in Ukraine and claims that due to their ineptness Russian soldiers are dying.

2016 Coup Against Erdogan

A close friend of Putin, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, may also have valuable lessons for him. Erdogan faced a coup in 2016 when some sections of the Turkish army launched a coordinated operation in several major cities to overthrow the government and unseat President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

It seemed like it was goodbye for Erdogan when Turkish fighter jets dropped bombs on their own parliament and the army kidnapped its own Joint Chiefs of Staff, Hulusi Akar.

But Erdogan did something similar to what Putin did. Erdogan gave a speech from a hidden location on Facebook Live and asked people to come to the streets and protest.

Then, something unpredictable happened, Turkish citizens flocked en masse to the streets armed with sticks and kitchen utensils and gathered in the Anatolia city square and quashed the coup d’etat in a matter of hours.

In the next few months, Erdogan launched a crackdown on the conspirators and as of 2023, he won the elections and still remains Turkey’s longest serving leader.

So far, Putin has done what the aforementioned leaders did. He addressed Russian citizens and kept calm in the face of a full-blown mutiny and urged Russians to unite. Only time will tell if his tactics will work.

(with inputs from Reuters)

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