Franz Joseph Hermann Michael Maria von Papen zu Köningen was happy with Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor on the 30th January 1933, saying that in two months he would be pushed into a corner squeaking („In zwei Monaten haben wir Hitler in die Ecke gedrückt, dass er quietscht!“). Hardly fanciful thinking given the fact that in the first government after what was to become Hitler’s “Machtergreifung” there were only three NSDAP members in a cabinett of eleven. The rest, of course, is history.
Of course, von Papen had another reason to be smug as eight ministers in the government were either members of the DNVP (German National Peoples’ Party), or were supported by them ideologically ……? Even if, ideologically, at least in terms of their overall “Weltanschauung”, they already weren’t a kick in the arse off of the NSDAP. Moreover, at that moment in time, with Hindenburg still president, national conservatives, like von Papen, felt their optimism was justified.
Things were, however, to change quickly; at the beginning of May 1933 the DNVP changed its name to the ‘Deutschnationale Front’ (German National Front) and on the 27th of June the party dissolved itself. The way to the “Führerstaat” was clear. With their ideological affinities with the NSDAP and with many of them moving effortlessly into the NSDAP, and with their having facilitated Hitler’s rise to power, it is often forgotten that it was these national conservatives who probably offered the only obstacle to Hitler seizing absolute power.
Today in Turkey the “Gleichschaltung” is in full swing; a state of emergency has been declared, free speech is being rebranded terrorism, over 58,000 public servants have been arrested or thrown out of their jobs, even before the coup the media had been brought to heel, and in the West people are seeing this as some sort of struggle between an undemocratic islamic and a secular democratic European Turkey.
However, even if attacking secular targets is also being used to cleanse the country of any opposition, many of these targets in the army, education, and the government are followers of Muhammed Fethullah Gülen, a preacher and former imam, leader of the ‘who, up until 2013, was Erodgan’s ally and, at least as far as Erdogan sees it, what Gülen’s Hizmet Movement represents is a threat to him acquiring dictatorial powers in Turkey.
Yes.”dictatorial powers”, because just as Adolf Hitler was never going to occupy an inter pares scenario, even as a primus, so too will Erdogan never be satisfied with anything less than absolute power and that will mean also crushing those erstwhile allies who try to prevent that happening, in much the same way as Hitler crushed his allies back in 1933.
Indeed, when we look at the dismissals, numbers of arrests, and the possibility that Turkey will suspend the European rights convention and reintroduce the death penalty. The only question worth asking is how many of those public servants, religious leaders, academics, and members of the military are going over to Erdogan. For it is that question which will ultimately decide the fate of Turkey.