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The Death of a Dictator

Highlights

The Death of a Dictator, Gollapudi Maruti Rao, cruelty has a human heart, Saddam Husain. He never expressed his hunger. He never shared his suffering with anybody. He loathed sympathy. He never shed tears except during his last hours.

It was the famous writer William Blake who said that “cruelty has a human heart’’. In the last 70 years any number of literary works appeared on the holocaust of the Second World War, extermination of the Jews in several camps in Poland, any number of films- classics made on the subject. There was a movie ‘Hitler: The last ten days’ featuring Alec Guinness as Hitler.

But do these people deserve an epitaph? Who is interested in knowing about the gory death of these dictators? Why films or articles on them? There is an answer. For luminaries their lives will be their message. For dictators their death. Hitler, Saddam Husain, Osama bin Laden to name a few. But what made them dictators? There must be something in them that outbalance their lives in comparison to others. Here is the other side of Hitler.

He never expressed his hunger. He never shared his suffering with anybody. He loathed sympathy. He never shed tears except during his last hours. He never misbehaved with anybody though he did it with all humanity as a mission. He never indulged in sex. He never flirted with anybody. Only one person came anywhere near his heart-Eva Braun. These are his words, “No politician should ever allow himself to be photographed in swimming trunks.” He never consumed liquor because he never allowed himself at its mercy. There were any number of assassination attempts on his life, but the last one partly disabled him-with his left hand dangling with occasional tremors. He was never depressed. Instead he rejoiced saying that “almighty God has called me to lead the German people not to final defeat but to victory.”

When the Allies’ armies encircled Germany on all sides in 1945, he knew that it was the end for him and his country. His leaders goaded him to leave the country and escape to Indonesia, Singapore or Japan. He strongly rejected the proposal. Those were the last days of April 1945. He wanted to stagger the fall of Berlin to May 5, so that he could lay his life like Napoleon on that day. But it did not happen.

It was during this time, his lifelong partner Eva Braun joined him at his secret bunker. Seeing her he understood how much he wanted somebody nearer to his heart to be near him. And then he did something he never did all his life. He kissed her on her lips before all the people, an indication that his mental reticence is slowly slipping.

When the allied armies are crowding on him from all sides, he had ordered for a feast. He told his secretaries and leaders, “Since I did not feel that I could accept the responsibility of marriage during years of struggle, I have decided now, before the end of my earthly career to take as my wife…” a word he did not use to Eva all his life. “The girl after many years of loyal friendship came on her own freewill in order to share my fate. At her own request she goes to her death with me as my wife.” And then, they exchanged rings, which were fairly big in size because at that hour they were only that were available at the Gestapo treasury. Eva Braun was asked to sign the marriage certificate. At that moment, in her nervousness she started as Braun writing B and corrected herself and wrote Hitler. A junior officer Wagner among several others signed as witnesses. Wagner signed and kept another paper on the certificate. The date was April 28, 1945. But the ink did not dry and it spread. Noticing the aberration, Wagner then consulted his watch and corrected the date as 29, which was what his watch had shown at that moment, a mistake of a monumental nature for a weird historic moment.

And then Hitler handed Eva a vial containing potassium cyanide. Goebbels expressed doubt about the genuineness of the poison. Perhaps the allies might conspire to keep him alive, so that he may be humiliated later. How to check the poison? Hitler adored his pet dog Blondi more than anybody else. He chose the dog as the guinea pig. After poison was given Blondi died. Thus the poor bitch proved its faithfulness to her master. The vial was given to Eva, the first and the last gift to the newly wed. And Hitler picked up his 7.65 caliber Walther to withdraw into his room. A little after that the staff heard the muffled sound. The Fuhrer ordered his men to pour gasoline on their bodies and burn them beyond recognition. Why? He had learnt a few days earlier that the body of Italian dictator and his friend Benito Mussolini was hung tying a rope to his legs in a gas station in Milan. He wanted to ensure the dignity to his remains also in his death. The staff obliged and packed the mortal remains in a canvas and let down into a shell hole outside the exit from the bunker covered over with earth.

Baldur von Schirach made a poem from Hitler’s words:

…….. …… …….

I shall carry the flag, staggering and alone,

My smiling lips may stammer mad words,

But the flag only fall when I fall

And will be a proud shroud covering my corpse.

However sinister and gruesome might be his death, it had not dented his dignity and pride. A dictator who invited death on his own terms.

However, the irony of his life was substantiated in the last two sentences of 1,222 pages of his biography by John Toland thus, “He had intended the elimination of six million Jews to be his great gift to the world. It would lead, instead, to the formation of a Jewish state!”

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